MEMORY | Chorography

Posted on 15/08/2009


How easy it can be to forget important things. The Merriam-Webster word of the day is ‘Chorography’.

Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day
August 15


*1 : the art of describing or mapping a region or district
2 : a description or map of a region; also : the physical conformation and features of such a region

Example Sentence
This highly detailed and embellished perspective drawing of the city and the surrounding lands is a fine example of 16th-century chorography.

Did you know?
The word “chorography” was borrowed in the 16th century from Latin “chorographia,” which in turn comes from Greek “chōrographia,” a combination of “chōros” (“place”) and “graphia” (“writing”). Chorography was distinguished from geography in that the former was concerned with smaller regions and specific locations whereas the latter was concerned with larger regions or with the world in general. The maps and the art of mapping that once were the field of chorography have since passed into the spheres of geography and topography. As with the art it names, the word “chorography” is now primarily encountered in historical discussions of geography and cartography.

Reading it triggered a recollection, following by a rapid series of connections and questions.

Don’t I know …?
Didn’t I do …?
Wasn’t it when …?

It felt like a strange moment of return, a cracking and crackling web of mental space. Like when a car windshield starts to shatter. The division between the realms of memory and forgetting was passed. Memory fractures the present.

Produced in the late 1990s by Teri Hoskin, Ensemble Logic + Choragraphy was a project devised for the Electronic Writing Research Ensemble.

The memory it triggered was a collaborative work produced some years ago with Western Australian writer Josephine Wilson, titled Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. It was devised as an epistolic writing of collaboration, specifically our collaboration. It was a map of sorts: perhaps a new kind of writing trying to find its way through old practices and habits?

And, so, in casting back into the writing space of Ulmer and Derrida and trying to place myself, perhaps find my way, again in those postulations about ‘the chora’ and chorography (or choragraphy), I have to question this notion of casting back though. Perhaps that’s not quite the most appropriate way to describe it. The memory felt like it came to me; it surfaced and it arrived. It come to me now in the present where I recall and recount. I have not returned to it – it has come back to me. I perhaps need to find a place for it, or more likely I need to retrace some steps to an ‘other place’.

“The Chora receives everything and gives place to everything.”
source: Chora_L, Jacques Derrida, Peter Eisenman, 1996.

“Chorography is a poetics for making a map.”
source: Gregory Ulmer

“Chorography is writing that creates complex and unexpected relations from and within a matrix of the autobiographical writing subject.”
source: Darren Tofts

Posted in: process