At some point I think I would like to post an exhibition of some of the collection of the vastly/quietly weird/surreal/Outsidery titles from my BizzaroLand Today! pamphlet collection. Sometimes the titles are just incredibly weird, or wrong, or they're not titles at all but something else, or they're unintentionally absurdist of dadaist or Surreal, or they are just Outside what we might come to expect in the world of logic and its extensions. Sometimes the titles are just odd and the work is real; sometimes not. Sometimes they're just terrifically understated or heartbreakingly simple, and even useful, like this example (from Clymer, New York, 1945):
There was a Bible-studying group headquartered in Haverhill, Massachusetts whose inspiration/idea interpreting the true nature of what was "Israel" according to bits and pieces in the Old Testament, and which found something to be radically different from what was seen to be the case. The pamphlet documents that the place we think of as Israel is not really so, and that the country best fitted to these OT statements was actually Great Britain. There are many reasons for this and they get mistily presented in the pamphlet Restoration of Kingdom Administration the Anglo Saxon Responsibility (published by the Anglo-Saxon Federation of America in 1929), but it is rather too much and tedious and tiresome to get into the milky details, except to say that Israel as was currently recognized could not be so unless they adopt the Christian faith. And so on.
The address of the organization put it on Merrimack Street in Haverhill, a block away from the river--the four story building now has it middle floor obscured by some teal 1950's architectralolypse facing, and the bottom floor is now a dollar store (with redundant signs) with a sandwich board out front (captured by the Google car) reading "Design Perfume on Sale Beauty Supply". I'm sure the store is necessary and fills a need, but it is a long way and many years from redefining the concept of Israel.
In my heaping pamphlet collection there is a sub-collection of works
with impossible, outsider-y, and stubbornly semi-confused titles that
simply cannot be ignored--I mean the titles can't be ignored, though most of the time their texts beg to be.
Some of the titles change from cover to title page; some titles are non-existent and replaced by simple exclamations.
In this case, and the first instance that I can recall, there is a "Library Classification" at top-center of the cover, leading to other information about the book just before we get to the title, which seems nearly secondary, and which is followed by other non-title information right there on the cover. There is all manner of info there, a cover with a very busy pace--data galore for what should be a mostly blank space, except the author's name.
Q: What is the one sure thing that is very impressive about this publication by Mr. Rex Knight?
A: The 35-ring wire binding on a six-inch tall publication. There's not much to recommend itself to recommendation and memory.
[Perfection had better hurry up and get here given my own fast-short-sleep habits]
Mr. Knight had some ideas about sleep and well-being and achieving various states of normalcy and perfection, most of which had to do with waking up during hte night and staring at one of the many full-page neuro-demands which evidently were in direct confrontation with whatever it was in your head that was keeping you from success and strength and wealth and inspiration and self, combating "enslaving habits" and "lesser habits" by telling the brain what to do with the mind. Or something along those lines.
In any event, Mr. Knight tried something out and used a lot of wire to bind the really rather nice paper his effort was printed on, so Wake Up and Sleep had at least that going for it. Aside from that, his suggestions seem more disruptive and potentially rheumy-eyed more than anything else, waking you through the night to hand deliver messages to your sleeping and semi-enslaved brain to find its own appropriate "wave" to enrich your life. "The prize idea that you seek is in the air all around you", he writes. "Ether waves, mental waves, cosmic or whatever you choose to call them, are everywhere. All you are trying to do is to get tuned in on the right wave".
"Expect more and more of sleep" says Mr. Knight--at least that is one remedy that would sound good to almost everyone.
It is interesting to note that "Rex Knight" is very close to being "Rx Night". And "King of the Night".
Lastly, according to WorldCat, there is only one copy located in libraries worldwide--that at NYPL. My copy was from the copyright office/collection at the Library of Congress when it came to me in a Very Large Grouping (called with little imagination "The Pamphlet Collection") many years ago. It never was a hit for the libraries.
In general I'm not in favor of left turns for autos in cities of a size where traffic congestion is an issue. It seems that from a main thoroughfare that three rights should make a left, easy congestion in the center of a busy street, eliminating lines of cars waiting behind a left-turning car waiting for a break in oncoming traffic, and so on. This semi-crackpot notion was just sparked after seeing this As Seen on TV-style pre-televsion promotional for an artificial hand for a left-turning hand-directional 1916 automobile. The hand is actually illuminated, which would have made it more effective than a stark hand in the night. It seems that they were just about <this close> to figuring our a less mechanical-anthropomorphic and more elegant solution than the illuminated artificial hand-held hand.
These would certainly make nice counter stools, if they were a little bigger--but they not, and they weren't, though they were just what they looked like--typewriter keys--and were part of a working 28,000-pound machine built for the San Francisco Exposition in 1915.
