Yesterday, I mentioned that I had been misinterpreting Korzybsky's famous catch-phrase "The map is not the territory" all along. Well, maybe not misinterpreting, but not interpreting to its fullest extent. I realized that part of what it means is that the abstraction and the thing it represents are ontologically distinct - a map of DC is not just a representation of DC but also a completely different entity with a life and trajectory all its own.
Today, I realized that there is another phrase that I've been only partially understanding for a long time now: McLuhan's catch-phrase "the medium is the message." The point that I've missed is that there is no such thing as a tabula rasa - a blank slate. Even a blank slate is a slate, and a message inscribed on a slate will carry a different meaning from the same message, the same words, inscribed here on my blog. I think this relates somehow to the map-territory relationship and Hacking's interactive kinds, but I'm not quite sure how yet.
With regard to Chichén Itzá, the site we've been discussing in my Theories of the Past course (as a result of reading Casteñeda's In the Museum of Maya Culture), it means that anthropologists aren't inscribing Mayan Civilization on a blank slate (or mystical wax tablet, to use Casteñeda's metaphor). Instead, the ruins themselves are a medium, and therefore also part of the message... This gets us back to the agency of the thing being represented, and the relationship between the abstraction and the thing itself.