"A great disorder is an order, and a violent order is disorder"

Wallace Stevens

Musings inspired by varied examples of orderliness,
drawn from a disorderly accumulation of images and artifacts...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Focus! Focus!

These images are from the July, 1925 issue of the long-defunct magazine “Science and Invention”, which was edited by Hugo Gernsback, who later became famous as a pioneer in the field of science fiction. He also invented this contraption which, to my mind, nicely illustrates the folly of taking an excessively narrow approach to solving a problem. The “Isolator” is designed to help focus the mind when reading or writing, not only by by eliminating all outside noise, but also by allowing just one line of text to be seen at a time through a horizontal slit. Obviously, doing away with all distractions in this way could be profoundly counterproductive: how would he know that his house was on fire -or, what if he dropped his pencil? Even if all goes well, reading or writing usually involves going back to re-read a paragraph or cross-check a reference. How would he do that? Remove the Isolation Chamber?

It’s about as rational and goofy as Grenville Kleiser’s book “Fifteen Thousand Useful Phrases” (see the previous post); in fact, I think The Isolator would provide ideal viewing conditions for perusing that particular text in the manner that Mr. Kleiser seems to have intended.

“Science and Invention” magazine covers can be seen here: http://www.magazineart.org/main.php/v/technical/scienceinvention/


  1. Hello,

    I found your blog after searching about Hugo Gernsback. A Spanish magazine printed a picture of his "Isolator" and I was curious. The idea behind your blog is appealing. I'm sorry to see you didn't continue it, but I'm grateful anyway for the ideas you wrote about in your posts.

    Thank you and cheers,

  2. This post is really good! Keep it up! cafe24 google map extension

  3. Looks like some sorta undersea monster beureaucrat!!

  4. this seemed to be an awesome blog, too bad it was discontinued

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  6. does anyone or any site have science and inventions magazine july 1925 so i can read it thanks

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