A Daily History of Holes, Dots, Lines, Science, History, Math, the Unintentional Absurd & Nothing |1.6 million words, 7000 images, 3.5 million hits| Press & appearances in The Times, The Paris Review, Le Figaro, The Economist, The Guardian, Discovery News, Slate, Le Monde, Sci American Blogs, Le Point, and many other places... 3,000+ total posts
I found this fine map decorating the front and back covers of an interesting pamphlet called Union Inland Terminal Number One, in the Heart of the Port of New York, which was published in 1931. This was an advertising vehicle publicizing the coming building, which was built by the Port Authority in 1932. It was a transport/shipping hub for trucking, handling tons and tons of freight from the port. The building was enormous--at about 3,000,000 square feet, it was the largest building in NYC until 1963. It stands today as a mixed-use building at 111 Eighth Avenue (between 15th &16th, 8th & 9th). In any event, the pamphlet design is lovely--the image below shows it open, front and back.
There is something exceptional about the exceptional. In this case, the category is maps, and in this instance the map that takes us away, far away, from the expected or standard is one showing the flow of human hair streams. (It fits very nicely with other exceptional maps found on this site, like Maps of the Cosmos of Moles--just browse the "maps" section in the archives.)
This unlikely title is the creation of Dr. Walter Kidd (Fellow of the Zoological Society, London) and his attempt to reconcile the the influences of gravity, inheritance, genetics, Weismannianism, and other assorted biological bits via his study of hair growth patterns. The article appears in the (many) pages of the ScientificAmericanSupplement for 13 September 1902, on page 22, 328. (Yes, the Supplement was paginated consecutively over dozens of years of publications, a cumbersome manner of ordering an 8-foot stack of paper over dozens of volumes.) In any event, this was an article to simply explain some of Kidd's ideas and the chart that would appear in a more lengthy treatise of 153pp published in the next year by Adam Black. Contemporary views of Kidd's book were not very supportive of his work. I should add that I was attracted to this article solely for the possibility that this may well be the first map of directional hair growth. (I think the idea is pretty interesting, but I'm just not in the mood for it presently.)
Some of the other posts on this blog dealing with unusual hairiana include the following:
JF Ptak Science Books (an earlier post edited and expanded)
It is essential to look at objects from alternative angles, especially in science, in order to determine the correctness, or fitness, of a finding, or opinion. Even when consolidating data or evidence regarding the confirmation of an established bit, you may very well find other strands of loose data that could help illuminate even a well established or iconic societal “given”.
That the war was not going well for the Allies in September 1940 is an understatement—and the chief allies at this point excluded the United States, happily now recovering from the Depression, and still a full 14 months away from entering the war.
What is very weird to me is that after having looked at every issue of LIFE magazine at least three times from the start to the end of World War II, that there are more advertisements using war images than there are images of the war itself. This actually continues into the spring of 1942, when LIFE got really busy, the war got really messy, and people started really dying. And frankly even the coverage of Pearl Harbor in no way lived up to what I thought the coverage of a photo-magazine like LIFE would be. This is not a scientific study. It just strikes me as odd, or propagandizing, that there should be such relatively scant, or undervalued, coverage of the fighting when sanitized images of that same fighting were being used to sell socks and shaving cream and cigarettes and such. I understand the power of hearts-and-minds campaigns, but this seemed so amateurish, boorish even, that it just didn’t approach the level of a psychological ploy to pacify an American public that had virtually no interest in attending the European Theatre.
After all of this time on this blog--six years now and 3,000 posts--I think that I would have paid more attention to Unintentional and Unexpectedly Odd Maps of America that bobble up here and about in the home collection. The are odd and strange maps though none really relegated to America--there are strange maps of NYC (as in NYC being disappeared, or lifted by strange anti-gravity implements to float serenely above its hollowed ground below)--but none of the entire country. And so a few have come up, unexpected and unusual things, though not so much in and of themselves, but separately. What I mean to say is that the maps (for the large part) make sense with regards to their texts--not terribly much though without. And so, here are the first few (and brief) examples:
This rather strange example was printed as the covers of a pamphlet in 1928 and comes from the American Foundation for the Blind, simply showing the progression of the agency's representatives extending out beyond the originating point of New York City, though on first sight the map is very unusual, and naively odd.
This sort of map in the "Unexpected" category differs from the intentional oddness of maps like (the very recent) map of the U.S. showing distances to McDoanld's, or I.W. Moore's 1833 map incorporating an eagle into the design of the early Republic
Again, they are very unusual images--particularly the latter--and they were trying to be so. The Unexpected Unusual map is unusual but not by choice.
