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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Leggo my Lego

I grew up playing with Legos, and now I'm a professor of media and cultural studies. What better way to join my two interests than with Lego Theorists, the latest "release" from theory.org.uk? The sets feature such luminaries as Judith Butler, Anthony Giddens, Stuart Hall (at left), and Angela McRobbie, among others, and each comes equipped with a Lego scene appropriate to her or his work.

Before you get too excited (or put off) by the prospect of Lego Theorists, I gather that the sets don't really exist--though I suppose, if you're innovative enough with some off-the-shelf Legos, that you could build one yourself. Nevertheless, there is a growing body of academic/celebrity/activist paraphernalia out there, such as the Karl Marx and Michel Foucault finger puppets I have in my campus office. (I bought them at a local novelty store here in Bloomington, Indiana.) Part of me has always been bothered with my having purchased them, since, at some level, they represent making a commodity of individuals who had grave misgivings about a commodity-driven life. Yet, there is a certain, well, novelty about them, and if nothing else there's an odd kind of thrill in knowing that scholarly work can produce some kind of public recognition and impact. In part that's why I do what I do, although I'd be hard-pressed to imagine what I'd look like as a finger puppet, much less as a Lego character.

4 comments:

Gil said...

My theory? The Ted Striphas finger puppet will (please note the use of the future tense, rather than the conditional or the subjunctive) look a lot like the Ted Striphas Simpsons image that used to grace your blog. Only more cherubic.

Ted Striphas said...

Hi Gil,

You're a gem, and thanks for the vote of confidence. You're such good PR. Funny--I've never been called cherubic before.

Now if we could only get some Larry Grossberg Legos going....

hans said...

Larry's would have to include special lego socks, I think. Of course, what would his "set" be? There'd have to be a "The Who" poster somewhere on the wall.

Speaking of sets, it's not surprising that theoreticians of space don't have their own ersatz lego sets yet...it'd be too easy. Lego Corbusier with a premade Ville Radieuse, Benjamin in an arcade, a lego Lefebvre wandering the streets of a lego Paris, arm-in-arm with a lego Debord. Mike Davis behind a LA skyscraper window! David Harvey ruefully examining his shrunken wristwatch whilst standing atop a shrunken lego globe!

See, with these spatial thinkers, it's too easy!


-hans, with mad jubilance from the left coast to you, ted!

Ted Striphas said...

Hey Hans,

Thanks for leaving a comment, and good to hear from you. Hope the sunny Left Coast is treating you well.

Indeed, "space Legos" would be too easy. I wonder what "time Legos" would look like? Benjamin and his "Theses on the Philosophy of History" would make for an interesting start, don't you think? Or maybe Henri Bergson and his Matter and Memory? The latter would, of course, have to include a very large, segemented conic section.... :)