Category Archives: cartography

Risible-Numinous

Some of my most off-the-wall thinking happens as I’m waking up. A few days ago Therianthropes guard the bridge between the risible and the numinous bubbled to the surface and I managed to write it down before it went off into the stratosphere. This morning it occurred to me that there was a map to be drawn of the territory of the Risible and the Numinous, on either side of the Ot River (think: Buda and Pest…), having squares and streets and buildings associated with people and movements. The Surrealists surely inhabit the land of the Risible; William Blake and Emanuel Swedenborg and Charles Peirce hang out in Numinous territory, along with Leonardo and Michelangelo (despite the questionable proclivities of the latter pair). Most Cubists are denizens of Risible (though Picasso has moved back and forth), and cartoonists like Robert Crumb and Kliban and Gahan Wilson are to be found in especially disreputable parts of Risible territory, where the tattoo parlors are and punk musicians hang. Some of my photographs definitely belong in one or the other:


3ii1812crop 1i1872adj
are obviously Risible, and

6xi1812 Wass066trac
might make it to Numinous. And what of
numinous2
(the lattermost from Roger Caillois’ collection)?

I think these might be guardian therianthropes on the bridge:

Saltus beach hands up

So I’m starting to gather up waypoints and toponyms for this possible map, along the lines of (but of course less glorious than) maps of Terry Pratchett’s Ankh-Morpork:

Long Zoom at Long Now

If you have a long drive or other 1.5 hour block of time to listen to a really worthwhile MP3, I suggest Steven Johnson’s Long Zoom talk at Long Now Foundation (the link is to Stewart Brand’s precis, which offers this aperçu: “The value of a long zoom is in identifying and employing every scale between the very large and very small, noticing how they change each other when held in the mind at the same time”). Johnson’s recent book The Ghost Map explores the well-known story of Dr. John Snow’s epidemiological detective work (the Broad Street pump, etc.), but from the perspective of why it took so long to overcome the conventional wisdom that cholera was caused by “miasma”. The whole MP3 is here for your right-click download, and here are three bits to tempt you:

the Long Zoom perspective [0:29] and its quotidian manifestation [0:19]

[in re: complex questions] “you can’t answer [the question] convincingly unless you look at all those different levels”: on consilience [1:30]