“It is a precision instrument,” the black man says, “performing calculations mechanically, employing neither electricity nor electronic components. The sensation of it’s operation is best likened to that of winding a fine thirty-five- millimeter camera. It is the smallest mechanical calculating machine ever constructed.” Voice deep and mellifluous. “It is the invention of Curt Herzstark, an Austrian, who developed it while a prisoner in Buchenwald. The camp authorities actually encouraged his work, you see. ‘Intelligence slave,’ his title there. They wished his calculator to be given to the Fuhrer, at the end of the war.” (pg. 32)
I thought it interesting how just one paragraph before Cayce had been perplexed by these calculators that she thought to be actual weapons. I feel as if this entire book (well from what I’ve read so far) could be described as a something that seems more important than what it really is. We believe there to be an underplot, we believe that this story will hit a climax and there will be a great description of adventure and love, however…. if all Cayce does is travel… then that is highly disappointing indeed.
To be exact, this concept of an “intelligence slave” what is it exactly? Knowing that Curt Herzstark, while imprisoned invented things for this captors to use. They gave him the name of intelligence slave, but, this was simply a title without meaning. He was still captured and at anytime could be killed if his value was deemed non-existent. There was nothing more intelligent about his position in captivity than there is in a high schooler trapped in the slavery of monotonous grade schooling. In fact, you could propose that Cayce herself is an intelligence slave. Her position that she works in Blue Ant is simply a yes or no “consultant”. She travels across the world and gets paid to simply say yes or no to a company’s future logo. Her job has no real significant meaning other than to possibly make another company more profitable.
Cayce is simply the modern day Curt. She is a slave to the very industry that she detests for being unoriginal. She got nauseous from simply being around Tommy Hillfiger, but, how many logos of companies did she approve that would eventually become the exact same source of unoriginality and marketing that is Tommy Hillfiger? Her life depends on this precarious job that keeps her alive and with income, whereas Curt’s life depended (literally) on keeping his captors happy with his talents so that they wouldn’t kill him. Although I could just be going off in a very extreme manner and intelligence slave in this passage could be referring to one that is bound by the amount of knowledge they hold. In that case, it would possibly be safe to assume that Curt was kidnapped and placed in captivity by the Germans because of them knowing about his prior knowledge…. or perhaps he was Jewish … I’m not entirely sure at this point. There is actually a play by the same name specifically about Curt Herzstark and his calculator that seems interesting and will be reviewed by me in my spare time.