Monday, February 04, 2013

Finding the Route, But Losing the Way

The Los Angeles Times praises fold-out maps.

From the piece...

J.M. Barrie was 29 and living in Edinburgh when he noticed a trend in bookshops along the main street. When paying for your purchases at the counter, the bookseller would offer a new map that was "convenient for the pocket." This, Barrie told readers of the Edinburgh Evening Dispatch, was tantamount to offering someone a prolonged period of unhappiness. He believed that almost every house in the city contained a map that the whole family, working together, could not shut. The energy expended in denouncing these maps "would build the Eiffel Tower in 13 weeks" (the tower had only recently opened and was hot news).

What to do when faced with this calumny? "Don't kick it around the room," Barrie advises, and "don't blame your wife." No wonder the directions to Neverland were as vague as "second to the right and straight on till morning."

Barrie would have loved the present day. Hardly any folding maps now, of course, bar that mass of old crinkle clogging up the glove compartment. For why would anyone bother with them these days, and why would anyone risk ridicule by going to a store and spending money on one? Ah, let me count the ways....

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