Lego Blog: Making Stuff and Finding It Strange

A Highway Into The Mind

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There are lots of supposed indicators of what’s really going in people’s heads, I’m thinking of ‘Freudian slips’ as well as complete nonsense like astrology and personality indicator questionnaires. There have to be simpler ways to get those insights. I think Lego’s one of them, or at least Lego and any other creative endeavour. If a person doesn’t do anything creative, be it music, writing, acting, knitting or whatever then I’m pretty sure they have little of interest to offer. On the other hand, assuming the creative person isn’t just mindlessly copying something (which I suppose gives you a clue anyway) then surely some aspect of their character is going to be revealed by what they choose to or are inspired to create.

It’s a discussion that comes up in improv and acting quite often – to what extent are the characters we portray representative of our inner selves? There are usually two different cases: one is that we can be anyone and it is has nothing to do with who we ourselves are. Personally I find that rather weak, where does the information, inspiration and words we use come from if not within? I find the notion that everything we produce comes from within (because it can’t come from anywhere else) far more persuasive. If I play an astronaut or serial killer all I can use is the information I have digested from other media and exposure in my life, parcelled up with my own feelings and ideas. That doesn’t make me an astronaut or serial killer (unless I were directly using those memories) and neither does it diminish the aspects of humanity that I’ve chosen to use and reflect on through those roles.

Everything we do and see is through the filter of that loose conglomeration of concepts and memories that we label the self. Our perceptions of the world outside are heavily coloured by what lies inside and so it seems pretty straightforward that what we project externally is filtered through that same bag of meat. You can see then tension in someone’s mind in the tight weave of their knitting for example, and in the increasingly strained handwriting of an angry person (but that only tells you they were angry when writing it, and it’s probably quite hard to spot unless you knew they were angry. Otherwise you’ll be taking crap like a curly ‘d’ and making a vast leap about their character which isn’t terribly reliable).

Show Me Your Lego Mind

Of late I’ve found it difficult to engage with creative activities. Partly that’s simply because I’m busy and the time available has constricted, plus I’m tired and brain frazzled, so those slim intervals of opportunity tend to be pissed away on staring at things. Lego is very calming though, and simply having a box of random parts to hand gives opportunity for disconnected creativity. I found that last weekend while chatting on the sofa with a friend. I’d dismantled some models the week before and the sad detritus still sat unsorted in a tray. While talking we both naturally leaned into the box and fished about for whatever our fingeers wanted to build. That semi-conscious awareness of what I’m doing often leads to interesting results. I’d say it’s how I best improvise – being alert enough to listen and respond, but blank enough to prevent planning and thinking about what I’m doing.

So I made a neat little bug thing which I promptly dismantled and then constructed this little robot fellow. The head and legs and arms seem fair enough, but what the hell is that appendage sticking out of his body? I guess it’s a claw-bladed face gathering device. Or something. Possibly just for stroking a cat. It looks damn weird though. Now what does that say about me? I seem to remember thinking that the front of the body was just too empty (I don’t know what that means…) so it needed something and it just got more, um, stabby.

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Oh well, I’ve finally got around to building my Lone Ranger set, Colby City Shootout and that will occupy my devilish fingers for a few hours yet…

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