What is a map and what can it tell us? Is it an innocent depiction of a geography, a scientific representation, or a set of mental images?
Iedged forward along the finely drawn contour lines; the green areas were an indication that I was heading towards the lower elevations. I knew that as the colors deepened I was proceeding towards the roof of the world. I was now in the area of densest color, in Tibet. In front of me stretched the plains of China; behind me the Taklamakan Desert, whose yellow color I remembered but whose vastness I could never quite fathom. At last I was at the heart of the adventure.
Probably I first felt a need for maps when I was reading Jules Verne’s novel,
Children of Captain Grant. The magnet secretly inserted in the compass had
changed my direction as well as that of the children. As they were traveling
to Africa instead of America, I too followed in their wake, cleaving the ocean
waves. On the trail of a band of slave merchants I got lost on a tributary
of the Congo River that disappears into the jungle.