Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2023  Vol. 21  No.3
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Artificial Man
translation from Czech by artificial intelligence tools, transacted by Chase Ober
introductory notes and build by M.A. Keller

This sometimes playful, sometimes biting text is by Josef Čapek, the Czechoslovakian writer, artist, and designer who suggested the word “robots”—roboti in Czech—to his brother Karel Čapek, author of R.U.R (Rossum’s Universal Robots).

Josef’s short illustrated volume, published four years after Karel’s play, illustrates that artificial beings in the shape and form of humans, whether organic or crafted, and whether made to move in appearance of natural life by mystical or mechanical means, long predated the writing of R.U.R. and the introduction of the word “robot.” In the text of Artificial Man, Josef wanders widely in thought and argument, and spars not only with the work of his brother Karel, but with Cubism, though Josef was a Cubist visual artist in his own right.

Blackbird turned to artificial intelligence with great self-awareness to translate Umělý Člověk (1924) at the ninety-nine year mark of its publishing anniversary. Of the experimental effort, associate media editor Chase Ober writes:

This version of Josef Čapek’s Artificial Man has been translated from Czech into English using a combination of AI language models, including but not limited to ChatGPT 4, DeepL, and other freeware models, in conjunction with a human verification process. It is important to note that while the translation may appear accurate, it is constrained by the translator’s expertise on the author and may not fully capture the nuanced meaning, cultural references, or the intended style and tone. Readers are encouraged to approach this translation with caution and consider consulting with a native speaker or subject matter expert for a more reliable understanding of the text. Please be aware that AI language models are continually evolving, and the quality of translations may vary as technology advances.

Artificial Man, to our knowledge, is otherwise unavailable in English. 

As a segue, we offer an epigraph from a seventeenth-century play alluded to by Josef Čapek in his volume. This passage from The Bloody Brother or Rollo: A Tragedy, by Fletcher, et al., describes the scene of an ancient banquet replete with automata:

. . . Art and time, Sir, can produce such things.
What do I read there of Hiarbas banquet?
The great Gymnosophist, that had his Butlers
And carvers of pure gold waiting at table?
The images of Mercury, too, that spoke?
The wooden door that flew? a snake of brass
That hist? and birds of Silver that did sing?
All those new done by the Mathematicks,
Without which there’s no science, nor no truth.
     —John Fletcher, Philip Massinger, Ben Jonson and George Chapman
        The Bloody Brother or Rollo. A Tragedy, act 4, scene 1

Below, find the 1924 cover and title page of Umělý Člověk [Artificial Man], followed by Josef Čapek’s illustrations and AI-translated text.

Cover of Umělý Člověk (1924)
 Cover of Umělý Člověk (1924)
Title page of Umělý Člověk (1924)
 Title page of Umělý Člověk (1924)


[Begin translation]


Homo artefactus

“We have already struggled enough with the imperfection of man! Let the old man go and let us have the New Man! For man was poorly made by nature, and let him be newly adjusted, reformed, transformed, and surpassed! The old man had flaws that the New Man will not have, and the world will improve!”


Just at the moment when troubled humanity is letting out these cries of anxiety and hope in the form of verses, theoretical reflections, artistic programs, and political invectives, the clear and resonant sound of the latest Proclamation, signed by several leading Futurists, echoed throughout the world in a timely manner. It is certain that this Proclamation will evoke the most joyful excitement among all the better humanity, who sincerely suffer from their own imperfections and those of others and are consumed by the desire to be overcome by the new Man. The liberating word spread throughout the world that man should, on his upward path, come closer to and resemble the Machines, which, due to the universally brilliant progress of technology and science, are the most perfect of all human creation and invention.

Once again, another new track is indicated!

These Futurists have advanced so far on this path that they do not hesitate to boast in their Manifesto that

La chaleur ďun morceau de fer ou de bois est désormais plus passionnante pour nous que le sourire ou les larmes ďune femme

or so, that the temperature of a piece of iron or wood is henceforth more exhilarating than a woman’s tears and smiles. And it is only natural, for these Futurists are already such that, as they declare of themselves:


They feel mechanically and feel themselves made of steel, where we, due to various (even if not entirely caused by us) circumstances, are still at a lower stage of development and must envy their higher level. Negligent family and school upbringing did not teach us to feel mechanically enough, and besides, we must admit that we have not made sufficient efforts to correct all these deficiencies through self-improvement, nor have we contributed in any way to the desirable strengthening of our character. How many of us could honestly and openly declare (excluding perhaps some passionate wood or iron traders) that the temperature of a piece of iron or wood arouses us more than a woman’s smile? Truly, we have sinned too much in this regard, neglecting pieces of wood and iron for women’s tears and smiles, to which we have not devoted the proper passion and sensuality.


Can we hope that with the fresh eagerness, by which, according to the flattering opinion of certain prominent foreigners, our young state and nation are characterized, we will be able to align ourselves with more advanced nations in this matter as well?

Well then, let us eagerly move forward following the motto “Climb, crawl, just don’t break through!” with our gaze firmly fixed on the ideal goal, which is to become Mechanized. In our pursuit of the ascending path, let the spur of that Manifesto be a stimulating incentive, with its guiding and paramount sentence:


Soyons donc DES MACHINES!
Let us be inspired by Machines!


However, this has been felt by mankind since time immemorial, that man and that his naked body is never technically up to date. Man’s body is too animal, which is especially evident today, when in intellectual competitions the prize of beauty and perfection is no longer awarded to man but to the Machine. Have we not seen in these times many a young Paris, who does not offer his apple to divine goddesses, who turns away abruptly from their naked charms, only to devote his apple to locomotives or snowplows with words of utmost admiration? Has it not been discovered and proven in today’s age that man, in terms of formal elegance, is far inferior to machines, just as a marsh crane is not equal to an electric crane?


