The PJ Mode Collection

In the Words of Persuasive Mapmakers

We’re fortunate to have the recorded thoughts of three very different persuasive cartographers on the nature of their work. Each is represented in this collection.

Arnold Hillen Ziegfeld was “the most prominent geopolitical cartographer” in Weimar Germany. Murphy 1997, 168. He joined the Nazi Party in 1921, and was tireless and effective in promoting and producing what he and his colleagues called “suggestive cartography.” Herb 1997, 82. In Ziegfeld’s view (76, 82),

“what is at stake here is . . . the creation of a special ‘psychological’ or ‘suggestive’ map, which is suitable for enlightenment. * * * Just as [cartography] as a science and technique is committed to . . . a more and more faithful naturalism and truthfulness, the suggestive map shall have its function in creating the abstract expression of a slogan, in which the acuteness of the phrased idea and the clarity of the corresponding image combine to the inescapable psychological effect which gives the suggestive map its importance as a political weapon and educational instrument.”

James Francis Horrabin was active at the same time as Ziegfeld, at the opposite end of the political spectrum. He was an English socialist writer, journalist and political activist. Some of his principal work was aimed at providing geographical support for socialist political and historical views. His Plebs Atlas, containing 60 maps for the use of students in the classes of the National council of labour colleges, and worker-students generally (1933), was aimed at “students of Imperialism and World Politics.” Horrabin made it clear (3-4) that:

“The maps make no attempt at crowding in all the names and facts possible. On the contrary, I have aimed at leaving out everything non-essential to the illustration of a particular point. I am a firm believer in the theory that a map should be designed to make some one point clear – and other points be left to other maps. Not only elementary students but older readers are befogged by the wealth of detail, all of it emphasized equally, in an ordinary map. For the same reason I have made many of the maps diagrammatic, and used arrows and different sorts of shading to make their meaning clear.”

Richard Edes Harrison was trained as an architect rather than a cartographer. Among other innovations, he frequently illustrated views of the globe as if from space, choosing the perspective that most enlightened the subject of interest. His maps in Fortune magazine in the late 1930s and through World War II, “simultaneously shocked and dazzled readers, showing them a world in terms of relationships that were left hidden on more traditional maps.” Schulten 2001, 214. While Harrison’s work was enthusiastically endorsed by most, several major professionals scorned his maps, one opining that they “were not maps at all.” Ibid. 223. In a later interview, criticizing American cartographic scholarship for its “unwillingness to admit art as a full partner of technology,” Harrison said (1958, 84): “The whole matter was summed up by Picasso when he said, ‘Art is not truth; art is a lie which makes us see the truth.’”