JF Ptak Science Books Post 1459
(Part of a new series on the mapping of imaginary places.) My thanks to Natalie Bouchard (Montreal, PQ, Canada) for suggesting this map.
[A massively expandable version of this map is available from here.]
This is an old , seemingly simple but somewhat deceptive map, drawn for the work of Madeleine de Scudery’s (1607-1701) novel Clelie, and published in 1654. It is for all intents and purposes a little more than its stated name (Tenderness, Carte de Tendre), diving deeper in the psycho/sexual area than anything else. On the other hand it may be exactly what you want it to be--evidently many people did, as this map turned out to be used as a very popular proto-game board in polite Salons.
As a map of friendship and caring and love and sexual adventure, it is interesting that what seems (to me) to be the stand-alone focal point battling for our initial attention is the The Lake of Indifference--it just seems to me to be the first thing that the eye sees, the map's most dominant geographical fixture. It is not the largest feature, nor the most spectacular, but it does seem to capture the essence of what may be one of the most ordinal of sins: indifference is a suffocating malaise, a semi-disease, that covers an extraordinary amount of ground without even trying, a force invisible and while so immutable, a host to all manner of impending failures. Indifference may be the worst thing going for humanity in general, as it allows oxygen for so much of the nastiness to burn. Solidified hate is a much easier thing to deal with and potentially manage than a hate distilled and vaporous and filtered to a greater number of uncaring/discaring people.
And speaking of impending doom, one of the other main features of the map is the long, semi-straight river that feeds into the body of water at the top, the Sea of Danger. Now the Sea of Danger doesn't appear so dangerous, except for the jagged island bits exploding from its calm, flat and not-detailed surface, though perhaps that is the very point. The large river is called the Inclination--translated to a natural disposition, a "normal" way of doing things, a common bent, which means that the mapmaker says that our standard approach to life is to head towards the deceptive sea of danger.
Even though we are headed that way it doesn't mean that we can get off the river and visit, or stay, in any of the many towns that we see along the way. There are a number of alluring towns with charming names: alacrity/cheery readiness (Empressement); assiduity (Assiduite); eagreness (Empressement); favors (of perhaps a sexual kind, Grands Services); (lasting) friendship (Constante Amitie); kindness (Complaisance); obedience (obaissance); pampering (Petits Soins); sensibility (Sensibilite); submission (Soumission); and tenderness (Tendresse) are all places calling out for attention. The other town names are further indications of the personal stabilities that are the goals of most people: wit, sincerity, generosity, punctuality, respectfulness and goodness.
There's also those other places, towns of a more sinister and betrayed nature that form a north-south line east and west of the river: Negligence, Inegalite, Tiedeur (tepidity), Legerete (lightness, not being there), Complaisance, Perfide, Meschancete (wickedness), and so on. And don't forget the town of Oubli (oblivion).
At the last moment, before entering the Sea of Danger (which is fed in the east by the much more volatile waters of the Mer de Inimittie (Sea of Enmite) , the River Inclination is joined by the smaller rivers of Estime (Respect) and Reconnaissance (Gratitude), a mixing of waters all coming together at the same point, a combination that I do not understand. I have no doubt that there are abundant clues to all of this throughout the ten volumes of her novel, but I can't give Mme. de Scudery that much time.
Maybe none of the placements and proximities in this map matter--maybe the rivers are flowing backwards or something, being filled by the waters from the Sea of Danger. Maybe this isn't a map at all, but just a suggestion of what stuff might look like, a spatial suggestion of the concept of emotion. Or maybe it is just a board for a polite game.