And these are just aesthetic criticisms, the least significant ones compared to the excess of more serious reproaches that expose the technical imperfection of man. According to the Bible, man was once created by divine invention as a certain kind of machine, for the Creator fashioned a hollow puppet out of clay and then made it mobile by filling it with the breath of God. Fueled by this undoubtedly highly combustible energy, the puppet set off into the world and performed all those acts of human history, building and demolishing kingdoms, waging wars, conquering new territories, creating gods, spreading across the earth, developing knowledge and civilization, and so on, of which we are rightly proud.

However, over time, he undoubtedly became too human, too humanized in his animal body, which did not continue to evolve technologically. He lingered in this lower stage for so long that today we see him starting to feel ashamed of himself. He is ashamed that amidst his advanced technological creations, he is a type that is considerably outdated and not modern. He yearns for the swift transcendence of his low humanity and longs for a new Man, a steel man who would feel mechanically.


The abundance of causes and reasons is evident. Let us not even mention the difficulties of procreation and childbirth, which even long before the current boom of industrialism and technology were deemed unworthy of man’s productive capacity by many thinkers. However, let us consider all the bodily softness and fragility to which man is subject, his insufficient resistance and performance, his physiological and psychological complexities, and all his other qualities, weaknesses, and disadvantages for which there are no technical terms in dictionaries and which are labeled with Latin and Greek words, which reek of clinics and are worrisome. Should hospitals and clinics forever be the only workshops for repairing the flawed man? Wouldn’t it often be better for man if he were constructed in such a way that he could also be repaired by a blacksmith or a locksmith at times?


Let us not consider here the difficulties associated with the natural birth of a human being (after all, we are not among those who share the views of those thinkers so diligently, and we do not want to overestimate those difficulties). However, it is not without significance that even in ancient times, some strong spirits felt this imperfection and tried to compete with nature and God in these matters to some extent. We will omit here only with a careless remark those experiments that have borne the stamp of bad luck from the beginning. Thus, we must declare as unsuccessful all those too medieval-smelling attempts at artificial human production, the so-called Homunculus.


Alchemists toiled over it, using various obscure substances in their bulbous retorts and alembics, believing that the devil himself was assisting them in this unholy work. But is it known that the devil, despite all his power, excels in any particular engineering or technical abilities? Although certain inventions were once attributed to him, it turned out that these machines (whether printing presses, automobiles, or musical instruments) bore their factory markings honestly. The devil’s skill has always been that of a conjurer; he certainly lacked the mathematical spirit required for creating machines. Thus, we see him contenting himself in his production with creating hideous apparitions and foul odors, infernal dogs and monstrous deformities, and (guided by the imagination of a mad assembler but not by a purposefully constructive sense) patching them together from the most diverse pieces he pilfered from nature’s workshops. It is no wonder, then, that his collaboration on the Homunculus gave rise to small and unattractive beings who would not fit into active social life, which still seems to be the true ideal goal of human society.

Similarly, we cannot deem legitimate those counterfeits that circulated the world in the Middle Ages under the name of Mandragora [Mandrake] Men to perform spells and mischief.

These little men were in fact a work of nature, thus from our point of view worthless, even unacceptable. They were bizarrely exuberant roots and tubers, in the formation of which human intelligence had not worked actively. What could such a carrot with two roots, distorted and swollen in all sorts of ways, even if it resembled the human form in any way, what could a bitter carrot substitute for, say, a man in public life? Could it lead the masses into battle or open the eyes of the electorate? Could it, or could it at all, claim for itself the influences, functions, and offices which are the sacred right of every citizen who feels himself entitled to them? So we ask, assured in advance of a generally negative answer.


Having thus disposed of the Homunculus and the Mandragora, let us look critically around the ancient thickets. There, various monsters and mythical people roamed, beings without heads who carried their mouths on their bellies, and nations who walked on their hands, using their large, upward-floating feet as umbrellas. We will not here enumerate them all; for while some practical idea is here and there applied to some of them, it is proved that these beings did not exist at all, except in the imagination of foolish world-voyagers and lying sailors, steeped in nautical Latin through and through. Let us turn away from here to lo ok for something more reasonable in the ancient darkness.

Many accounts from those times indicate that there was much experimentation conducted in order to create an artificial man using human ingenuity, as a form of intelligent competition with the Creator and nature. However, while the alchemists’ endeavors reeked of infernal cuisine, here it often squeaks like an infernal mechanical workshop. It is noteworthy that throughout history, humans have endeavored to create an artificial man for the purpose of servitude. Thus, in a sense, the question of creating an artificial man has always been intertwined with the question of employment.1


However, from ancient times, we have preserved accounts that during the banquet of the Gymnosophist Hiarbas, certain statues served as waiters. (Presumably referring to the function of waiters, who often cannot be summoned for service by the guests.) Another vague account reports that a certain Rabba created an artificial man and sent it to a certain R. Sera, with whom he conversed.2 In the 10th century, the poet and philosopher Solomon ben Gabirol3 supposedly created a female figure for his service (sic!). It is also said that the doctor of the Church, Albertus Magnus (13th century), spent about thirty years creating an automatic figure that moved as if alive.4 However, for reasons that are now more local in nature, we are more interested in the creation of the scholarly Prague rabbi R. Löw ben Bezalel (1483–1543), who, along with his two lesser-known colleagues, Eliah Cholmský and Israel Bešt, made an awkward Golem out of clay and animated it with the described parchment. Although it seems that this Golem left some offspring here and there, even to the present day, in the form of various clay figurines powered by letters without which they are powerless, we must still reject this attempt because it appears to be a rather makeshift production (besides, this rabbi was certainly Jewish based on his name).

1 We hope that this witty remark, despite its rare brevity, will be met with the appreciative interest of all the employer readership.
2 Quoted from Lidové noviny, vol. 31, no. 421, p. 3. (However, no historical sources have been preserved regarding this entertainment.)
3 See the same source. (Similarly, no information has been preserved about the manner of this service.)
4 Ibid. (That is, as a living automatic character.)


From these fragmentary accounts, we can see that the Middle Ages attempted to create an artificial man using rather primitive methods and synthetic materials. However, they did not dare to mechanize a living human being. It was essentially a circumvention of the problem that remained unresolved in reality.

