Marginalia, no.101

Being constantly devoured by cranes, they have to live in caves in order to escape.

~ Matteo Ricci, from the Impossible Black Tulip map

We prefer to believe outrageous things when possible.  A Jesuit missionary to China, Ricci made his annotated map of the world for the Wanli Emperor in 1602.  Here he describes a race of dwarfs supposed to live in northern Russia.  He tells how, after a season of oppression, they charge from their caves on the backs of goats to destroy the nests of their enemies.  Thanks to things like the rise of international trade and satellite imagery, geography as a form of popular fiction has been exiled to distant planets and parallel universes.


Filed under Marginalia

4 responses to “Marginalia, no.101

  1. You find the most interesting things, Ian.

    I agree that “geography as a form of popular fiction has been exiled to distant planets and parallel universes,” but would also register this one exception:

    That fairly well satisfies the preference of at least one constituency to “believe the most outrageous things” about our own old planet. I say so with an un-Palinesque wink.

  2. Ian Wolcott

    That might count as a parallel universe, I think.

    Gotta like that header on the homepage: “Welcome and Prepare to Believe.” It sounds mildly threatening.

  3. “Mildly threatening” are indeed the words. Admonitory in the strong sense.

    If you ever have ten minutes you genuinely wish to waste, browse that site. It is amusing to see how, in their diorama of the Garden of Eden, they avoid taking a stance in the old controversy as to whether Adam had a navel.

    My question: How long before the paradise of the “Creation Museum” “falls,” built as it is on a theologico-organizational paradox? Now, *that* would be a felix culpa.

  4. Pingback: More Pygmies vs Cranes « The New Psalmanazar

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