« Flair for the dramatic. | Main | Scrabble for the dead. »

Imaginary machines.

Click on thumb for larger version.I've always had a fascination with machines. One of my first memories is sitting on a white sidewalk in the blazing summer sun with a machine made out of string & rubber bands & a blue plastic dish from Dairy Queen. It was a model of some form of transportation. It worked best when I pushed it with a stick, since the rubber bands just got twisted up otherwise.

As I got older, I discovered that I could sketch machines & make notes faster than I could actually build them. I also discovered that it's more difficult for people to point at the drawings (unlike my former prototypes built of off-the-shelf parts) & sneer & say things like, Oh, THAT one's going to change the world as we know it. Because now I could look at them & shut my notebook with a snap &, with only the slightest hint of disdain in my eyes, say, WOULDN'T YOU LIKE TO KNOW?

Click on thumb for larger version.

I'm a big picture sort of thinker. 

Maybe that's why I've always thought of writing as a machine. As a consciousness machine. Just by the way you put words together you can see things you never imagined before. Or better yet, when you see things all over again that you've forgotten, or ignored because you thought you knew all about them already.

Looking through my sketchbooks, I find that I've got hundreds of imaginary machines. Machines that turn people into robots & back again. Machines that force teenagers out of their rooms & into the sunlight. Machines that make the tough decisions for you & are even willing to take full responsibility for it, in front of the media & everybody, when you clearly see how wrong they were a few years later. 

But my favorite thing about them is that these notes about machines remind me how NOT like machines we are. How we aren't easily replaceable parts in a giant mechanism. That we're messy & sprawling & emotional & marvelously wonderful explosions of love & enthusiasm. That we NEVER will be good machines (which is a good thing, in case you have any doubts). & that when we try to be machines, regular, ordered, objective, we are at our worst. So, maybe it's time we tried something different. That, just maybe, there's a kind of machine we can be that we haven't imagined yet. A machine that is messy & filled with love & enthusiasm, calling us to be our best selves. That's a machine that I'd be willing to try..

with love, Brian


References (3)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    Response: customessays
    What a great imagination! I’m sure we all have had similar views about machines and how they work. I agree 100% when you say we are not like machines.
  • Response
    Response: iPhone 8S Rumors
  • Response

Reader Comments (2)

To me, you are a genius. Thank you for sharing your art, both written and illustrated.

April 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterST

Thanks, ST for the compliment.. :-)

with love, Brian

April 26, 2009 | Registered CommenterZenBandit

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>