Andre Martin describes him as an 'inventor of unknown languages whose credit titles are written in half a dozen known ones! ( catalogue exposition 1965, Annecy)
there is no doubt that although, like many animators ,he was able to communicate without the use of speech in his film, he was eloquent in the use of language when required to be. In fact he seems to have had a great ability to explain his methods. Of McLaren, Alexander Alexeieff said
'He displays a tolerance (of other people) rarely associated with creative spirit. this makes him a n ideal teacher(Catalogue, Annecy, france, exposition of McLaren 1965).
He seems to have been a wonderfully sensitive human being, and like most creative minds, was constantly questing and questioning....When did this begin? How much was this due to his upbringing? His creativity was certainly not squashed. He describes his father as a pillar of the community...but also said that when he voiced an interest in Communism and Russia, his father paid for him to go..hoping he would chamge his mind!! (He did not...tho later says he became Christian not Communist).
In 'McLaren; The Creative Process ' there is a lovely decsription by McLaren himself of his metamorphosis into adulthood........How , being ''adolescently sensitive''he got up in the morning and right away was looking at the world through his window ...with a new awareness of light...looking over the Ochil hills which have an amazing light quality...aware of the colour in the garden in a new way...the flowers etc.He was living in a beautiful setting, beside Stirling Castle, looking across the hills.
When you are young I wonder if you imagine everyone sees the world in the same way. I do not think you really pause to consider it...
As a creative individual sometimes you do realise that the way you see the world differs from those around you....I know that feeling well..... one day you look across to the hills and you see the most amazing horizon...blue sky....rolling hills ...cloud structures...light moving across.and the silhouhette of trees in the distance. ( this view would have been similar but not the same as McLaren's ).
You share that experience with someone else and sometimes find their experience was not the same at all. You realise they only saw the wall in the near distance and the cars passing!!! How differently we view the world.
'The films of Norman McLaren pose a problem-They force us to speak of things about which our own knowledge remains imprecise, but which they themselves define perfectly in a wordless language.'
(Catalogue of the first exposition of Norman McLaren in France...Annecy 1965)
Another entry in the same journal gives an insight into the importance Canada has played in McLaren's career. At the same time as celebrating McLaren as a Scottish native....He is regarded by many as a Canadian...
' Canada nursed him, pampered him,indulged and protected him;from pressures which, anywhere else in the world would have extinguished his fireworks before they had been ignited. ' When something new comes out of Scotland it never emerges, it erupts!Whisky, Bagpipes, Norman McLaren!!'
( Derek Hill, Catalogue for Annecy, France exposition of McLaren films 1965)
presumably the writer had seen McLaren's film, blankity blank where he achieved a firework effect by adding blank frames to the animation...McLaren said of this film that he was trying to understand the laws of the phenomenon of persistance of vision while making it. He was meticulous and worked fanatically in all his creative projects.There are examples in his letters of his own accounting......lists of outgoings and income worked out to the last penny. His brother, Jack, was an accountant so this was obviously a family trait.
And the film 'Mony A Mickle' refers to this 'thrift'. this is nsupposedly a Scottish trait...branded by Harry Lauder sa meanness!! BUt I think the Scots are just incredibly creative and can make something out of very little resources when needed!! McLaren refers to this thrift as a great spur for craetive thinking. I have to agree. Deadlines and low budget can make your creative brain work overtime...tho I would not suggest we can do without funds altogether!!
Pete Seeger, the musician , said of him' genius...defined as someone with an infinite capacity for taking pains. this fits Norman to a T'
This clip is of blankity blank which was really quite a revolutionary idea when it appeared....and typical of McLaren's trying to get top the root of a problem.............................playing with timing and perception.
'Sometimes he rocks my kinetic heart...' Len Lye