A Daily History of Holes, Dots, Lines, Science, History, Math, the Unintentional Absurd & Nothing |1.6 million words, 7500 images, 4 million hits| Press & appearances in The Times, Le Figaro, MENSA, The Economist, The Guardian, Discovery News, Slate, Le Monde, Sci American Blogs, Le Point, and many other places... 4,200+ total posts
This creative vision of the future appears in Popular Mechanics (May 1932) and while picturing zeppelin-like space ships with stubby retractable wings traveling at 15,000 mph, it also depicts pilots in a very informal attitude of dress...they're also in a relatively cavernous command center with big gleaming instruments, including a very large compass and a very impressive graphical printout of some sort. Anyway it looks like a lot of big and heavy stuff in a big and bulky command center, which means the ship would've been bigger and bulkier, and who knows what was going to get it to the desired altitude of 600 miles for it to make its 15-minute Paris-Chicago flight. I think the sleeveless underwear deserved an explanation, but it found none.
A wonderful series of images appeared in the work of Darran Anderson on his Imaginary Cities (https://twitter.com/Oniropolis) contribution on Twitter. He shared several images by the great Winsor McCay illustrating humorous/satirical/speculative sci-fi/fantasy pieces by John Kendrick Bangs (1862-1922) on what the future might be, publishing them in the New York Herald in addition (at least) the Los Angeles Herald in 1906. One of the stories that I found most intriguing was on a supermegalopolis called Philyorgo--the vision of it being made possible via the invention of a fantastical instrument called the Spectrophone. It enabled the viewer to see (and hear!) into the future. In this installment the narrator tells his audience about an enormous city of the year 4307 called Polyorgo. It is basically a city comprising the cities of Washington DC, Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia, and all the little cities in-between, all rising in a neat 30-strata rectangle 1,600 feet tall and 238 miles long (which doesn't quite get to Chicago, but no matter. It is the imagery that matters, not the math [you can't spell "matter" without M A T, but...]).
From the Los Angeles Herald: "At this point," cried the megaphone bred pilot, "we see the southern exposure of the city of Philyorgo, the commercial capital of the universe. It is 238 miles in length, extending from what was once the city of New York on the north to the ancient city of Washington on the south, and from base to sky line runs sixteen thousand feet above the level of the sea.
"As you are aware, It is the greatest commercial aggregation in the universe, having a greater population than Mars, Saturn, the Great Dipper and Europe combined, and is the result of the annexation by the city of Chicago of New York, Philadelphia. Washington and other smaller cities lying between. It consists of thirty different strata, including basement and roof. Its resemblance to the skyscraper of other times being due to the superimposition of city upon city, until the final plateau-like sky line was reached, upon which dwell the workers who during working hours go below into the various underlying sections to which their business calls them."
"The various floors are connected from basement to roof by fast flying elevators, which daily carry the public to and from business at lightning speed. In the basement are the furnaces and dynamos by which the whole city is heated and by which the motive power for the rapid transit facilities of Philyorgo is supplied. The first floor above the basement contains all tho longitudinal rapid transit walks, moving without cessation around the city day and night at rates of speed varying from four to five hundred miles an hour. These lines of movable walks are arranged in concentric parabolic circles, so that a traveler wishing to proceed at the greatest rate of speed by stepping briskly from the fixed and Immovable walk on the outside across the Intervening circle toward the rapidly moving innermost platform may with perfect safety board the section that is traveling with the greatest velocity. By this means a wayfarer in Phllyorgo may go from one end of the city to the other in a trifle over two hours, finding at intervals of the ordinary city block the express elevators that will take him upward to the stratum he desires to reach."
