distance communication


This time of year always feels sad. Darkness arrives earlier and earlier each evening, with autumn and winter closer each day. Summer is always too short and unreliable in these northern countries.

Then again, what did I do all summer anyway? Mostly read books and write.

Some books that have been widely praised left me cold, such as Exit West. From the get-go I didn’t care for it, and as it went on, it felt more and more like it glossed over important details. But then there were still parts that stuck with me afterwards – the distance-relationship theme and the terror/loneliness of suddenly being cut off were both striking.

In a way – a modern way – this paralleled the themes in Angle of Repose, highlighting what it was like to move west to ‘the frontier’. The pioneer’s view on communication with the past (because where you came from became essentially the past), and even by the late 1800s, was still a matter of possibly waiting a couple of weeks for word, just anticipating replies to letters. This entailed, also, the inevitable and eventual drifting apart as things change: no acrimony, no animosity, just a shifting. How could it be otherwise? Our lives and communications with our peers today are generally pretty homogeneous. If I move from Iceland to Sweden, or from England to France, certain things change, but the standard of living doesn’t end up changing so much that it is life-defining. (I say this, though, knowing the trickiness of connectivity in parts of the Alps and other similar barriers in many modern places to modern communication.)

We are far too used to convenience and immediacy. Today I feel stubbornly opposed to it, like a child, a Luddite and a person who thinks that if you want to talk to me, you will have to make an effort.

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