Sunday, January 29, 2012

Love of Maps

Werner Muensterberger, a psychiatrist who wrote about collecting and collectors, noticed that those fascinated by maps often came from broken homes or moved around a great deal as children.  It makes an intuitive sense, that such children would be attracted to the stable world that maps seem to present.  I love maps, I came from a broken home, and while we did not move around much, I did go to three separate first grades (three houses, three towns, three states) in the year of my parents' divorce.  For this purpose, it is important to note that the pleasure I get from maps feels very much like what is described.

I learned about this observation from Ken Jennings' (all-time Jeopardy! champ guy.  You've heard of him) book Maphead, which covers many things map-related, and covers them well: geography bees, geocaching, history of maps, wayfinding. Recommended.


karrde said...


I like maps for their utility, and I carry a map in my head (at least of areas I travel through regularly).

Yet my parents are still married, and the home life was fairly happen.

Correlation is not causation, I know...

Anyway, my other map-related hobby is historical maps. I discovered that some of the major roads in my neighborhood existed on the map back in the 1840s, while others didn't exist until the mid-1920s.

That gives me a sense of how the growing community evolved. Did the roads follow the paths people marked, or did people follow the roads?

Or both?

Sam L. said...

I had a big collection of state road maps as a kid. My parents weren't divorced.

Correlation and causation, etc.

Jan said...

I love maps too. I'm not from a broken home, but my father was in the military and we moved around a lot. I navigate mostly by landmarks, and the intersection of my mental map with the physical one fascinates me.

Texan99 said...

They say something similar about people who like to create miniatures, and perhaps hoarders as well.

I once spent months making an extremely detailed dollhouse for my niece. I really dived into it. It was one of the most satisfying things I ever did, right down to the individual slats for the wooden floors, and eight coats of varnish, and operable double-hung windows. I can still see every detail in my mind's eye, though my niece is now a doctor.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Jan see the link at the new post "Note On Wayfinding" for discussions about landmark versus directional navigations