When you're a little kid, "inventor" more or less equates to "magician" in your mind. These people basically conjure things up out of nothing: Isosceles invented the triangle, Johannes Gutenburg invented movable type, Benjamin Franklin invented bifocals, Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, Cyrus McCormick invented the mccormick reaper (whatever the hell THAT is), George Washington Carver invented peanut butter, Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb, Scott Stillinger invented the koosh ball. They just INVENTED them: first there was no movable type, then there WAS moveable type. Magic! You--as a kid--don't have enough context to realize that these inventions came out of specific historical periods and developed out of previous scientific advances. Let's say you want to invent a remote control helicopter (I badly wanted such a thing when I was small): You don't look at the work that's been done in radio waves and aerodynamics and all this relevant stuff--you just sort of put some gears and things together, and bam--you're good to go. It's like when Calvin wanted to build a robot to make his bed for him. You think you can do these things because your perspective is skewed. Mind you, you can't just blame the kids: this goes right along with the American myth of Rugged Individualism: the world doesn't work this way (with vanishingly rare exceptions), but thanks to Ayn Rand and her ilk, a lot of otherwise (presumably) not-that-dumb people imagine that it does. Still, the point remains: MOST of us grow out of this conception of the world sooner rather than later.
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Labels: Carl Barks