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linguisten:

futurejournalismproject:

Mapping Perspective

Via Al Jazeera:

Why do maps always show the north as up? For those who don’t just take it for granted, the common answer is that Europeans made the maps and they wanted to be on top. But there’s really no good reason for the north to claim top-notch cartographic real estate over any other bearing, as an examination of old maps from different places and periods can confirm…

…There is nothing inevitable or intrinsically correct — not in geographic, cartographic or even philosophical terms — about the north being represented as up, because up on a map is a human construction, not a natural one. Some of the very earliest Egyptian maps show the south as up, presumably equating the Nile’s northward flow with the force of gravity. And there was a long stretch in the medieval era when most European maps were drawn with the east on the top. If there was any doubt about this move’s religious significance, they eliminated it with their maps’ pious illustrations, whether of Adam and Eve or Christ enthroned. In the same period, Arab map makers often drew maps with the south facing up, possibly because this was how the Chinese did it.

Things changed with the age of exploration. Like the Renaissance, this era didn’t start in Northern Europe. It began in the Mediterranean, somewhere between Europe and the Arab world. In the 14th and 15th centuries, increasingly precise navigational maps of the Mediterranean Sea and its many ports called Portolan charts appeared. They were designed for use by mariners navigating the sea’s trade routes with the help of a recently adopted technology, the compass. These maps had no real up or down — pictures and words faced in all sorts of directions, generally pointing inward from the edge of the map — but they all included a compass rose with north clearly distinguished from the other directions.

Image: A perfectly good map. Select to embiggen.

I had that map in my office for 6 years. Not a week passed by without someone questioning my motive of putting it up. 

Most of life is so dull that there is nothing to be said about it, and the books and talk that would describe it as interesting are obliged to exaggerate, in the hope of justifying their own existence. Inside its cocoon of work or social obligation, the human spirit slumbers for the most part, registering the distinction between pleasure and pain, but not nearly as alert as we pretend. There are periods in the most thrilling day during which nothing happens, and though we continue to exclaim ‘I do enjoy myself’ or ‘I am horrified’ we are insincere. ‘As far as I feel anything, it is enjoyment, horror’ – it’s no more than that really, and a perfectly adjusted organism would be silent.

E. M. Forster, A Passage to India

arjuna-vallabha:

Artemis from Ephesus

blastedheath:

Martin Ålund (Swedish, b. 1967), Chemistry 1:7, 2013. Oil on canvas, 100 x 80 cm.

blastedheath:

Martin Ålund (Swedish, b. 1967), Chemistry 1:7, 2013. Oil on canvas, 100 x 80 cm.

georgy-konstantinovich-zhukov:

Austro-Hungarian troops head to the front at the beginning of World War I. 

(Hulton-Getty)

magictransistor:

Pages from an Illuminated Gospel. Ethiopia, Highland Region. 1300s.

This illuminated manuscript of the Four Gospels was created in the late fourteenth to early fifteenth century at an Ethiopian monastic center. Its full-page paintings on vellum depict New Testament scenes from the life of Christ and portraits of the evangelists. The text is in Ge’ez, the classical Ethiopian language. Typical of Ethiopian painting, the imagery is two-dimensional and linear. Heads are seen frontally; bodies are often in profile. The artist abbreviated the facial features and treated the human form as a columnar mass, articulated in bold black and red lines.

In the fourth century A.D., the Ethiopian king Ezana converted to Christianity. Christianity became the official religion of the state whose legacy endured in various forms until the twentieth century. Around the time this manuscript was made, Ethiopia’s Christian kingdom expanded its influence. Monastic centers became increasingly important outposts of state power. They were also the chief sites of Christian art production. During the sixteenth century, Islamic incursions devastated the region, and most Christian Ethiopian art that predates the seventeenth century was destroyed. This illuminated gospel is a rare survival. -Met

liebesdeutschland:

Schloss Molsdorf, Erfurt (Thüringen)

(Source: Flickr / ralf_krause)

architectureofdoom:

Murals (Francis of Assisi and cardinal Aloysius Stepinac) in Zagreb, Croatia

I don’t care if you are the most powerful big cat in the room, I will judge you on how you treat the least powerful. So there.

Tim Minchin (via mylittlebookofquotes)

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