Sunday, November 12, 2006

postal scrotum: Nathan on afterlife and Legos

The fearsome Nathan writes, with regard to my previous post on the afterlife:

Hi Kevin,

I particularly enjoyed the title and musings in your recent post "Googling for the Afterlife." Your musings match my own, as I am not a believer in an afterlife. You might find it amusing that when I was an older boy playing with Lego, I had my alien space-men be aliens who slowly became machines. First, one body part would be replaced by an artificial part. Gradually, all the other organic parts would be replaced with machines. Sophisticated computer chips planted in their brains at a young age kept track of their actions and brain-wave patterns. After their brains were ready to die, the brains would be removed, leaving only a purely digital intelligence based on data collected by the microchips. When a new situation arose in which the artificial brain didn't know what its predecessor would have done, it connected to a central processing brain for the whole species, and it could draw on that for a course of action. Even these aliens recognized the virtues of death, however, and so they programmed the artificial brains to shut down completely after 500 years.

On that note, cheers,


LEGOS!! The most awesome toy ever invented!

Damn, and I thought I had an imagination as a kid! My ideas were positively boilerplate compared to yours, man.

I loved my Lego set. I probably built and destroyed thousands of structures, small and large. I'd say, in hindsight, that Legos were great preparation for the digital age: the very idea of "building blocks"-- of the modularity and manipulability of reality; of consequence-free creation, destruction, and re-creation; of the ability to use the same elements to construct anything-- is what the digital age is all about.

Legos are merely bricks and boards and wheels and hinges, of course; these things have been around for millennia. But in ancient days, you couldn't build a house in a few minutes, spin it around to see whether you liked it, tear down the parts you didn't like, and then rebuild the house to taste. That was the genius of building blocks, Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs, and Legos: they were a tangible metaphor for an digital vision of reality. When I started to learn about "raster" and "vector" graphics during the arcade video game boom of the 1980s (Asteroids! Space Fury! Battlezone! Space Invaders! Galaga! Gorf!), it was easy to fall back on Legos and Tinker Toys as ways of understanding these things.

Sweet memories.


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