Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Caretakers

I found a note, which I must have written down one drunken and stoned night back in 2013 (during the holidays, which is when I allow myself to get all drunk and stoned), that says the following:
"What can 1000 people do in 30 days?"
There's a follow up on the other side of the note which asks:
"Right now? In 1913? In 1813? In 1713? No point on going beyond."
I have to assume that drunk and stoned Johnny was asking, not what a military organization of 1000 people can do, but rather, what endeavor, what adventure, what amazing thing can a collection of one thousand (randomly chose or selected? it's makes a difference)  people do in a month's time?

It's a good question.

I ignore the military answer because that's fairly obvious. I think I was thinking in terms of the acceleration, the... anomaly we've gone through these past 300 years, what with science and technology and such. Because, before the Industrial Revolution, there was only incremental change, and accomplishments made in 1712 - with muscle power and ancient machines - isn't much different than the preceding millennia.

So, what can one thousand carefully chosen people do in one month's time? In 2013? In 1913? In 1813?

No, I'm asking you!

Well, here's one thing. Clearly, the choice of the one thousand matters, but the whole support structure of humanity behind them matters more.

Here's an example. Today, I was trying to think of this guy who wrote a mind-blasting science fiction story I read in 1977. I couldn't think of his name. and I couldn't think of the title of the short story. All I remembered was this guy was English, that he specialized in space opera, that he had pulpish tendencies, and the one line from the story "galaxies whizzing by like snowflakes".

So, at first I figured I'd read the story in one of Harlan Ellison's Dangerous Visions anthologies.


Ah, see, let's stop for a second. How many people, and how many months, are behind that particular activity I am going to do? All the programmers, and engineers, and technicians, and physicists, and phone company types, and fabricators, and typists, and coal miners, and metal extractors, etc., etc. etc.?

In 1913? In 1813? One hundred years ago, I'd have to go to many libraries, talk to many librarians, to get this information. And 1813 would not be that different, would it? Hell, one hundred years? The Web is now twenty-five years old, so, in 1989?

Okay, start to get the picture? So, I look through the authors of Again, Dangerous Visions, and one pops out as a candidate: M John Harrison.

Was that the guy? No, that was not the guy, but contained in the wikipedia article was the guy: Barrington J. Bayley, and the title of the story was "The Cabinet of Oliver Naylor".

Bayley once said he was heavily influenced by reading The Naked Lunch, which, by coincidence, I also read that summer concurrently with above mentioned short story.

And so now you know why I make shit like this:

"The Caretakers" wax, to be cast in bronze, kind of hard to see but the left figure's mask looks like the bug she is holding

"The Caretakers" wax, to be cast in bronze

"The Caretakers" wax, to be cast in bronze
My bronze class is currently investing their pieces, and, as I just got done today with the waxes and still have to rig them up for casting, puts me four days behind my class, which makes me a remedial learner.


  1. I admire the SHIT out of your wax working skills. What's the secret?

    1. Funny, Ellen, because a lot of times I'll say, how the F did she do that?
      Short answer? Practice!
      Longer answer? I hardly ever work the wax hot. I weld the parts together with heat, but hardly ever work the surface other than cold. I'm more of a carver than a clay worker. I use a paring knife, dull from more than a decade of use, almost exclusively. My most important tools are my fingers and thumbs, for smoothing the wax. Oh, right, and a library of plaster molds made from found objects for the machined look.