Rigor in Science by Jorge Luis Borges
Red Herring magazine begins an article on Google Maps this week with a wonderful reference to the short story “Rigor in Science” by Jorge Luis Borges. The story is so short it is worth quoting in its entirety:
“… In that Empire, the Art of Cartography reached such Perfection that the map of one Province alone took up the whole of a City, and the map of the empire, the whole of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps did not satisfy, and the Colleges of Cartographers set up a Map of the Empire which had the size of the Empire itself and coincided with it point by point. Less Addicted to the Study of Cartography, Succeeding Generations understood that this Widespread Map was Useless and not without Impiety they abandoned it to the Inclemencies of the Sun and of the Winters. In the deserts of the West some mangled Ruins of the Map lasted on, inhabited by animals and Beggars; in the whole Country there are no other relics of the Disciplines of Geography.”
And there is an MP3 audio clip of Borges reading the story in Spanish.