The Map of Antarctica – Fragment
He looked down at the sheet of paper. He had a pen somewhere, lost it at some point in his journey. It had probably become another abandoned relic in the accumulative mass of the city. He visualised it lay on a pavement or in a gutter somewhere. The sheet exhibited its textures in the fading light, the sun dipping lazily behind sky scraping monoliths. He held it up, the sheet, at arms length and scrutinised it. It had become his map, his personal device for navigating the desecrated streets of the city. He breathed deeply as the light floated across the surface of the roughly textured sheet. A swans wing, a bleached winter, Back in the U.S.S.R. He looked and he saw shadows escape desperately from sight before he could trace their meanings. The pulpy material pressed into a strict four sided shape until its contents were made invisible.
He saw raw potential in the thing, unquantifiable futures for it. Imprint yourself here, it said, leave a trace for others to find. They have to know your experiences to understand their own.
Chinese dynasties developed pulp paper making processes in the second century BC. One of the four great inventions, along with gunpowder, printing, and the compass. Paper spread through the Islamic world and into Europe in the thirteenth century and when the Gutenberg Press was built and put into use in the 1430’s, making 240 impressions per hour possible. History, printing, and distribution instantly transformed the world and the age of enlightenment ensued.
He held the piece at arms length and angled it into a diamond and then a rhombus of shimmering white until the city grew and flourished from its surface. Architecture, roads, alleys, rivers, trees, houses and people, all issuing at a pace from the flat plain of the map.