Self-Portrait in Lego

Actually, I haven’t been dressed up like this since I did my finals, back in 1995. Although quite a bit of gown-wearing goes on among the academic staff here in Oxford, we hardly ever have to put on the all the contents of the academic dressing-up box; and on the rare occasions I’ve been officiating at university exams, somehow I’ve managed to discharge my duties without the aid of a mortar-board. Still, this is what I’d look like if (a) I were in full regalia and (b) were made out of Lego.

The facility for you to do the same is over here. [via]

(And if you’re interested in more pics of people in academic dress, Jo Salmon’s got the links. Apparently the university’s just matriculated thousands of new bloggers.)

UPDATE [4pm]: And the same Jo Salmon has produced a fantastic self-portrait of herself, in lego, too. It’s unmistakably her.

The Levite of Ephraim

As he was being chased into exile in Switzerland following the condemnation of his book on education, Emile, Jean-Jacques Rousseau composed a short “prose poem” based on the Biblical story of the Levite of Ephraim in the Book of Judges. It’s one of his shorter and more obscure pieces of writing, obscure in both the sense of little known and also rather difficult to understand quite what he’s getting at in it. Still, modern scholarship — Thomas Kavanagh, Mira Morgenstern, etc. — is doing its best. He wrote in his Confessions that

In three days I composed the first three cantos of the little poem which I finished at Motiers, and I am certain of not having done anything in my life in which there is a more interesting mildness of manners, a greater brilliancy of colouring, more simple delineations, greater exactness of proportion, or more antique simplicity in general, notwithstanding the horror of the subject which in itself is abominable, so that besides every other merit I had still that of a difficulty conquered. If the Levite of Ephraim be not the best of my works, it will ever be that most esteemed…

I’m delighted to be able to report that this disturbing Biblical tale of violent rape and murder is now available to the contemporary reader in Lego, over at (where else), The Brick Testament. Read on, Rousseauists, read on…

Why I Like My Friends

I recently turned thirty. Throughout my twenties, I tended to ignore birthdays, to the best of my ability. But last week I had a 30th birthday party here in Oxford, and lots of friends came, and I enjoyed myself, and I didn’t get too drunk.

And the excellent presents which my excellent friends gave me, which are still making me happy, include an original (empty) jar of Plumtree’s Potted Meat — which will mean nothing to people who never became a little too obsessive about Ulysses, but something to people, like me, who did; a box of Lego bricks, which is altogether too complicated to explain here (though they are much more fiddly than I remember them from 20+ years ago); Gary Mulholland’s celebration of English pop music; and a copy of David Icke‘s recent book, Alice in Wonderland and the World Trade Center Disaster, which had to be specially imported from the USA…

I love you all: many thanks.

Update: [5.2.2003]: An excellent one to add to the pile: the CD of Chansons “Contre”, including the nineteenth-century classic by L�o Taxil, “La Marseillaise anti-cl�ricale”!

Giddens in Legoland

You may remember a post earlier in the year advertising the excellent Bible in Lego. A less ambitious project, though in some ways a more extraordinary one, is Anthony Giddens teaching in his office in Lego, thanks to the people at

Chris adds [3.11.2002]: New stories are being added to the Bible in Lego every month: visit its Latest Additions page. Recent highlights include all ten plagues afflicting Egypt from the Book of Exodus!

Images of the Week, #13

One of the many pleasures of a recent trip to Sicily was a visit to see the magnificent cathedral at Monreale, a short bus ride from Palermo, with its wonderful mosaics depicting Old Testament scenes. So it was a special pleasure to visit (thanks to a link at the Brick Testament, which has much the same idea, but with lego-bricks. The respective Towers of Babel appear at left and right. (Traditional values in a modern setting!)