Play Well, Legos! That’s What I Call Creation Science and Change Theory

28 01 2008


“When we try to pick out anything by itself,” John Muir wrote in 1911, “we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”

So Caroline Kennedy and Legos are the same age, and I’m close, just a few years older. Even Google genuflects with its graphics today, in honor of the dynastic 50th birthday bash (the one based in Denmark, I mean, not Hyannis Port.)


Did you know the word “lego” is a creative fusion of the Danish words leg and godt, which my playful mind notes with glee, literally means “play well” and not the seemingly obvious “shin and calf of deity” that an illiterate literalist might insist on imagining is factual? 😉

Among the many power of play reasons I personally love Legos, is that they’re ideal for creating and sustaining connections. And I prefer play that transforms the merely factual into imaginary, and makes the imaginary downright fantastical, which in the very best games can create whole new worlds:

There are 2,400 different LEGO brick shapes . . .bricks of every colour and size stay firmly connected, allowing LEGO fans to build entire cities from all kinds of LEGO elements.

It’s not the first time I’ve had fun playing with Legos. But this story about the 50th birthday of the LEGO brick is a new plaything for me, deliciously confusing about the different years and dates involved in Lego Creation, which started me musing about how it was both connected and disjointed a the same time, in the same story. So I was playing freestyle myself, with all these little diverse and even contradictory — yet interlocking! — blocks of family friendly news and memories, when I came across a lone little block of Mickey Mouse history to connect up in my wordplay.

Recalling that Mickey Mouse was pushing 100 so I might bring him into today’s story, to show at least I wasn’t THAT old, I went to look up The Mouse’s creation story and history as fantasy figurehead, and got more than I bargained for — imagine my surprise to learn that in the “science” of archaeology, the power of his identity might be timeless, a human symbol for all ages of no precise age! (hey, could I too stop having birthdays and henceforth be timeless, a mother for all ages of no age?)


Although it’s not clear at all, even in the rear view mirror of historical fact rather than imaginative play up ahead, whether this undeniably real artifact is really a mouse or a lion, much less which animal symbolism would be stronger human fantasy, more enduring power of story.

See Aesop and Androcles.

Or Barack Obama (black AND white, like Mickey? Lion, man or mouse, maybe a fusion of all three? Is that idea heresy to even play with?) who doesn’t connect to any dynasty corporate or congressional, yet somehow seems to make that positive, an innovation that helps him connect us to futures we can imagine, without playing around about the past.


Long story short, this playful birthday celebration gave me a gift too, a story with power to play with in the real world, imagining how all the elements of man’s myth and reality can connect to build the most wondrous cities — so many colors and shapes for both lion and mouse, Disney and the Danes, dynasty from politics to toymaking, from the personal to the presidency. In thinking and feeling, learning and teaching, giving and taking, head and heart and spirit.

Happy History, Happy Innovation. Play well!



16 responses

28 01 2008
Nance Confer

Why does Obama get any kind of an easy ride on the corporate or any other kind of connections? Not to be too down-to-earth amidst your celebrations 🙂 but this guy is no saint. Just a pol. Or is it beyond politically incorrect to suggest that the first serious black candidate is not pure as the driven snow?

Not making any criminal, or even ethical, accusations against Obama. I just don’t think he got where he is by being completely innocent.

Ah, neither he nor Clinton move me anyway. No matter how thrilling it is supposed to be that there might be a new skin color or gender in charge for a moment.


28 01 2008

LOL – I was just playing with the thought that he doesn’t have a world-dominating Googlish or Legolike corporate dynasty behind him, nor a Kennedy (or even Clinton or Bush) family political dynasty. And that he personally has had trouble getting the public to clearly identify him as which color or church’s block bin he should be put away in, so he doesn’t make a very good standardized part. 🙂

That’s all. . .no passing! (ooh, another idea with racial and historical connections, see Favorite Daughter on Obama and passing.)

28 01 2008
Nance Confer

It seems to me that suits him just fine — not being clearly identified. Everyone can see what they want. Write any story that suits them. 🙂


28 01 2008

Well, when you put it that way! 🙂

Btw Liza thinks she finally has the other candidate’s story figured out . . .
“”Mrs. Clinton, Billary Makes You Weak”

28 01 2008
Nance Confer

And I think Liza is correct.