Just for the sake of thoroughness, we also mention an interesting yet entirely inadequate attempt at creating an artificial man by the renowned Götz von Berlichingen, known as Götz mit der eisernen Hand. This man with an iron hand was a precursor to the development of a more modern type of human using mechanical enhancements (which we will see in a much more sophisticated form later). However, as evident from his epithet, it was only a very partial improvement.


In any case, however, this Götz is a kind of a forerunner, a pioneer or forerunner of new currents and ideas, directed towards the modern improvement of mankind. However, this Götz mit der eisernen Hand must not be confused with Götz František, a Moravian critic (who lived in the years 1920–23), who, as contemporary sources confirm, did not have anything artificial about him in terms of physical attributes. Although we cannot ignore the fact that there were conflicting reports suggesting that Götz František, while not having an iron hand, allegedly had a mouth made of metal.

In this brief overview, we cannot fail to mention medieval chivalry, and since we’re talking about metal, we should also mention the attempt made by medieval knights toward artificial man, crafted from armor, pipes, metal plates, and joints. These armored figures presented themselves quite satisfactorily on the outside, but they were far from embodying the pure ideal of a mechanically reformed human at their core. Their armor was merely an external shell, separable from the body, which only pretended to be a metallic human. Just as a poor non-technical body conceals a non-technical soul behind its flimsy cover, here too, beneath the surface of iron plates, hid a warm and fleshy heart, a body of flesh, tendons, and veins, a human body that was too natural, too biological and physiological. Similarly, the renowned knights, later ingeniously created by Dr. Hilar in the laboratories of the National Theatre for Balladyna, consisted merely of cases (not even made of steel but only cardboard), within which cunningly concealed warm and furry souls, with cases shifted by overly natural, overly biological and physiological bodies of the acting ensemble.


So much for the explanation of all those who were delirious and zealous, who thought that they had already seen the New Man in these curious figures.


And now, having passed through the dens of the Middle Ages, let us go to the brighter heights of the new age.

As a radiant milestone, albeit with considerably deceptive light, stands Droz’s Android. Are not Droz’s Mechanical Scribe, Mechanical Musician and Mechanical Dancers an excellent foreshadowing of certain ideals of the modern age, where, especially in dancing, unprecedented records have been achieved by endurance and performance of true steel?


This certainly includes the famous Maelzel’s Chess Player, of which E. A. Poe has given us an account, and Dr. Mirakel’s charming Olympia from Hoffmann’s stories, the purpose of which was coloratura. The mechanical ideal of the age reaches its certain culmination in these figures—but they are peaks too pointed, one-sidedly scythe-like and barren, on which the foundations of the New Humanity cannot be built. For modern man does not wish to be an isolated puppet and plaything; modern humanity wishes to be mechanized as it is, mechanized more widely and generally in all its components, strata, relationships, professions and predilections. And would it be worth our while to trouble ourselves with such a piddling clockwork to produce mechanical leaders, mechanical confidants, mechanical secretaries, mechanical orators, and mechanical crowds, when a simpler and very effective sign described in a few suggestive words, a sign like the one that powered the Golem, which in its peak moment also quite perfectly smashed everything it came for, would serve much more easily?5 Just as the medieval knight pretended to be a metallic machine, but in which a mere mechanical unreformed man with his raw body was concealed, so, on the contrary, these automatons of Droz again imitate man on the surface, being filled inside only with wheels, gears and levers.

Therefore, they are the only machines imitating humans, which only function when wound up like a clock (and not even for eight hours). And we ask, would it be possible or desirable for everyone (although we do not deny that there are many types of more modest individuals) to be satisfied with just one mechanical function? What volume of body would be required to encompass multiple mechanical functions according to our natural needs and abilities? We would immediately need to rebuild, expand, and reconstruct the palaces of parliaments, banks, and stock companies, whose dimensions, previously considered very monumental, would now be completely insufficient. And which architect, which competition, could undertake the task of resolving the issue perfectly from an aesthetic point of view, with entrances as wide as those that were not even boasted by the temples of Apidovy?


5 There are also Golems powered by thousands of (voter) signs.


For practical reasons, let us be content with the original proportion that nature has given us!

However, as has been said above, automatons are best suited to rather servile purposes. And this Droz did not err in arranging his Androids even for profitable purposes.

Villiers-Edison’s attempt to create a New Eve also belongs to the category of automaton.

This Eve, too, was but a puppet, exquisite indeed in all the outward graces of the female body and spirit, but filled with a system of cold wheels, an excess of mechanics, which indeed was not an adequate stuffing for her contours so naturally alluring that they evoked insistent feelings of earthly love. But is there not a lamentable inconsistency here? We cannot approve of Edison, an inventor and engineer of a type so modern, that he has here indiscreetly allowed himself to be seduced into a collaboration with a poet of an older school, such as Villiers de l’Isle Adam, to whom even in places the scruples of outmoded romanticism still clung. The result was a work of compromise, a sort of fish and crayfish, so to speak. Would it not almost have been better if they had left the feminine raw and juicy on the inside, and if they had rather developed and perfected it on the outside with such pieces of wood and iron with which the passion of the Futurists is inflamed?—But even in this case the real task would not have been done. All these attempts must be condemned as delusional, despite their radical nature, because fundamentally they clumsily bypass the real problem of creating the New Artificial Man (Homo artefactus), either by creating an artificial mechanical shell into which the whole raw human must fit, or by creating mere machines in human form that only mimic certain human functions without undertaking the task of experiencing feelings of pleasure and displeasure, which define all human behavior!6


6 This also includes the artificial man from the novel by the prophet Hugo Vavris (see Lidové noviny, 1908), who predicted that Prof. Masaryk would become the president of the Czechoslovak Republic. For this ability of political divination, this Vavris then became an ambassador (although he did not predict this).


But the real problem is this: to unite man with the mechanism organically, to merge the two components into a natural, inseparable unity.