The complete Bangs story is here: California Digital Newspapers Collection The Los Angeles Herald Volume 33, Number 155, 4 March 1906 http://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=LAH19060304.2.140.29
Imaginary Cities (https://twitter.com/Oniropolis)
A good source for this McCay material is the Norman Rockwell Center: http://www.rockwell-center.org/essays-illustration/the-rising-tide/
The quotation source for the Bangs article: California Digital Newspapers Collection The Los Angeles Herald Volume 33, Number 155, 4 March 1906 http://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=LAH19060304.2.140.29
Rebecca Onion at Slate Vault surfaced this very interesting image of electric breath on her twitter account (@Slate Vault), showing early robotic creatures alive and well and living in the minds of thousands of young kids, placed their partially by stories like this found in the pulpy pages of Frank Tousey's Pluck and Luck in 1892. The image (from the special collections library at the University of South Florida (here)) shows yet another work of genius/ingenuity by the endlessly adventurous "Jack Wright" a boy inventor, who seemingly went everywhere, did everything, and had the stuff to make it all happen.
I've posted1 many times on this blog about 19th century imaginary robotics, and had not seen this Wright story and his fabulous "electric deers".
This Jack Wright adventure was written by "Noname", who turns out to be by Luis Senarens (1863-1939)2, a very prolific and early sci-fi writer, a Brooklyn boy, who had been referred to as an American version of Jules Verne. Senarens wrote beginning in the 1880's and was no doubt much taken by the new applications of electricity, and Senarens applied it quite liberally. In a quick browse, he introduced electricity inventively, sprinkling it liberally over powered machinery and introducing his own electric ocean liners, submarines, sledge boats, canoes, air-schooners, locomotives, balloon ships, torpedo rams, horses, and no doubt much else. I'm glad to have caught up to Mr. Senarens' robots.
Just search "robot" in the google search box at upper right.
See the Edward T. LeBlanc Memorial Dime Novel Collection for very much expanded info on this and other series: https://dimenovels.org/Series/734/Show
[This image is similar to one that I wrote about in September 2014 for the Mensa Bulletin, here]
Theodor Hosemann was a cartoonist, book illustrator, caricaturist and social commentator--but more interestingly, for today, he was edgy visioneer. The lithograph, "Extrabeilage zu Nr. 24 des Gewerbeblatt vom 24. Januar 1947", is Hosemann's somewhat noir-y vision of the future from his perch in 1847. His sense of the future "wirklickeit'/reality from where I sit here in 2015 is mostly bumpy and uncomfortable--it may have been funny in a fatalistic manner when the "brave" artist constructed the piece, perhaps like a forbidding fairy tale; if so then Hosemann was a jagged comic.
It seems there are to me an equal number of found/lost elements in the image. The most obvious prognostications are the two steam vehicles/dampfwagen in the lower right, passing each other at the entrance of the engineering marvel that would have been a tunnel through the Alps. The anthropomorphic horseless carriage in the shape of a horse, steaming to the entrance, is driven by a guy who is (I guess) smoking a cigarette (as are several other people). Odd thing here is that the ciggie had just been introduced into France and named just a few years earlier, and here it is in the lips of a pater familias cruising with his family--his child flying a kite from the back seat--as they make their way to a trans-European ride. The steam vehicle exiting the tunnel is driven by a hooded figure whose three passengers are in various stages of welcoming teh new sights: one has a heavy headdress and is adorned by large steampunk goggles, while the woman seated behind him is having a private moment of some sort of exasperation; meanwhile the guy traveling on the roof of the car has just been hooked through the nose by a woman at teh tunnel top, seemingly fishing for, well, something.
The most visible object is mysterious--the long skeleton at top is composed of bone, sausage, forks, spoons, morphing ducks, spoon vertebrae, plates, knives, corks, a champagne flute and a bottle. I'm unsure of the allegory.
In the upper left corner we see women taking the waters, immersed in a hydrotherapy of something-or-other from a "healing source". A man beneath him lifts his hat to reveal a wild head of hair produced presumably from the bottle of "balsam" in his hand--hair tonic that has produced a giant mane plus hair sprouting out everywhere else. The man seated before him is beginning his meal on some sort of bird by pulling its eyeball out.