Evidently the machine was operated by using a regular -sized typewriter, the keys working in unison to produce a gigantic text on a big piece of paper. It was an advertising vehicle built by the Underwood typewriter company, and seems to have been a star of the expo--it certainly got a lot of attention, and successfully delivered to itself plenty of hopeful buyers who would round-out the company motto about their product: "The machine you will eventually buy".
[Source: Technical World Magazine, May 1915, page 346.]
I'm not so sure that this is "odd"--it is certainly unusual, and unusual in an interesting, surprising, and constructive way. A Book of Recipes and Suggestions for the Use of Toast at first glance stretches the idea of necessity, and maybe it still does, but at the end of the day this is a very nicely designed, considered and encyclopedic end-all treatment of toast. It states on the title that it is "the first exclusive Toast Recipe Book ever published", and I'll take it at its word. Happily.
So, we have recipes for the Cinnamon: cinnamon toast, honey, marmalade, jam (!), maple, pineapple, marshmallow orange, super-toast griddle cakes, super toast waffles. the French Toasts: raisin, milk, prune, orange, banana, eggs royal, and French toasted bacon. Then there's eggs in bread cakes, meat pies, deviled rarebit a la toast, tuna a la super-toast, shrimp Louisiana toast, sausage toast rolls, super-toast meat pies, toasted super cheese rings, super toast hash, crown frankfurter roasted toast, eggs benedict on super-toast, cannibal toast rarebit waffles, and so on. That's about a quarter of the recipes, and it seems about 300% more toast recipes than I've ever heard of before. Probably more.
I'm just passing this engraving along--the last dot in the right-hand column in the engraving below (shown in more detail just below that) exhibits the life-size dimensions of the guilty worm. The way in which the worm is presented is just very well done and beautiful in its own way.
[Source: The American Journal of Pharmacy, January 1839, volume 10, "Remarks on Ergot", by W.H. Miller.
"They crept leisurly about, and seemed to regale themselves on the mouldy matter on the surface of the grain, which, through the microscope, resemed a saccharine paste..."
Triple-F (Frank Freemnont Frazee) came up with an all-time-great-title entry when he wrote his pamphlet about _____ back in 1947. I have a copy of it, purchased in a 90,000-item collection from the Library of Congress--something called "The Pamphlet Collection", housed in 1,500 blue document boxes from 1952, all of which were categorized in a Borgesian nightmare way, according to nothing. Therefore the "General" box might have had General Electric pamphlets, or something about General Malaise, or Boston General, or General Rules of Parking in Providence (R.I.), and so on. So, although categorized and alphabetized, it was all useless. Among this beautiful mess were a thousand or so pamphlets like Mr. Frazee's--incredibly titled, about stuff visible and invisible, complaints, claims, praises, warnings, sufferings, advanced supra-backwards premonitions, and so on. My Frazee copy happened also to be the U.S. Copyright Deposit copy (or one of them, rather) that was sent to the Library of Congress to be housed forever (or until I got them), along with a carbon copy of the card catalog entry.
The card is a work of art. (More about this pamphlet here.)
Sometimes there are certain things that must not be refused--this is one of them. St. Jerome may have had a number of interesting and complex desks granted him during his imaging heydays in the late Medieval through Renaissance periods, and there have been fabulously simple approaches like the table-top/lap desk of Thomas Jefferson or the Easy-Boy arm desk of Roald Dahl, and there have been desk/floors like that of Albert Einstein, and desk beds like George Costanza's, and refigerator-desks like Thomas Wolfe's, and standing desks like Winston Churchill's, and non-desks of Sherlock Holmes, and so on; but I think given all of those I'd rather have the desk below, patented by M. McC. Parr in 1898. It seems to have it all, including a possible built-in bed--the only thing it is missing is an engine and a driveshaft and some wheels...you can add the brakes later on.
There are crowds and then there are crowds, crowds that are big and filled with people, and then crowds that are filled, but somehow strangely not with people even though they are there--large groups of isolated people. These photos show up now and again, as they did today--I gathered four examples, below.
[Student nurses, Roosevelt Hospital, New York City, 1938. Found at the Pinterest collection of Christian-Paul North, here]
This image is of a church or social service at Pentonville Prison in 1855.
Lonely hatted man in a very large crowd on Coney Island, Brooklyn, U.S.A, as captured by Weegee, ca. 1950. (The Hat Man is at the extreme bottom right corner.)
Two years ago I posted "My Zombie 'Phone to Deadville" and Tales of the Infinite Boneyard, by Tom Edisonwhich addressed a prickly mock-interview that the great inventor gave in 1910 about the possibility of communicating/telephoning with/to the dead. On the other hand, his recording phonograph did accomplish this, in a one-way way--for the first time in human history it allowed a person to listen to the sounds of something that couldn't make sounds anymore. Dead People Talking must have been an enormous idea to those of the first few years of Edison's 1877 recordable/playable device--it still its own enormity if you stop to think about it for a moment.
