MAPS AND THEORIES
(Written in 1994-95 for Deakin, Assignment 1, AST – 104, ‘Comparative Studies’.)
From 'Earth People' Volume 3 Number 3
When looking at the way nature is connected to the human environment, David Turnbull in 'Maps are Territories' examines the “theory as map” metaphor. To discuss this idea, we must first look at what a map is, and what a theory is. According to Turnbull, scientists, philosophers, and cartographers are unsure of exactly what a map or a theory is.
The Oxford Dictionary describes the verb to “map” as to “plan arrangement of”. Therefore my view, that a map is a theory and a theory is a map, can be seen from my definition of both. Firstly a map is a device to assist one in finding their way around space, and secondly, a theory is a device to assist one in finding their way around knowledge. Therefore I agree that: "Maps are often useful ways of illuminating our understanding of scientific theories." 1
To examine this connection between maps and theories I will look at: The way different cultures see their world; the devices they use to convey this knowledge; and the purpose and usefulness of these devices. To draw to a conclusion I will discuss some theories that are very close to my heart.
There are two aspects that are fundamental to all experiences of life. Firstly everything in our physical world happens mainly within space, but also within time. Secondly every living thing must have some form of consciousness – some idea of cause and effect. For example, a vine growing around a tree must have some idea of where to send a shoot so as to grasp the host tree. After that, the vine then opens it's leaves so as to capture the maximum amount of sunlight. Therefore, the vine must have some way of knowing where both the tree and the sun is; and most importantly, it must know that death or weakness would result if it were not to grasp the undiscovered part of the tree and direct it's leaves toward the sun. Although this is obviously instinctual behaviour, it indicates that even plants must have some sort of mental image of the space around it, a mental map as it were.
Joseph Campbell, in the video 'The Power of Myth', has shown me that all the myths of all the religions are like maps that can assist us to find our way through every stage of human life, from birth to death and even rebirth. He says that when we can understand the transcendent messages of these myths, they can guide us on our own individual journey of life. And I can assure everyone that this understanding has made a great improvement in the enjoyment and understanding of my own life, particularly through the transition of my transformation or “Mid-life-crisis”2
A good starting point for seeing the diversity and origin of maps, is to look at the primitive culture of the Australian Aborigines. I will refer to these people as Yolngu, as according to some authorities that is the term they use to refer to themselves.
For the Yolngu, the only forms of information they need to firstly learn from their elders, and then memorise what is learnt, are the “Dreamtime” stories. These stories are of the creator beings (often in animal form), and are referred to as the Dreamtime Ancestors or just Ancestors. During the “Dreaming” (time of creation), these ancestors socialised and fought with each other, leaving their marks or “footprints” on the land and thus created the landscape. For the Yolngu, “Djalkiri” (Dreaming) or the “Footprints of the Ancestors” is the major structure to their life. Therefore the Dreamtime stories not only contain all the moral codes, spiritual beliefs, and social obligations, but also a type of map in narrative form.
From the study guide 'Maps are Territories', David Turnbull explains that: "A person's or a Clan’s Djalkiri could be called there “songline”... This is the country “owned” by that person or group." These songlines criss-cross the entire continent combining to form the network of Dreamtime stories, thereby encouraging passive socialisation. To sum up, from page 30. Turnbull says:
"Thus the landscape, knowledge, story, song, graphic representation, and social relations all mutually interact, forming one cohesive knowledge network." 3
Robert Lawlor in his book 'Voices of the First Day' explains that:
"When Westerners generalise about the physical environment, we categorise it with terms defining country, state, or regions. Aborigines do not apply such abstract terms to their environment but refer only to specific land formations."
There are many ways that the Yolngu refer to a single landmark. This can be in the form of: a line of a song; a part of a Dreamtime story; a fragment of dance; sand or bark painting (referred to by Yolngu as “dhularj “); or a tale of a fire or death that occurred in that vicinity. The Yolngu do not create names or describe boundaries such as nations, religions, social classes, and political parties.
"These function as binding configurations in which humans confine and limit themselves and, at worst, destroy one another." 4
From the previously mentioned study guide David Turnbull sums up my thoughts in one sentence: "In a profound sense the Yolngu “theory of land” has the landscape as a map of itself.” However it does not need to be drawn with any scale of one to one, and is therefore very useful to Aboriginal people who have learnt their Dreamtime myths, conventions, and forms of life (existing scheme of things or universal laws).
In contrast to the Aboriginal multi-layered social maps, Western Culture's idea of a map is one of a physical representation of the landscape. However if a map is to represent every aspect of the landscape or territory, it will be identical to that territory, with a scale of one to one, and would therefore be useless as a map.
