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“The history of technology depends little on man and his freedom,” Milan Kundera writes in The Curtain. “Obedient to its own logic, it cannot be other than what it has been or what it will be…If Edison had not invented the light bulb, someone else would have.”

In fact, prior to Thomas Edison, about 20 people were working on similar inventions. And analogous circumstances apply to the origins of calculus, the polio vaccine, the telephone and the theories of evolution and relativity, to name just a few. Kundera’s reading of technological development as linear and indifferent to the person behind a discovery rings true. Breakthroughs occur anywhere, it seems, and are only a matter of time.

issue 23 front cover

This story is from Kinfolk Issue Twenty-Three

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