Another example is the cover illustration for A Brides Guide to the U.S.A., which was intended for the (British) brides of American servicemen returning to the U.S. following the end of WWII. More than anything, the whole arrangement of the pamphlet is just a little off.
And lastly, for now, comes a puzzling map from an oddly-named pamphlet called Conservation (More or Less Humor) which was an appreciation of some of C.C.C. camps (Civilian Conservation Corps) and shows little sign of authorship ("S. Martin") and none of place of publication.
The whole production is pretty happenstance, somewhat crude, and probably quickly undertaken and completed, giving it an air of slim and slippery mystery. The end result for the pamphlet cover, though is unusual, and a little creepy, somehow, and in a way it is a great representative of the Unexpected/Unusual/Unintentional in maps.
In grazing "The Geology of New York City and Vicinity", a pamphlet by Chester Reeds and printed by the American Museum of Natural History (NYC) in 1926, I found these maps of the extent and thickness of the last glaciers in the region, and thought them quite lovely.
This was the southernmost lobe of the Laurentide ice sheet, a vast plain of enormous ice that covered most of North America, the last bit of which dissipated around 22,000 years ago. The maps reconstruct a bit of that glacial topography--the physical kind, not the one you'd experience walking around TriBeCa ina brown suit. Where the lines are closest together is the channel where the Hudson River would flow.
The birds'-eye-view has always been of interest on this blog--particularly those that were pre-flight, when the iteration of distance and proportion and perspective were adventures in logic and design and mathematics--and imagination.
The example below is from the upper left corner bit of a cordiform wall map of he world, a massive and old 4'x6' effort, which was designed by Caspar Vopell (a map and globe maker, and a professor of mathematics at the University of Cologne) and printed in 1558, and was mostly the result of the map-maker's projection.
The map of course is spectacular, and the imagination and planning and vast expertise that went into the depiction of North America was impressive--staggering even. It was an enormous leap of faith, that showed all of the new discoveries, stretching from Greenland to northern Florida, around part of the Gulf Coast, across the Southwest and California, and then on to, well, Asia. Vopell depicted the west of North America as a part of Asia--and that according to Charles V, who collected/received information of all sorts of new discoveries and voyages.
In my experience antiquarian images of trees damaged and destroyed and torn up (and "enormously devastated") by tornadoes are very uncommon things--ditto maps of the paths of tornadoes. (I found this image via a very interesting but seemingly unnamed blogsite, located here, dedicated to early images of waterspouts and tornadoes.) They are found in Gottlob Burchard Genzmer (1711-1771), Umständliche und zuverläßge Beschreibung des Orcans welcher den 29. Jun. 1764 einen Strich von etlichen Meilen im Stargardischen Kreise des Herzogthums Mecklenburg gewaltig verwüstet hat, published by Friedrich Nicolai, in Berlin (and Stettin), in 1765. [Full text]
In any event, I have not much to say on these images save for the fact that I find them to be extraordinary, and wanted to share.
In the history of blank, empty, and missing things in maps there can be maps with large expanses of nothingness (as in the case seen here with the Bellman's map from Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark, an Agony in Eight Fits), maps with mostly everything that was to be expected to be expected but intentionally wrong (as with these propaganda maps of the Polish and Czech "threats" to Germany), maps with large expanses of nothing because there was simply so data to be displayed, and so on. And then there are the cases of perfectly good maps that are accurate and secure, but do not display what was thought to be there on the map but wasn't because it really wasn't there.
In the store that I maintained in downtown Asheville, North Carolina, I was often asked about what sort of Civil War action occurred around those parts. It is the sort of question that jumps out from maps showing troop movements during the war that you see on maps--maps without contour lines, or anything else that might show elevation. The answer to that question about Civil War battles here in the southern reaches of the Appalachians is that there was very little official action--and for the most part the reason for that is because there are in fact the Southern Highlands, and in the mid-19th century this very large region was just too bloody difficult to fight in or fight for.
This all becomes cartographically apparent when you look at the region with maps that give you an idea of the terrain.
There is an amazing map that shows you the extent to which this land was inhospitable for combat. The Military map of the marches of the United States forces under command of Maj. Gen. W.T. Sherman, U.S.A. during the years 1863, 1864, 18651...., which was originally published in 1865 but more widely known for its inclusion in the Atlas to Accompany the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies2 (full text here) in 1895. As the map graphically shows, there are plenty of blu and gray lines depicting troop movements of the armies, though nearly all swarm around our mountainous region.
