Maps are unique and the way every person sees the map is also unique. In this essay, I will explain why the following quote from Turchi’s Maps of The Imagination is true. The quote is ‘’as images of the world, maps are never neutral or value-free or ever completely scientific. Each map argues its own particular case’’ (37). This quote is also my thesis, a map is never completely scientific.
Firstly, there are different ways to write novel and there are different ways to draw maps. In the book Maps of the Imagination Turchi writes ‘‘…and others might work by jotting down individual lines, sketching scenes, and collecting details in notebooks’’ (16). He is saying that each writer has its own way of making a book. The same goes for maps, eventually all these different ways to draw a map makes impossible to be completely scientific. There is not one way to do it. Each way is different and each way will also be judged differently by each person, because everyone has his or her own perspective.
Secondly, I used the following quote to support my second argument: ‘’In stories and novels, white space is commonly used to separate sections. Sometimes the effect is dramatic emphasis, as in a cutaway from an impending or just-completed action. The inevitable event, or its immediate aftermath, is left for us to imagine.’’ (49). Peter Turchi talks about the importance of blank spaces in books. In novels, the author leaves blank spaces so that the reader can fill it in with his or her own imagination. Because of this the reader becomes part of the book. Cartographers do the same thing, by not drawing everything detailed. It is impossible to perfectly detail a specific place, because there are too many things to describe. For example, when a map maker draws a red dot as a city it only covers the fact that the city is there but it leaves space for imagination what is situated in that particular city. When I look at the dot of my city, Oegstgeest, I use my imagination to see my house, old school and soccer club whereas when an American would only see the name but nothing behind it. This all can happen unconscious, because it is also certain feeling we experience when we see a place we know or don’t know. Small details of everything are not included in maps, because that is impossible and that is why each person sees it differently. When I see New York on a map it can remind me of the Statue of Liberty, whereas it can remind someone ells of Times Square. Therefore, it is impossible to make a completely scientific map, in which everyone sees the same thing. The one and only thing which can change someone’s view on a location on a map is experience. When American would visit my hometown in Holland, he or she would be able to create a certain feeling about it. So, maps can never be neutral or value-free since everyone has their own perspective and value, even the location of certain places isn’t completely scientific. When Europeans draw their maps of the world they place Europe in the middle of it while Asians put Asia in the middle of the map. Since the earth is round we cannot say what is the front and what is the back, we can only express our views on what we consider as the frond or the back.
Thirdly, Turchi writes down the following about the power of the writer: ‘’If the balance of detail and blankness, suggestion and opportunity, fires the imagination, the art of writing short stories is, in part, the art of writing short stories is, in part, the art of selecting what little the reader needs to know.’’ (51). Turchi talks about that the author decides what the reader needs to know, because he decides what will be seen on paper. It is the same with maps, owing to the fact that cartographers are the ones who decide what to draw and what not to. The cartographer also has it on perspective on what he wants to show and the viewer has its own perspective on the way he or she watches it. This perspective can, again, be conscious and unconscious. Sometimes we imply things without even being conscious about it, because we are used to seeing it that way. And since there is not only the creator’s perspective but also the consumer’s, it is very likely for a map to be completely neutral.
In conclusion, there are three reasons why a map cannot be completely scientific; there is not one objective way to draw a map, blank-and less detailed spaces make maps not neutral because the viewer uses his or her own imagination to fill in the blankness and because cartographers decide what to draw on paper from their perspective and consumers of the maps have their own view on it, it is impossible for a map to be neutral.