Lines are the most commonly seen representation on maps. They usually represent some type of boundary between land and water or track and virgin land. These lines and other conventional graphic devices seen on maps are referred to as “symbolic representations”, and other devices which attempt to represent landscape more pictorially are referred to as “iconic representations”.
Because a map cannot contain all the information that is “out there”, the map makers must select what they consider to be important for the intended purpose of the map. These map makers therefore not only decide what is and what is not to be represented on the map, but also how they will represent that information. Thus establishing the conventions of symbolic and iconic representations. A classical convention for western maps is that North is at the top of the map. This was a result of the global rise and economic dominance of Northern Europe.
The nature of these conventions means that they must be learnt for the map to have any meaning to anyone other than the map maker. Therefore the more complex the conventions, the less number of people can use and understand the map. From page 9 of 'Maps are Territories', Turnbull says:
"In this regard, maps prove once again an apt metaphor for scientific discourse. Scientific representations of the phenomenal world are, like maps, laden with conventions, which are kept as transparent, as inconspicuous, as possible."
Karl Popper in 'Unended Quest' has argued the map metaphor by seeing maps as descriptive and theories as argumentative. 5. Although there is some truth in this, it is important to realise that because of the narrowing or qualifying effect of language, then basically descriptions are also arguments. This is particularly obvious when describing landscape, because maps invariably contain less information than the territory it represents. In saying this I must admit that maps, under special circumstances, can show new knowledge that can't be seen by just describing the territory. The best example of this is Bullard's computer reconstruction of the continents. This shows that according to Wagener's “theory of continental drift”, the joining of the continents (particularly South Africa and South America) is quite valid. (see fig. 8-1 'Maps are Territories' Page 48.)
Although my main concentration so far has been directed to the use of maps as devices to assist us to find our way around the physical space around us, the map metaphor becomes clearer when discussing the energies around us or scientific theories. I would now like to discuss a theory that I had after reading two particular books. My theory was hammered home to me after seeing the previously mentioned video of Joseph Campbell’s 'Power Of Myth'.
The first book, by Fred Alan Wolf entitled 'The Eagles Quest – A Physicist's Search For Truth In the Heart of the Shamanic World'; showed me that Shamans use the universal energies, which have an order that is “mappable”. The most common of these “maps” is the World Tree, which is divided into the three levels of consciousness or spirit, being: our Higher Consciousness (Universal Unconscious), ABOVE, HEART or soul, and heaven; our Normal Wakeful Consciousness, WITHIN, MIND, and Man; and our Subconscious habits and reactions (Personal Unconscious or Body-Conscious), BELOW, DESIRES, and Hell or Earth. I called this map, the 'Order of Life and Energy' (See Fig. 1 on page 7) 6
The second book was the previously mentioned 'Voices Of The First Day'. In this book Robert Lawlor made clear the fourfold division of the natural world, which I have called the 'Fourfold Of Natural Symmetry' (see Fig. 2 on page 7). Lawlor says:
"The four races - Black, White, Yellow, and Red - correspond to the fourfold archetypal division of creation found in many indigenous cultures... It may seem to be a coincidence that modern astronomers have designated the four major phases in the life cycles of stars as Black Holes, Red Giants, White Dwarfs, and Yellow Suns."
The Native American Indians relate everything in all of creation, including emotions and the stages of:- a man’s life, a year, a day etc., to these four colours. But the most important of these four divisions of colour is their associations to the four directions, spirits, or winds of: The North, The South, The East, and The West. 7
My theory, based on these theoretical maps, was that when the threefold order of life and energy combines with the fourfold order of natural symmetry, then this creates the 'Seven Chakras' (see Fig. 3 on page 8), which is a type of mythological map used by the Hindu Indians to understand energies effecting all humans.
Charles Darwin's theory of evolution was based on the mapping of Man's biological change from primates about seventy million years ago. I found that Jeremy Griffith has used this map of evolution to illuminate has theory on the “Human Condition” in his two books: 'Free: The End Of The Human Condition' (1988); and 'Beyond The Human Condition' (1991).
Griffith sees that:
"Just as a child must grow through infancy, childhood, adolescence, and only then reach adulthood, so our species has had to develop through these stages."
Griffith sees that humanity is now at it's final stage of adolescence, and I feel that we must now look to our inner emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs from within ourselves, as opposed to our outer physical needs, wants and desires, which have had far too much emphasis for far too long. When we strike a balance in these areas, we will successfully go through humanities “Mid-Life Crisis” (Transition from the animal instincts of adolescence to the compassion of adulthood). 8
I believe I have shown here that every living thing has some idea of time and space; and also has some idea of cause and effect, whether it be instinctual or intellectual.
Humans, being less instinctual and more intellectual, can therefore be aware of more of the forms of life and space around them. This allows us humans to have greater diversity and knowledge of the world around us than any other life form. The more we describe our world around us with detail and complexity, the less other life forms can live harmoniously with us, as they become ‘things’ to be described, “its” instead of sacred “thous”. Therefore western man's complexity has allowed him to dominate and overpower his world around him. Instead of empowering his world, he destroys it.
