Sunday, November 21, 2010


"It is no coincidence that the first really effective national trade union in New Zealand was that of the post and telegraph workers, with their easy access to immediate communication throughout the country"

Tony Simpson, 'The Road to Erewhon', p.17 (1976)

In an attempt to get a bit more of a handle on local history I've started to read 'The Road to Erewhon' by Tony Simpson. It was lying around at dad's and the title caught my eye. I read Samuel Butler's novel 'Erewhon' last year. I want to make my way through it slowly, and begin to get more of a social context for the historical design research I want to embark upon over the next couple of years.

The bit above stood out because lately I've been thinking about the partnership between the newspaper man and the telegraph guy in the TV series Deadwood. The newspaper man in particular I suppose, because he was such a minor odd-ball type character to begin with. He gets pushed around and made fun of, especially for his aspirations towards 'culture' and 'civilisation'. But towards the end of the series, where annexation is obviously inevitable, and various people are fighting for power within that impending system, the actual power of communication becomes overtly palpable. Between them the newspaper man and the telegraph guy form this very important partnership, who in co-operation with the power-hungry saloon owner, kind of manage to 'defeat' the more sinister and mega-wealthy gold-mining magnate. It's a nice idea... access to communication networks beats outright wealth. Well it sort of does.

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