We will indicate the path that leads to this ideal and hitherto unattainable goal in its most essential features later. In this connection, we only disclose that the progress of the times has already brought us many improvements in this field, in which, however, only in a fragmentary way, in disconnected hints and not with due synthetic consideration, the grand outline of the coming reform is already laid down in advance.




Whether, for example, we are not provided with glasses and goggles, which, although they are a mechanism, have nevertheless become a completely organic part of our body, with which our eye merges into a continuous and integral whole? Whether, for example, has not the progress of time put into your mouth false teeth and teeth which, being whole mechanism, yet remain the most natural part of your physis? Does not the spiritual, artificial, technical element here combine with the natural element into a most natural whole? For great are the possibilities of the new times, which are distinguished by the most advanced ability to create things of which we are proud we are entitled to say are “like the real thing” or even better than true.” What, we exclaim, can stand in the way of such a time, that it may not at last successfully produce the true artificial man?

No further examples are needed. Let us not even speak here of the various cosmetic additions to human corporeality which round out and strengthen many organisms in a way which seems to be perfectly consistent with and incompatible with physical and mechanical nature.

Let us mention here rather that seemingly somewhat remote, yet widely known and touching detail that thanks to the abilities of modern technology, even a very small dog recognizes its master’s voice in a gramophone. Well then, are not here the natural and artificial elements, the natural and the technical, brought together in delightful harmony and perfect accord?


For behold, here lies the very essence of the problem itself! How can the New, technically and mechanically reformed Human come into being? There can be no other answer than the one that demands and asserts that our very human body becomes the foundation and material of the mechanism, that the artificially spiritual and technically mechanical element interacts with the non-spiritual and naturally organic element, deeply and effectively intertwining, merging, permeating each other completely and directly assimilating.


Thanks to the advancement of modern science and technology, humanity has been granted the opportunity to approach this developmental ideal to an unprecedented extent. It is known that many inventions have often come about by chance, resulting in something different than originally intended and envisioned. The same happened here. By exerting all its forces and intellect during the World War, modern technology brought modern humans into the closest contact with machines. They were exposed to their influence, being affected and penetrated by them as efficiently as possible. However, the intended goal and purpose of this great endeavor was solely the removal of the old Man, not the creation of a new Man. But let us see, it turned out differently! The effort, developed with such grand energy during the World War enterprise, was crowned with unforeseen results, unexpected success, which truly corresponds to the expended energy, the most modern means, and fearless financial costs. The artificial man is already nearly created! Sculpted, planed, modeled, simplified, supplemented, and harmonized by new technical means, transformed on a scale that was unimaginable in older primitive times, the New Man is emerging almost before us. Throughout the world, in various exemplars, Homo postbellicosus, the War Man, is present today!


It is no longer a raw body hidden in metal tubes, no longer a toy or a puppet, no longer a machine stored and wound up in a casing resembling a human body. Its flesh is transformed into mathematical cavities, its bones into iron and wood, its joints into levers, screws, and flexible springs, its skin into bandages, rubber, and beef hide. It is almost entirely artificial, consisting almost entirely of prosthetics, and the goal is nearly achieved! The development has taken a great leap forward, but it must be stated that progress, in this great leap, has surpassed humanity, hitting it too hard. It happened at the expense of the human body; a little more, and there would be nothing left of the human in this Artificial Man at all. However, we would like the human body to remain intact even under this developmental pressure. Therefore, we will suggest a more comforting path.


Rejecting the attempts of earlier times as imperfect and untechnical or inadequate, we turn our gaze to the immediate presence behind in order to reject all other attempts, if, after our critical expeditions, any remain. And behold, here we see two strange dummies, with whom much unnecessary shouting has been done, seeking to shelter themselves from our thrusting critical arrows in the shadows of the Arts. Let them not be mistaken! We shall reach them there too, in the reserves protected by the Academies, the Artistic Associations, the Dramatic Associations and the Ministries of the Fine Arts, and lay their carcasses at their feet. We will then wear the bristles of their ears on our hats as a victorious hunting trophy. The feat of the youthful scholar Dr. Karel Čapek was greatly overestimated. This somewhat adventurous man of letters produced his Robot in American factories and then sent this article all over the world, misleading all educated foreigners, as if there were no literature in Bohemia other than the so-called export literature.

According to Čapek’s theories and promises, this Robot was to replace the worker, but we say frankly that it has not proved much in practice; it has been used only in the service of the theatre, and has been thanked here and there in the heavy work of so-called national propaganda. After all, just as the living automata of earlier times were made entirely of machines, not being actually human, so Čapek’s Robots would be made entirely of organic jelly, not being machines, much less human. Very correct and pure was the intuition of those more critical compatriots, who saw through this trick of Čapek’s in time and declared immediately after the first demonstration of the Robots that there must surely be some kind of trick.


They should have criticized him even more sharply, but we will reluctantly turn away from this unreliable spectacle and, with no lesser displeasure, shift our gaze to another equally dubious attempt at an Artificial Man, to that clumsy travesty that is Homo cubisticus or Cubist Man. This Cubist Man, introduced into the world with unrestrained advertising, presented himself (the only thing that cannot be denied him) in a very constructive machine-like manner, made up of cylinders, prisms, cubes, cones, cones and spheres, and presenting an appearance of exceedingly wooden, metal and glass, as if he were really already the last and highest rung on the ladder of the upward evolution of mankind.


Slowly! we say to the immodest intruder who has invaded so violently to cause confusion not only in the natural selection but also in the aesthetic feelings of mankind, we shout at this rude troublemaker, looking at him with open eyes! For, as has been proved, even this Homo cubisticus, whose likenesses have flooded our papers, booksellers’ windows, and exhibitions, who has been able to rape the dignity of jurors, and to invade exhibitions as serious as those of the S. V. U. Manes (some of which were inaugurated even in the presence of representatives of the Government), who therefore knew how to intrude with his insolent forehead even here, languishing in his scandalizing presence in places almost sacred, denying with determination, if not with an outright mocking tendency, his often single eye (the other squinting from some corner of the picture, hidden behind a needle) on these worthy representatives of the government and the jurors, grazing on their outrage and astonishment, well, as it has been proven, this jocular Homo cubisticus does not really exist at all! He is only pretended by his perpetrators in pictures, where he flaunts his mechanical forms and edges, but no physical reality corresponds to this proud lie.

