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When H wakes up he's at the wheel of his car on a little road near the motorway.
He is not hurt, and sees no sign of an accident around him.
He tries to start the car, but without success.
So he abandons his vehicle, and walks in the country, for miles.
Eventually, in the distance, he sees two men having a picnic.
The car's broken down.
Perhaps you could help.
I absolutely have to phone. I'm very late.
What a bore.
Forgive my curiosity, but it looks like ludo.
- Have you been playing long? - A very long time.
- Is it just a game for two? - No.
- Don't you cast the dice? - Not those.
When I was small, I often played snakes and ladders.
And I've given my children a set.
You shouldn't do that.
It's not the sort of game you should put in the hands of children.
There you are.
Eight, with a five and a three.
You have one hour.
H. realizes he is the victim of a nightmare.
Six, with a four and a two.
I can't wait, I have an appointment in half an hour.
Hurry along, then.
H realizes he is the victim of the worst type of nightmare, a didactic nightmare.
It is an ordinary game of ludo, in which the squares represent
a certain portion of the territory. The player has to move himself
and go by appropriate means to the place assigned by chance.
A few hours later H is walking in Paris, suddenly a voice calls him:
Are you coming?
H realizes that during the hour that has gone by, he has been played with.
Two hours late. You don't realize the risk you're running?
You were there, you ought to be on your way to that square there.
- That's where I'm stopping. First I must go home.
There's someone waiting for me.
- I'm in a position to tell you that someone is waiting for you at that square.
- It's something other than an appointment. - I'll never get there.
There's no disgrace in running a bit.
H hopes it is all just a bad dream. Little by little the game grows on him.
What are they playing at?
He doesn't yet see that there are several games of ludo.
Half an hour later, H meets the other player.
- Have you got a system? - I always turn right.
- Not entirely. But, in the end, yes.
- Are you sure that right and left have any meaning here?
Suppose the way out was elsewhere than on the right?
- I'm in a hurry. I have an appointment in half an hour.
- A piece of advice, then. Never take the same street twice in the same direction.
And act like Ariadne, if she was mad.
What does that mean?
- Each time you see a new street, you take it.
And you only backtrack if you cannot do otherwise.
- And what are you going to do? - Act like Ariadne, if she was wise.
According to the mathematician Pierre Rosenstiel, the 'wise Ariadne' method
consists of backtracking after exploring each new corridor.
That way, it is known, and then it is the turn of another.
By contrast, crazy Ariadne explores as much as possible,
and only backtracks as a last resort.
These two attitudes are coherent and make it possible to resolve a labyrinth.
Every traveller may be considered myopic. He cannot see further than the horizon.
The map is the means of enlarging one's field of vision.
Thus the map of a maze destroys the maze at a stroke.
The map suppresses the labyrinth.
The history of cartography is therefore the business of labyrinth destruction,
as was known five thousand years ago.
A labyrinth is resolved - one also says "beaten" -
when each corridor has been used once and only once in each direction.
Where are you going?
I don't know. I'm lost, and I'm in a hurry. I've an appointment in half an hour.
- Fine, I'll go with you. But come along.
Is it far?
No... let go, I can get down on my own
...the good thing in this neighbourhood is the sound map they've installed.
We're not far from your home.
Listen. It's Beethoven.
I live near Berlioz. It's less fun.
A sound map for blind people, foreigners and illiterates.
Each zone is characterised by a musical phrase.
The route is correct when it follows a given melody.
Every change of route implies a change of melody.
A few hours later, he sinks into despair and has to take refuge in a church.
Then he senses a voice calling him from on high.
Come here. You can see better from here.
H realizes that the church has also entered the game
Come here. You can see better from here.
I can't get too close. I've got vertigo.
- Are you sure it's vertigo? - What do you mean?
Perhaps it's something else.
At least that's what I hoped. I've been waiting for two hours.
- What are you waiting for? - You, theoretically.
- What for? - Look, it's our game.
You've changed the game.
- No, the scale. Now, we're not in the district, we're in Paris.
- I must go back to the district. I have an appointment.
- You haven't understood anything. You've changed scale too.
Now, we're playing over Paris; you can't go back to the district.
I don't understand, I didn't notice.
- I don't know, it's my vertigo, I want to vomit.
- Fine, go ahead. - Not here.
Why not? You should dare.
- I can't, I don't want to inflict such a painful sight on you.
I'm a bit disappointed.
Not what you expected?
It's your move, not mine.
How do you know?
By the colour.
You have to go there.
Are you sure you don't want to vomit a little bit more for me?
- My ears hurt a bit. - So I see. Don't worry.
It hurts a bit at first, but afterwards, it's fine.
Six... and the other one, three. Six and three...
I have to go there. Hurry along!
A few minutes after leaving the church, someone calls him from a car.
The car is also part of the game.
- Square twelve, please. I think it's in the eighteenth arrondissement.
It's an old map and perhaps the city has changed.
The map lags behind the territory. It is partly inaccurate.
The map is prospective. It serves as a model for development.
It is in advance of the territory. The city does not yet resemble the map.
The city has been destroyed by a cataclysm
and has been rebuilt in accordance with several maps.
These present the characteristics described in the first two hypotheses.
The inaccuracies are compounded.
So one must envisage the construction of a perfect map.
The perfect map would be on the scale of one to one.
It would be as big as the territory.
Direction signs and road name plates can be seen as a timid endeavour
to create this perfect map, making it possible to do without a map.
The perfect map would be the sum of all possible routes stored on a videodisc,
which would reproduce them as required in a visual form.
