Also in the news

by zunguzungu

Roughly three months later, Edgar Rice Burroughs would start writing Tarzan of the Apes. No specific connection, of course, but this sort of stuff was in the water:

“Headline, San Francisco Bulletin, 5 September 1911, evening edition: “BIG CITY AMAZES CAVE MAN. PRIMORDIAL MAN BLINKS AT CIVILIZATION’S GLARE.” Ishi had just arrived late the night before; when we woke up he saw San Francisco, and San Francisco, through the eyes of several reporters, saw him. The Bulletin’s lede was typical: “The lusty civilization of the twentieth century that is typified by San Francisco upon this shore of the Pacific was viewed today by a primordial man, brought to town from out of the furthermost savagery.”

“Reporters had gathered that morning at the Affiliated Colleges of the University of California on Parnassus Heights to get their first glimpse of the city’s newcomer. They used as much ink describing the man’s perceptions of “civilization” as they did describing the man himself. That made a certain kind of topsy-turvy sense: their descriptions of the other were really descriptions of themselves, using the man they beheld as a kind of measuring stick for the “lusty civilization of the twentieth century.” Five years after the earthquake and four years before it was to host the grand celebration of progress called the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco was at once proud of itself and anxious. That anxiety was reflected in the Ishi reporting that was, by turns, serious and silly.”