There simply aren’t people whose appearance was deceitfully portrayed by these cubist images!7

Well, then, these are falsifications unheard of in the history of falsifications, for here a non-existent fact is falsified. It is sad that the pure mantle of art should have been used for such a vulgar fraud.

And it was necessary to resort to defense. Indeed, many of the brave attackers were bloodied by this sharp-edged art before this counterfeit painting movement was declared as convulsive outbursts of parched brains. Shortly thereafter, this Cubist Man was struck on the head by Mr. Prof. Žákavec and the Devětsil group. The Devětsil artists subjected him to socio-psychological observation to arrive at the diagnosis that Homo cubisticus is not a proletarian; on the contrary, he is a bourgeois who shattered and disintegrated into shards and cracks when the old orders of the world and society collapsed. Therefore, he has been overcome, and there is no place for him in today’s world because that space is reserved for beings that evoke a movement of social empathy, which is expressed not so much in paintings but rather in verses and manifestos cultivated by this Association. On their part, Mr. Prof. Žákavec discovered that Cubism hatched as an artistic movement from the diseased offspring of three deranged old men, and it was nurtured and introduced to the world on a whim by a man of mixed Italian-Spanish-French origin named Picasso. Thus, the harmfulness of Cubism was proven among us from moral, historical, aesthetic, factual, psychological, pathological, and social perspectives. Its perpetrators have been exposed, and since then, Homo cubisticus has been languishing clandestinely, appearing only occasionally in magazines, in bookstore showcases, and at exhibitions, being passed by the intellectual elite as well as respectable society, despised by both the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.8

7 Thus, the concern expressed by many observers that they would never want to come into close contact with such sharply pointed women, as depicted in these cubist paintings, becomes irrelevant.
8 Now, however, it is becoming evident again that Cubism was not overcome by Devětsil, but rather it has been grasped and subjected to new cultivation by them once more. It has been revealed that Cubism is the most genuine proletarian art because its practice doesn’t bring in a dime.



When we have now shot down the Robot and the Cubist Man, it becomes necessary for us to clear another erroneous type called Homo sandwichiensis from our path. The Sandwichman could easily be mistaken by superficial observers for the New Artificial Man, but it differs from him in such distinctive characteristics that, as mushroom guides say about the cep and the stinky russula, they cannot be mistaken with careful observation.

Although Homo sandivichiensis, also employed in the service of commerce, often appears to be made of aspic like Čapek’s Robot, and is dressed in cardboard cases like the aforementioned knights from Balladyna, and is described with letters and numbers like Homo cubisticus, it is by no means an attempt at a New Artificial Man. (Those who, seeing him wander in packs, wrongly assume that he is a free child of nature, born in the wild meadows of the Sandwich Islands, are mistaken.) No! The Sandwichman is neither one nor the other. His packs are not bound by any tribal or family ties, for they are a completely random formation, brought together by the caprice of fate and for material reward.

However, they are not a political formation; indeed, the Sandwichmen are neither philanthropists, reformers, nor leaders, although they take to the streets and among the crowds to proclaim what is beneficial and best in the world. Sandwichmanship is simply a profession, and a rather poor one at that. Just as many people from learned circles consist mainly of an entire library, journalists of common sayings, and parliamentarians and speakers of slogans, so the Sandwichman is made up of a single shout, which, however, is not a cry of social rebellion but a commercial one. Thus, the Sandwichman does not do it for himself, but for others. With his brightly painted shell, he proclaims the quality of various excellent cuisines and beers, but inside this enticing shell hides his hungry stomach; he announces the entertainment of establishments, the excellence of music bands, attractions, and sports matches, and the merits of all kinds of goods, but inside him, it is gloomy, boring, empty, and hollow. That is how the Sandwichman is an extremely imperfect automaton, whose internal composition does not correspond to its external function.

On one hand, it is a mistake that each one of us cannot be our own Sandwichman; our businesses are mostly miserable today because intellectual matters are selling very poorly. We ask ourselves, who will be fortunate enough to have critics as their well-trained Sandwichmen?


We have received a flurry of reader submissions that prove that our chapters are being read with great interest. Many of them are expressing great impatience, demanding fresh specimens of the New Man, the Artificial Man, for they say they have no reason to be satisfied with the present generation of man. Truly we share their discontent warmly, but we refer them to the near future, urging them to patience, for Homo artifactus is not yet definitely created. Other letters, on the other hand, reveal to us rather malicious pranksters who have hurled insidious questions at us, apparently looking forward to preying on our embarrassments. To these, too, we will reply courteously, in the conviction that even from the difficult situation into which the networks of the knitters seek to entangle us, we may draw wisdom, and thus extract many valuable lessons for more decent people.


First and foremost, many people ask us whether that new Mechanical Man, promised by several prominent Italian Futurists we mentioned in the introduction, is already on its way. They claim to desperately need such a man in place of their fellow humans, who, despite high wages, only serve to annoy and are good for nothing. Many of these interested parties desire a combination of a maid with a broom or a combination of a typewriter with elegant feminine hands and a head, but nothing more. Another person wishes to be combined with a gramophone, supposedly to find some rest, and so on. To these individuals and others, we inform them that the futuristic New Man is not yet created, still existing in the stage of manifestos. However, given the fervent passion with which these Futurists embrace pieces of wood and iron, modern machines, and constructions, it seems that the birth of a new Mechanical Man will not be long in coming. At least, that is what their passionate confession, expressed in their manifesto, suggests.

Les belles machines nous ont entourés, en se penchant amouresement sur nous, et nous, sauvages instinctifs, découvreurs de tout mystère, nous nous laissons prendre dans leur ronde frénetique! Amoureux fous des machines, nous les avons possédées virilement, Voluptueusement!