This perfect map would render inestimable services to the army,
tourist agencies, and all sorts of travellers.
We're going to change scale, it seems. To the station!
The die is cast
Once again, chance organizes things well.
Now the game is being played on the scale of France.
The whole of France is just a board for the game.
On this scale, two maps start to diverge.
The map about to disappear is called the mental map.
It is the image of a known territory.
It is made up of habits...
... memories... feelings.
It is the familiar universe of spaces commonly frequented.
The other is a paper map, which represents a little-known or unknown territory.
Scientists claim that we see only what we know.
We must therefore conclude that the paper map is all-powerful.
Well... I was wondering when we'd meet again.
You did well, I didn't expect it.
Really? You're just saying that.
Perhaps it won't last.
Why do we keep meeting everywhere?
- You have to follow the rules. - The rules, I'd like to know the rules.
Good, very good. A lot of people aren't interested in the rules.
They don't even know who's playing. - Are there so many people playing?
- Lots. The whole train. - The whole train?
- Who are you? - The one who answers questions.
- What sort of questions? - That's for you to find out.
- Why? - No reason, it's easy.
It's harder to answer them.
Does that depend on the sort of questions?
- Go ahead - Where are we?
- In a train crossing a landscape. - I could have said that for myself.
So you believe everything you are shown?
For example, look, what's that?
That's a route.
- And that? - That? It's a map.
- And that? - That's a landscape.
- And what connection is there between the three?
- I thought I was the one asking the questions.
- A good answer. - Well, what connection?
The noise of the train's bogies sends him to sleep.
H. says to himself that, after all, since the dream is becoming endless,
he might as well take a siesta so as to shorten it.
During his siesta, he has a new nightmare,
in which his interlocutor turns into a table on which someone is throwing dice.
H. realises the game is ordering him to get off the train.
Near the station, there is an airport. H. realises the scale is changing again.
Now the game is being played over the whole of Europe.
- So here we are again. - You again.
- How was it this time? - Much harder this time.
I wasted hours and hours.
I was four squares ahead and then I met a guy who wouldn't let me go...
- Shall we catch up now?
Yet I was four squares ahead, at least.
And then... I've never wasted so much time.
What about your appointment?
- I missed my appointment a long time ago.
- What do you risk? - Arriving, perhaps. Why not?
So you don't know what you risk.
- It's always the same people who make threats.
Look down there.
The territory is disappearing, It's starting to look like a map.
You are going to have to choose;
between the map and the territory,
between theory and meetings.
I never stop running and you talking about theory.
- You can see we're at the point where cartographers make maps.
The territory is disappearing...
...Are you scared in planes? - No, never. Except when they land.
Generally, theory frightens people.
- Where are we going? - Square eighteen.
- The Montfossis. - What's that?
A range of moutains stuck on the map by the cartographers to join two ranges.
So they are mountains that don't exist?
- No, they don't exist. But they exist on the map...
We shall be arriving soon.
The Montfossis are imaginary mountains
created by the great cartographer Philippe du Hache in the 18th century.
These mountains support his theory of the configuration of the terrestrial globe.
The events in his nightmare, and his tiredeness, bring him sleep.
In his sleep, he dreams he is flying over the maps in an exhibition.
I don't understand anything.
That's not surprising. It's an 18th century Japanese road map.
That won't stop us reaching our target.
Now he's not travelling in space, but in time.
All epochs merge.
Now the map disappears. We're returning to the landscape.
Look. That's where my appointment was.
You know you'll never get there.
This return to the landscape makes it possible to ask a delicate question.
If the map is a representation of the landscape, what is the territory?
It is quite clear that the territory is the sum of all the maps,
the result of an infinite addition.
Or, conversely, the territory is what is left when one removes
the whole tissue of lines, drawings, symbols and colours which covers it.
Its existence becomes doubtful.
- I'm a bit scared. We're not far from the labyrinth.
- No reason to be scared. We're in a plane.
Look, another labyrinth.
It's not serious.
- And there, another one. Not bad, that one.
And there, another one.
- Got it, we're at the centre of the dice. It's called the eye of the dice.
- We're going to get out soon. We'll know the last draw.
Getting used to changing scales?
I don't know, I want to vomit.
A map may be called inaccurate when one cannot find in the territory
that which appears on the map.
Inaccurate maps are valuable aids.
They enable you to discover what you do not expect to find,
to deceive your enemies, dazzle your friends,
and make your desires a reality.
They also make it possible constantly to make new maps.
We're coming out of the dice now...
Scared? - No.
A new throw of the dice causes him to change scale.
Now the whole planet has entered the game.
The rarefaction of the air at high altitude causes him to lose consciousness.
When he wakes up, he finds the dice on the rough surface on which he is resting.
He cannot resist the temptation to throw the dice himself.
H realizes that he is being played with like the dice in a game
in which he is both the player and the stake.
The rules of the game force him to change scale again.
Now he has moved to the cosmic dimension.
You're not going to complain I'm a good loser?
At this level, you won't need to play any more.
But I have an appointment.
We are turning with the sun.
There is no more day or night.
There is no more time.
We now live in the pure...
- You mean we are dead? - No.
It's the territory, the planet, that is dead.
If there is no more time, there is no more space.
Just this image... everything has become a map for us.
- It's absolutely tragic. - Tragic.
One can't be on earth and in the sky at the same time.
Look, it's the earth...
... air... mystery... sea... yesterday... day before…nuclear...
H realizes he is going to wake up.
But into which dream?