An Atlas of Heads

I made an assumption when I portrayed the first maker for my Atlas. I assumed that only the eyes and the ears deserved a separate chapter. I thought that the rest of the head — the brain, the nose, the mouth, the face, the hair — could be combined in one single chapter. I am not sure if this was a good idea. Sure, I guess most people would not use their hair that much in making, but now I don’t know because I didn’t ask.


An important part of the head, of course, is the brain. For many people who create things the brain is very important. For Diek, a sculptor, thinking of the concept is at least as important as the final product. For Harold connections are made in his head: it’s here, in his brain, that the inspiring things he sees turn into music. But it’s not just about the brain, and about thinking. For Maarten creativity involves much more than just his brain. He needs to communicate with his clients to come up with a fitting solution. This involves a lot of talking and some listening as well. Joke doesn’t use her head to communicate when she makes things. She makes things for herself.


The brain is also good at learning. I guess more people I spoke to enjoy getting better at what they do, but only Irene and Joost both explicitly mentioned it. Would it be a coincidence that they are both teachers?

Hands as a part of the brain

Then there are the people who don’t think their brain is confined to the head. For Astrid thinking and making are similar things, and maybe even the same thing. Without making there is no thinking for her. And Dave takes this a step further: he thinks his brain might be a part of his hands.


You might think that sign language is spoken with hands only, but the whole body is involved. Posture is important as well, just like facial expression. When Marie talks, she talks with her hands and her body, while her mouth speaks the words, and her expression leaves no doubt wether a thing is good or bad. A big part of Joost’s work involves talking as well. As a coach he needs to explain things clearly to his students.


Then there are the other senses that I didn’t really ask anybody about. Of course Stefanos, who is a cook, talked about the importance of taste and smell. But he doesn’t consider them to be much more important than the other senses: all senses are important in a professional kitchen. The only other person who mentioned smell was Titus who is glad he doesn’t need it to make things: his smell is terrible thanks to smoking.

Conclusions and questions

There is more to the head than just the brain and the other senses. A very big part of the creative process happens here. Which is quite obvious. So no real surprises here. Maybe a few more surprises might turn up if I asked in a bit more detail about more specific parts of the head, like the nose, the mouth, the face and the hair. I assume not much will come of those questions, but now I simply don’t know.


Maybe I should just ask some people if they think something is missing here. Feel free to tell me in a comment.