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AbysmalA Critique of Cartographic Reason$
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Gunnar Olsson

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780226629308

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226629322.001.0001

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When Above

When Above

(p.17) When Above
University of Chicago Press

In the map of maps, naming is the dematerialized point into which all power is condensed, the primordial means for knowing our way about. And for that reason this chapter focuses on Enuma elish, a Babylonian creation epic which lays bare the rhetorical techniques through which undifferentiated chaos is turned into differentiated cosmos. The Enuma elish is a foundational treatise on politics rather than religion whose premise is that in the beginning of the beginning nothing has yet been formed, because in the beginning of the beginning no things have yet been named. All that exists are the two coordinates of above and below, cardinal positions waiting to be inundated by the fluids of Apsu and Tiamat, the former literally meaning “abyss” and “uttermost limit,” by linguistic coincidence connectable also to “the great deep,” “the primal chaos,” “the bowels of earth,” “the infernal pit.” A perfect example of proper name and definite description merged into one.

Keywords:   maps, proper name, Enuma elish, coordinates, cardinal positions, abyss, uttermost limit, chaos, definite description, creation

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