Charles and Ray Eames: Mystical toys

The fun and beauty of toys is they exist purely for pleasure… but within the most wonderful of toys there is poetry and secret teachings.

“Toys are not really as innocent as they look. Toys and games are preludes to serious ideas.”  - Charles Eames.

Charles and Ray Eames made over 100 short films. Many of them had toys as their subject. In Tops (1969) and the solar powered Do-Nothing Machine (1957), the Eames celebrate design and movement for their own sake as well as their potential to open doors of perception. 

The Do-Nothing Machine was created by the Eames to do exactly what its name says - nothing. In the 1950s, when progress was our most important product, a machine that did nothing, other than dazzle the eye and compel one to meditate upon the beauty of form, sunlight and gravity, was a radical statement. Eames’ machine could be seen as a precursor to the psychedelic experience: a device to tickle the senses and bring us into the NOW. Add the fact that it is solar-powered and we have something that is positively visionary in all senses of the word.

In our goal-oriented society, a toy is a respite from getting things done. A toy is like the Buddha nature, it need not justify itself. It just is, of the moment, no results required, no function necessary other than in the delight of being. But within the playful nature of a toy, there are things to be learned if you so choose to discover them.

A top is perfect, profound in its simplicity, offering up a multitude of possible teachings. Truly alive when it is in balance, the top, spinning like a prayer wheel with a sense of humor, in accordance with natural law, is a symbol of the Dharma as it spins upon its invisible axis. The spine of the top is charged like some kind of tantric machine. With each new spin it is reborn.

Watch in wonder.

Posted by Marc Campbell
04:11 pm



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