The Map and the Territory

14

A country is cooked with three ingredients: population, power and territory. Facebook, which has already announced the launch of its own currency, has the first two. It is the third leg of the shed that makes its fictional nation wobble. I want to think that there are still insurmountable frontiers for computer science, and that it has no chance against the stubbornness of geography. However, Zuckerberg has understood that money, like maps, is a convention. There are few things that escape the unifying domain of conventions: some love, true friends – who are never on the wall – and pleasure, which only exists if it is genuine. I can think of some more, such as mountains, skyscrapers, birds, pollution, terraced houses, oxygen, alleyways or sleeping volcanoes. In short, everything that separates Facebook from a tangible existence: the elements of the landscape.

Houellebecq, writing 'The map and the territory', raises a virtual region that crosses its labyrinthine pages. The French understood, even being the most 'posmo', that the binary system could never replace rivers, roads or infinite cities that inspire poems and settle culture. Facebook, however, claims to be a town without territory. Well, that utopia has several names on the other side of the screen: Palestine, Western Sahara, Syria. Even refugees, without land and without humanitarian protection, carry a cell phone in their pocket. The lack of territory marks them, but in the deception of the global village they are indistinguishable from free citizens. If here is the answer to the old enlightened dream of a cosmopolitan and egalitarian republic, turn off and let's go. Perhaps, on the heels of the book, Facebook ends up appearing on the maps; maybe everything is a fiction except death.

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