As my friend BJ would say: Stop the madness! According to a story in the St. Paul Pioneer Press today there’s a philosophy professor building models of the Minnesota Capitol and the St. Paul Cathedral out of Legos. It is not surprising that the newspaper puts this story on the front page of its feature section. After all it is always interesting when someone does something out of the ordinary. I would expect a similar story if, say, chimpanzees at the Minnesota Zoo were publishing a daily newspaper. You would expect a full report from the Pioneer Press discussing the chimpanzee view of what it meant to be journalists.
What takes the cake is the report that the Minnesota Historical Society, along with the Cathedral Heritage Foundation, is helping pay for the purchase of more than $1,500-worth of Lego blocks. It is always possible, of course, that the involvement of the Historical Society is minimal. But one dollar spent in support of this project is too much. It seems to me that this philosophy professor should be paying the Historical Society to allow him to even mention its name along with what he is doing. He should have to pay the Society $1,500 for its endorsement. As mentioned before the Historical Society has been selling “History Matters” chocolate bars. It is time the Society endorsed hot dish pans, oven mitts, canoe paddles, fish descalers, and maybe even Lego sets depicting the 1851 Traverse des Sioux Treaty site.
Of course if this philosophy professor shifted to toothpicks I would be in full support of his project. Building things out of toothpicks truly is a lost art, and it involves real skill. In the interview in the Pioneer Press the philosopy professor was asked if what he is doing is art. In response he stated that his Lego models are not art, “they are models of art.” One should add that they are not history or even models of history, that is, unless some frustrated and berserk historian goes over there with his official “History Matters” sledge hammer and smashes the damn things and tosses them in the “dustbin of history,” (metaphorically speaking, of course).