Abysmal: A Critique of Cartographic Reason

Hardcover | March 1, 2007

byGunnar Olsson

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People rely on reason to think about and navigate the abstract world of human relations in much the same way they rely on maps to study and traverse the physical world. Starting from that simple observation, renowned geographer Gunnar Olsson offers in Abysmal an astonishingly erudite critique of the way human thought and action have become deeply immersed in the rhetoric of cartography and how this cartographic reasoning allows the powerful to map out other people’s lives.

A spectacular reading of Western philosophy, religion, and mythology that draws on early maps and atlases, Plato, Kant, and Wittgenstein, Thomas Pynchon, Gilgamesh, and Marcel Duchamp, Abysmal is itself a minimalist guide to the terrain of Western culture. Olsson roams widely but always returns to the problems inherent in reason, to question the outdated assumptions and fixed ideas that thinking cartographically entails. A work of ambition, scope, and sharp wit, Abysmal will appeal to an eclectic audience—to geographers and cartographers, but also to anyone interested in the history of ideas, culture, and art.

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From the Publisher

People rely on reason to think about and navigate the abstract world of human relations in much the same way they rely on maps to study and traverse the physical world. Starting from that simple observation, renowned geographer Gunnar Olsson offers in Abysmal an astonishingly erudite critique of the way human thought and action have be...

Gunnar Olsson is professor emeritus of geography at Uppsala University, Sweden. He is the author of ten books in Swedish and English.

other books by Gunnar Olsson

Format:HardcoverDimensions:584 pages, 10 × 7 × 1.8 inPublished:March 1, 2007Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226629309

ISBN - 13:9780226629308

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

CONFESSION
Desires non-suppressed

PRELUDE
Border-man

MAPPINGS
When above
And below
In-between
Mappae mundi medievalis

INSTRUMENTS

Saussurean Bar
A=B
Quod erat

IMAGINATIONS

Plato
Abr(ah)am
Moses
Kant

COLLATION

Mission impossible

ATLAS

Uruk
Peniel
Thebes
Nicaea

REQUIEM

Philadelphia
Uppsala

MEMORIALS

Notes
Bibliography
Proper Names
(In)definite descriptions
Acknowledgments

Editorial Reviews

"A spectacular reading of Western philosophy, religion, and mythology that draws on early maps and atlases, Plato, Kant, Wittgenstein, Thomas Pynchon, Gilgamesh, and Marcel Duchamp entices Olsson to wander widely but always return to the problems inherent in reason, to question the outdated assumptions and fixed ideas that thinking cartographically entails. A work of ambition, scope, and sharp wit, Abysmal will appeal to an eclectic audience--to geographers and cartographers, but also to anyone interested in the history of ideas, culture, and art."