I have a little book with lots of facts about inventions and inventors.
I shall pick out the ones which interested me most.
First, the art of CHINDOGU.
Chindugu is the Japanese word for 'unusual tool.'
It is used for the thousands of inventions on the Intellectual Property Office's database which are unsaleable, unusable or simply mad.
In the late eighties a Japanese intellectual and amateur inventor, Mr. Kenji Kawakami, argued that such devices as eye protection for chickens, the fingertip toothbrush and cockroach-swatting slippers weren't actually useless, since they solved a problem, but weren't really useful in everyday life; he called them 'unuseless,' since nobody in their right mind would buy one.
Kawakami's Chindogu Books have sold more than 250,000 copies in Japan alone, and there is a Chindogu movement with a set of 10 rules....
THE TEN RULES OF CHINDOGU
1 A Chindogu cannot be for real use in daily life.
Fundamentally, inventions cannot claim Chindogu status if they are in any way handy enough to be used.
2 A Chindogu must exist. It must be made.
You must be able to hold it and imagine it almost being used.
It must actually BE in order to be useless.
3 It must challenge the historical dominance of utility; it represents the freedom of thought and action, the freedom to be useless.
4 A Chindogu must relate to everyday life.
Technical and specialised scientific inventions do not count.
5 A Chindogu is not to be sold, even as a joke.
6 A Chindogu is not to be created as a joke.
It is the result of problem-solving activity.
Any humour is a by-product, the result of someone finding an elaborate or unconventional solution to a problem which may not present itself as particularly pressing to begin with.
7 Chindogu is not propoganda.
It is made to be used, even though unusable.
It is not intended as an ironic comment on the sorry state of mankind.
8 The International Chindogu Society has strict standards of social decency.
No sexual innuendo, vulgar humour or sick/cruel jokes are acceptable.
9 Chindogu cannot be patented.
They are offerings to the whole world.
The Spanish motto is,'Mi Chindogu es tu Chindogu.'
10 Chindogu are without any racial or social or religious prejudice.
Here are some of the top Chindogu:
1 The Hayfever Hat
This is a roll of toilet-paper worn on the head, instantly accessible, day or night.
2 The Butter Stick
Constructed like a mega tube of lip balm,this obviates the need for butter-knives.
3 Back-scratcher's T-shirt
A handy way of guiding your friend to the correct spot in need of scratching.
4 Noodle-eater's Hairguard
This ring, which fits neatly round a noodle-eater's face, protects the hair from unwanted sauce contamination.
Other Chindogu are:
A Water-saving Umbrella
This upside-down umbrella keeps the wearer dry, whilst ensuring a constant supply of fresh water.
A wig mounted on a coat-hanger, strategically placed, gives a follically-challenged individual, in his reflection in the mirror, the appearance of sporting a luxuriant head of hair.
In Part 2 we shall take a look at inventors who were unfortunately killed by their own inventions...