This is a photo taken in FDR library living-room. I was drawn to the ship within the glass bottle. The guide told me that FDR and his friend Louis Howe would built these “ships in bottles” together. In some ways I see this object as metaphorical: The imprisonment in the bottle of the ship; the challenge and seeming impossibility of building such a thing in the confines of the glass bottle; the effort of trying to contain or preserve a world of the powerful colonial rulers--the effort to preserve or protect power. This object may have felt the fingerprints of FDR and his friend Louis. It might have heard their conversations as sat in FDR’s small library and worked on the glass bottle ship, speaking as they worked about perhaps about mundane family events or perhaps about larger world events.
This ship in a bottle represents a world of the past, when statesmen like FDR and Louis had time for hobbies, born in their boyhood. Stamp collecting, bird collecting, hunting, etc. They had time to fill and hobbies with which to fill it. Today, despite Karl Marx’s prediction that the dynamics of capitalism and eventual socialism/communism would bring about a pleasant life of fishing--and one would assume plenty of time for building ships in glass bottles--today’s statespeople are checking their encryption systems and servers, connected 24/7 with their staffs and associates across the globe. Do they have friends they could build ships with in glass bottles? Does that space to retreat into one’s own ship building experience with one’s close companion lead to a safer and healthier planet? Or are we who live in the 21st century living in an always connected relationship that brings a healthier and more stable reality?