Maps to Nowhere
The same day that I was telling a friend about the Wolvog’s imaginary land from childhood (and she was telling me about the one her daughter invented), I read about Jerry Gretzinger’s map. Jerry started drawing the map of his imaginary land in 1963, and it is now 3200 panels. Bright hues, tiny towns, and sometimes spaces eaten up by voids. It’s a living, breathing space that doesn’t exist.
I also had an imaginary world when I was in elementary school that I still think about. I kept an imaginary friend there, and we wrote imaginary letters back and forth to each other as pen pals, detailing our day-to-day lives. My imaginary friend found my life fascinating because it was so different from her own, but… you know… vice versa. She lived in a fishing village and had already been put to work in the local economy, assisting on a fishing boat. Hard life for an imaginary elementary school girl.
I think I like Jerry’s story so much and looking at his map because it was created for his own pleasure. It has since gone on display because other people are interested in it, too, but the project, at its heart, is a private one. Even if no one ever looked at it — and for the first 20 years, no one did look at it — he would continue drawing it and thinking about it and bringing the world into existence.
I feel like we’ve moved into a time period where most people take a “why bother” attitude when it comes to creation. If no one is going to see it/read it/like it, why bother making it? I see posts all the time saying the person is stopping their blog because no one is reading it anyway.
I guess Jerry’s map is a tangible reminder of why we should bother. Why we should write down words even if no one else reads them or draw pictures even if no one else sees them. We should do it for the pleasure of entertaining ourselves, of bringing something into existence that would never exist if not for our imagination.
There’s a divide between what we make for public consumption vs. what we make solely for ourselves, and it’s skewed heavily towards sharing. With limited hours in a day, why make something that only reaches inward if you can use those creation minutes to make something that reaches outward; that may bring accolades or attention or connection?
Do you think you could take real joy in designing your own world, knowing you’d never share it with anyone, or do you get more pleasure from releasing it into the world and seeing how the world receives it?