Thursday, March 24, 2011

Happy Birthday Houdini!

Holy Cow! It's Houdini's birthday! He would have been an undoubtedly spry 137:

As Men and Masculinities: A Social, Cultural, and Historical Encyclopedia points out, Houdini became "one of the iconic masculine figures of early twentieth-century popular culture." But what a strange masculinity! Almost impossibly muscular, Houdini's trick was to be chained up and restrained -- made weak -- only to heroically reemerge. He was less a conquering prince than an escaped slave, a relationship that commentators like Buckminster Fuller occasionally made explicit when they referred to our energy producing machines like this: "The U.S. has 54 percent of the energy slaves, an army of 20,000,000,000." The very machines that created the chains and handcuffs by which Houdini was bound were powered by the "energy slaves" that had freed him up from the manual labor that had previously been required to sustain society. All this to say: we love Houdini not just because he was an excellent escape artists, but also because his relationship to power makes us wonder about our own.

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