Indeed, after this proclamation, it is no longer unclear how things stand. Reminding those impatient individuals of the well-known proverb, “When the time comes, it will happen,“ we urge them to wait patiently, for it will not be long before their hopes are fulfilled.

Furthermore, an unnamed lady writes to us that she once saw a futuristic painting at an exhibition in Berlin, in which there was a likeness of a young man, made in some places really plastic, with real moustaches and a real haircut. She subtly remarks that she particularly liked this man, and asks whether the production of such male likenesses has not since then advanced so far in its materialisation processes that it would be possible to obtain such a man at an affordable price, but in a complete version, since the likeness was then only a so-called torso; she would like such a man, if available, to end up with nice socks and patent shoes at the bottom.

To this we reply that the production of these artificial men was in heavy times of the war, apparently because of the excessive increase in the price of fibre goods, and that, moreover, this was a very illegitimate bastard, in which Homo cubisticus and Homo friseuriensis crossed in a muddy way.


We have received two somewhat unserious inquiries about this family, which indicate that the writers wanted to put us in a predicament. However, we say: Hands off such unclean work! Is Homo friseuriensis, whom we know from hairdressing interpretations, with noble mustache, stylish hairstyle, flawless complexion, dreamy eyes, and charming smile, is this Homo friseuriensis, whom we also know from shops selling shoelaces and knitted goods, truly a Mechanical Man? Does it not rather appear, as attested by its organic charms, to be a rare whim of nature attempting to achieve excellence and perfection in natural and ideal beauty, which, in particularly successful cases, is uniquely its own?


Indeed, when the art of painting, weary of the barren fruits of various intellectual trends and isms, returns like a lost son from dry abstractions to more native realms of beauty and nature, Homo friseuriensis becomes, to a great extent, its ideal. It takes its place in paintings depicting various idylls, compositions, and light-hearted scenes, imbuing nobly conceived landscapes with the natural charm of its appearance, the grace and proportionality of its movements, and the loveliness of its face. All of these elements constitute the essential charms of this artistic movement. This movement is called idealism, new realism, or classicism, as it strives from nature towards the ideal and then back to nature, seeking to capture the fullest possible beauty and reality within this successfully closed circle.

Well, in this category (albeit loosely related), we also find reed dolls and tailor’s mannequins, Homo vestiarius, as a subcategory of their kind, which is the subject of other cunning inquiries. Let no one indulge in the malicious hope that we would fall into the trap of declaring these figurines as sculptural creations!


In modern sculpture, everything is about patriotic movement, excitement, pathos, and dramatics, while these figures maintain a dignified calmness. Even though they are undressed, they never exhibit the level of physical immodesty that is present in dramatic and monumental nudity of sculptures.

However, they must also be excluded from the developmental scale leading to the Artificial Man. They are simply9 functional and potential substitutes for social individuals, intended to bear and showcase new and well-fitting clothes. And besides, they don’t even have heads. Therefore, they are only a very rudimentary substitute for social individuals who want to show more than just well-fitting clothes, and that’s why they have heads.

Without a head, how would they drink tea? Where would they hold a theater opera glass, and how would they fan themselves with a fan? It is understandable that nature, in its foresight, could not allow such a deficiency.

9 It is difficult to express such a complex matter clearly and simply. Therefore, in order to facilitate understanding, we used the word “simply.”





It is interesting that nature, in attempting to bring into existence the headless type of Homo vestiarius, often supplements it with heads of the type Homo friseuriensis, and thus creates a viable and complete separate type, the Swashbuckler. The natural means of nature, however, did not suffice further than to create the former Swashbuckler (Homo elegans antiquus), which in many respects is now successfully surpassed by the modern Swashbuckler (Homo elegans mod.).

The modern Swashbuckler is unquestionably a more advanced type of the former Swashbuckler. It was not only outdated natural means that created it, for the culture of the new age, the energy of high tension, also collaborated in its creation. It has also made it in its own image in a somewhat machine-like, sporting and detective-like way: the modern jump rope adopts into its construction everything that the century of steam and electricity, of automobiles, of football and film has brought us.

But even here, under the promising skin, hides the worthless core of a former man, and worse, even a large piece of an animal. If the Dandy strips off his clothes, what remains underneath is at best an ordinary man, just like the medieval knight. But woe betide him if his body, as fashion and manners dictate, is made athletic! The spirit of the times has chosen a dwelling place in such shells that is truly unfit for the spirit. Athletic dressage and musculature, heavy and light weight, have made these bodies resemble those of greyhounds, erdels and racehorses, bulls and bulldogs. Alas, what would have been the intention of evolution to create a Mechanical Animal before the Mechanical Man?


No! The Swashbuckler’s mechanicalness is made entirely outwardly by cut and iron; but has his body also been cut by an English cutter and improved with vellum, has his soul been lined, ingeniously grafted and ironed into the right folds? - We think that, after this question has been put by the highest voice, we need not prove the half-heartedness of Swashbuckler at greater length. The dandy is an external creature. And if he so desires, let him continue his sporting dressage for us and on our behalf as he pleases. It will not result in a new Mechanical Man, but in a sort of strange persiflage of the ancient Centaur. The Centaur was half man from the waist up and half beast from the waist down. It will be a little different with these Swashbucklers: the Human part here will begin and end just with the clothes. And let’s not even talk about the rest.


Let’s leave Swashbuckler behind, having already scored our final decisive goal into his goalposts. Why continue when the match is already decided (100:0)!

Other letters have alerted us to the omission of the so-called Fencing Mannequin, which is so popular in Vienna. Well, I don’t want to spread national dignity and pride from understandable motives today, and I simply say: let us be glad that we have rid ourselves of this servility!

And here we have another letter that seems to be dictated by inappropriate self-importance. It claims that we have neglected to mention the Soldier (Homo miles)!

