After successfully getting the Monarch Pricemarker to work, Jerry rewarded me with a more difficult task. He presented me with some sort of device (made by Haag-Streit, Bern, early 20th century) with movable arms, multiple lenses, a light source, and calibrated adjustment knobs. The task was more difficult since neither of us knew what it was supposed to do originally.
Okay, you start by taking things apart and seeing what moves. Then you rewire the electrical stuff and see what that does. Then you move all the arms around, try the different lenses, and see what you can see. Then you eat some sugar cookies. Then you take make an educated guess as to its function, and see if you can get it to perform.
It took some time before I guessed that the device and something to do with mental images, and a bit more before guessing that it was related to memory retrieval. (Thanks here to Geoffrey Sonnabend, and his theory of obliscence, which I recently encountered.) On a hunch, I wrote down one of my treasured childhood memories — of befriending a zebra in a petting zoo — inserted it between the viewing lenses and the light source, punching a hole in the appropriate spot, and peering through the lens.
Yes, there was something there to be seen, but somehow it didn’t feel quite right. Aha! It was then that I suspected that the function of the strange but prominently-positioned joystick is to align visual data with associative feelings. Trusting my hunch, I made a label.
And immediately everything came together, just as it was supposed to:
The view through the lenses. Hard to see, I know, but it’s my zebra, just as I remembered him.
UPDATE: One further use for this device is as a slit lamp. Optometrists use them to closely examine the surface of the eyes.
An inspiring exercise in creative repurposing.
Perhaps I can enlist this as Church of Mike‘s response to Scientology’s e-meter.
Don’t be silly. The e-meter doesn’t really work.
I just love this.