There’s something about making a map that feels incredibly nostalgic, and maybe even light-hearted. I don’t know if its simply working with colors and visuals that brings me back to scribbling capitals onto the pictures of states in grade school or sketching the deer paths in the woods by my house into my black and white spotted composition book, but there’s refreshing about this form of academia that feels imaginative, adventurous, and, as Nowviskie would put it, playful. Of course, there’s a difference between publishing a historically accurate digital map backed by comprehensive academic research and filling in Ohio with a purple marker, but Nowviskie makes it clear in her writing that is essential for us to involve a certain mindset of using maps as “toys” as much as tools when applying them to the humanities, or more specifically in our case, musicology. This reading resonated most with me while working on the map, partially perhaps due to its relaxing nature from the generally more rigid rhetoric used in humanist studies, but also because it allowed me to feel like I was able to appreciate, for instance, the color scheme I used to represent my data points or the spatial organization of them when they felt too cluttered in downtown Paris. Of course, all of this has practical purpose too in allowing the map to be read easier and for the information to appear intuitive.
This reading of course had to acknowledge the previous reading, “How to Lie With Maps”, which Nowviskie had cleverly titled her chapter after, and which I also felt made an important, if not more serious point about mapmaking. Monmonier talked about the weight of responsibility that cartographers must assume with their work, and how these tools of education and entertainment can just as easily be primed as weapons of propaganda and fear-mongering. Luckily I doubt we’ll be starting any wars over interim, however we must accept in this short time how important it is for us to safely use and acknowledge the inevitable and even intentional bias that we will use in our work. Maps are inherently full of lies, and if we as a class are able to accept this notion, then making them will be even more fun and freeing as long as we conduct our research thoroughly. In other words, we’re going to bend the truth to our bidding, as long as that bidding is as truthful as possible while proving our intentions. Feels a little evil, but then again isn’t there always a small amount of mischief abound when one plays, even with maps.