The central figures are particularly engaging, and perhaps prophetic. At the top of this little structure is a Punch/Judy-like character with marionettes (standing beneath a sign that extols us not to laugh at bad jokes). He is also lazily seated on jars of babies. It may be that they are children being produced in artificial wombs, grown somehow, as beneath them we find more fully-formed children in cages being lectured by a classic schoolmaster with book-and-whip. Perhaps related to all of this in the foreground we find the "wonder child" who at seven years of age is very muscled and defeating grown men in a wrestling match,m one of whom he has thrown into the air with one arm. Perhaps Hosemann was telling us of the possible future from 68 years ago where a race of super-people would be manufactured in artificial environments to embody super-human traits? Certainly seems so.
So Hosemann did get a few things right in this vision, or at least he got the sense of future developments correct. I still have a bit of a problem with what I think is the humor of it all, but then again I wouldn't read the fairy tells of the Brothers Grimm to a little kid, either. It is difficult to translate those sensibilities forward 175 years, for me, anyway, the sense of 'funny" and the insight that comes from that getting lost in the swirl of historic dust, like mostly all of the "amusing" parts of books (not the movie!) like Pinocchio, where the soft places to land in this child's story have all fallen away leaving not much more than a fledgling adventure in rounded brutalism.
"Just as psychoanalysis reconstructs the original traumatic situation in order to release the repressed material, so we are now being plunged back into the archaeopsychic past, uncovering the ancient taboos and drives that have been dormant for epochs… Each one of us is as old as the entire biological kingdom, and our bloodstreams are tributaries of the great sea of its total memory."--The Drowned World, J.G. Ballard, Millennium 1999, p. 41.
Is there a plural of apocalypse? Is there even a need for one (plural)? There is, of course, even if it is a word that is supposed to spell out the end of times--there can be more than one apocalypse, and they can happen at the same time, although given my very limited knowledge of the scifi genre I don't know of any books addressing dual/multi-combative apocalypses. (And here I'm not talking about one apocalypse generating all manner of associated badness, but a second, completely unrelated, apocalypse.)
So in trying to understand the nature of apocalypse storytelling I decided to make a very abbreviated overview of a vast literature of the end of times/apocalypse/technocaust/end of the world themes. This is just a short working list, really, and includes only short stories or novels, and to keep it relatively crisp I've chosen the artificial delimiter of an alphabet of apocalypse types. In many cases there is just one example (where there could be hundreds, so please don't fault the list for completeness because that would take years of assembly and understanding). The same goes for the categories of apocalypse--I'm certain I not included the majority of them, though I think that this is a good start (There are no movies or television shows listed independent of a text, so Soylent Green will show up but under Harrison's Make room! Make Room!. I think that tv shows/movies etc must be enormously outnumbered and the scale of ordersof magnitude by the print media.)
Evidently this list can be reproduced in the same spirit but with iterations--for example, Juvie Apocalyptic Lit (see here).
Also--the list is a little heavy with Wells, Chrisopher, Aldiss, Heinlein, and Ballard; this simply because I'm a little familiar with these writers. So, the list:
Climate Change: apart from the state of globa;l warming as we know it now, The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard 1962 is perhaps the best and most well-known adventure in this field.. In this book in 2145 solar radiation has shrunk and mostly melted the polar ice caps, which is a lot of water, and has turned most cities into architectural swamplands of vertical mangrove. Conversely Ballard wrote the novel The Drought in 1964 about all of the water on earth drying up.
[This is a version of an article recently published in the Mensa Bulletin.]
The world of possibility is limitless when there are no limits and almost no impossibilities. The history of seeing possibilities in the future, the history of looking into the future, is vast (with exponential growth in publication for each of the last three generations), and organizing it for a limited discussion difficult—there is a general temptation to simply classify all of it according to an alphabet of “ramas” of all possible Futuramas.
