If we’re going to talk about maps, let us really talk about maps. Go to some gas station, or a convenient glove box, retrieve the newest, most accurate map of the state or city where you live that can be purchased. Open that map and point to where you are represented on that map. I may be bold to say that you are not represented. You may say that in the territory represented you are, but you are not represented on this map. Perhaps, instead, you can point to something on that map that is different because you have existed. Point not to the things represented to which you have a relationship or familiarity, but to you yourself. Point not to that thing which, if viewed in person by the eye, is different, but to the representation on the map itself that is represented in a way that shows your existence. Perhaps, by some chance, other than philosophically going beyond the map you have and the representations there, you can point to such a thing. Can you say, honestly, that the change you’ve identified would not have occurred without you; is not something that was happening to which you were merely aligned and helped to manifest, but would have manifested as it is shown and represented on the map without you? The odd ephemeral and the specific are not represented here. The wind chime and the small repair are not there. The roadside shrine and the well-worn footpath are not there. So, really, where on the map in front of you are you?
And, even if one is able to find their existence represented, could someone else discern that existence on that map were they not to have already known the person represented in some fashion?
Is it enough to have existed without being represented? On the other hand, do I really want to be just another dead white guy with my name on a map the providence of which people might ponder over many years from now? I’ve articulated in the past the thought that a sustainable Pacific Northwest would look like itself before the arrival of the European invasions, so have I abandoned this belief in exchange for a historical plaque with my decidedly European name, a record of my exercise of privilege? Should I not, in fact, yearn to only be found through the vernacular and imaginal?
What has not been included, what isn’t shown may be more important than what is shown, but your only access to that occulted, obfuscated place would be to be there and participate. Even then, with apologies to Heraclites, we would never enter the same landscape again.
These studies would have been different if I had done them differently, tautologically; moreover, likely they would not be the same even if I tried to do the same again.
These path lines in the blended map should probably be clouds of probability, not a line. While the vast majority of my travel this month is represented, but of course there are side trips and small variations that are not discernable, do not rise above the threshold of these maps.
Everything affects everything, but there’s a threshold to any map, and certainly to this consensus map where my existence isn’t discernable. But it also equally true that everything is distinct and isolated at the same time, even if this is only in the interior experience of ourselves. Further, the notion of truth here is decidedly non-Aristotelian since there is a happy contemporaneous coexistence of the true, false, possible and the meaningless.
Can you be brave enough to admit it, or do you cling to an article of faith even though you cannot prove it to anyone, including yourself? You may wish it to be so because you wish it to be so, but this is not the same as wishing it to be so because it is. If it was so, why would you need to wish that which already was to be? Either you can be comfortable with this or you are not. I can hold these apparent contradictions with honor, can you? I accept that I wish it because I wish it to be, because acts of faith are rewarded. As Rebecca Solnit explains, it is not just the landscape that changes:
“I don’t know what effect my coming to the [Nevada Nuclear] Test Site so many years in a row had on the Arms Race, and I never will. The consequences are hard to measure, and are always discounted by the agencies and politicians they affect, but they are not therefore ineffectual. Coming here was an act of faith, a decision that whether or not I could ever qualify what I had done, I had at least done it. And it wasn’t only an act of faith, for my coming here had begun to change me profoundly, an act of faith rewarded in a way I could not have foreseen.” (Solnit, 1999, p43)
Clear correspondence might be made between this model and the model of Matter-Energy-Information from Feng Shui as presented by Dr. Hsu. (2006) That the nature of matter is to be informed, literally, by the energy and information levels suggests the very act of transforming information and energy then also changes the form of matter. This is in the instructions by Krisna to Arjuna in the Mahabharata that to transform the world should begin with self-transformation. (Katz, 1989) Further, this is the essence of the Buddhist virtue that dedicates individual acts of advancement toward the greater enlightenment of all. (Webster, 1999)
These are snapshots, an indefinite and infinite more are possible between these three, or beyond or akimbo in any direction, angle, depth or quality. And still, none of these are more than representational, filtered and partial. These are not the actual place, nor even the “actual” imaginal.
No matter how “accurate” these representations are, they are not what they represent.
The center snapshot in each study represents how the maps map onto each other, a blended map of the human condition. This is the struggle of the imaginal to manifest itself in the world and the world to touch and awaken the imaginal in itself. The imaginal seeks to embody itself in the world; the world seeks to enlighten itself with the imaginal.