The Map vs The Territory

a little essay...

i am reading a novel by the french author michel houellebecq. it is contemporary in all its blunt crude sexy grotesqueness. but the point of this little essay is its title: The Map and the Territory.

i was walking with my friend, myron, in portland (the oregon version) and he asked me which direction we were walking. and i couldnt tell him. other than i hoped it was towards a brewery.

and he said that google maps offers us the map and robs us of the territory. brilliant. and true. i was ashamed. in the best way.

today, we have no idea of cardinal directions, how one area of land relates to the other - i.e. the intuition about the territory. all we know is how to go from A to B. and usually only as efficiently as possible. we are losing one of the human species’ great talents - our ability to navigate, travel, sense direction, and wholeistically and specifically connect to the land around and under us.

and for me, this map vs territory translates directly into how we see our body and how we move with it. we are hyper-isolated in how we move. we ‘know’ anatomy and every distinct part of our body map. we can name it and talk about it. and yet we dont know how to integrate the whole. we can move from
step to step, from pose to pose, from exercise to exercise, but the territory lies in the transitions.

to know your body’s territory is to flow as a whole.

so next time you are driving or walking, i invite you to ask yourself more often what direction you are heading, and how where you are relates to where you are going and where you came from.

and next time you move or exercise or dance, sense your body’s territory, the space it uses, how it goes from here to there, and how your flow can be more united and less divided.

unite your territory and ditch the map. add some music and call it dance.

Elia Rubin Mrak Blumberg