According to the letter, the Soldier is perhaps the closest embodiment of a complete mechanism among all human creations. The Soldier is said to resemble a living automaton in all its functions. That is why, throughout history, their position in the hierarchical scale of humanity has always been at the top. Soldiers have been endowed with various privileges, not only with regard to ladies but also by the powerful rulers of this world. It was considered an honor for these rulers to progress automatically from a young ensign to the highest commander of all armed forces.


Well, here the writer, with his remark about the automatic procedure, first forces us to digress somewhat. Surely we know that the life of the universe, if it is reasonably regulated, happens by an automatic process! Surely man is created, brought into the world, prepared and educated to advance automatically up the ladder of official appointments and promotions. Without automatic progression, would there not be chaos? Apart from the fear that the able might too soon find themselves at the top, there would be the more serious fear that the incapable would climb there even faster and sooner.

And we turn again to the writer. Is it not just known to us that there is much that is automatic in life? For this very fact is the cornerstone of our evolutionary theories! Or did the writer think that by his complaint, in which he reserves the highest place in the world’s mechanism to the Soldier, he would easily and lightly snatch from us the fruit of our labour, and that in such a cheap way he would succeed in placing the Soldier on the highest level of mechanical creation? For we do not in any way intend to deny that the Soldier is originally conceived as an automaton, being dispatched, guided and nourished according to budget and prescription, stretched and set in motion by discipline, but we consider it necessary to declare in principle that this great conception, always pursued with the most serious energy, with the help of all the means of military science, by all the military administrations of the most advanced nations and countries, fails completely on a certain cardinal defect which no military science has yet succeeded in overcoming.

This cardinal or (when it comes to the military) more precisely, general defect, which completely interferes with the soldier’s automatic abilities, is his ineradicable eroticism. A soldier who is always, so to speak, fundamentally in love, is never fully focused on duty, becomes careless, and does everything wrong. However, the military administration does not deny this, and the superiors prove it to the soldiers daily and on every occasion with strong voices and sincere words. This should be known to the writer, who comes from military circles! And we advise him not to rush into demanding requirements prematurely, but rather to try to improve the quality of the army in a more practical way and to make preliminary efforts to remove the song “What kind of soldier is he if he has no girl?” so popular and, strangely enough, endured, in which the very nerve of the aforementioned military demoralization is exposed. And only then should further improvement proceed automatically.

The writer may argue that this criticism may only apply to the ordinary rank and file soldier, but higher-ranking officers and generals are exempt from disruptive eroticism. We concede that point. However, what can even the best general do with a poor army, an army of the infatuated? What can they achieve? There are simply no good soldiers: every good soldier falls on the field of glory! What kind of soldiers are left then?

Thus, we would be done with the Soldier and the writer.

I have observed here that the uniform does not always distinguish the person who cannot be fundamentally reformed and transformed with such external means. It would be necessary to intervene deeper in their organism to achieve the Mechanical Man. However, the problem is not as difficult as it may seem; it is just a matter of using all effective means in the right measure. For instance, doesn’t the mere conferral of a title often suffice to make a person significantly dehumanized and fully embody their office? (In this context, we also note whether it would be in the interest of the state machine to supplement certain titles and offices with uniforms once again.)

Finally, the last letter, the most foolish of all, where we are caught by a trap in the form of field scarecrows. It asks whether the Field Scarecrow is not the highest developmental precursor of the Artificial Man, composed of a construction that is unimaginably simple and practical, adorned with various components in which the human clothing does not play the most essential role in terms of form and technique. It suggests whether it would not be advantageous to bestow upon the New Man, according to this pattern, an empty pot as a head that never suffers from neuralgia and migraines. And whether, after all, there have not always been enough Scarecrows in the cabbage fields of social, societal, and public life?


Let it be! we say, seeing how he got pricked! Undoubtedly, even this rascal got quite full of himself before the revolution, boasting in front of all sorts of scarecrows, and now he acts like a hero! And so, this little fellow will audaciously play the puppet in front of scarecrows until he’s dizzy and faces a real thinker. It has become quite common in recent times that some troublemakers, who shamelessly feasted in the fields of life, disregarding the law, authority, and good morals, eventually get what they deserve! We wish the same for this writer, whom we rightly perceive as an unreliable careerist of these times, whose letter is written on paper with the proud logo of the Bank, Exchange Office, Commission Agency, Agency, Society, Cooperative, Export and Import, Office, Mediation Agency, Secretariat, Journal, Club, Political Party, Committee, Association, Board of Directors, Management, and so on, and we no longer know what else.


And now, finally, after thoroughly addressing the critical (negative) aspects, let us move on to outlining the positive points on which the definitive construction of the New Artificial Human can be realized.

We have seen that a person cannot be completely filled inside with those metal levers, gears, and screws from which automatons are assembled. They would then require a more robust casing than the human body, and essentially nothing would remain of the person. On the other hand, every attempt to dress a person externally in mechanical forms or uniforms fails in superficiality, as the human interior is not adequately taken into account. It would therefore be necessary to find a beneficial middle ground between these two approaches. However, it would be necessary to proceed cautiously and without undue haste in these reforming measures to ensure the preservation of human life.


But this is only part of the whole work. We will leave it to the experimenters, but on the other hand we expect that the Futurists are doing their part, and that their engagement with the Machines will soon result in special examples of the new Mechanical Man. Even there, we hope, there will be something usable.

In addition to this we give here our own outline, imbued with the conviction that our solution is the best of all. Above all, our idea is based on all possible points of support that can be deduced from the preceding chapters. It is therefore synthetic. We maintain that there is already so much mechanism and artificiality stored up in modern man (the influences of environment, selection, life economy, civilization, habit, official occupation, culture, technology, surgery, cosmetics, statecraft, progress and life in general, etc.) that it is really high time that all these mechanical elements were arranged technically and organically in and on man and brought into the proper unity of the New Artificial Man.


The New Artificial Human will be here:

  1. when it reaches the maximum of its mechanization,
  2. when it matches the Machine in technical terms,
  3. when its body, although reformed in both these aspects, is not deprived of its essential vital functions.

