The Pequod Review:
Robert Harbison's Eccentric Spaces explores the human imagination, and specifically "the mysterious interplay between the imagination and the spaces it has made for itself to live in: gardens, rooms, buildings, streets, museums and maps, fictional topographies, and architectures." Harbison's book is slow going and there isn't always much substance under his opaque prose, but this is a fascinating subject and he has some good insights:
Gardens always mean something else, man absolutely uses one thing to say another.... Every garden is a replica, a representation, an attempt to recapture something, but the form it finds for the act is that of a mental picture, so in spite of its special properties a garden is just another of the images of art. All landscape painting does a kind of gardening, though the idealizing impulse makes a show of diluting itself as we move toward the present.
To put a city in a book, to put the world on one sheet of paper -- maps are the most condensed humanized spaces of all...They make the landscape fit indoors, make us masters of sights we can't see and spaces we can't cover.