There are people in this world — none reading this, I’m sure—to whom the orientation of a map doesn’t matter. A town map, perhaps outside a local tourist information center, where east or west or (horrors) south is at the top is grounds for, at the least, imprisonment, IMHO. North belongs on top of a map, any map, and dammit that’s just how the world is.
[Speaking of the world, it’s fun to imagine how it would be different if civilization had arisen in the southern hemisphere. Instead of Babylon, Athens and Rome, if the earliest cities had arisen on the Rio Plata in South America and the Orange River in South Africa, maps would be oriented with south up. Clocks would go, um, counterclockwise, because the earliest clocks were based on how the shadow of a sundial shifts—in the northern hemisphere. It’s opposite south of the equator, where the sun moves from right to left. “Fall” (when leaves fall) would be March to June. And, guessing here, the art of long-distance navigation would have arisen slower than it did: “up” here, Polaris, the North Star, is a smidgen off from due north. In the southern hemisphere, the closest bright star to the celestial south pole, Miaplacidus, is a full 20 degrees off kilter.]
I thought about orientation after posting a drone photo of the whale — The Whale — that, as of this writing, is lying on Second Street between F and G. Three local muralists — Blake Reagan, Kyle Sanders and Chris Dmise — created this oversize humpback in about four hours for the Friday Night Market last October 20. This is what I posted:
A slew of folks responded, positively, to the artwork, but several pointed out that my pic showed the poor cetacean upside down. So I reposted, after photoshopping out the cars:
Night and day, right?
Meanwhile, one benighted commentator thought the whale was headed south down Second. But Second Street runs more or less west-east — see the compass rose at the foot of F Street.
See what I mean about orientation?