How do we sort thousands of people writing about hundreds of thousands of future sightings in human development? Flying cars and people and cities and retrievable/liveable subconscious bits and dream, atomic blast guns, two-way wrist tv/radios, perfect places of nothing but intellect and floating intelligence, horseless cities, Soylent Green, personal computers small enough to fit into the trunk of your car, Edison's anti-grav underwear, buffalo herding from nuclear-powered sports cars, Maginot Line-sized mobile tank-ships, rockets to the Moon, rockets to the Sun, and rockets to tomorrow and to yesterday. We have futures where Manhattan is completely covered by thirty-story skyscrapers by the social warrior Thomas Nast; where George Holmes kills off cities with airplane-filled suburbs in 1912; where electric titan tank monsters with canons instead of cigarettes crushed hopeless opponents in 1918; where atomic-powered dirigible airports free up land in 1946; where a floating NYC is moored above the hole-in-the-ground where it once stood. Where spacecraft of mega-sharp ultra-fins await their cigarette-smoking pilots in 1953 and out-Eiffeled mile-high vertical airport towers, and where an identical duplicate Earth floats serenely in place above a bird's-eye view of Manhattan.
Much of the early technical thinking on the future seems neither utopian (in the traditions of Thomas More, Francis Bacon, Plato, Robert Owen, and such) nor what we would consider today to be dystopian (as with visions of Capek, Bradbury, Orwell, Burgess)--it seems to tend more towards a neutropia. And this does not include the earlier attempts at predicting the near future by looking at frothy bits of entrails or the shades of urine, or the oracles of thrown dice bones or draw of playing cards, or following the implications of human mole maps or seeking guidance in the alignment of stars in the sky.
And at the top and bottom of it all are the religious futures of endless pain and comfort and nothingness and repetitive existences—but that doesn't feed into this topic, though the way time ticks through the reckoning of Brahma is very nicely suited to calculating versions of pieces of infinity.
This effort of looking at the history of the future is easier when there are bookends, and there's no more a convenient end to the future as when it has a date. And in the past that date has often been the year 2000.
Let's look at two very unusual examples of future thought experiments—one of which visualizes life in the year 2000—and both of which entertain what may be one of the ultimate considerations for the evolution of humans.
One aspect of thinking about the future is the opposite of trying to include a sense of the future in the present—instead, it can be about removal. Removal of the present, distancing it from the present and the past. Removal of practices, though not necessarily principles.
And perhaps one of the greatest of these removals is that of the human aspect of humanity: people replaced by created entities. In a way, a sort of 19th century singularity.
A curious example of this can be found in the third edition of Jonathan Swift's tales of Lemuel Gulliver, where we see a Jorge Borgesian library-producing machine, a 20' square instrument made of cranks and cubes and turned by scribes producing an endless stream of knowledge. A wooden miracle replacing the human mind, an intelligent primum mobile with splinters.
A great example of this high removal is found in "The century of invention Anno Domini 2000 or the march of aerostation, steam, rail roads, movable houses & perpetual motion,” a terrific lithograph, made ca. 1834, the handiwork and imagination of Charles Jameson Grant, a satirist and observer of high order. He tried looking into the future 165 years hence, and in some practicable ways he got a lot of it right--the imagery wasn't there, but the iconic sense of what may come to be was.
We see small and large individual steam-powered four-wheeled vehicles, as well as plenty of balloons (in the spirit of aviation, at this point in its fourth decade and entering a great heyday) passing each other in every which way, off on adventures, or work, or in a race (as with the "out of Sight Club"). There are also numerous people flapping around in the sky ("winging it so early") with their (something)-powered wings, some of whom are ironically hunting birds.
The main sensation here is speed, though I would not say it was democratic--the means to go to Dublin in your balloon "for an appetite" and return later in the day would have been fantastic to the 1834 reader trying to imagine doing such a thing on such a whim, with a newspaper in your lap, but certainly it would be available to the leisurely class.
There was also an idea for balloonic communication, as one man in a balloon shouts to another to "give me a call by the first balloon," meaning perhaps a communication device, or a balloon-delivered letter.
The dialog certainly portrays an attitude of unremarkable observation, conveying how commonplace flight and mobile towns and steam cars would be in the year 2000. That's where one of Grant's the great insights comes into play--at lower left there is a person excitedly remarking about a race, and particularly on the great rarity of the exhibition of a live horse. That Grant would make this an issue is interesting, as it would certainly rub the 1830s consciousness the opposite way of what the brain expected to see in the street, and that was horses. Horses powered almost all transportation at this time—save for the invention of the railroad, some of which were horse-powered—and to imagine a world in which the horse would be gone would've been, well, unimaginable.
