Tag: Mensch als Industriepalast

Complex and Mysterious Mechanism

In 1938 when Dr. Jayne’s used the Mensch als Industriepalast image, the company was recycling an image it used at least as early as 1934.

At least as early as 1934 Dr. Jayne’s used the Mensch als Industriepalast  in its almanac.
At least as early as 1934 Dr. Jayne’s used the Mensch als Industriepalast in its almanac.

The description at the top emphasized modern, mechanized picture of the human body: “A picture of the World’s most complex and mysterious mechanism.” By 1938 the image had lost that description. In 1934 this mechanized picture shared space in the almanac with a detailed description of, among other non-mechanized practices, “Fortune Telling by Tea Leaves.” There we read:

In using this method, much depends on the imagination and natural aptitude of the reader. You must have the “seeing eye” which will interpret the formation of the leaves correctly, but this readily comes with practice.

The reader must interpret the “emblems,” including:

  • anchor—This is the sign of trade and travel. If standing alone at the top of the cup it indicates true love.
  • coffin—This may mean, as it does in dream, and in other methods of fortune telling, death or serious illness either to the hearer, or a friend. Closely surrounded, it means an inheritance.
  • lion—(or any wild animal) Good fortune to eminent persons, if clear and distinct. Envy and jealousy if in the thick.
  • mouse—Standing alone it is an omen of recovery of a lost object. Almost indistinguishable among other leaves, you must prepare for disappointment in this respect.

While it seems incongruous to read modernist descriptions of the human machine sandwiched between fortune telling practices illustrated by mysterious, exotic men gazing into crystal balls, Dr. Jayne’s must have been confident that it would not seem so to its customers.

Dr. Jayne’s Mensch als Industriepalast

In 1926 Fritz Kahn created his famous “Mensch als Industriepalast,” a fascinating, modernist depiction of the human being as a chemical factory, staffed with industrious little workers, replete with control centers, machines, conduits, communication wires (see the copy at the NLM).

Fritz Kahn’s Mensch als Industriepalast (1926)—see a larger version here.
Fritz Kahn’s Mensch als Industriepalast (1926)—see a larger version here.

In an impressive display plagiarism, Dr. Jayne’s almanac for 1939 included a strikingly similar image:

Dr. Jayne’s Mensch als Industriepalast (1939).
Dr. Jayne’s Mensch als Industriepalast (1939).

Although Dr. Jayne’s illustration was meant to explain “A few of the mysteries of the human body,” it adopted the same factory rhetoric and imagery that marked Kahn’s original poster: bile is manufactured; the bladder is a tank; nerves are like telegraph wires; the eye is like a camera, the ear like a microphone; the spinal cord is “the main cable of electric wires;” the heart is “a powerful pumping station.”

Workers and control centers are arranged and many of the details are labeled just as they are in Kahn’s original image.

Imitation is the purest form of flattery.