Thursday, May 13, 2010

Frank Norris | The Octopus: A Story of California | 1901

Dear Magnus Derrick,

More than anything, I remember your converstion with your wife Annie the night that you told her about the way that the ranchers and farmers were organizing against the railroad. She was afraid for you, that despite your great integrity you would be defeated, if not consumed, by the railroad. I wish you were around to see the media and multi-national corporations now. They are probably worse than the railroad ever was. Annie imagined it as a "leviathan with tentacles of steel." That's frightening but imagine if the tentacles weren't even visible, if they were radio waves and wireless internet and scraps of information.

So much is gone. The Mussel Slough, where so much of your life passed, is not what it once was. Tulare Lake is no longer really Tulare Lake. I am sorry. I don't know what to do about it. Annie also said that she felt "a sense of a vast oppression, formless, disquieting." I know what she meant. I am sure that you do, too.