Also, too, the great and extensive coal mines fueling the Industrial Revolution going dry, the coal consumed.
At the bottom of the print is the prize, a very unusual placard concerning robotics: "a cast iron Parson will preach by steam at Fudge Church.” This is doubly intriguing because it not only invokes a steam-powered person—still fairly rare in the literature in the first third of the 19th century—but also a thinking one, a parson, a mechanical object trusted with the preaching and interpretation of a basic human belief system. This seems a bit on the primitive side in its display, but the intellectual imagery is pretty powerful stuff. I assume that the power of this would've been less so at the time of publication, guessing that Grant was making more of a not-so-subtle satire on the steam-driven puffery of some preachers with the creativity of kettles, and that in the future this would be magnified to the point of steam and smoke. But still the idea of placing the deeply emotional stuff of belief systems in the control of a machine is extraordinary for the time.
A few years earlier William Heath's March of the Intellect series (1825-1829) displayed another robotic entity witha book-driven intellect in its “crown of many towers” (London University) that swept up the great "rubbish" and "dust" of society. The robot was thinking in its way, distilling the promise of data and intelligence in its book-laden head, firing its set of gas-light eyes, iron arms, and legs made of printer's tools, sweeping away useless and insulting lawyers and jurists and their legal wigs and obsolete and repetitive rules, medical quacks, and the dust of other official abuses, "sweeping rubbish from the land.” It was making decisions and acting on them, trumping the humans in its path.
It is a remarkable leap, the consequences of which are difficult to put into perspective. I can think of an example from the novel Flatland, by Edwin Abbott, when its two dimensional characters first encounter a three dimensional figure—superbly incomprehensible at first, understanding following with some difficulty.
Visualizing the assumption of a created intelligence developed enough to supplant or supervise human thought and activity was probably beyond the 19th century sensibility—just as its technical aspects are to us now.
"Let no man seek / Henceforth to be foretold what shall befall / Him or his children.Milton," Paradise Lost XI, 770-72
George Cruikshank--the gifted English cartoonist/satirist/caricaturist and social commentator--was readying his viewers to some hyperspeculative dreams on the possibilities of near-in-time powered flight. Steampunk air travel is so commonplace in the near future that there are departure stations on building-tops
The etching in question, illustrating "Air-um Scare-um Travelling" appeared in the Comic Almanack (1843), and outlines a clear and hopeful image of future travel. The ads show that there are frequent flights to far-away places, including Mont Blanc and Beijing.
It is interesting that the future is tempered somewhat by including an exploding airship at bottom left--so the future may be wondrous and exciting, though not without its dangers.
I have been collecting images of mechanical men/robots pre-singularity antiquarian-quaint displays of advanced technical humans. This is an unusual one that may or may not fit this, though there is a suggestion of MassiveMan in the gigantic metallic fist, which is supposed to show a successful combat of people over nature via the advancing bliss of explosives. I'd just like to post this here before I lose it...
Which is a detail from St. Nicholas magazine, 1911:
Somewhere between walking and bicycles Mr. Richard Gornall found a mechanical need to fill what may or may not be an imaginary gap. He invented or suggested the Gornall Pedo Motor, which appeared in the pages of The Scientific American on February 14, 1880 (page 107), along with a great wood engraving. Gornall said that his invention, which "accelerates the motion of walking", would "occupy the immediate position between the roller skate and the veliocepede". The walking heel-toe motion was supposed to transfer power via a rotary drive to the rear wheel, thus creating in a way a mechanically powered roller skate. The invention sounds not-so-great, but the image is certainly pretty.
I've addressed the ideas of early mechanical men elsewhere in this blog (just enter "robot" in the site search box at left and you'll find two or three dozen related posts on the subject), but failed to include this very fine and early example by William Heath in his March of Intellect series (printed from 1825-1829).
