River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West

River of Shadows Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West The world as we know it today began in California in the late s and Eadweard Muybridge had a lot to do with it This striking assertion is at the heart of Rebecca Solnit s new book which weaves t

  • Title: River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West
  • Author: Rebecca Solnit
  • ISBN: 9780142004104
  • Page: 137
  • Format: Paperback
  • The world as we know it today began in California in the late 1800s, and Eadweard Muybridge had a lot to do with it This striking assertion is at the heart of Rebecca Solnit s new book, which weaves together biography, history, and fascinating insights into art and technology to create a boldly original portrait of America on the threshold of modernity The story of MuybrThe world as we know it today began in California in the late 1800s, and Eadweard Muybridge had a lot to do with it This striking assertion is at the heart of Rebecca Solnit s new book, which weaves together biography, history, and fascinating insights into art and technology to create a boldly original portrait of America on the threshold of modernity The story of Muybridge who in 1872 succeeded in capturing high speed motion photographically becomes a lens for a larger story about the acceleration and industrialization of everyday life Solnit shows how the peculiar freedoms and opportunities of post Civil War California led directly to the two industries Hollywood and Silicon Valley that have most powerfully defined contemporary society.

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      Published :2019-02-19T21:37:20+00:00

    One thought on “River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West”

    1. Out west, the complex responses to industrialization and its transformation of time and space include things never dealt with by the impressionist painters and avant-garde poets usually talked of as modernist, include Indian wars and identity shifts, a landscape being claimed and renamed, photography as art, and a comic literature. Rebecca Solnit doesn’t explicitly oppose the history of San Francisco to Walter Benjamin’s characterization of Paris as “capitol of the nineteenth century” (B [...]

    2. I left the theater after my second viewing of The Master last night with Muybridge on my mind. There are many reasons for this. One might be that The Master was being shown in 70mm, it’s the first film I’ve seen in that resolution, and it is magnificently sharp, with bright, vivid, and subtle coloring, more expansive sound. It is the next advance in the medium that Eadweard Muybridge helped to inspire over 150 years ago. I am far removed from that time, but I’m living in a sensory world th [...]

    3. This book is interesting, although at times that fact was almost obscured by the writing style, which has a recurring tendency to extremely florid prose. Isn't it odd how these days fiction writers generally avoid anything floral or lengthy in description to avoid being 'purple' or Victorian, while non-fiction writers can get away with writing sentences that would make a Bronte sister roll her eyes? Not that they always do it, but the mystical floralness does crop up more often, and at least for [...]

    4. If you think of Eadweard Muybridge at all, you probably remember him as an obscure l9th century photographer, the man who first proved through time lapse photography that when a horse gallops, all four hooves are off the ground at the same time. Okay, but 300 pages about his life? What Solnit does is to simultaneously place him within the context of his time, the geographical west of 19th century California, opened up by the transcontinental railroads, and at the same time, a culture of onrushin [...]

    5. The reviews on this site have it about accurate, though they may value Solnit's speculations about the twin cultures of technology and film, for which Muybridge and California Victoriana are viewed as responsible, slightly more than I do. (I prefer her book about California painters of the post-war period.) She is of course not the first to connect tech history with the film industry; similarly, her work on Muybridge is indebted to scholars to whom I can't find all that much of her book's value [...]

    6. What strikes me about Rebecca Solnit's writing is her ability to come off as a modest writer, one who is trying to "figure out" her books, her storylines, her history, right alongside the reader, but at the same time, is rich with research and knowledge about her topics. The intelligence oozes through, but never once does her writing read as showy or grandiose -- it is simply engaging, thought-provoking, involved stuff. More than worthwhile, it is necessary.

    7. River of Shadows is an imaginative look at the origins of modernity. Its main focus is the photographer Eadweard Muybridge, best known for inventing the motion study method of breaking down rapid motion into viewable scenes. Rebecca Solnit uses Muybridge's biography to explore great themes of modernity's emergence: the reduction of space, the recreation of time, the destruction of nature, speed's rapid acceleration, the rise of giant figures, and the defeats of many. The biography nicely balance [...]

    8. (4.7/5.0) Solnit is so obviously influenced by her subject, this pretentious, determined photographer who climbed to the tops of mountain peaks and robber barons' mansions just to find a new perspective. Her take on history is so out there, so committed to linking unexpected events and actors, so refreshing. She was my professor my last semester at Cal, and she speaks just as she writes, is spider-like in her ability to weave in circles, rapidly and with serious elegance.

    9. Solnit's diligent reportage ties a multitude of social movements and technologies into a tight web, revealing the less obvious forces of history. Sometimes the rubber bands of connection come pretty close to snapping, but the result of so much scholarship is impressive. Eadweard Muybridge seems to have been at the very nexus of our modern age—the author leaves no stone unturned in her analysis of his place and time, and the import of his famous motion studies. We know what he did, and when—l [...]

    10. Basically amazing. Rebecca Solnit surveys Eadweard Muybridge's life and career, tracing the changing effects of space and time throughout his photographic work. At the same time, Muybridge is but a tiny corner in the story, simply the distillation of the larger cultural currents at play—the annihilation of space and time by railroads, telegraphs, and photography that radically changed our sense of what distance meant and made the world accessible (in a certain sense) to all.Solnit also pulls o [...]

    11. I didn't really like this book. I didn't even quite finish it. I believe I am on page 220 or so (of 250). When I couldn't even motivate myself to pick it up on a plane ride home, I knew it was done.Something about this part-history, part-biography, part-metaphor just doesn't do it for me. All of its subjects are touched on only in moments, and the use of a metaphor of condensing time to connect the disparate pieces always struck me as forced. I learned a little bit, but not a lot, and I was unin [...]

