Cartographies of Time
December 4, 2010
I love St. Mark’s Bookshop, every time I go to New York I make it a point to make the trek to Third Avenue between 8th and 9th Streets and spend time browsing there, especially through the new book section, where I came across Cartographies of Time: A History of the Timeline by Daniel Rosenberg and Anthony Grafton (Princeton Architectural Press, 2010) the last time I visited New York. Opening the cover I immediately noticed the finely embossed paper used for the cover, providing the sensation of lines on my fingers as I opened the book. Lines, timelines, the feel of lines on my fingers, brilliant! This never happens at amazon.com. From ancient times the line has played a starring role in the representation of time. The timeline is such a familiar object, I was surprised to learn from this book that the timeline as we know it today is only 250 years old. The authors do a nice job presenting the history of the timeline, rich with examples from the earliest works to recent examples like Maya Lin’s The Women’s Table in New Haven, Connecticut and Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama. A detailed discussion covers the Cosmic Pathway, an imposing structure through which you can physically walk from the moment of the big bang to the present time at the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the Museum of Natural History in New York, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Timeline of Art History, which only exists in cyberspace. If you have an interest in timelines, you will love this book.