Vienna Diary, July 12th

The Vienna Globe Museum has the pleasing quality of delivering more or less everything of what it promises: globes. It is globes from start to finish, from all across the ages. I learned about celestial globes and then was reminded of lunar globes. My Dad had a lunar globe up on the shelf of his study that predated my arrival in the world. Quite likely it is still there. It was an impressive token of Dad-sophistication to my young eyes, suggesting some tenuous but valid connection in my mind between my father and the men involved in the moon program.

Globes are revealing of our ability to understand the world. There was a time when the globes themselves were used as sophisticated instruments of astronomical calculation, allowing the user to forecast the night sky, and at some point those calculations were done without such globes. There was also a period of time when the general understanding was that California was a peninsula. This understanding became a reality on the surface of many old globes I saw — north America with this additional isle appended to it. A shock to see, like realizing an abstract painting has been hung upside down.