He was particularly bitter about what he saw as an aristocracy of official ruination, and created an unusual steam-driven mechanical man with a book-driven intellect that swept up the great "rubbish" and "dust" of society. At the top of this early robot (preceding the invention of the term by about 100 years) was a pile of books with a "crown of many towers", which was London University, beneath which was a set of gas-light eyes, iron arms, and legs made of printer's tools, sweeping away useless and insulting lawyers and jurists and their legal wigs and obsolete and repetitive rules, medical quacks, and the dust of other official abuses, "sweeping rubbish from the land".
Another near-robotic image by Heath is his pre-Rube Goldberg automatic house, a central feature in the March of the Intellect No.2 (1829) which features fantastic flying machines hovering and screaming past the house.
[Source: Graphic Arts Collection, Princeton University libraries, here]
It isn't a robot unless you consider the entire house as a host for all of the things going on inside itself, and then you have something else entirely.
Following this blog's series on the History of Holes and the History of Dots will be a new series: the History of Tubes, the first note of which is on the flying tubes of TomorrowWorld. Today's installment is a simple picture post:
Nothing quite says "bizarro" like the bizarre1--and there has been plenty of that on this blog. There have been a number of places that I have identified as Bizarro Worlds, but so far it seems that the only self-proclaimed Bizarro World is this one, from the Superman2 comic book--a place that was the opposite of the Superman-y traits that made Superman Superman. Somehow to equate bizarreness on this world everything appeared as geometrical shapes with basically no sphere or rounded edges. (How Braque or Picasso and company would have reacted to this is unclear.)
It is evident that Bizarro World inhabits a place in the universe that allows for bizarre things to happen, a sort of bizarrograviation, that also allows for shadow to be cast in space without regard to light source.
It is a lovely to addition--if only by this brief note, to a continuing series on Extra-Earths. This is an Earth, and it is Extra, hence: Extra Earth. Some of the other Extra-Earth posts include:
1858 W. Bagehot Lit. Stud. II. 194 The bizarrerie of Mr. Dickens's genius.
A. In Nietzschean thought (also with capital initial): an ideal superior man of the future who transcends conventional Christian morality to create and impose his own values; = Übermensch n. More generally: a man of extraordinary power or ability; a superior being. Cf. superwoman n.In later use sometimes influenced by sense 2.
1894 Forum May 302 The ‘cosmic, super-man’ of the future.
1903 G. B. Shaw Man & Superman 196 We have been driven to Proletarian Democracy by the failure of all the alternative systems; for these depended on the existence of Supermen acting as despots or oligarchs.
1909 T. Common tr. F. Nietzsche Thus spake Zarathustra ii. xxvi. 108 Never yet hath there been a Superman. Naked have I seen both of them, the greatest man and the smallest man... Verily, even the greatest found I—all-too-human!
1925 H. V. Morton Heart of London 110 Above the kneeling priests is the Pharaoh, that ancient superman.
1969 G. Jackson Let. 28 Dec. in Soledad Brother (1971) 179 How could there be a benevolent superman controlling a world like this.
2008 K. Hawkins Talk of Town 241 Poor Nick. He's determined to be a superman and resist emotional entanglements that could cloud his judgment.
2010 M. G. Kendrick Heroic Ideal ix. 161 The Zarathustrian vision of a post-Christian faith rooted in the real world and dedicated to the creation of the superman, inspired a whole generation of radical Russian artists and Marxists.
B. With capital initial. (The name of) an almost invincible superhero having the power to fly and typically depicted wearing a tight blue suit with a red cape; a person likened to this superhero.The character first appeared in 1938 in a U.S. comic strip by writer Jerry Siegel (1914–96) and artist Joe Shuster (1914–92) and has since been the subject of radio and television series, as well as numerous films.
1938 Action Comics June 1 So was created..Superman! champion of the oppressed, the physical marvel who had sworn to devote his existence to helping those in need!
1940 Time 26 Feb. 44/3 Last week Superman took to the air in earnest, as a three-a-week serial.
1958 Times Lit. Suppl. 1 Apr. p. xx/4 The impression remains of a sense of values associated with ‘Superman’ and American comics.
