In the Language of Maps

The map maker is measuring the earth, seeking the accurate. She knows her projection must distort the geography of the world. Tracing distance and direction on parchment, paper, or cloth, she chooses the one that best suits her purpose. She'll work to ensure that Denver stays its correct distance from Milan, that the Nile finds its way to Lake Nasser. Now she uses lasers and light beams. She colors mountain ranges, rivers, defines the depths of oceans. Longitude, latitude, the poles at each end of the axis - she keeps ever steady. The map maker consolidates her power. She revises surface boundaries for Germany and Yugoslavia; draws boarders around Eritrea, Namibia and wonders this time, if her lines are exact. Using familiar sign posts and symbols as code, the cartographer sees it is her maps which form the images in everyone else's mind. She knows the language of maps is constantly changing.

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