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New post noti­fi­ca­tions:

When It Clicks

I was invited to par­tic­i­pate in a new blog­ging col­lec­tive. Our intro­duc­tory prompt is to describe my cre­ative process in terms of the con­struc­tion of a build­ing / struc­ture. You can read more at “Firstly,”.

My cousin had this box of Legos when I was a kid. I hes­i­tate to use this anal­ogy, because kids today buy Legos by the kit and not by the bucket, squint­ing at schemat­ics and custom-shaped parts designed, as far as I can tell, to leach imag­i­na­tion from the psy­che. Our Legos, by con­trast, barely fit in an under-bed box, were by no means a com­plete set (many feet were maimed when they dis­cov­ered stray blocks buried in the car­pet), and were under no cir­cum­stances cir­cum­stances accom­pa­nied by instruc­tions. When we wanted to build the Mil­len­nium Fal­con we just cob­bled together an approx­i­ma­tion — from mem­ory — that was both flight ready and, let’s be hon­est, more in keep­ing with the spirit of Han Solo than the offi­cially licensed Lego-by-numbers mer­chan­dise on the shelves today.

Vader has the Falcon

The dark side embraces Lego kits
[Photo by Do-Hyun Kim]

I would love to tell you that my cre­ative process is like the holodeck, sprung full-grown from my brain, ready to dis­en­gage the safety pro­to­cols and sur­prise every­one aboard, but my world just ain’t that shiny. Instead I’ve got this box of Legos, sharp edged and ana­log, prob­a­bly miss­ing more than a few essen­tial pieces, and aban­doned, for months at a time, under the bed. You may have noticed this is my first blog entry of 2014; you may also have noticed there was only one last year, and it was a fake.

When I do unearth my frayed card­board box and scat­ter its con­tents upon the floor (the only true way to begin a project), I often find half-assembled shapes, mys­te­ri­ous even to me, and I won­der where I might have mis­placed the plans. There is a choice: tear down these ghostly fig­ures and start again, or attempt sal­vage. It’s not really a choice, though, because dur­ing demo­li­tion I find that irre­ducible sliver, two thin bricks stuck together, at the cen­ter of the work.

Thus begins con­struc­tion of the labyrinth proper. Among the rub­ble is my dome-headed Daedalus, a clever archi­tect adept at con­coct­ing the some­thing from the noth­ing, try­ing not to think too hard about waxen wings. It is unclear, even after all the tales, whether he delib­er­ately obfus­cates the way or is him­self mer­rily lost between the walls. In any case he adores above all the sat­is­fy­ing click of two bricks inter­lock­ing, and before long he has slot­ted together a jan­gled thicket. He roots his unshod feet upon a freshly laid Lego stud and refuses to budge.

There is a way through the maze. Even say­ing so is an act of faith. I have lit­tle truck with call­ing a muse a muse — I pre­fer to flat­ter nei­ther myself nor inspirations’s caprice — but here I am speak­ing of lit­tle plas­tic peo­ple, so let’s say what hap­pens next is that I call upon cup-handed Ari­adne to thread my way from the entrance back to the cen­ter. The knot is already cinched about my waist before I think to ask how Lego rope works.

Here be mon­sters. My instruc­tions about avoid­ing mino­taurs were quite explicit but Ari­adne has a soft spot for beasts with the head of an essay and the body of a short story. I get that, it’s hard to tell them apart some­times. The shapes look the same and in the dark I can’t tell the green bricks from the red. Deeper inside the walls, though, I can hear the real mon­sters skulk­ing about. I mean the true nas­ties, with unmo­ti­vated char­ac­ters for asses and log­i­cal fal­lac­ies where their heads should be. I’m no prude but bull fuck­ing is beyond the pale, no mat­ter how how come-hither Daedalus made his cow-contraption’s hips swing for the queen. To be hon­est, I don’t have a very keen desire to see what a Lego beast’s junk looks like up close. At least, not while I’m working.

I won’t sell Ari­adne short, though; the path through the labyrinth is clear, mon­sters and all.

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