Apart from the difficult terrain, the mountains, and general inaccessibilty, there wasn't all that much to fight for up here--and so, aside from some regional skirmishes and a lot of political and social conflict, they didn't.
At least not until the very end of the war, in the Battle of Asheville, April 6, 1865, where about 1500 soldiers met each other about 750 feet away from where we used to live, three days before Appomattox. The action there was indecisive, though Asheville was not taken by Union forces.
I was searching for the "Make Me a Map of the Valley" map, the Stonewall-Jackson-directive map, that was made to devastating effect by the Confederacy's leading cartographer, Jedediah Hotchkiss.[More on Hotchkiss here from the Encyclopedia of Virginia.] I saw this on display at the Library of Congress years ago--it is an enormous thing, about 22 square feet and more than 7 feet long (or tall, as it was displayed vertically then), filled with minutiae and just a splendid map of great detail put to extreme use by General Jackson (and Lee, and others). The LC has the Hotchkiss Collection, their "jewel in the crown" of the Civil War maps there, and there is a great amount of it on display on the LC website. The Big One, though, is not there in full. I copied a few of some of the maps most interesting to me, and at the bottom is a link to the other 120 or so maps online by Hotchkiss.
"The Hotchkiss Map Collection contains cartographic items made
by Major Jedediah Hotchkiss (1828-1899), a topographic engineer in the
Confederate Army. Hotchkiss made detailed battle maps primarily of the
Shenandoah Valley, some of which were used by the Generals Robert E. Lee
and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson for their combat planning and
strategy. Several of the maps have annotations of various military
officers, demonstrating their importance in the military campaigns..."--from the LC site. A good, long essay on the collection by Clara LeGear appears elsewhere on the LC site, here.
All maps are expandable after being opened.
Map of the Shenandoah Valley from Harrisonburg to Mt. Jackson, with
topographical detail along the principal roads from Thornton's Gap to
Swift Run Gap and along several valley roads in northwestern Virginia:
These are particularly fine and relatively early printed images depicting a specific kind of line of sight--this one, a positioning, rather than a line of sight in fire control, or radial velocity, EM radiation or acoustics wave propagation, or targeting...this instrument was used to establish an imaginary line in perceived objects.
This is a detail from Andrew Wakley's The mariner's compass rectified : containing tables, shewing the true hour of the day, the sun being upon any point of the compass ; with the true time of the rising and setting of the sun and stars, and the points of the compass upon which they rise and set ... With the description and use of those instruments most in use in the art of navigation. Also a table of the latitudes and longitudes of places, published in 1763 and reprinted many times after that. (Full text is available from Google books and also from the Haithi Trust which offers a text version of the book as well.)
I've collected a dozen maps here showing an animorphization of battlefield Europa over a period of about 40 years, from the Franco-Prussian War to the beginning of WWI. They are biting and vicious, and no one seem to receive this bitter sword more savagely than the Russians. The maps basically need no commentary, so I won't contribute any. (Thanks to Mark Dylan Sieber's Les Curiosites de Cartes, whose Twitter feed started this interest.)
Thou art become (O worst imprisonment!)
The Dungeon of thy self; thy soul
(Which men enjoying sight oft without cause complain)
Imprisoned now indeed,
In real darkness of the body dwells,
Shut up from outward light
To incorporate with gloomy night
For inward light alas
Puts forth no visual beam
(--John Milton, lines 155–163, Samson Agoniste, published with Paradise Regain'd, 1671)
These two displays come at different ends of the beginning of WWII and, in a way, couldn't be further away from themselves in the stories they were trying to tell(some truth, some fiction), and were separated in time by 11 years or so. The first "Der eiserne Ring um Deutschland" ("The Iron Ring and Germany") shows Germany surrounded by imaginarily aggressive (and aggressively-portrayed) neighbors nine years after the end of WWI. They both display subsets of the Big Lie superset described by Hitler in 1925 in Mein Kampf (actually, sort of better described by the German term Lügenfabrik, or “lie factory”, used by Goebbels in his descriptions of the British. The “Big Lie” was basically a lie so big and so preposterous, so outrageous, so impossible, that no one would possibly utter something so insane and dubious, and so therefore the massive untruth is taken as true.)