1968 S. Ellin Valentine Estate iii. iv. 142 ‘How the hell did he come to miss me?’.. ‘You're Superman,’ the first man answered. ‘Bullets bounce off you.’
1980 F. Weldon Puffball 77 ‘Now it's our turn.’ ‘I don't want it to be,’ she said, as if he, like Superman, could turn the world the other way.
1995 FourFourTwo Oct. 135/1 Presenting Shearer as a goalscoring Superman seems a bit OTT.
I think that a pre-proto-neo-antiquarian or whatever Cubist representational form is very clear in the 1812 engraving, which was a relatively simple formulaic presentation of ship/sail construction found in Rhees' Encyclopedia. "Clear" of course to someone here in the print's future, seeing what that form could actually become apart from showing the naval necessaries. But it always puzzles me how an image like this could appear and someone didn't take the next step and turn the thing into "art" of some sort. That would all happen soon enough, the loosening of form and its representation via impressionistic and geometrical ways--Mr. Turner was already 37 years old when this print was published, and on his way (at least intellectually) to his magnificent Romantic career.
Why wasn't this art in 1812, aside from people not being quite ready for it? Maybe there is no other "thing" apart from that. It would take nearly another hundred years before the representational form of say a ship was lessened and stripped away, softened , modified, rubbed, erased, into something that is the object but really isn't.
Perhaps what we have here is a peep (like with Durer's geometric man) into the future at modern art, a dissonance between abstraction and realism. There is a regeneration of form taking place in this image, but it is only something on its way to creating a more idiomatic engineering representation of naval needs, and not a new art form--that would have to wait for Braque and Gris and Leger and Delauny and Villon and Picabia and Duchamp and the rest. So this pre-non-Cubist engraving is not a key to a new vocabulary of vision--it is just a drawing of ship's sails.
Here's another example of pre-modern art peeping out from the pages of this same encyclopedia, this one being a Prehistoric Rayograph, or a proto-non-photographic example of Man Ray, but from 1810 (and which I wrote about here):
Which is a detail from:
The engraving below is another fine example of futuristic bubbles, this one a possible example of Steampunk Dada, and appears innocently (and beautifully, and importantly) in Architectura Hydraulica (1740),
and titled "Demonstration of Friction". I've simply inverted it and
removed some of the numerical notation--and then, suddenly, it becomes a
sort of Steampunk Balloon Machine--a lovely collection of small
balloons lifting large wheels and cogs, assembling some sort of
something in mid-air, demonstrating very little friction, of lightness
Seems to me that if you look hard enough that these examples are, well, kind of everywhere. They just aren't yet what they could've been.
Here's another example: Geology of Images: Finding Pre-biotic, Neo-Dadaist Images in Antique Astronomy Prints (here)
The Burroughs Adding Machine company did about as much as anyone to objectify the worker in America during the 1880-1915 period, making the worker a part of a machine within the machine. In a way it was like creating the Ford assembly line for people sitting down.
The company was founded on the work of William S. Burroughs' grandfather, William Seward Burroughs (1857-1898 and native son of Rochester, NY), who created a mechanical calculator to help him add long columns of numbers in his job as a bank clerk. American Arithmometer Company was founded by him and others in 1886, later evolving into Burroughs Adding Machine Company (1904), Burroughs Corporation (1953), and then into Unisys (combining with Sperry Univac in 1986) before sliding away.
In any event the adding machine connected millions of people to a mechanizing process of what had previously been a mental operation--the flywheel in the side of the head of the clerk/accountant in this add for Technical World (More Fascinating than Fiction) for August 1915 wasn't too terribly far from the truth. Interesting that on the other side of the head of this fellow, behind the other ear, is a pencil.
In 1893 George Moore unrolled his papers and derived this wonderful mechanical man, a gas-fired steam-boiler-driven, half-horsepower, six-foot tall 5-mph dromedary. It was made of "heavy tin", had spikes on its heels for added traction, a fire-funnel surrounded by water and connected in some way to a small but powerful motor. The exhaust of course would exit through the nostrils. Or, in another version, the exhaust would come out via the machine's cigar.