Amateur

Browsing through the old books I've left in Bulacan I came across Michael Chabon's Manhood for Amateurs, a book I bought in 2012, during that exasperating year when I graduated, became a father, and got married, among other things.

In the chapter To The Legoland Station, Chabon wrote about how the Lego of 1960s ("Abstract, minimal, 'pure' in form and design") was different from today's Lego, now with "fat, abstruse, wordless manuals" that puts realism at its core. He resented the change.

Where Lego-building had once been open-ended and exploratory, it now had far more in common with puzzle-solving, a process of moving incrementally toward an ideal, pre-established, and above all, a provided solution.

Not that something is wrong with puzzle-solving, but Chabon points out its authoritarian nature, which I agree with: after you were able to follow the instructions, you just, well, stare at it. "The resulting object was so undeniably handsome, and our investment of time in building it so immense, that the thought of playing with it, let alone ever disassembling it, was anathema."

Although the entire ultra-realist enterprise that the Lego has become didn't stop kids - especially my four year-old - to make their own interpretation. "The power of Lego is revealed only after the models have been broken up or tossed, half finished, into the drawer."

The essay stayed with me long after I've dropped the plan of reading it. Back in 2012 I used to have it in my messenger bag on my way to my first job. I could remember a scene where I was in the front seat of a car with the book cradled on my lap.

Fast forward to 2016 and I'm glad to have this book as my companion. I have to admit that my four year-old is becoming a little more unmanageable, sometimes even unreasonable, but still charming and inspiring.