Saturday, January 3, 2009

Back wall

Masonry is slow, tedious, heavy, dirty, at times back-breaking. All the pleasure is delayed -- a sense of accomplishment, an "I built that" satisfaction when you're done. I don't think I could have done such a slow and delayed-gratification task when I was young; what changes as we age that permits the patentice for such projects?

Some of the appeal of brickwork is the giant lego-ness of it. Or more to the point, old-school legos when there were only a few generic bricks -- before the marketing department at lego corrupted them into themed monstrosities with an over-reliance on custom single-use pieces. Brickwork tickles a nerdy engineering need for an elegant basis set from which solutions are cleanly constructed. But it lacks the playful impermanence of legos -- while I'm laying them I often think about the fact that these bricks will likely be the most long-lived thing I will make in my life. I wouldn't be surprised if 300 years from now my house has been torn down but the brickwork remains. Building things which are unobtrusive, durable, beautiful, and utilitarian is an almost guaranteed way to make sure they are maintained into the future.

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