I have a problem. I start a book only to begin another a day later, and the process repeats itself unless a book absorbs all of my attention. This summer I stopped reading Plato’s The Republic after reading the introduction because I felt it gave away the whole book and, well, Plato’s format of dialogue isn’t that easy too follow (I’m trying to justify my failed attempt at reading the book, by the way. I tend to do this a lot).
So then I began reading The Greater Journey about Americans in Paris during the 19th century. It was going well until the shooting in my hometown. Coincidentally, I had bought the week before a book called El Sicario (the hit man), the translated autobiography of a Mexican assassin who worked for the Juarez cartel. So because of this shooting and my longing to understand the problem in my hometown, I consumed it in a day. I may talk about it in a later post, mainly because I have yet to come to terms with what I learned.
Then I tried reading Hunter Thompson’s Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail. I guess I’m just not in the mood to read about Nixon or McGovern or Washington in the ’70s, even if Thompson is an excellent writer.
And just like that, I was back to Greater Journey. If you haven’t noticed already, I’m a lover of all things French. Mais je ne sais pas pourquoi.
As I was reading it late last night I stumbled upon this a fascinating piece of knowledge, which is actually what I wanted to write about in this post (sorry if I belabored it with a dull introduction. I’m in a dull mood.)
Samuel Morse and Louis Daguerre. Two names that probably mean nothing to you and that meant nothing to me until this book.
Morse was a renowned painter. Daguerre painted scenes for theaters. “And?”, you ask. Well, Morse invented the primitive Twitter (name ring ring a bell? Morse code). Daguerre’s eponymous contraption, the daguerrotype, paved the way for photography (giving you the ability to have those awesome Twitter handles or MySpace auto-portraits).
Morse’s telegraph caused quite a sensation, particularly in Paris. So much that Galignani’s Messenger (I’m guessing a newspaper back in the day) reported, “This is indeed the annihilation of space.”
Isn’t this what Twitter is? It was strange reading that, given how much more advanced we are today.
As per the daguerrotype, many artists thought it would be the death of art (which, of course, is very much alive). This made me think of the current state of journalism.
So there you go. A little lesson in history. I apologize if I bored you.