“Neither the sun nor death can be looked at steadily”*…
All the old rites and superstitions that once warded off mystical evils have been condensed into one single command, so vast and monolithic we’ve forgotten that it’s even possible to disobey: Don’t look directly at the sun.
Not to look directly into the sun is (at a guess) one of the first lessons everyone is taught by their parents. As unquestioned ideological precepts go, it’s enormously effective. You learn it, you internalize it, and never really think of it again until you have kids of your own. And then you say it once more, repeating your parents’ words, and theirs, in an unbroken tradition going back God knows how many millennia. No, honey, never look directly into the sun… But people do it. And our world is the better for it, because staring directly into the sun is our moral and political duty…
Question authority: “What happens when you stare at the sun.”
* François de La Rochefoucauld
As we put down the smoked glass, we might spare a thought for the creator of the object of another set of taboos, Harry Wesley Coover, Jr.; he died on this date in 2011. A chemist working for Eastman Kodak, he accidentally discovered a substance first marketed as “Eastman 910,” now commonly known as Super Glue. Coover was a prolific inventor– he held 460 patents– but was proudest of the organizational system that he developed and oversaw at Kodak: “programmed innovation,” a management methodology emphasizing research and development, which resulted in the introduction of 320 new products and sales growth from $1.8 billion to $2.5 billion. In 2004, he was inducted into the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame; then in 2010, received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.