Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mr. Clean (An Interlude)


Am I the only one who thinks James Dyson is completely insane?

The commercials for his technologically advanced vaccums, which invariably feature him unabashedly flaunting his nearly DSM4-level obsession with cleanliness and order, always strike me as, well, a little unsettling.

"I just want things to work properly," he says with Queegian deliberateness, seemingly stunned as to why most vacuum cleaners are unable to subvert something akin to the law of diminishing returns.

He admits without so much as a hint of bemusement that his life's work has been a fanatical, Frankenstein-like quest to recreate the vacuum cleaner in his own image and, consequently, fulfill a vendetta against the technology which long ago let him down and left his carpets unclean.

Look beyond the sedate demeanor and the soothing voice and you can practically hear him saying, "Fools! They laughed at me when I said that vacuums didn't have to lose suction! Who's laughing now Hoover?!" Like a mad scientist who fancies himself one of the Mathematikoi -- and who in reality likely suffers from a very acute case of Asperger Syndrome -- he feels the need to constantly demonstrate just how he's reinventing the wheel and how it will eventually help him win the compulsive lifelong war he's waged against the constraints of basic physics.

I get the feeling that if you ever read Yeats to him, particularly the poet's seminal notion that "Things fall apart... The center cannot hold... Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world," he would likely explode in an uncontrollable fit of violent rage, grabbing the nearest sharp object and plunging it into your throat again and again. This would be followed by his spending the ensuing several hours using his own vacuum cleaner in a desperate attempt to expurgate the mess until everything had once again been returned to a place of immaculate order.

Really though, you've got to give credit to a guy who not only puts his neuroses out there for the world to see, but also uses them as a marketing tool to make him a billionaire.

I wish I were that crazy.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm utterly astounded that he has been able to convince people to cough up $600 for a vacuum. At that price I'd expect it to drive me to work and act as my mistress. Hmm maybe with a few mechanical adjustments...

trish said...

I love you. I really do. I want to crawl inside your brain and just stay there for awhile.

Al said...

Dude, this is the SECOND Dyson rant I've read today and neither have any relation whatsoever to each other.

Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

Chez said...

Damn. And I like to be so original.

Jane said...

yes, the man is crazy, and yes he makes an amazing vacuum. my husband and i bought one a few weeks ago, and had to empty the canister 3 times before we got out of the living room. Our previous and now kaput Dirt Devil had been sucking up a whole lot of nothing. i love crazy people who make good shit.

SR said...

I'm with you. He's nuts and has a pedophile creepiness about him. I always feel dirty after seeing the ads.

Wait. Maybe that's his subliminal message to get me to fork over $600. Damn him!

M. said...

As crazy as the man is, his shit works. They have Dyson hand-dryers at the Palm Beach Gardens movie theatres (Because what else can people in the Gardens spend all their money on?) and your hands are dry in less than five seconds. And I don't mean "wipe the rest on your pants" dry. They're dry dry. Freshly toasted dry. Old lady in December dry.


Mom is still hoping to find out that we're distantly related and rake in some sort of small check when he dies.

Brian H said...

Yeah, you have to check out the hand dryers. The only place I've run into them is at Gatwick Airport...

VOTAR said...

Damn, I got beat to the punch mentioning the hand dryer. Have you seen that thing? A diabolical Rube Goldberg Device that looks sorta like the wrecked alien cargo ship from H.R. Giger's fevered hallucinations.

I've got a very inexpensive knock-off of the vacuum cleaner that stole Dyson's design. The damn thing'll suck up a penny from clear across the room, and after each session the canister basically contains the mass-volume equivalent of another cat.

QueBarbara said...

I work with engineers, so he doesn't seem that strange to me. It's possible that they all suffer from a bit of Aspergers, and maybe that's where they get their singlemindedness to come up with better solutions and solve problems.

Chez said...

Yeah -- the dryers are called air blades. We have them in the media Death Star where I work. My building is so technologically advanced that we can seriously fire a beam that destroys buildings on the other side of town.

It was as if a million suits at Morgan Stanley cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.

Jen Jordan said...

I've always thought he was a sexy bitch. Of course, I have a total crush on Jarvic (inventor of the artificial heart). Oh, those brainy boys just drive me crazy!

VOTAR said...

You're far too trusting. Morgan Stanley is too remote to make an effective demonstration - but don't worry; we'll deal with your Wall Street friends soon enough.

Euclid said...

Excellent article other than your incorrect usage of the Law of Diminishing Returns.

It doesn't mean that things produce less over time. It means that a resource will produce less over time as more of that resource is utilized. A great example is a kitchen at a restaurant. One chef can produce so many meals, two chefs can produce twice as many, but when you add a third each chef becomes less productive because there aren't enough ovens, there isn't as much space to work, etc.

Chez said...

MR. DYSON?

I kid. It doesn't necessarily fit, but it sounds good and occasionally you've gotta bend the rules. What do I know from economics?

MJG said...

" This would be followed by his spending the ensuing several hours using his own vacuum cleaner in a desperate attempt to expurgate the mess until everything had once again been returned to a place of immaculate order"

I disagree - He would spend the next several hours adapting the technology to a wet/dry system, THEN he would clean... you just don't understand engineers.

Love your blog.

Lily's Mommy said...

Hey!!! I LOVE my dyson. It actually gets most of the cat hair out of the carpet.

I saw a much weirder brainiac in that movie about disappearing electric cars. He was working on improving the batteries (I think). If anyone knows who I'm talking about, remember his smile and the crazy in his eyes??? Mr Dyson pales in comparison.

Chez said...

It's always the throwaway columns that I basically breeze through that get the most interesting responses.

RottweilerTOM said...

I never thought about visiting this blog when I need an apraisal of vacuum machines

Juju said...

I will live in filth. I am way too cheap to spend $600 on a vacuum. I'd much rather spend my money on booze.

Brian H said...

"It's always the throwaway columns that I basically breeze through that get the most interesting responses."

No shit... the most visited entry on my blog (by a factor of 100) is about a broken XBOX 360 controller.

Dyson needs to make a machine to wrap presents.

winged unicorn said...

my ex husband is obsessed with vacuum cleaners. obsessed. he buys a new one every 12-18 months searching for "THE ONE". he has been know to vacuum the driveway free of leaves. he dreams of dysons but is unwilling to spend the money because "he does not deserve it. they are the rolls royce of vacuum, and he is not fit."
i kid you not. do i know how to pick them? sheesh!!!
pass me a gin and tonic, dear.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad someone else said it. I've had a crush on the Dyson guy ever since i saw his first commercial. I'll take weird/smart over normal/stupid any day.

I just bought one of his vacuums and they really are the best ever. Especially if you have pets.

Caren said...

As someone whom has lived with a former engineer for over 10 years, I can honestly say that Dyson's obsessive-compulsive disordered persona is actually fairly commonplace.

They do tend to ruminate over something until they get it right.

Which - while a BITCH to live with sometimes - is quite the advantage in the sack.

Gotta love a man determined not lose steam or suction.

Alice said...

"You're far too trusting. Morgan Stanley is too remote to make an effective demonstration - but don't worry; we'll deal with your Wall Street friends soon enough."

Sometimes it is the banter between you and Votar that I enjoy more than what you've actually written.

Does that get me kicked out of the fan club?