28 01 2008

So Young Son and I were just looking at these pictures, talking about the mice who chew Aslan’s ropes off at the Stone Table, and become the Noble Reepicheep mice, etc. . . He sneered at the notion that this Iron Age carving was a lion because it looks so mickey-mouse-like, but then, AHA! We were struck by the thought that Walt Disney himself was an educated man, who perhaps was told Aesop’s fables as a child and was later exposed to this lion-strength-admiring Iron Age culture? If so, what if, just maybe, Uncle Walt’s own rendering of Mortimer (soon to become) Mickey Mouse had the subconscious story of a lion’s heart and head echoing in his own hypervisual imagination . . .maybe he was affected thus by their original story, and that’s another part (like a lego brick) of how the lion and mouse symbology got connected in our more modern fantasy?

So much so, apparently, that Young Son now laughs to think the ancients could have seen strength in so obviously mouselike a lion?

Now, if you couldn’t even think such thoughts as we’re entertaining here today, what a dull life you’d be left with, and how little to offer no matter what kind of animal you decided to emulate . . .

30 01 2008

Thought you might like this site…at least you were the first person I thought of when I saw it. : )

30 01 2008
JJ Ross

I’ll take that thought as high praise, Dana, thanks. 🙂
I couldn’t get to anywhere else from this link but the one picture is enough to play with awhile, all those stairs of indeterminate destination, like Hogwarts . . .

30 01 2008
JJ Ross

Favorite Daughter is deep — she IS deep! — into her comparative religion course this term, and her first paper has been returned with rather deep response from the professor.

The paper’s theme was basically playing with power of story, connecting and contrasting religious myth and history as it affects her current real, everyday life and human relationships.

He seemed to just recognize her across a crowded campus as not mere program-processed student but as academic fellow, a colleague in both the literal and allegorical sense of that word (I still love college and always did, I wish I’d never had to leave myself and come hell or high water — we’ve had both in Florida in my lifetime already, so I know I can take it — I am literally going back to college one of these days, for good!)

30 01 2008

For NANCE — Obama as Pomegrate of Democratic Faithful!

I was reading and quoting a Culture Kitchen essay about legos and food connecting to everything, and this hit me as supporting what you said about Obama letting people use him to tell whatever story they personally see in him:

From “The Pasta God, Blind Faith in School and Juicy-Fruit Holiday Slobbers”
‘People use whatever is at hand to express their religious beliefs,” says Frank A. Salamone, an authority on religious symbols and a professor at Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y. Centuries ago in the Fertile Crescent, where so many faiths arose, the pomegranate was at hand, and, by its very nature, lent itself to religious symbolism.

”The pomegranate is red, and so is blood,” Salamone says. “It has a lot of seeds and is an obvious symbol of fertility,”. . . beautiful, strong and delicate, he adds, and its juice is exceptionally healthful.

“It says a lot of different things all at once. People bring meaning to it.”

PEOPLE bring meaning to IT. Did you catch that ripened hint of saucy impertinence?

Some fruit in our cultural orchard is just rotten, of course. Calling other folks fruits for instance, even when you mean it Biblically, is rotten as story or truth, fermented fruit that may feel intoxicating when sipped, but leads to thoughtless abandon and inevitably stinks of decline and death, not life and discovery and true knowledge.

[Senator Brownback] shakes his head in sorrow, thinking of Sweden. “You’ll know ’em by their fruits.”

Conversation stalls – he’s citing scripture but we both know he just said “fruits,” about gay Swedes. . .
(and) since discussion of the article has stalled on the word fruits, I want to jumpstart it. I always write more than I use, and what gets cut usually never sees the light of day, for good reason. But for religion writers, some of the outtakes may be more interesting than the story itself. . .

Well, the apple in the Garden of Eden was a “bad” apple in the Bible story, wasn’t it? The Tree of Knowledge, oooh – too dangerous, too ugly, too powerful! — no wonder fundamental Christians are suspicious of “school” and its fruit.

They believe the fruit story of Genesis is literally true and fixed in meaning, not just something to think about and try to build new meaning from, through their own lives, like one Lego piece in a multi-colored closetful. (Wonder what my life would look like in Legos?)

