South Park Self

little blockses

The Evil Landlord subscribes quite cheerfully to a number of geeky programmer stereotypes, and has most recently taken to buying himself a Lego set in celebration every time a major client project goes live. This has rebounded into my life in the form of a Lego Death Star sitting in the living room for a couple of days (Lego Luke! too cute!), and the Prince of Persia set, deconstructed, set temptingly down on the dining room table.

I never played with Lego as a kid. When I was a child the country I lived in was Rhodesia, which was under UN sanctions on account of its bloody-minded self-determination and general "up yours" to the British Empire. This meant that, even if my parents hadn't been relatively impecunious government researchers, fancy toys simply weren't readily available. I played with Fisher Price and Barbies in the homes of school friends whose parents were wealthy enough to go on South African holidays and spend money on toys. (I hasten to add that I don't feel deprived in the least; I had a wonderful childhood in all the right ways, full of books and animals and huge gardens and imagination and a protected experience of the bush). Lego, however, was a "boy" thing and I and my sister were very girly girls, so at best, my experience of Lego was a few blocks at random and in passing from the brothers of friends. The first time I ever sat down with a full Lego set and constructed it by the book from the ground up was last weekend.

I never quite understood the geek fondness for Lego, but the whole thing has fallen into place with the inevitable, satistfying "click" of a Lego brick mating with the correct fellow. I completely get it now. There is an enormously Zen and calming pleasure in the process: the shapes fit together so cunningly, the logic is so inexorable, the sense of participating in the creation of harmonious structure is so satisfying. It's been a completely bloody week, and I've been exhausted and stressed to a perfectly ridiculous extent. Staggering home at 7pm to sit down for half an hour to fit blocks together has been absurdly healing. Even with the Evil Landlord wandering into the kitchen every now and then to make derogatory remarks to the cats about having a seven-year-old in the house.

There are two and a half sections of the Prince of Persia palace completed. I look forward to the rest with great pleasure. I am developing almost instantaneous Lego snobberies (the giant prefabricated plastic shapes are cheating! blocks or nothing!) and am fiendishly plotting to give the Evil Landlord Lego sets for Christmas and birthdays for the forseeable future. It got me. I'm a convert. It may just keep me sane.
  • Current Mood: bouncy Lego! makes me happy!
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constructed it by the book

Huh. All we got was a big pile of assorted bricks and an imagination. I assert that it was better that way.
I'd think it would be a very different kind of pleasure. I am fairly likely to have a go at free-form construction once I've finished the official version, but for now the sense of system and symmetry in implementing The Plan is exactly what I need.
I've always been a total snob about the "cheat's Lego" packs that limit your imagination, yadda yadda, but thanks to your description now I totally get it.

However! I still frown on this approach for actual kids. Tch, such hypocrisy...
Free form construction
G and I literally had a bucket of Lego, and each new set always got quickly assimilated into the mass of blocks, which could be relied on to provide days of entertainment. My best was a little blue plastic railway, you could put the tracks down anywhere.

For implementing Plans, we also had model planes that required meticulous painting and assembling of tiny plastic pieces, even tinier than Lego. I loved those too, have you ever tried one?
Re: Free form construction
The sad truth is that I'm not very good at the tiny/meticulous actions required for fiddly things like embroidery or cake-decoration or painting miniatures or building model anythings. I tend to be a bit impatient and do things too fast, and am thus clumsy with all the little bits. It ends up being more frustrating than satisfying. Lego is perfect for me because the actions are simple, the gratification instantaneous, and any stuff-ups are completely reversible. Even the ones when I grab for a block too fast and upend the container all over the dining room floor.
That's very, very nice.

My Lego days were free-form too, but I can see the attraction of construction to plan as well. It's not too different from cross-stitching to a pattern, and provides similar relaxation, I bet.
Not if I'm the one doing the cross-stitching. Cross-stitch makes me cross ;>. But, yes, I can see the pleasures being related. They're both slightly mathematical.