This is to some degree what was in the minds of the members of the Talking-with-the-Dead Club in Chicago's Oak Park as seen in an article in the endlessly interesting Popular Mechanics (for 1912). The members of the "Borrowed Time" club really weren't so much interested in talking with the dead but rather were more consumed with the dead talking to them. On waxed cylinders. Perhaps it was a new modern miracle and a possible comfort to their own soon-to-be demise that it would be possible to reach out from the grave to have your voice heard. The club was founded in 1902, and of its 25 charter members only 10 survived in 1912. It would have been an odd conceit to join a club to sit with fellow members to listen to the voices of dead members, a strange if new insistence on corporeal attention to dead stuff. But it is a very recognizable wish--"need', even--to have your the memory of your dead self improved or at least substantiated with a recording of your years-dead voice available to the curious.
This makes me think about a telephone book for the dead--there's certainly enough material out there for one, or to at least think about organizing one. Certainly in the near future there will be millions of new dead people, and given the extent of cell phone communication and etc. this will be one of the fastest-expanding communities of potential communicants. Probably the idea of a "telephone book" for the Dearly Departed is old fashioned, especially when we can have an entire internet (the world wide dead web) devoted to them, the them that are us. This may sound trivial and snarky, but it isn't and I'm not trying to be--I'm dead serious.
Darrell Drake was full of advice, not much of which seems to have weathered the wearying bits of time very well. Most of what he has to offer has to do with being coy, reserved, and retiring, and so much so to the point of being insipid acquiescing in the superior qualities of the man, forever in the back seat, quiet and demure, patient and understanding and making the back-step always the job of the woman. Not much of a surprise. But what was very unexpected was the chapter called "Let Smoke Get in Your Eyes", a four-page baiting in which he warns women against the antagonism of correcting the manners and behavior of the man, so much so that she should be well willing to have smoke blown into her eyes rather than suggest that the smoker not do so--you don't see that every day.
Hitler was dead in 1946, but dance--the devil's reach of hellfire and something worse than Hitler, according to the author of this pamphlet--wasn't.
The author, Dan Gilbert LL.D., wrote a very _______ summation of modern dance, which was an assault on morals (well, Christian morals) and decency. He does actually make the case that dance music (jitterbug, swing, and jazz) was more dangerous than Hitler and was "Hitlerizing" American youth to its utter destruction. "Jitterbug dens" preached a "faster jitterbuggery" (which was "conceived in the brothel to stimulate lust and vice") which led youth into the Underworld. The children of America were being lost to "razzy jazzy spasm bands" which would "strouse uncontrollable sex desire" and "infect youth with the disease of immorality" then to "produce(s) a state of emotional and nervous derangement, which is scientifically indistinguishable from intoxication induced by stimulants or narcotics". And on and on.
These are just a few of the very choice morsels found in Gilbert's 42-page diatribe, picked out by me rather quickly, plucked from the text with toothpicks--I just didn't want to spend very much time with this book at all. That said, I'm sure that there are tastier items than these, salted through a text of salt.
I don't know why Gilbert became this deeply interested in dance/death/Hell in the year following the end of WWII--after years of destruction, it seems hard for me to imagine to wake up, look out the window, and see the next assault on the U.S. coming in the form of dance. He did carry on some about the "jitterbug insanity" of "improvisation", and how dancers would abandon the appropriate and constrained methods of dance to simply move according to feeling and need. This was the root of it all--happy feet.
An earlier post on this blog addressed a direct relative to this pamphlet:
I'm looking for post #2000--this isn't it. It is however Quick Post #450 or so, which means that we're closing in on 2,500 overall posts in this blog since 2008. But there should be something with a little more flavor than baby tanning for #2000.
This is a good/appropriate installment for the Daily Dose from Doctor Odd series. As ideas go, it is not a very good one--but it is not among the Dantean 9th-level-worst. If we classify bad ideas on a six-point Major-Minor scale, from MajorMajor to Major to MinorMajor and then to MajorMinor and then Minor and finally MinorMinor, this one would probably rank at the MinorMajor level. Or maybe even a full Major. It is a bad idea. (An example, by the way, of a full MajorMajor bad idea would be the electropunk centrifugal birthing patent machine, described earlier on this blog, here. Okay, here's another: on draining the Mediterranean Sea, here.)
There are less invasive ways of ensuring that the correct baby is delivered to the correct parent(s) than tanning the baby's name onto their body--which doesn't of course take into account the instances where the baby's skin is too dark or whatever to be tanned. But the idea of subject a brand-new baby to a tanning lamp as its welcome to the world seems a bit--what?--horrible. Exposure to ultraviolet rays that will cause a six-month brand sounds like it might stir up the melanosome pot to cause damage to organs other than the skin, that it could have been a real assault on the DNA. Also, that metal object on the table looks a lot like a clamp--I hope it wasn't.