Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lego as the Ideal Modern Toy

A very interesting article about the history of Lego and the role it has played in modern architecture and indeed the way we see the world as a whole.  It really does seem that Lego naturally expresses the modern philosophy really well.  The writer does a really good job of explaining this perspective in a few different ways and sort of telling the story of Lego through this lens. 

As a post-modern it seems to be my job to critique all things modern - what do I have to say about Lego?  Hm.  Perhaps that I was actually very pulled in to the argument and romanticism presented by this article - that Lego magically enables children to build without specialized tools, instructions or training.  The only limit is their imagination!  The recent photo featured in a Huff Post article (which I think I mentioned here, but here is that link) also embodies that idealized view of Lego.  Lego really is fabulous isn't it?
But I feel that I need to look through that shiny optimism to realize that that way of thinking isn't going to take us where we need to go, right?  I don't actually believe that the world is there to be recreated, made new, over and over again according to our personal and very limited ideas of progress and beauty.  I think of a certain oil-rich country, where money seems to be as plentiful as the sand in the desert surrounding it, which really does seem to allow for the realization of dreams.  There, you really can "make it new" as much as you want - when a road doesn't suit, or isn't standing up to wear, they just demolish it and build a new one.  It is very hard to see - SO much waste.  And this type of approach makes our needs, in fact, our whims, the determining factor, rather than any sense of what is actually good.   To see the world as a means to our personal ends isn't something I actually agree with.
 I DO believe in the taking apart part of the Lego process though - that we can look at what we've constructed, realize that it's something constructed and not something real (and I'm not just talking about Lego here) and let go.  It's not to say that the construction was a waste of time, or something fake and therefore useless.  I think that as long as I can see it more for what it is - as an expression of an ideal, as an expression of a way of seeing the world, I can still appreciate it as that - as something uniquely beautiful, valuable and an important part of creating meaning in the world.

And one last thought.  Here is a follow up article to the first about the Lego ad with the adorable little girl.  In this one they highlight just how much Lego has changed over the years, and it is problematic to me that the writer of the Walrus Lego article doesn't highlight this.  That Lego provides a "system of play" where, "equipped with imagination alone, the would-be builders were empowered to create, recreate, and dismantle anything", is not true of the Lego marketed towards girls today.  Instead, the pink versions of Lego involve very little building and even less creativity, where gender stereotypes are the limits, rather than the child's imagination.

Anyway, not sure I'm making any sense here, but thought I'd take a stab at it!  Probably overthinking it!  As usual...

No comments:

Post a Comment