This representation depicts the threat posed to Germany-making an iron ring-by the potentially hostile French, Italians, Belgians, Czechs and Poles. It shows the ring composed of a combined army of 13.1 million men versus the standing army of Germany, which in 1928 was given as 100,000, and listing virtually no heavy weapons and no air force whatsoever.. (The interesting bit here is that neither the Soviet Union nor Great Britain is included in these aggressive forces, the Soviets less-so than the English.) The designer goes so far as to shade in areas of Germany that were under immediate threat, extending from the Donau to the Rhine, to a 50-mile-wide area all around the country, with East Prussia almost entirely consumed. (Certainly the Treaty of Versailles was a very troubling document closing the end of the war and, it cam be argued, opening the door for the next one. It took six months to sign the peace treaty following the cessation of hostilities in November 1918, and the troubled negotiations produced a troubled treaty, ripping Germany up and saddling it with unrealistic retributions that began to wither in only four years, with the treaty virtually dissolved by 1935.)
It is no wonder when looking at propaganda such as this that Germany was immured with fear of national collapse at the hands of land-hungry neighbors, and that there was a huge need to re-instate the army and a system of "self protection". (By 1936, only 8 years later, it was beyond question about what Germany was up to-I can say that after having at least breezed through every page of the Illustrirte Zeitung (Leipzig) from 1930-1940, that even a very casual reader could've tracked, graphically, the interest in military reporting and militarism in the page's of what would've been the German equivalent of LIFE magazine. By 1935 there was so much glorification of weapons and the Nazi manifesto that it should've been a surprise to no one when the Germans moved into their neighboring countries.) This was by no means the earliest depiction of this rampant sale of fear or fear mongering (a design which has existed for thousands of years and not at all a creation of the present republican administration), but it is a very big and bald one, a somewhat staggering one, a bright shining lie. (A Bright Shining Lie by John Paul Vann is by the way a great book on American involvement in Vietnam.)
The second image, a graph showing the successes of and very limited damage to the German Luftwaffe at the beginning stages of WWII, in August 1940. This was a bad time for the Allies, this part of the war coined by Winston Churchill in 18 June 1940 in the House of Commons: "The Battle of France is over. I expect the Battle of Britain is about to begin".
Hitler's Luftschlacht um England would start by air, where the Brits were far less the equal in military capacity, rather than by a land/sea assault, which would’ve tested the British at their strengths. This second part of the assault on England was Unternehmen Seelöwe, or "Operation Sea Lion", which would've begun the land assault following the victorious air campaign. The graph shows aircraft losses from 9 July to 8 August, 1940, the German losses in black, and the British in gray. As you can see, it was a pretty lopsided affair, made even more dramatic by the fictitious number of English planes being destroyed.
This would all change, of course, with the Germans losing this battle, in a big way, with a resulting decisive victory for the Brits. (Who would of course muscle their way through the war another seven months before the U.S. was attacked and entered the war.) . It would coming to a screeching and collapsing reverse for the Germans by May 1941. The results of the battle, in terms of aircraft and humans, were, for England: 1,023 fighters: 376 bombers, 148 coastal command aircraft for a total of 1,547 aircraft and 544 pilots and aircrew killed. There were also 27,450 civilians killed and 32,138 wounded. The Germans lost 873 fighters and 1,014 bombers for a total of 1,887 aircraft and 2,500 pilots
I could find no graph of course showing the results of the endgame in the Zeitung.
Images of rivers and oceans in 16th century maps can be beautifully-rendered objects. Water can appear as lines thick and languid, curling and wavy, sparse, tentative, adventurous, willing, dashed, timid. Cold. Mostly cold, and full of loneliness and foreboding. And sometimes the sea is just a blank--it is more common to see blank skies in engravings and woodcuts before, say, the 1540's, but the blankness is usually covered by rhumb lines and compass roses and lines of longitude and latitude, compared to the blankness of blank skies, where there is usually nothing to spare us from the blank.
Today I'd like to have a look at the strong and long lines delineating activity in water as the first part of a short series of posts looking at the design of the representation of water by lines. Then, when the lines are done, we'll take a look at dots.
This example occurs in Masuccio Salernitano's (Tommaso Guadati, fl. c. 1476) Novellino, published in Venice by Bartholomeo Zanni in 1510, a tall book of a Decameron-ish flavor, with 50 stories told in five sections, mostly of a waning erotic nature. The lines here are long and very languid. I also like the face in the window.
This complex of lines illustrates the map of Africa found in Montalboddo Fracan's Itinerarium Portugallensium, which was about the earliest published collection of Spanish and Portugese travel and exploration relating to the New World. The work was exceptional and very significant--and very popular, going through fifteen editions in 22 years to 1528.
