Time and Distance Overcome
“Nothing is innocent”. This phrase could very well have been the headline of the essay written by Eula Biss. However the headline ”Time and Distance Overcome” does the essay well. Eula Biss explains the progress from no communication but physical to a web of telephone wires and how the invention of the telephone served the civilization - or most likely did not. There might be a difference between civilization and civilized. To most people, the civilization is associated with the urban city, or at least their own, (to them) well-known country. But to be civilized instead focuses more upon behavior, state of mind, and attitude towards others. However, our civilization is not always civilized; it has a history of violence, war, genocide and oppression of other races – something that are hard to define as civilized or even human. But that is mostly forgotten, as we occidentals tend to see ourselves as the world’s saviors; we invented almost everything, therefore we are the civilization. The essay by Eula Biss runs in three segments; two longer, text-heavy parts, and then a short, concluding part. From the first to the second part there is a great change of mood, as the first part mostly devotes itself to describing the history of the telephone, and the quite silly struggle between private persons and the telephone companies that came out of putting up the telephone poles; however in the second part, that is divided from the first by three little stars, the essay suddenly focuses greatly upon the fact that a lot of black men were hanged in the telephone poles, and almost nothing about the continuing development of the telephone itself is mentioned – only that the “Early telephone calls were full of noise.” (line 95) and, at the very end of the second part, that “Bell had lived to complete the first call from New York to San Francisco, which required 14,000 miles of copper wire and 130,000 telephone poles.” (line 134) Part two begins with...
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