Rollin' Like Sisyphus

We Can’t All Be The Brightest Star In The Sky

Posted in The Fail Pail by Huckleberry on April 10, 2015
This could have happened, if not for Edison...

This could have happened, if not for Edison…

I recently stumbled upon a curious little artifact of early 20th century US society. At the time, Thomas Edison was revered among the general populace for the fruits of his gray matter, “inventing” everything from the light bulb to the record player. In truth, his main success was simply in inventing a way to market invention, creating something of a cult that orbited around his reputation for brilliance. This was so much the case that Edison, to further market the forward-looking Futurist nature of the Edison Manufacturing Co. and General Electric, composed his own intelligence test to weed out employee prospects. The public, of course, delighted in the ability to compare their own mental acuity with the pre-eminent genius of their time and establish par for the Brave New World rising up all around them.
So here it is.
Go ahead and take a look, then come on back and let’s see if you see what I see.
Go on.
What’d you think?
Well, like the man himself, the list is a mile wide and an inch deep – any well-read dullard of the era has a better than decent chance of passing this test with fairly flying colors, because it’s basically Trivial Pursuit without the fun and games. It’s a concrete recitation test for concrete minds that doesn’t bother to assess the capacity for any kind of agile or abstract thought.
What this test shows me is another piece of evidence that Edison was a fraud, a charlatan of self-promotion whose only virtue was a meticulous and relentless methodology of acquisition, exploitation and production, creating Invention Sweatshops that attempted to drive discovery to the types of technology that made World Fair attendees swoon, but that utterly wasted the talents and long-term possibilities of the brightest minds in a generation at the expense of a few short-term gadgets that would mostly become obsolete in the face of competitors’ superior development.
Most of the things credited to Edison were developed by a legion of workers, ripping off ideas barely beating rival developments in similar technologies not long after patents on those developments were filed, but it’d be crazy talk to suggest that the well-connected magnate had a mole in the US Patent Office.
Utter crazy talk.
So what’s so awful about this, you ask?
Despite the pre-school platitudes, true innovation comes not from Team Work and a Spirit of Co-Operative Collaboration; it’s ground out alone, in the minds of men plagued by hints of innovative epiphany that like art and poetics must be made corporeal and worked out as an obsessive sacrifice to the muse of human inspiration. True invention – the revolutionary kind – has not and will never come from workers punching a clock as a cog in a complex infrastructure of “innovation”; it comes from the borderline insane working feverishly to relieve the pressure in their heads to bring about their visions regardless of the cost, and regardless of the hurdles presented by marketability, mass production or the possibility of failure.
Thomas Edison was a fraud on all counts.


4 Responses

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  1. El Borak said, on April 10, 2015 at 08:23

    What? It’s Good Music Friday already?

    • Huckleberry said, on April 10, 2015 at 08:49

      Well played.

    • JN said, on April 10, 2015 at 09:48

      First thing I think of anytime Edison’s name comes up.

  2. Doom said, on April 10, 2015 at 08:58

    Which is why he went dc, not ac. Firing Tesla for his foolish insistence. Though, neither were exactly right, one just more correct… urhm, so far, and both more willing to take risks, than physicists for sure. And some ass was lost for it, on both sides. Still don’t have wireless electrical transport, if we do have ac, and dc for it’s place. Roman versus Gaul, I should think, and those versus Hun. It works until it doesn’t, though, either way.

    I am on nobody’s side because nobody is on my side? Yeah, but I giggle a lot. Especially for an ogre.

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