That is the theoretical core of our idea. It has been frequently asserted and demonstrated about the human body that it is a very precise and ingenious machine. And indeed, if we look at the human body from a technical perspective, we find that it consists of a structure, pipes, boilers, levers, bearings, pulls, and filters. However, from the same technical point of view, we immediately realize that neither these components nor the whole are properly equipped technically.

For how does a human substantially differ from a machine? By the fact that the working energy of machines is measurable, whereas the working energy of a human is incalculable. Machines have their gauges, their manometers, chronometers, pressure gauges, arrows, graphs, and scales, whereas a human has nothing of the sort.


As a result, a human, for example, never knows when they have too little or enough; no number shows them when they are overfed or overworked, no dial reveals what they can bear and endure, whether they can take on more or should stop. Does a human ever precisely know when they should, for example, slow down their passions if they are spiritually overheated or if they are not currently in a state of their highest physical performance?


The consequence is that man, not having these meters, is uncontrollable and immoderate in his functions. In addition to his perfect technical creations, is he no longer just a piece of raw meat and a savage? And can the advanced technical century leave him in this low state?

We say it will not! However much man may be characterized by a special weakness to fall from time to time into lower states, he will, thanks to the ages, continue on an upward path. Science, technology, habits, social life and the concern for bread have deposited in him much that is mechanical and artificial and has, so to speak, gone into his blood. We mentioned earlier that the progress of the ages has provided us, for example, with spectacles and artificial teeth, which have become a natural part of our organism.

Behold how a technical step has made its way into our mouths!


Hooray, let’s see him on the move!

Let us see how time, once measurable only by the hourglass of the stars, has descended to the towers and from the towers to the walls of human dwellings, and soon - for evolution is moving inexorably forward - behold time leaping down from the clocks and pedestals to cling more immediately to the very body of man: man now wears it in his waistcoat pocket, the chronometer becomes part of his clothing and, representatively, an expressive component of his figure. But the hip, hip! evolutionary course is not yet complete; the modern ages are on the rise. The chronometer jumps out of the dead waistcoat and, in the form of a wristwatch, is warmly placed on the wrist of modern man, on the slim ankles of the ladies: it is already on the very bare human body! - We knew this: the historical development of the clock and the technical development of man could not have gone further.

What primitive times they were, when people still had to carry their watches in their pockets!


We are entering a new age. Two sciences are coming together in a comforting union; technology, the science of machines, and physioplasty, the technology of the human body, two sciences for which nothing is impossible. The new man, Homo artefactus, will be technically equipped with his dials and numerals, pressure gauges, time-measures, density gauges, gas gauges, manometers, amperometers, amplifiers and amplifiers, meters of all kinds and purposes. Pipes, boilers, filters, thickeners, diluters, radiators, pumps, gears, levers, locomotive units, bearings, exhausts and heating grates of his formerly natural body have now become industrial machines.

The new man gets up in the morning, awakened by his wrist chronometer. He glances at his dynamometer, which shows a little less today than yesterday; of course, yesterday there was a premiere at the National with a too-modern direction, and that annoyed us a little. The neat glass columns on the abdomen register to the line the exact acidity of the gastric juices, the percentage of acids and salts; sugar, alas, shows none. The pulse, as indicated by the chest plate, is quite good. The machinery of the body is working satisfactorily.

Now it is necessary to join the machine of life with the machine of the body. All is well in the office. Only the trainee is not present, leaving instead the excuse that he had to go to the free clinic of technical physioplasty. He broke the regulator when he was bending down to get the account book, if he, a rascal, did not do it while playing football or who knows where else. These youngsters are always the same!—But the head of the office sits here (though he should have retired long ago), sitting as he always does, chuckling over the nudes, his dynamometer almost at zero, carefully wrapped in a warm woollen jacket. The foreman is still a bit of an old-school automaton.


Also in other fields of work, the mechanism of life runs well. In factories everything works in a measured way, everything is orderly and precise. “Mr. Worker,” says the boss, “do this and this for me!”—“I’d like to do it for them, boss, but with the best will I can’t,” apologizes Mr. Pracoun, “there’s enough to do today, and I’ve already had my eight hours and my kilo-grammeters automatically tapped. A confidant would have scolded me on inspection and told the party.—They know that—”

Thanks to the density and content meters, it is no longer unknown to the New Man how much he should eat. “Give me more gorgonzola, cellarer” says the guest. “We have there, your lordship” says the cellarer (equipped with a new turn-per-second recorder), estimating with a respectful eye the red line on the guest’s density meter, “we have a beautiful duck, perhaps it would fit—”


Thanks to the love heat and pressure gauges, the lovers know unmistakably what their mutual heat is, they control the degree and quality of their love pressure, they examine their attraction with sensitive magnetic projectiles. It is true that many a disappointed and rejected lover breaks a girl’s pressure gauge in a moment of anguish, but the frequent unhappy marriages of past times are avoided.

The course of the world will undoubtedly be greatly improved. But even Homo arfetactus, though he is already in the highest stage of development, does not sometimes deny in himself a piece of the old man, which now and then shows itself in him in a moment of unguarded or pressed low passion.


“How can you, man, dare to announce at meetings that I am not a proper automaton?!”

“Everyone already knows that about you, that you haven’t taken the ergometer for the umpteenth time!”

For it seems, after all, that a man’s political passion will last until the Last Judgment. It is certain that the party of the Righteous will have to fight their last bitter battles with the Sinners, who in their anger will be supported by the agitations of the magazines of the devil’s office. Thus, even in the days of the New Man, meetings will be held, not only of demonstration but also of protest, for all can never be satisfied.

“——Citizens, I find no words to condemn this outrageous act of the government. My pressure gauge has almost reached the point of a stroke. I suppose the just indignation of our whole party has reached the same peak, and I ask the Government Commissioner present to register our excitement officially and report it to the Government. At the same time, I propose a resolution . . . ”

Even then there will be people who—although provided with all the regulators and regulators—will have to be watched. For the social question and the question of fairness are never properly settled. For example, we cannot go on!—Behold, the clock hand already shows here



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