Friday, April 16, 2010

Pherecyde's cloth (I): The cloth

Greek pre-socratic philosopher Pherecides of Syros (6th BC) [1] did explain the origin of the World, as we know it, by means of a myth.

Accordingly to him, in the origin there was the chaos inhabitted by two antagonistic "entities" or "forces": Chtonie (the solid materials) and Ogenos (the oceans or, more exactly, the waters) which would exist in a complete separation from one eachother, with no contact between them.

Zas (laterly known as Zeus, the father of Gods) would have put order into this initial chaos by fostering the meeting between these two entities and their later union, which is poetically described by Pherecydes as their "wedding".

As wedding present, Zas would have woven a large, beautiful cloth in which he would have represented, at a natural scale, earth and seas and all what they contain: geographical elements, animals, plants, minerals, atmosphere, as well as the sun, the moon, the stars, etc.

After the wedding between Chtonie and Ogenos, he would have laid the cloth on them, this way transforming Chtonie into Gea, and chaos into order. And, as a consequence, creating the World in which we now live.

By means of the act of covering the chaos with a representation of the "ordered" world, the model of the world would have become the world itself. Or, in other words (now mine, not from Pherecydes): The mapping of the world at a natural scale would have caused its actual creation.

Beautiful, isn it? Mainly if we read the legend from our perspective: the one of those who work with geographic information.