    12. Lots of fun California and San Francisco history in this one, all wrapped up in a novel-esque package. Muybridge (known for his motion studies) was an amazing photographer in history, and if you are curious about him, early photography, early western frontier and the railroad, go for it.

    13. Not actually about this book (although the book is mentioned), but a good article by the author about "mansplaining."

    14. Rebecca Solnit explains things to me. Brilliantly.This book, of course, is the one that inspired her essay “Men Explain Things to Me,” and launched mansplaining. (Which word is recognized by spell check!) Famously, she was at a party and told a man she had just written a book on Eadweard Muyrbidge; the man went on to declaim about a Muybridge based on a book review he had read in the Times. It took Solnit’s companion three times to get the man to understand that that was the book she had w [...]

    15. This book was a decent read; could have been a shorter. Living in The Bay Area, it was interesting to see pictures of the city in the old days.

    16. (See my full review here: tinyurl/5rqxh5k)I would be interested in this book if it focused solely on the “annihilation of time and space” that hooked so much public and professional attention in the late-nineteenth century, but certainly Muybridge’s life and work is a compelling way to orient this story. And Solnit, as a thinker with broad interests and unabashed fascination in her subject, seems primed to be the perfect guide. But the wealth of intriguing material here is, unfortunately, [...]

    17. Checked this book out from the library, but ended up buying it halfway through so I could take my time reading it and keep it as a reference. This book is interesting to history, movie, and photo buffs alike, as well as people who just like a good Western story. I came into the book with a BFA in photography and a love a multi-paneled images, so I already had a fair amount of knowledge about Muybridge's photography, but I still learned a ton. History is so much more interesting when art is invol [...]

    18. notesstory of the photographer Muybridge whose life is interlaced w/ the RR expansion, conquest of the west, and 19th cent technology that 'annihilated time and space' as it was known until thenp.5 6-7 weeks to cros us; w/ RR, 6-7 days10 RR, telegraph, steamship annihilate time and space12 Einstein uses trains in his metaphors13 Lyell, geologist, believed earth millions yrs old, not thousands believed by biblical scholars14 Darwin had Lyell's book on Beagle sail, 1831-6 photog in UK, US, France [...]

    19. "The annihilation of time and space and the industrialization of everyday life" is the author's own description of Muybridge's time. The Victorian era was a phenomenon and one that I cannot adequately imagine was like in a time that brought stop action photography, the telegraph, the train (among other innovations), but that description certainly helps.Solnit is a modern writer and sees the world from her own time, but is also able to give you the historical perspective that is necessary, especi [...]

    20. Only complaint really is that I wish there were more images in the book. It felt frustrating for the author to describe a specific photograph in detail only to have no visual accompaniment or to see a completely different picture from that discussed, but from the same series. Otherwise this was a fascinating historical read of a deconstructed Western narrative, and I appreciated the different angles she shed light on in the Anglo development of Northern California, and how the motion studies add [...]

    21. Solnit can write a superb sentence. That is not up for debate. And she obviously can handle a lot of research and put it together beautifully. Unfortunately, I cannot stand to read nonfiction historical pieces, so being forced to read this for a class was torture. It would be a great book for people who love panoramas of history going on in the background of some big development, but I will never be able to look at this book again.

    22. Friends raved about this book, and - indeed - it did seem like the kind of subject that I would find interesting. But. I. just. could. not. finish. it. The prose was like molasses, infused with lead. Plodding. Pedestrian. Unreadable. Godawful.A shame. Because there was probably an interesting story in there somewhere, trying to get out.

    23. Annihilating Time and Space: Reading River of ShadowsIt has been a crazy couple of weeks. I was running on full steam wrapping up my thesis through July 22, and then went straight into cleaning-packing-moving mode moments after my return from the Exam Schools. And even after we got nearly all the unpacking done at the end of last weekend (save for the boxes of artwork), I still felt a little brain dead this past week. It was starting to get frustrating, because I wanted desperately to get into t [...]

    24. Most fascinating to me was the description of how the sense of time, and measuring time, changed during Muybridge's lifetime. I can't imagine not having time zones, or thinking of being able to travel many multiples of the distance I can walk in an hour, never mind traveling around the world as I did in 2016. But the rest of the book held my interest as well- a complicated man who left an interesting legacy.

    25. Is there anything Solnit writes that isn’t worth reading twice? Applying her trademark combination of empathy and distaste for easy categories, she portrays the compelling intersection of a man (Muybridge), a place (California), and a time (the Industrial Revolution). She dispels the romantic-yet-inaccurate myths of the Wild West in order to illuminate what should be the West’s true legacy, namely that of being the birthplace of technological modernism.

    26. A brief and unflinching history of westward expansion and a photographer who documented itd changed it. Capped by a chilling denouement that unites photography, transportation, telegraphy, and "the annihilation of time and space." It makes me want to run to the mountains and try to hide away, to a place of unspoiled naturalness and zero timepieces.

    27. A book about a photographer with hardly any photographs. The author waxes on about what was going on in the photographers world, presumably to set the scene, but it just seemed pretentious and long winded. I feel this book could have been half as long, and often wanted to out it down as the author dragged out a though with a lot of frilly words and imagery.

    28. If you are JUST interested in photography, you will be skipping a lot of sections of this book. The narrative frequently zooms out to provide a broader picture of what life was like in the late 19th century, particularly in California. I didn't know very much at all about the history of photography, and needed to get up to speed on Muybridge to help my students prepare for the AP Art History exam. Plus the author's "Men Explain Things to Me" article: guernicamag/rebecca-s. But I'm also intereste [...]

    29. Loved this book! Both comprehensive history and introspective essay, it follows the author’s path of discovery and detective work. Everything I love and hate about California (from afar) is in here. Solnit is so incredibly perceptive. Highly recommend.

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