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Thread: Paradox of the Complete Map

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    Professional Artist Facebook Connected Schwarzkreuz's Avatar
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    Info Paradox of the Complete Map

    Hi,

    Like a lot of wannabe Philosophers I tend to meshup quiet a lot of theoretical content and generate a nice sparkling meshup from it.
    I was asked about the concept of Mapmaking within my beliefsystems, or more precise to explain my speak about it. Well, here it comes:

    In the later planotinian school of philosophy, there was the figure of the Demiurge. Which literally means craftman or at some interpretation, public worker. Well and you all know about the parabel of the cave, and the shadows and the devine world outside and that we all just see shadows on the wall thinking it is reality, and so on. So, what is the case if the creator of the world, that mentioned craftman, the demiurge, was himself never outside the cave?
    What if he had never a complete vision of the true and divine world?

    (Wikipedia Quote about Demiurge)

    Mythos

    One Gnostic mythos describes the declination of aspects of the divine into human form. Sophia (Greek: Σοφια, lit. “wisdom”), the Demiurge’s mother a partial aspect of the divine Pleroma or “Fullness,” desired to create something apart from the divine totality, without the receipt of divine assent. In this act of separate creation, she gave birth to the monstrous Demiurge and, being ashamed of her deed, wrapped him in a cloud and created a throne for him to be within it. The Demiurge, isolated, did not behold his mother, nor anyone else, concluded that only he himself existed, being ignorant of the superior levels of reality.

    The Demiurge, having received a portion of power from his mother, sets about a work of creation in unconscious imitation of the superior Pleromatic realm: He frames the seven heavens, as well as all material and animal things, according to forms furnished by his mother; working however blindly, and ignorant even of the existence of the mother who is the source of all his energy. He is blind to all that is spiritual, but he is king over the other two provinces. The word dēmiourgos properly describes his relation to the material; he is the father of that which is animal like himself.

    Thus Sophia’s power becomes enclosed within the material forms of humanity, themselves entrapped within the material universe: the goal of Gnostic movements was typically the awakening of this spark, which permitted a return by the subject to the superior, non-material realities which were its primal source.



    Well ok, so what is this Demiurge? Someone who seeks perfection but condeemed to never be able to archiev it, from ignorance of the divine World.
    Which leads me to the asumption that all Artists (and also Mapmakers in special) are avatars of the Demiurge. We keep on repeating the same error again and again, as a gift called Art.

    Here is a short quote about this phenomena Lewis Carroll’s Paradox of the Complete Map

    “We very soon got to six yards to the mile. Then we tried a hundred yards to the mile. And then came the grandest idea of all! We actually made a map of the country, on the scale of a mile to the mile!”

    There have been this tale about a country making a map of the country itself, at some end same size as reality. So after years passed and the Kingdom crumpled and faded away, the map still covers its ashes and dust.

    Gregory Bateson, in "Form, Substance and Difference," from Steps to an Ecology of Mind (1972), elucidates the essential impossibility of knowing what the territory is, as any understanding of it is based on some representation:

    We say the map is different from the territory. But what is the territory? Operationally, somebody went out with a retina or a measuring stick and made representations which were then put on paper. What is on the paper map is a representation of what was in the retinal representation of the man who made the map; and as you push the question back, what you find is an infinite regress, an infinite series of maps. The territory never gets in at all. […] Always, the process of representation will filter it out so that the mental world is only maps of maps, ad infinitum.


    Map–territory relation

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    Professional Artist Facebook Connected Schwarzkreuz's Avatar
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    A complete map would be a Simulacrum of the thing it depictures, becomming the thing itself, or we are already in a society in which we move throught systems of Simulacra, unable to handle real things anymore.
    A Rolex, an expensive car, a career Job, a house, this all things become unreal a long time ago, they become a simulation of a status, which in itself is imaterial, a consent from fixed time and cultural group about what's Worthness.
    Well I am mixing up these Demiurge Story, with Systemtheory, Simulation term of Jean Baudrillard and the earlier texts of Michel Foucault about the Heterotopy; that places can ahve a set of rules, making them sideplaces seperated from what is the ordinary world. they can be Governentbuildings, Mental Hospitals, Schools, or Phantasy Worlds, all places with a set of rules which distinct them from the "normal" Space.

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      arsheesh is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schwarzkreuz View Post
    We say the map is different from the territory. But what is the territory? Operationally, somebody went out with a retina or a measuring stick and made representations which were then put on paper. What is on the paper map is a representation of what was in the retinal representation of the man who made the map; and as you push the question back, what you find is an infinite regress, an infinite series of maps. The territory never gets in at all. […] Always, the process of representation will filter it out so that the mental world is only maps of maps, ad infinitum.

    Map–territory relation
    Hm, not quite sure why there would be a regress here (let alone an infinite one). Representation is always of some thing(s), and in this case, couldn't we say that what is represented in the first instance are physical objects in the world (aka the territory)? There might be a straight forward story to be told about light refracting off of objects at different frequencies and impinging upon out retinas... yada yada yada culminating in our (re-presented, if one is a representative realist) perception of said objects? I don't mean to suggest that there is not a problem about perception, for there certainly is, but even if we lack "direct" (i.e. unmediated, un-re-presented) access to said objects, such objects would none-the-less be what they were (assuming that Idealism is false). That is, they would exist "un-re-presented". And so if such objects, along with other environmental conditions, were the proximate cause of our perception of them, this would seem to preclude any regress.

    Anyway, the myth concerning Sophia and the demiurge was interesting (I'm only slightly familiar with Gnosticism). Yet given just what you said about it, I wonder if there is and value to art within a Gnostic system. It seems that Sophia represents the highest good, or "perfection" in this picture, and the divine realm, as her creation, would thus be perfect. Yet if the demiurge is only able to create an "imperfect" representation of this perfect realm (and further, if the art of humanity is but a representation of that), what is the value of such representation? Is it to be seen as valuable (though imperfectly so) insofar as it is modeled on that which is valuable? Or are all such representations only so much shoddy kitsch?

    My knowledge of Gnosticism is limited, but if memory serves, doesn't that system tend to completely devalue the material realm just because it is so base in comparison to the spiritual/divine realm?

    Cheers,
    -Arsheesh

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      Lukc is offline
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    Hmm, well, Schwarzkreuz, you've thrown up quite a few concepts I've come across as well although I find Baudrillard's cocktail of simulacra unappetizing, the others are pretty much for my par. To Arsheesh's comment on the infinite regress, I think the point Gregory Bateson is making in that passage (good book, the ecology of the mind, by the way - some interesting stuff in there) is that a map is a physical representation of a mental representation. In representing we are never touching upon a merely physical territory, somehow pre-existing. It's as if the difference between a DEM and a map is the idiosyncratic and cultural mess of representations, associations, concepts and ideas that are applied to the map, leading to decisions regarding projection, information depiction, boundaries, names, etc. etc. A computer wouldn't care about how it got the data, it would end up a stream of bits to it and a visual reprsentation of the territory - a map - would make less sense and take more processing power.

    Anyway, what I want to get at is something else. I don't think mapping in and of itself, especially the mapping we do, is so much about the representation of territory as about the aesthetic and effective conveyance of mental representation from one mind to another - something like infographics, in a way, but often - in the case of fantasy maps - where infographics try to convey data (and a weltanschaung informing and colouring that data), our maps also try to more explicitly convey mood & mystery. (Gods, that last paragraph is a mess, but ... well, I won't fix it now!)

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