Hic Sunt Dracones
As I write, the estimated size of Google's index is 46.5 billion webpages. But how much do webpages (a metaphor) really tell us about our digital lives anyway? Think of all those smartphones, all those apps. There's so much dynamic content that Googlebots can't crawl.
The world, like the World Wide Web, has no end, no edge.
Which is why we need dragons.
Hic sunt dracones. Dragons, as borders, as boundaries. Not for the world or the World Wide Web, but for us, who need limits if we're to know these worlds and our places in them.
(Googlebots don't shut down in the face of infinity.)
For those of us who attempt to know our place through art, we, too, need our dragons — those protocols, practices, conventions, material, and machines that allow us to bound our work.
The poetic line, for example, as a bounded unit of music and meaning.
Or: The stanza, the sentence, the paragraph, the chapter, the book.
Or: The book, the scroll, the paper, the tablet.
Or: The tablet, the smartphone, the smartwatch, the laptop, the desktop, the banks and banks of servers, sending data to them all.
What's a page but another (material) dragon? What's a screen but another (digital) dragon? What's this HTML <canvass> but another (metaphoric):
Mouse over the Hunt-Lenox Globe, c. 1510
To say it without metaphor: Through boundaries, containment; through containment, compression; and through compression, the density, richness, abundance, energy, and multiplicity of meaning that we hope for when we create and experience art.