Franco Farinelli, Blinding Polyphemus: Geography and the Models of the World

CI_14736606670.jpgFranco Farinelli, Blinding Polyphemus: Geography and the Models of the World, translated by Christina Chalmers and in Seagull Books Italian list.

This appeared over a year ago, but I didn’t realise this was in English until Alberto Toscano kindly gave me a copy today. Italian geographer friends have long told me of the importance of Farinelli’s work, and I’ve only read a little of it in French – this is the first book of his in English.

Today, we believe that the map is a copy of the Earth, without realizing that the opposite is true: in our culture, the Earth has assumed the form of a map. In Blinding Polyphemus, Franco Farinelli elucidates the philosophical correlation between cultural evolution and shifting cartographies of modern society, giving readers an interdisciplinary study that attempts to understand and redefine the fundamental structures of cartography, architecture and the notion of ‘space’.

Following the lessons of nineteenth-century critical German geography, this is a manual of geography without any map. To indicate where things are means already responding, in implicit and unreflective ways, to prior questions about their nature. Blinding Polyphemus not only takes account of the present state of the Earth and of human geography, it redefines the principal models we possess for the description of the world: the map, above all, as well as the landscape, subject, place, city and space.

Franco Farinelli is an Italian geographer who researches the intersections of cartography, logic, philosophy, politics and economics which underlie the phenomena of the built environment through history. He is a professor of human geography and head of the Department of Philosophy and Communication Studies at the Università di Bologna, and the president of the Italian Geographers Association. He has taught at Nordplan, the Università di Ginevra, University of California Los Angeles, Univeristy of California Berkeley, the Sorbonne and the École Normale Supérieure. He is the author of several books, including Geografia (2003), L’invenzione della Terra (2007) and La Crisi della Ragione Cartografica (2009).

Christina Chalmers is a poet, writer and translator who lives in London. She is in the editorial collective of the journal Cesura/Acceso.


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