The person in question was Giacomo Zapparoni, one of those men who have money to burn…. You couldn’t open a newspaper or a magazine or sit in front of a movie screen without coming upon his name. His plant was quite near, and by exploiting both his own and foreign inventions, he had achieved a monopoly in his field….
Journalists wrote fantastic stories about the objects he manufactured. “To those who have, shall be given.” Probably their imagination ran wild. The Zapparoni Works manufactured robots for every imaginable purpose. They were supplied on special order, and in standard models which could be found in every household. It was not a question of big automatic machines as one might think at first. Zapparoni’s speciality was lilliputian robots. With a few exceptions their scale increased to the size of a watermelon and decreased to something the size of a Chinese curio….
A man like Zapparoni could say what he wanted to—it sounded well. It had authority, not only because he could buy up the press, which paid homage to him in the editorial and the advertising departments, but principally because he was an embodiment of the spirit of the age. This homage had, therefore, the advantage that it was not only paid for, but that it was, at the same time, sincerely felt—it demanded nothing but wholehearted approval from both the intelligentsia and the moralists of the press.
I must, of course, admit that Zapparoni really could pass for the showpiece of that elated technical optimism which dominates our leading minds. With him, technology took a new turn toward downright pleasure—the age-old magicians’ dream of being able to change the world by thought alone seemed almost to have come true….
[Zapparoni] waved to me and called: “Beware of the bees!”
When we first published The Glass Bees (1957), we compared Ernst Jünger's great Zapparoni to Walt Disney. Zapparoni makes fantastic automatons that delight and entertain,” and he also equips the army with “ingenious weapons.” Nowadays, though, there are a multitude of people Zapparoni resembles—and most of them live many miles up the coast from Hollywood.
Most of The Glass Bees takes place as an out-of-work and “hard up” man—a drone?—awaits a job interview with Zapparoni in his fantastical garden (Jünger was an early experimenter with LSD). Beware of the bees, indeed.
Read Bruce Sterling’s introduction to The Glass Bees (pdf).