Colin MacCabe: Preface. In: F. Jameson: The Geopolitical Aesthetic. Cinema and Space in the World System. London 1995, xivf
is the least articulated but also the most crucial of the Jamesonian categories. Crucial because it is the missing psychology of the political unconscious, the political edge of the historical analysis of post-modernism [...] The term is taken from the geographer Kevin Lynch´s The Image of the City (MIT Press, 1960) and is used by him to describe the phenomenon by which people make sense of their urban surroundings. Effectively, it works as an intersection of the personal and the social, which enables people to function in the urban spaces through which they move. For Jameson, cognitive mapping is a way of understanding how the individual´s representation of his or her social world can escape the traditional critique of representation because the mapping is intimately related to practice – to the individual´s successful negotiation of urban space. Cognitive mapping in this sense is the metaphor for the processes of the political unconscious. It is also, however, the model for how we might begin to articulate the local and the global. It provides a way of linking the most intimately local – our particular path through the world – and the most global – the crucial features of our political planet.
[...] The point is to make sure that the information (which will always be limited) is nonetheless sufficient to produce a map which will overlap at certain crucial points with other grids of interpretation and which will produce the terms for further political and economic analysis. Theoretically speaking, cognitive mapping needs more than mere development – it is fundamentally a metaphor which needs to be unpacked into a series of concepts which would link the psychic and the social.