I’ve been watching the film Longitude because, well, I like it and second to get a better sense of the 18th century. I can see me watching Mutiny on the Bounty next.
The story in Longitude is about John Harrison who was a carpenter who loved clocks. He devised four different (the first one was immense!) clocks that could be used to determine longitude at sea. This was a very big deal because there was no way to do this. Harrison’s clocks worked, but did not turn out to be the tools that would ultimately be used onboard ships.
It became Harrison’s obsession to develop this clock — for several reasons not the least of which was the prize of 20,000 pounds. It was also because ships were lost at sea and people died AND such a tool would give the British fleet a competitive advantage.
This must have made a huge impression on me because, last night, I dreamed I was in a car with my friend L and we were lost. In the dream I looked down at the place where I often put my cell phone. There was Harrison’s clock. “Siri,” I said, “Whedahfukahwee?”
What’s funny about that is that I have never talked to Siri. Where I live — the uncharted waste of Southern Colorado — I have no data. I set sail into the the immense emptiness of the San Luis Valley with a paper map and written directions.