In that empire, the art of cartography attained such
perfection that the map of a single province occupied the entirety of a
city, and the map of the empire, the entirety of a province. In time,
those unconscionable maps no longer satisfied, and the cartographers
guilds struck a map of the empire whose size was that of the empire,
and which coincided point for point with it. The following generations,
who were not so fond of the study of cartography as their forebears had
been, saw that that vast map was useless, and not without some
pitilessness was it, that they delivered it up to the inclemencies of
sun and winters. In the deserts of the west, there are tattered ruins
of that map, inhabited by animals and beggars, in all the land there is
no other relic of the disciplines of geography.
-- Jorge Luis Borges "On Exactitude in Science." (1954?), in
Collected Fictions (New York: Viking Penguin, 1998), p. 325.
Translated by Andrew Hurley.
"J. A. Su rez Miranda, Viajes de varones prudentes, Libro IV,
Cap. XLV, L rida, 1658"