Titus Livius (59 BCE-17 ACE), better known to the English-speaking world as Livy, was a superior among superiors of Roman historians, writing on the history of his city and country. His work, Romische Historie…,published in Mainz by Johann Schoeffler 1450 years later in 1514, was one of the most beautifully illustrated books ever produced in that city. This is a considerable statement, as Mainz was the birthplace/hotbed of moveable type printing, being home to Johann Gutenberg and a number of other early presses.
One of the most famous printed water scenes is from the (numerous) editions of Christopher Columbus' letter describing his voyage to the New World. It was written (or at least finished) soon after his arrival in Lisbon 4 May 1493, almost exactly 520 years ago, and quickly found its way into print. This image (depicting Hispaniola and Isabella) was printed in Basel in 1494, and served to illustrate the somewhat hopeful and inflated description of what he found on his new voyage.
This image from the mid-16th century is found in the fantastic work on the history of Scandanavia (and etc.) in Olaus Magnus' Histotria di gentibus septentrionale ("History of the Northern Peoples", 1555).
The seas in the map of the Western Hemisphere in Joannes de Stobnicza's Introductio in Ptholemei Cosmographium (Cracow, 1512, and widely believed to be copied or at least very heavily inspired by the Martin Waldseemueller's 1507 map of the world) are very tightly drawn, neatly unifrom, and lovely, as wesee below). This recitation could go on for quite some time, but this gets the point across on heavy lines. Next stop: dots.
I stumbled upon this fantastic leap into science affliction, an attempt to display the absolutely enormous idea of draining the Earth of all water revealing its ultimately rocky structure. And this in the relatively young modern cartographic days of 1694.
This map ("Den Aardkloot van water ontbloot, na twee zijden aante sien", published in Amsterdam in 1694 by Wilhelm and Jan Goeree in a Dutch edition of the expansive and imaginatively suggestive cosmo-theo-geographical work, Telluris Thoeoria Sacra) reveals the half-believed idea of California being an island was we can clearly see the enormous canyon separating it from the North American mainland. On the other hand, the "opposite" (in a way) belief takes place in the north, showing a large and towering land mass at the North Pole.
All-in-all, given the state of geographical knowledge for the unseen stuff of the Earth, this was an excellent attempt to reveal the structure of the globe. Sure, the depths of the oceans are a little off, the idea and the attempt to depict it was an extraordinarily interesting display for the time, especially with limited hard data. This is even a more-remarkable series of observations considering the theoretical framework in which all of this was taking place.
Burnet (1635-1715) poured out his pounding heart into the pages of his sacred history, teaching people about the structure and history of the Earth with generally little or unsuccessful regard to science--but no matter. (Burnet did try to figure out where all of the water came for the flood, which is a great question. It is impossible for it to come from a natural rain of any sort, and Burnet probably came to the conclusion this the answer for the flood couldn't come from the surface of the Earth. So to keep things in compliance with his faith, Burnet established that the water necessary for the flood came not from the surface of the sphere, but below it, in the hollow Earth which was actually filled with water.) This was a work of structured faith and a belief system, and wasn't seen as much more than that except to the initiated. But a resulting map of the structure of a waterless Earth seems to me a more powerful piece of imaging than an Earth simply covered by water.
[Black and white image source Barry Lawrence Ruderman Rare Maps, here.; color version from Oldmaps.com, here]
The idea of being on the receiving end of these lines on 6 June 1944 is terrifying. General Rommel pretty much figured out what was going to happen, and sort of when it was going to happen, but he was kept out of the strategy loop even though he was in charge of the German defences here, unable to convince Hitler to move men and machines southward to meet the invasion where he thought it was going to come rather than strengthen the position of defence in a place where he knew the invasion wasn't coming, which was Pas de Calais. The pull of war by this time had destroyed the Luftwaffe, and German high command had been destroyed by Hitler--or at least communications and straegy within the command system of the German army was very highly compromised. In any event, once the invasion had begun, there was not much hope for the Germans--it had been a complete surprise, with the huge efforts of misdirection playing themselves out beautifully. So beautifully, as a matter of fact, that once the invasion was well underway it was still a matter of no small debate as to where the "real" invasion would take place. Even after the airborne divisions began landing some hours before the assault began, it was only the elderly and problematic General von Rundstedt who reacted appropriately, believing that the airborne assault was far too large to be a feint, and ordered two reserve panzer divisions to Normandy. the amount of men and materiel moving onto Normandy was gigantic, impossible, overwelming, as some part of this map makes clear.