JF Ptak Science Books LLC Post 940
NYC has certainly had its imaginary/creative trials and tribulations over the last 400 years or so, but I must say that these two depictions of the state of the city are the most, well, unexpected as any I've ever seen. The first comes from 1902 and is a forward-looking appraisal of the chances of New York City in the near-future. The aeronaut tourists are being told by the aviator/carny--floating above Manhattan in the future, in the year 1920--that those chances are not very good, the city having disappeared under its own weight, sunk by the growing skyscraper1 population in a ground loosened by too-numerous tunnels. The cartoon is a joking editorial, of course, a riposte to the relatively new building jag that pushed big buildings to great new heights. [A post on more realistic views of the City of New York can be seen here]
The second image on the other hand is not a farce; it is one of the strangest (published) unintentionally Outsider, unintentionally Absurdist/Dada works that I've ever seen. It appeared in a post at the very start of this blog (two years and 500,000 words ago) and it remains a capstone of Mondo Bizarro category2.
This 1941 pamphlet isn’t so much “interesting” as it is interestingly illustrated, where all of the semi-coherent interest resides, the text having left coherence far behind, somewhere, in it own intergalactic dust.
This is the only known example of the depiction of an extra-terrestrial New York City pictured with the earth in the background.
Huh? Yes, this is the Big Apple in space—not its own space but THE space, outer space—somehow, impossibly, removed to some something-or-other (actually in this case, a “bubble”) that, while not being the Moon, was something like it, though not actually a solid and without gravity, floating on a base of floating effluvia and hope, but, well, you get the picture. Whatever we’re floating on here (actually it is identified as the “perisohere” (don’t ask)) is very big and very very close to the home planet.
The author, David Gordon, is certainly after something, but what that "something" is I just don't know. He starts things out for the reader asking a series of questions like “why does the earth and other heavenly bodies remain in the air and submerged”, answering them with other questions.
In all of this Mr. Gordon produced a work of staggering incredibility, more so since it wasn't an intentional science fiction effort, and in my book any time anyone reveals such a shocking piece of thought deserves a special kind of praise. I'm just thankful that the pamphlet was illustrated.
1. The word "skyscraper" appeared in print only nine years before this cartoon (Harper's Weekly, April 1893), thugh the necessary elements like heating and cooling capacities, electrical lighting, plumbing [with appropriate, siphon jet toilets], elevators with dependable brakes, had been in place since the 1880's or earlier.
2.. One of the other capstone publications written about here is the monumentally bizarre work on sculpting in fat and lard: