JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post #425
I found this extraordinary image via collection of Finkiyaya on Pinterest, which is an interesting source for the unusual relating to the uncommon. There is no attribution, but help came from correspondent Jeffrey Weston, who advised that the helmut belongs to none other than the ferociously active publisher/editor/thinker and creator of the term "science fiction", Hugo Gernsback. This was supposed to deliver a more powerful thinking and concentration experience to the user by delivering a flow of O2 , shutting off sound and auditory distraction, and by making the wearer focus their vision through a kind of horizontal pinhole slit. Gernsback I am sure did not use one of these things while working on his dozens of simultaneous projects, but he thought that it might help the rest of us--in today's world, perhaps all we need to do to achieve this iolsation is turn off the electronics and sit at a clean desk. In any event, the mask removed a fair amount of the human experience from thinking, and probably focused a LOT of attention on not-hearing and trying to see through those tiny slits.
[Source: Pinterest account of Finkiyaya, here]
[I wonder if Wilhelm Reich read about this as he was fiddling around with his "orgone accumulator" (read: "box"). Even the crown prince of American Black Comedy, William Burroughs, could not wrestle this Reichian thing outside its impossible cellulosity of weird. As odd as Gernsback's thing is, Reich's goes on-beyond-zero with his, thinking that his siting-coffin collects/regulates an etherless ethery thing called orgone which was the seat of many and remarkable things, not the least of which was a controller of cancer and the weather. It sounds sort of like a water-cycle thing but for a thing that influences thought and consciousness and biological systems as well as our ocean of air--that's a long pull for a box with a chair in it.]
Now three's plenty in this helmet to suggest itself to the history of masks, but that is an enormous diversion, because I was really just looking for complements in the mechanical helmet world. I could not resist though including this magnificent mask made by someone of the Sukuma ethnic group of Tanzania:
The Isolator Helmet reminded me of this good effort: