JF Ptak Science Books LLC Post 206
Here are two fantastic (and also completely unrelated!) pamphlets from my Naïve Surreal collection, which have also positively, absolutely never been seen on TV. (As a matter of fact, neither are found in the massive OCLC WorldCat, which librarians use as a cataloging tool and I use as a relative-scarcity engine; and what this means is that neither pamphlet is located in any library collection worldwide. A bookseller once semi-complained to me that pamphlets such as these which have not been catalogued could very well be in a box in a basement somewhere. Hm. That may be true, but what does it matter? Like Frenhofer the unfinisher in Balzac’s Unfinished Masterpiece, if it is hidden and unaccountable, it might as well not exist.)
The first pamphlet, Flagpole Painting, by James E. Hare, is perhaps the Ulysses of works on flagpole painting—according to the OCLC, it may also be the only work ever devoted to the subject. And it is wonderful! It is studious and determined, and takes it subject seriously, describing all of the nicks and tucks necessary to do a thorough, correct and injury-free job painting a pole. The title does produce a chuckle, being so unexpected and seemingly mundane, but it *is* a great work on the subject.
Even more unexpected is the title of the second pamphlet, Explosives as a Civilizing Force, by the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce, Dr. Julius Klein—a government-endorsed homage to blowing stuff up, published by the Institute of Makers of Explosives (103 Park Ave, NYC). This is certainly a title you don’t see every day.
Dr. Klein starts off by disabusing the reader of the “bad press” of explosives: “a good many of us, I imagine, labor under a misapprehension about the explosives industry…we conceive of explosives as an instrumentality of havoc. But that conception is utterly wrong.” Utterly? The man does have a point of course, which he explains in subject headings like “Dynamite the Liberator”, “Many Unusual Uses”and “Explosives Release Raw Materials” But “utterly”? Its a real piece of heavily worked propaganda that makes the case for the economics goodnesses and misunderstood destructive values of TNT.