The Gnostic Gospels and the Gospel of Judas make tasty outtakes from the Bible’s writers, that’s for sure! Truth be told, although I write about a different kind of faith — faith in thinking and knowing — I often find my own outtakes so interesting that I can’t actually LEAVE them out, and sneak to incorporate them as comments. Maybe this outtakes-are-tasty rule of thumb is a crosscultural recipe, true for writers, readers and party planners of all cuisines?

In any case, do you think there could be “new” truth in this ancient faith-in-fruit power of story stuff, too?
Let’s give it a squeeze and see how fresh the juices are —

We use apples to prove that The Doctor (unquestioned authority) is always right and to prescribe standardized accountability based on counting out one per day per person, while oranges have individually irregular navels (nature and motherhood as life itself) and dimpled skin that lends itself to enthusiastic “zesting” by hand – so obviously the whole “apples and oranges” frame represents the eternal conflict between public school and private home!

30 01 2008

Speaking of fruits, here’s some accidentally tasty fruit from the power of story tree, served up by Google Ads at my link above:

Fruit Trees
All Types and Sizes of Fruit Trees. Top Quality Trees and Fast Delivery

Now if you read that essay as a Thinking Human, you’ll realize it isn’t about fruit or food or eating at all (even though it all connects.) But to a standardized public sorting process meant to target and persuade us as a mass market of “individualized” consumers, that story can never be understood. Hence the joke.

p.s. Michael Apple probably belongs here just for the fruit name pun, though I don’t find him funny, at ALL. Should we serve him on the Taking School Seriously menu, you think? . . .

6 02 2008

Young Son opened the new “Indiana Jones Temple Escape” Lego set he’s been waiting for, to play with this stormy dark day while everyone, including him, is sick.

Somehow it is transforming reality for him and for me too, right here at home. 🙂

24 11 2008
Newest Ranger’s Apprentice Book Goes Religious-Political? « Cocking A Snook!

[…] use the same look. These covers promise stories made of mystery, medieval mood, the times and tools of transporting adventure in a whole world to explore, rather than a small-set soap opera of larger than life fee-ee-lings to […]

6 09 2009

Cool! Legos make the front page of the NYT business section today with art:
Beyond the Blocks: Lego Has Rebuilt Itself, but Does It Risk Losing a Sense of Wonder?

I’ve just read the whole long piece aloud with my resident Lego expert, Young Son, and he says:

. . .there are four lines I’d really like them to bring back even temporarily so we could scoop them up, sort of a Golden Age thing. The Knights, the Cowboys, the Pirates and Johnny Thunder (who was supposed to be Indiana Jones and they wouldn’t have needed to sign a license for anything but the video game.)

The video games they’ve made so far — the two Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Batman — have been just ingenious at skewering the movies! All the cut scenes and even some of the gameplay does such a great job of mimicking and yet mocking the movie. . .

The thing I’ve always enjoyed is to see how they build the figures because face it, who wouldn’t find the Legos Sean Connery hilarious??

(He shows me the figure — he’s right. It’s adorable.)

Then he adds he’d like to see a Legos Lone Ranger tie-in. Which would be great because there’s no gun violence problem as discussed in the article, because the Lone Ranger never shoots to kill. Now he’s strolling around doing the Lone Ranger theme instrumentation at the top of his lungs. Don’t you just love unschooled kids who live inside their own intellectual spaces and love being there and sharing it with others? 😉

p.s. Ten minutes later Young Son came out of his room with an incredibly credible Lone Ranger, gloves and black mask and all, mounted on a heigh-ho Silver white horse . . .

(crossposted at Loving Legos, Stuffed with Story)

31 12 2009
Sunday School Science Teacher Costing Schools Credibility and Cool Half-Million « Cocking A Snook!

[…] not just with cool magnetic lab equipment, but by rigging “experiments” to exploit the awesome intelligence built into playful, wholesome, trustworthy kid-magnet Legos — sacrilege! Did you know the word “lego” is a creative fusion of the Danish words leg […]

5 08 2011
Legos and Play Young-at-Heart, Young-at-Smart « Cocking A Snook!

[…] in the mood to think more about Legos and how we love them, you can go do reading for extra credit here and […]

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