Saturday, December 06, 2014

I sing the cabbage electric- The factory, cybernetic

@JackIVaughan: Silk corn husk
Ruby corn beads
Sprout from the earth
Send message to heaven

Reading Player Piano. And remembering the factory cybernetic.

When I worked the Paste Wax line at Johnson's, we placed the lids on the cans (two of us) by hand. It could well have been the oldest line in the old factory. With so much cybernation around, it seemed primitive - something that could be automated. And I would look at the other lines (the Jubilee line with its ear shattering glass jostling was adjacent) and wonder how. Earl, the engineer, I remember him now in crew cut, white short sleeve shirt, tie, glasses and pocket protector, would come by and eye the process as well.

When I worked the line. The day Pedro did not come back from lunch. To come.

When I worked the line: they would pump-in Muzak. Then by syndicated radio. Once a week, in some alternating pattern related to pay day: "Whstle While you Work." One day, another summer, diong matinenance on the wright building, crawling into a fortotten closet, found the Muzak 78s of yore.
Vonnegut describes the machinists with their blackened hands.Great description of the punch press sound: Aw grump. Tonka Tonka. Aw grump. Tonka Tonka.

Norbert Weiner appears on page 14. This is a big quandry for me. In that I was reading about Claude Shannon and Norbert Weiner not too long after I obtained Player Piano (from the Shorecrest Rexall drug?) I dont recall reading much of Vonnegut's book, though. Over the years I imagined a story around cybernetics, not knowing (or not remembering) Vonneut had done one.

First chap synopsis
Factory. Not too obvious where in time. A light goes on a board indicating problem in part of factory. LIkely a mouse chewed through a wire. why didnt the cat get it?  then the cat is found. head of factory visits area where problem is. Remembers years ago when he created the tape of the best line worker (Hertz) who was soon to retire and be replace by machine robot. they had a beer across the street. the cat is freaked out and get killed by a robot machine sweeping the aisles. the head of the factory is distraught. has cat sent to his office. he is on phone with his wife discussing his career prospects. in the evening he will deliver a lecture at the country club in the city. Ilumin. Modeled after GE's Schenectady. Reference to Wiener. The lecture is about the Second Industrial Age.

p. 4 - A glowing red jewel called attention to the seventh meter from the bottom, fifth row to the left, on the east wall. - Player Piano]

He stopped by Katharine's desk on his way home and told her not to worry about the glowing jewel on the seventh meter from the bottom, fifth row from the left, on the east wall.

Pynchon noted that he was influenced by Norbert Weiner's then popular "The Human Use of Human Being" which disused entropy in relation to communication. Yet as far as I can tell, Pynchon 's interest in entropy - his title for a short story that garnered him award and attention ahead of V -  was in physics terms (Universal Heat Death) which Weiner had studied considerably  ahead of his communications research ( I think). 


No comments:

Featured Post

Backporch Poesy June 2016

Reading from three favorite poetry anthologies on the back porch on June 17 (anniversary of Watergate breakin!) The three tomes are 1-Th...