I used to play with this bizarre toy of the 1980's until they sustained brutal and disfiguring injuries that required the amputation of their legs. At least, I THINK the amputations were required. If they weren't, then I was a disturbed child with a Frankenstein complex...
At any rate, these little Muscle Men would eventually face a form of surgery which would leave them even more minuscule in size and I just had to find a new use for them. At the time, my older brother was fascinated with paper airplanes, and he would make these tiny planes with incredibly compact noses that he called 'darts'.
They flew for what seemed like miles.
During the freedom of the summers, we would constantly be embroiled in competitions in which paper planes were made and taken outside and flown. My brother's planes, weightier at the nose, would always win. My designs were never as advanced as his, but I came up with idea after idea in an attempt to finally wrest the championship from him.
It then occurred to me that my maimed and disfigured Muscle Men would make excellent additions to my paper airplanes - not only would they add weight, but they would add a bravado to the craft as they were of a perfect scale to look like pilots.
I suppose part of me even thought they would somehow add a cognitive edge to the challenge and that these broken heroes could actually steer the plane and thus guarantee a victory.
I honestly can't remember if they won or not. I just remember that I spent hours taping these little guys into my paper airplane designs and salvaging their tiny bodies from the wreckage of fallen aircraft and then building new planes and doing it all over again.
I remember having fun with paper, challenging my logic and reason and attempting to come up with a way to beat my brother.
In the end, I came up with something that worked for me and, for years afterwards, I was attaching these little broken men into paper airplanes for my own amusement. They flew nobly for my fleet until, one-by-one, they quietly disappeared.
Damn. That actually made me feel a little bit sad.
Anyway, the point of all of this is that Ben Harris has come up with something in his book "Messing With NCR Paper" that reminded me of this paper airplane competition. There is a principle at play here that has some value - it is as though he was my older brother plopping a piece of paper down in front of me and challenging me to make it into something more.
But the challenge is not specific to me, it is universal.
Ben's book outlines the principle he discovered and challenges the reader to make it into something that works for them. I have a few qualms - mostly to do with the indentation left in the paper by the pen, but I am intrigued by the principle and feel, as Ben did, that there must be a presentation that allows this odd fact to become something unforgettable.
I read the book and then remembered the last time I really messed about with paper.
As you can see from what I've written above, I enjoyed myself - and I think I'm going to similarly enjoy myself once again.
You see, as I sat recollecting those happy days, it occurred to me that paper can be manipulated to take on different forms and functions. If I were to use this NCR paper to construct an envelope...