In Praise of Borders
October 24, 2011, 8:45 pm
By FRANK JACOBS
Borderlines explores the global map, one line at a time.
This is the first installment of Borderlines, a series devoted to the history, appearance and significance of borders.
As a teenager, I was delighted to discover on the map of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth the name of the city where I was born. Not the same town, of course, but another, fantastical place with the same name. Nevertheless, the map gave me options. I could be a native of Bree, a small, unremarkable town in northeastern Belgium . Or I could hail from that other Bree, equally small and unremarkable, but at least located in a world brimming with magic, danger and adventure — not to mention some spectacular scenery. In contrast, my home province of Limburg, in Belgium’s northeast, is generally flat, and on the whole bereft of elves, orcs, hobbits and wizards . So I spent many hours exploring Tolkien’s world, dreaming up adventures of my own in the far corners of that map.