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Model of Battersea Bee Station:
top, east wing; bottom, west wing
Scale 1 to 333, 1983.

Diagram of the Fool’s
Paradise (Prism) and its
refraction into the fourteen
hive chambers

A (white light) enters prism B and
gets refracted off lense C into
individual hive chambers, D, each holding up to three hundred hives.
possible destinations for pollen gathering.

Paul Etienne Lincoln The Lure and Draw of Honey's Metaphoric Energy Transfer


A description of “The Battersea Bee Station,” and “Indicator for Burg Vischering.”

The Lure and Draw of Honey’s Metaphoric Energy Transfer investigates two unrealized proposals: “The Battersea Bee Station,” 1983 and “Indicator for Burg Vischering,” 1998-9. Although conceived almost fifteen years apart, both centrally manipulate honey’s role as a metaphor for cultural wealth. The bee is one of the oldest forms of animal life. In existence since the Neolithic Age, bees predate human civilization on earth by ten to twenty million years. This delicate, complex creature has procured for humanity honey, propolis, royal jelly, beeswax and, most important of all, the fertilization of many of our crop-bearing plants. According to Greek mythology, the infant Zeus, out of gratitude for the honey that sustained him, gave the honeybee its sting for defense. Because the bee abused this power, Zeus later decreed that whenever the sting was administered the unfortunate bee must die. Ironically, humans have developed the means to milk Isopentyl acetate from bees and to use this substance as a treatment for bee venom hypersensitivity and for the relief of arthritic individuals.
          Honey has been readily associated with cultural wealth by writers and philosophers throughout history, the hive being a recurring analogy for human civilization. Bernard Mandeville (1670-1733), a Dutch Doctor of Medicine specializing in Hypochondriack and Hysterick Passions, moved to England and penned the poem “The Grumbling Hive” and a series of essays arguing the necessity of vice as the foundation of the emerging capitalist economy. Ridiculed and condemned as a “Public Nuisance,” Mandeville’s The Fable of the Bees, as the collection became known, describes a flourishing beehive resembling England, even to the unique advantage of being happily governed by a limited monarchy. The most noticeable characteristic of this beehive or nation is its addiction to vice, especially to fraud, luxury and pride. As described by Mandeville, the committing of crime, for example, is responsible for keeping whole multitudes at work: lawyers, gaolers, turnkeys, sergeants, bailiffs, tipstaffs and locksmiths.

          Then on a cloud the Hood-winke’d fair
          Justice her self was push’d by Air:
          About her chariot, and behind,
          Were sergeants, Bums of every kind,
          Tip-staffs, and all those Officers,
          That squeeze a living out of Tears.¹

          As for the vices of luxury, avarice, prodigality, pride, envy and vanity displayed by the more respectable members of society, these promote trade by creating wants, which can only be satisfied by merchants, tradesmen and manufacturers of supply. Under ordinary circumstances we might expect that the wicked bees, in spite of temporary prosperity, would ultimately come to grief as a result of their numerous sins. But while misfortune does become their lot, this reversal comes about only when the knaves are suddenly turned honest. With the ensuing absence of the crimes that created employment and the vices that fostered trade, the professions decay, commerce dwindles, thousands of unemployed emigrate and the hives’ prosperity comes to an end.²


1. Bernard Mandeville, “The Grumbling Hive or Knaves Turn’d Honest,” The Fable of the Bees, Public Vices, Public Benefits (London, near the Oxford Arms in Warwick Lane: J. Roberts, 1714).

2. See Phillip Harth, Preface Notes to The Fable of the Bees (London: Penguin Books, 1970).

PAUL ETIENNE LINCOLN creates elaborate installations and allegorical machines that investigate circumstances. Projects include a study of Madame de Pompadour’s effect on the Court of Louis XV, and the technological infrastructure of New York City. Recent books are A Violet Somnambulist Spiriting the Fugacious Bloom, The Metropolis of Metaphorical Intimations and, most recently, Sinfonia Torinese, and The Velocity of Thought.

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