Now that we have mapped the entire world around us, and mapped our knowledge of cause and effect (via scientific theories), we must now use these maps to show us where and how we can fit, harmoniously with all forms of life, in this vast universe and planet.
Maps, as a means of arranging information of the world around us, can discard or highlight any particular information that is or is not relevant for any particular purpose. So if that purpose is to highlight a particular scientific fact, then in this sense "Maps are often useful ways of illuminating our understanding of scientific theories."
1/ AST 204 1995 Newsletter.
2/ Joseph Campbell 'Joseph Campbell And The Power Of Myth' (Video).
3/ David Turnbull 'Maps Are Territories' 1993 (P.28-30).
4/ Robert Lawlor 'Voices Of The First Day - Awakening In The Aboriginal Dreamtime' 1991 (P. 274).
5/ Karl Popper 'Unended Quest - An Intellectual Autobiography' 1976 (P.77).
6/ Fred Alan Wolf 'The Eagles Quest - A Physicist's Search For Truth In The Heart Of The Shamanic World' 1981
7/ Robert Lawlor As above (P.31).
8/ Jeremy Griffith 'Beyond The Human Condition' 1991 (P.68).
ORDER OF LIFE AND ENERGY (Fig.1)
|EARTH - Below||MAN - Within||HEAVEN - Above|
|Sat - being||Chid - consciousness||Ananda - rapture|
|Electronic body||Quantum body||Photonic body|
|Brujo's domain||Shaman's domain||Curandero's|
|Goal or Fruit||Growth||Idea or Seed|
|Male – (Outward Action)||Man and Shaman -||Female – (Receptivity)|
|Yang - Evil||orchestrating the dance -||Yin - Good|
|Dirty - Messy||between the other two.||Clean - tidy|
|Exclusion (Desire to separate)||Inclusion (Desire to join)|
|Survival or Death||Healing Power|
|The word AUM also fits this order of life and energy, and represents the spiritual energy of the Universe. When pronounced properly, all vowel sounds are contained in this word and represent the mortal part of the spiritual self. Consonants are interruptions, and equate to the silent pause at the end of AUM, which represents the immortal part of the spiritual self.|
|A (AAHHH)||U (UUOOO)||M (MMMMM)|
|Open the mouth||Fill the mouth||Close the mouth|
|Coming into being (Birth)||Life’s wonders||Dissolution (Death)|
FOURFOLD OF NATURAL SYMMETRY
MEDICINE WHEEL (For the Southern Hemisphere) (Fig.2)
|Yellow ochre||Red ochre||Charcoal||White Pipe clay|
|Far-sighted Place||Close-to Place||Looks-within Place||Place of Knowledge|
|Pure Spirit||Children||Middle Aged||Elderly|
|Spirit||Emotions (cellular memory)||Matter (Body)||Knowledge (Mind)|
|Eagle||Mouse||Bear or Wombat||Buffalo or Kangaroo|
SEVEN CHAKRAS (Fig. 3)
|Base of spine||Sex organs||Belly (solar plexus)||Heart||Throat||Brow (3rd eye)||Crown (of head)|
|COLOURS OF SPECTRUM|
|Red||Orange||Yellow||Green||Blue||Indigo or Purple||Violet or White|
|NOTES OF SOUND|
|LEVELS OF CONSCIOUSNESS|
|AGES OF MAN|
|Adjusting to Physical body Crawl, Walk, etc.||Self identity Crisis to develop subjective mind.||Emotional with others. Develop free -will.||Decide lifestyle Develop self-love & mature love.||Question & or reaffirm wisdom of self-expression.||Questioning spiritual nature or affirm life without this growth.||Integrate exterior and interior into one.|
|Survival, Eating Basic grounding Freshness Consuming (love).||Sexuality Creativity Lust, Relationships Richness.||Bravery Clearing emotions Personal power Consuming Power.||Compassion Self love Gentleness Evaluation.||Expression Communication Judgmental.||Vision Wakefulness Considering spirituality.||Enlightenment Upliftedness Integration with God.|
|BODY ORGANS AFFECTED|
|Kidneys, Spinal column, Bladder||Sex organs, Intestines, Stomach||Spleen, Liver, Gall Bladder, Immune system.||Heart, Blood, Circulation, Metabolism||Lungs, Vocal cords, Ears, Nose||Lower brain, Left eye||Upper brain, Right eye|
|Foot hills||High hills, Small mountains||Mountain shoulders||Highest mountains|
|Everything in the universe fits into these orders of life. Observing, Learning, and Living in harmony of them creates harmony. Ignoring these orders of life creates destruction|