One of the things I love about reading is its power to take you anywhere in the world. If you can’t get away, you can still learn something new, see things you’ve never seen before, and get a different perspective just by checking out an atlas.
They’re expensive, so I’m always scouring the discount racks at my favorite bookstores. I think even the out-of-date ones are interesting. They list countries that don’t exist anymore or include names that have long since been changed or forgotten.
Paging through them, you really get a sense of how the vastness of our planet and that’s pretty humbling. And in my opinion, humility is never a bad thing.
When it comes to the world – which end is up?
That’s a question that we don’t often consider. For most people, we’re pretty comfortable that North is up and South is down. But who determined that – and how does it affect our world view?
Australians, in particular, are irritated about coming from “the bottom of the world.” Some of these flipped – or reverse – world maps spring from their desire to set the record straight. But they are not the only ones to have a different perspective.
Over time, maps have changed significantly. In Biblical times, East was at the top of the map. It’s actually where we get the term “orientation,” for the Orient.
It’s fun to think about – but it also has deeper significance. How does being “on top of the world” affect how Europeans and North Americans, in particular, see the world? How does it affect how we treat people who live “on the bottom”? Knowing that it’s a completely arbitrary way of looking at the world, why do so many people get upset when they see the “upside down” map?
Food for thought, I guess, and that’s always an interesting meal.