Unmappable

23 minutes

How scorn for rules made Denis Wood a mapmaking luminary – and a sex offender

‘I taught your kids for 25 years, and I’m a registered sex offender.’

Denis Wood is obsessed with challenging boundaries. As a professor at North Carolina State University, he pushed back against conventions in cartography, establishing a reputation as a leading thinker in the field. But in his personal life, his disregard for rules and norms has thrown many lives (including his own) into disarray. In 1996, Wood pleaded guilty to ‘taking indecent liberties with a minor’ following a long-term sexual relationship with a teenager – an offence for which he served two years in jail. Wood, who believes ‘laws are horrible things by and large’, remains mostly unapologetic about his crimes. Unmappable is a challenging portrait that offers no easy answers, and it earned its US filmmakers Diane Hodson and Jasmine Luoma widespread acclaim on the film festival circuit in 2015.

Director: Diane Hodson, Jasmine Luoma

Get Aeon straight
to your inbox
Join our newsletter Sign up
Follow us on
Facebook
Like

‘Aeon, for me, continues to be one of the best places to spend a quiet afternoon, in the company of some of the most brilliant minds around.’

Shivam C, India, Friend of Aeon

‘I read one article and decided that I wanted to support an organisation that promotes critical thinking around ideas that affect our everyday lives.’

John T, Canada, Friend of Aeon

‘Aeon is what readers and writers dream about. It is wide in scope, without ever being shallow. It offers stimulating issues, yet never seeking to be tantalising.

Publishing at its best. I love it.’

Professor Luciano Floridi, University of Oxford

‘I believe it’s increasingly important to support accessible scholarship and aspirational ideas.

Thinking people can no longer afford to be alone.’

Christine T, USA, Friend of Aeon

‘Aeon’s combination of intelligence, integrity and flair is vanishingly rare – and I am very grateful for it. It is becoming an indispensable presence in the digital world for those who believe that ideas matter.’

Tom Chatfield, writer and commentator on digital culture

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.
But we can’t do it without you.

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.
But we can’t do it without you.

Essay/
Mood & Emotion
The myth of ‘mad’ genius

The Romantic stereotype that creativity is enhanced by a mood disorder is dangerous, and dissolves under careful scrutiny

Christa L Taylor

Essay/
Cognition & Intelligence
Gesture talks

Across vast cultural divides people can understand one another through gesture. Does that make it a universal language?

Kensy Cooperrider