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Language of Power

Lorraine Daston: Cartography, 1 November 2001

The New Nature of Maps: Essays in the History of Cartography 
by J.B. Harley, edited by Paul Laxton.
Johns Hopkins, 331 pp., £31, June 2001, 0 8018 6566 2
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Apollo’s Eye: A Cartographic Genealogy of the Earth in the Western Imagination 
by Denis Cosgrove.
Johns Hopkins, 331 pp., £32, June 2001, 0 8018 6491 7
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... The mirror, the map and the photograph have all at one time or another served as emblems of the yearning for a representation so faithful and so complete that it can’t be distinguished from what it represents. Of the three, the map might appear to be the odd one out: the mirror and the photo may be two-dimensional illusions of a three-dimensional reality, and both are notoriously prone to distortion, but they operate by optical mechanisms that apparently guarantee a slavish fidelity to what can be seen ...

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