The Calender of Tolerable Inventions from Around the World, a list or inventory of, well, inventions from around the world, is a collaboration between Benjamin Péret and André Breton, first published in 1950.
Don’t expect too much plausibility, rationality, humourlessness and dryness.
LADDER. – One of Rameses III’s gardeners, having observed the continuous upward movement of a tree frog along the trunk of a eucalyptus, noticed the evenness of its jumps and had the idea of compensating for the human paws’ lack of adhesiveness by means of horizontal bars maintained between vertical rods.
BIRDHOUSE. – Shelter designed by Elie Bonjour, colonel in the National Guard, to allow birds to await the return of fine weather.
SNAIL FORK. – During the dinner hosted by von Moltke to celebrate the surrender of Paris in 1871, his aide-de-camp, exasperated by not being able to extract a single snail from its shell, broke two prongs off his fork on the edge of the table.
MANNEQUIN. – Brought back, in about 1860, by Francisco Lazcano from the Carolina Islands, where they were worshipped by the natives under the name of tino.
CUCKOO CLOCK. – It was the Duke of Baden who imposed, by decree, the use of this timepiece to protect agriculturally useful birds by trapping the female cuckoo.
FALSE EYELASHES. – “When I have lashes like those, I’ll be all yours,” said Cléo de Mérode, passing in front of a hairdresser’s dummy modelled after her features. The next day, the acquaintance she had been addressing affixed fragments of the tail-feathers of a lyre-bird to her eyelids.
MUSTARD. – Produced in 1165 at the request of the Anti-pope Guido da Crema, who was looking for anti-honey.
BINOCULARS. – Suggested to his lord by the Comte de Permission as an imitation of snail’s horns, which allow one to see everything without leaving home.
COFFEE MILL. – Derived from the primitive goat mill the Abyssinians used to grind coffe (Everyone knows that goats are the source of the discovery of coffee.)
Extract from E.’s copy of Death to the Pigs: Selected Writings of Benjamin Péret (now out of print).