Far Tortuga

I’ve not yet read Far Tortuga, but I noticed there’s some beautiful symmetry going on in the use of concrete/typographical forms — here especially.


Far Tortuga - P Matthiesson


John Latta has a good post about the book, as good an introduction as any if you’re curious.

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  • You’ve read the McElroy piece about it, I presume? I still haven’t gotten to this one, though the book he pairs it with (Crawford’s Mayordomo) is one of my favorites.


    • Hi Dan! If I’m not mistaken, Far Tortuga is mentioned by McElroy in passing in the 1979 Tom Leclair interview, and maybe somewhere else, but there’s no pieces that deal with it explicitly. For the heck of it, and for anyone interested, here’s that mention, copy-pasted from the Leclair interview (with some fantastic philosophical insight dwarfing the interest of the book reference): “There is a resistance to technology as being the instrument of our destruction, an activity which is fundamentally dangerous. I would agree with Doris Lessing’s vision of the planet exterminating itself in The Four-Gated City and with Peter Matthiessen in Far Tortuga. But it also seems to me that many writers don’t let themselves take science and technology seriously because they see these areas conflicting with the human imagination. They see science as anti-human. I don’t. Science and technology offer forms by which we can see some things clearly; their experimental and measuring methods, their patterns larger than life or smaller than sight, beckon us out of ourselves. If you assume your assumptions are only one of many possible views, maybe one day you find a way to drop, say, the reassuring habit of scale models and conceive distorted models, a model you can visualize only in fragments that the mind must leap to unite.”

  • Hi! This is the piece I was thinking of – might not be listed on his web site, I think in another form it’s also part of the water book.


    • There’s thoroughness! Thanks!

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