A Mapmakers Dream


Beginning this book one might think that it is the ruminations of a common cartographer. Quickly as the chapters flip by one finds a learned scholar and also spiritual sage in this cartographer. Fra Mauro\'s world is within his quarters at San Muchele di Murano\'s monastery. He was frequented by explorers whose transient existence embraced the lands and peoples of distant places. Hearing of the monk\'s vision of a map that encompassed all of the world and its essences, these explorers would travel to the monk\'s cell to unburden themselves of not only the unique sights they had witnessed, but of the inevitable moral and religious dilemmas that such alien forays presented. Pages read slowly flip by now. Mauro’s whole perception of the world and his own morality is questioned. There was more “meditative knowledge” than he expected. He brings forth several issues on the entity of knowledge. One is the thought that knowledge can only be truly obtained through a “combination of the senses of the body and the faculties of the soul.” He likens this to a tree’s leaves and fruit. They both need each other for the most ample nourishment. Also, there is the fact that knowledge was gathered and sought after through many trials and tribulations by our ancestors. And after all of their hard work to achieve enlightenment, the generations following slowly desecrate or dilute what was achieved.


Mauro started to believe that every man’s observations of the earth contribute to part of its growth. This makes the world “a place entirely constructed from thought, ever changing, constantly renewing itself through the process of mankind’s pondering its reality for themselves.” But what they do see limits them. Most cannot get past his or her own observations and experiences. They will never realize the wholeness or the invisibility of a greater substance. He also states that the imagination of man can be something unstable if not coupled with intelligence. One could destroy imagination or intellect if not jointed together. One of the last pieces of knowledge that Mauro ponders over is the thought that it is impossible to separate a spirit from its “place of growth.” The spirit and the earth are inseparable. “They both thrive on one another as a seed does in the earth.”


This monk started to find these parcels of cognitions more important than the actual coastlines, mountains, and oceans islands placed onto maps. These ideas collaborated to produce the world we live in, our mental and spiritual realities. “It is a realm known only to those who have an eye to seeing what is invisible, or to those who are prepared to elevate themselves above the light of understanding.”