The academic paper that this blog post by Katie Carr is based on is also well worth a read – particularly around countering the e-s-c-a-p-e ideology (entitlement, surety, control, autonomy, progress, and exceptionalism).
Maps can be a useful tool, but are neither true to the complexity of any landscape, nor free from assumptions about how to engage with a landscape. They can create an illusion of safety through the sense of being in ‘chartered territory’. They condition us to take notice of certain features and ignore others. Road, footpaths, streams and boundaries are included, but not the smells, sounds, and emotional responses to a landscape. They focus on unchanging landscape features, not the seasonal migration of birds, changing colours, or the life and death that inhabits every place. Although a map is never the territory, and a model not the reality, the implicit suggestion of both maps and models is that to map is to measure and name in order to know, and that to know is to control. The trend towards ever greater mapping and detailed measuring of our infinitely complex and changing world reflects the aim, since the Enlightenment, to attain a sense of safety through protecting ourselves from the mysterious. And the history of cartography is insidiously entangled with colonialism and global injustice. The mapping impulse is therefore an expression of what the DA initiator Jem Bendell has called the ideology of e-s-c-a-p-e. Likewise, the emphasis on carrying out ever more detailed research and analysis as a response to growing evidence of the catastrophe unfolding around us can be seen as a habit – even an addiction – for coping with feelings of extreme vulnerability.