Everything a Map Can Be

I really enjoyed reading about this episode in Henry David Thoreau’s career as a surveyor, in which he was hired to map a river in his home town to settle a water usage dispute, but turned in a map that showed so much more than just territory: it showed the life lived along its banks. Everything this radical kind of mapping entails goes beyond this river, providing stark contrast against the settlement patterns of American history, and the way we map the world today.

– via Places Journal

What’s Boring

Q: What things bore you?

Roberto Bolaño: The empty discourse of the Left. I take for granted the empty discourse of the Right.

– From an interview with Monica Maristain for Playboy Magazine, republished in Between Parenthesis as “The End: Distant Star.”

Against Argument

Because there’s no shortage of writing about politics (if thats still what we’re calling it these days), I’m especially refreshed when I read a new and well-considered viewpoint on what is, obviously enough to me and a few other people, more than an issue of ideology or personality. Our world is shaped by our decisions and behaviors, often in unexpected ways. Adam Thirlwell of the Paris Review does a great job here of relating ourselves to this world we’ve inadvertently created.

The 14 Features of Fascism

Umberto Eco’s list of 14 features of eternal fascism. These are important signs, which Eco notes, may never all be present, but if any one of these signs is present, regardless of the system in which they appear, there’s a problem to address. America is not a fascist country, but we exhibit enough of these signs to remind us that we’ve got work to do if we want to better ourselves and live up to our rhetoric of freedom and equality.

– via kottke.org