The Ghost Map

The Ghost Map The Ghost MapSteven Johnson; Riverhead Hardcover 2006 

 

But Engels and Dickens suggested a new twist: that the advance of civilization produced barbarity as an unavoidable waste product, as essential to its metabolism as the gleaming spires and cultivated thought of polite society. The barbarians weren’t storming the gates. They were being bred from within. Marx took that insight, wrapped it in Hegel’s dialectics, and transformed the twentieth century. Johnson

Crowd a thousand people into three city blocks and you create an environment where epidemic disease will flourish; but in flourishing, the disease reveals the telltale characteristics of its true nature. Its efflorescence points the way to its ultimate defeat. Johnson

The appearance of the electrical grid, around the turn of the century, tends to attract more attention, but it was the building of the invisible grid of sewer lines and freshwater pipes that made the modern city safe for the endless consumer delights that electricity would bring. Johnson