Friday, June 29, 2012

Casey's four approaches to mapping

This summer I've been dipping into philosopher Edward S. Casey's (SUNY Stonybrook) work.  In his 2005 book, Earth Mapping:  Artists Reshaping Landscape, there are a number of great passages, but one I found particularly interesting was where Casey defines four approaches to the concept of mapping.  He defines these four approaches as follows:

“Mapping of.  To make a map of something is to make a map of a particular place or territory in the effort to capture its exact geography, its precise structure, its measurable extent.”

“Mapping for.  Mapping is for something, and not strictly of something, when it is designed expressly for some particular purpose.”

“Mapping with/in.  Where the first two kinds of map are indicative signs by their very nature and function—each being a subsistent particular that points to the presumed existence of another such particular (i.e., object place or region)—a map with/in proceeds by adumbration rather than by indication:  by indefinite indirection rather than by definite direction.  Instead of the land (or sea or city) as a discrete entity or the relationship among the locales themselves, what is mapped here is one’s experience of such locales.  Such mapping concerns the way one experiences certain parts of the known world:  the issue is no longer how to get there or just where ‘there’ is in the world-space, but how it feels to be there, with/in that very place or region, whether the feeling itself is one of amazement or boredom, duress or ease.  I divide up the word within in order to signal the internal complexity of this experience.”

“Mapping out.  To the degree that I find myself with/in the living landscape, I am part of that landscape, just as it is part of me.  The boundaries between myself as mapmaker and the earth I map—boundaries that become strict borders in the case of the official cartographer, who is a representative of a ‘major science’—are porous when I bodily feel a given landscape.  I am of it, and it of me:  in a subjective genitive sense of of that means “belonging to.”  But just because of this mutual incorporation of self and earth, the human subject must find a way out if he or she is to re-present the experience of deep immersion in such a manner as to make this experience accessible to others.  There has to be a moment or mode of what is misleadingly called expression—misleading insofar as this implies an enclosed subjectivity that literally presses outward what it already feels or knows—but what is better designated as mapping out, getting the experience into a format that moves others in ways significantly similar to (if not identical with) the ways in which I have myself been moved by being with/in a particular landscape.”

I found Casey's approach to mapping an interesting analytical framework, and one potentially applicable to a range of land use legal scholarship.

Stephen R. Miller

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