Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Robot is a Terrible Creature (1922)

[Update: The Paleo-Future blog has moved. You can read and comment on this entry here.]

The October 16, 1922 edition of The Bee (Danville, Virginia) ran a syndicated story about the Karel Capek play R.U.R. The play introduced the world to the word "robot" from the Czech "robota," which literally means "forced work." Below are excerpts as well as the article as it appeared in The Bee.

If any industrial genius, like Henry Ford, ever turns his energies to the manufacture of Robots we're all goners, as the saying is.

The Robot is a terrible creature of synthetic flesh, bone and skin. He is in the image of man and has all the attributes of man except spirituality and laziness. One Robot having been completed and assembled he can be turned to the task of manufacturing arms and legs of other Robots. After they are assembled he can be sold in wholesale lots to various industrial concerns and to nations as soldiers against the Robot armies of other nations.

Or maybe you would like a Robotess as stenographer. She wouldn't chew gum because she has no taste. She wouldn't waste time with lip-stick and primping because she has no sense of beauty. She'd never ask for a raise because she has no use for money.

The Robot symbolizes the present-day spirit of mechanicalism used to forecast the revolt of humans against the human-created artifices that mock the powers of nature.

Or perhaps the play presents the theory of a coming genesis, the anticipation of a future cycle of human evolution in which man shall be confounded by the Creator he has mimicked.

See also:
The Mechanical Man of the Future (1928)
Gigantic Robots to Fight Our Battles (Fresno Bee, 1934)
Mammy vs Robot (Charleston Gazette, 1937)
Donald Duck's "Modern Inventions" (1937)
All's Fair at the Fair (1938)


Dave Lester said...

Great post as usual Matt! I'm enjoying all the robot posts and discussing them on my blog. I think you should consider these early representations based upon power, and the desire of a culture to seek control through technological advancement.

I'm surprised you haven't posted any Elektro articles yet!


Gail said...

Interesting side note: Spencer Tracy made his Broadway debut in that production of RUR.