Friday, May 31, 2013

Genius Rewarded

On every sea are floating the Singer Machines; along every road pressed by the foot of civilized man this tireless ally of the world’s great sisterhood is going upon its errand of helpfulness. Its cheering tune is understood no less by the sturdy German matron than by the slender Japanese maiden; it sings as intelligibly to the flaxen-haired Russian peasant girl as to the dark-eyed Mexican SeƱorita. It needs no interpreter, whether it sings amidst the snows of Canada or upon the pampas of Paraguay; the Hindoo mother and the Chicago maiden are to-night making the self-same stitch; the untiring feet of Ireland’s fair-skinned Nora are driving the same treadle with the tiny understandings of China’s tawny daughter; and thus American machines, American brains, and American money are bringing the women of the whole world into one universal kinship and sisterhood.
 -- from “Genius Rewarded: or, the Story of the Sewing Machine”, The Singer company, 1880, and quoted by Evgeny Mozorv in his review of  The New Digital Age by Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Planetary writing

“Submergence” is an attempt at what I would call planetary writing, which is not the same as nature writing, it’s more political, more discarnate. Somalia here is scorched and hard, but it is also mutable and passing, and the same is true for the pain and the beliefs in the novel. So there is on the surface a narrative where human lives are played out and they matter so very much and are insignificant all at once. Whereas the ocean is confounding in another way, you have no breath in it, no light, and consequently no imaginable human life, yet it is immutable, and when you stack it up you find it is nearly all of the living space on the planet. What I wanted to do was to alter the reader’s perspective of Earth, to show that dirt is precious but seawater dominates, to step out on a field is rare while to float and scintillate with bioluminescence is common.
-- J.M.Ledgard talking to Philip Gourevitch