When I lived in New York City, it was a Friday evening ritual on my way home from work to pick up a copy of ?Time Out New York? to find out what was going on in the city, especially culturally. But who knew they sometimes write about important goings-on in DC, too?
The current issue (Nov. 15?21) carries an interview with Vincent Virga. He is the renowned photo editor and author (along with the Library of Congress) of the new book ?Cartographia: Mapping Civilizations,? published by Little, Brown in association with the Library.
The book represents Virga?s latest headlong plunge into the vast collections of the Library. This time around, his subject is maps, which are highlighted stunningly and comprehensively in ?Cartographia? as documents that tell us much more than how to get from point A to point B; they also tell us something about our figurative direction as a people and as different cultures.
A sampling of the interview:
The library?s map collection numbers in the millions. How did you decide what to include?
Each map I included had to tell us something about the culture it came from. The Chinese had five directions?north, south, east, west and center. The ancient Arabic maps look like geometric patterns. What?s going on there? That?s what inspired me. And I told Ron [Grim, the Library?s former chief of geography and maps] I only wanted to look at things that were really beautiful?things I?d like to steal or get for Christmas.
Fortunately, ?Cartographia? leaves the Library?s collections intact, but it?s a great way for map enthusiasts and even novices to hold a little piece of them in their own hands.