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John Selden was a mystery box unleashed. Can a passion be called an addiction? His love for England’s ancient laws and constitution easily qualified him as a scholar of Jewish law. What is a passion? According to Aristotle, “anger should never reach the point at which it undermines reason; and this means that our passion should always fall short of the extreme point at which we would lose control.”1 Even though Selden loved to practice law and even had created the Petition to Right; I believe through the study of Aristotle’s famous line, “the Law is reason, free from passion”2, Selden was able to really reach and branch his knowledge and experiences outside of law and into a realm that he never imagined possible. That is when his map was discovered.
When Selden passed in 1654, his works went to Oxford University. Through the spectrum of Timothy Brook, we discover that Selden’s passion and love for precision lied within the work of art: the map. “Selden map bore the impact of China’s encounter with the same world, seen from the other side of the globe. […] Who drew the map acknowledged long-established traditions of how to draw China, but he also stepped outside that tradition to picture the lands that lay beyond China in a fashion no other Chinese cartographer had ever done.”3 Brook goes in depth with what he believes to be different about the map in comparison to other maps drawn.
William Janszoon Blaeu was a Dutch cartographer, publisher as well as atlas maker. He was skilled in his works due to his predecessor and a student of the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, whom had qualified as an instrument and globe maker. Blaeu published many works from the years of 1599 to 1638, however his job working for East India Company allowed him to further focus on this mapping abilities. Even though he did not attend university this allows me to see a new light in comparison to a scholar such as Selden himself. Bleau was able to work his way up from assembling celestial globes, making observations of an eclipse and discovering a new star. Between the years of 1595-1596 he worked with Tycho at an observatory on the island of Hveen, Denmark. That path led him to his last job in 1633, when the States General of Amsterdam appointed Bleau mapmaker of the Republic and official cartographer of the Dutch east India Company.
The trade routes in the South China Sea had always been intriguing. What has the way that these cartographers learned to make maps, the voyages must have been brutal to experience without the help of modern technology. Now a days, one can pull up Google maps and search how each boundary of China is drawn and recorded. What about the future? What abilities will we have in order to create a more physically present image of a land? Will three dimensional images become a new thing? Will the size IPhone’s be the size of tablets? These were questions that both Selden and Bleau never would have encountered centuries ago.
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