Why Build? June 3rd, 2022

"The Centre of the Universe is of course that marvellous land known as Fraggle Rock. It is thus called because it is A Rock and Fraggles Live There.

Fraggles are a noble race. Fearless, dignified, intellectual, they represent the very pinnacle of civilisation and culture. A Fraggle *is*, most assuredly, the best of all possible creatures."

A long time ago, there used to be a TV show called Fraggle Rock. It was about these strange scraggly creatures, Fraggles, that lived in caves below a lighthouse. The fantastic Fulton Mackay, better known from Porridge, played an old retired sea captain who looked after the lighthouse along with his faithful dog, Sprocket. Interestingly the show was localised with different segments filmed for different countries, so for example in the US version the setting was a quiet inventor's tinkering shed.

And there used to be these other funny little creatures too, Doozers, who were big into construction.

I dunno exactly what it was they built. It was some kind of scaffolding. Looked kinda like crystallized sugar. I seem to recall it was made of radishes. I don't recall the purpose of any of it all anyway, but it certainly seemed important to them if not to anyone else.

And they seemed happy, pushing the their little wheelbarrows around their building sites, while wearing adorable tiny hardhats and other beautifully puppeteered safety equipment. Everything the Fraggles did was chaotic and messy. But not the Doozers. They were the complete opposite: ordered and industrious. Stuff got planned, it got built, and the Doozers were content.

The Fraggles take life advice from a giant heap of trash

But, I suppose like any great engineering project, there were hazards. If you were a Doozer, working hard day and night, trying to erect some great piece of scaffolding or complete some worthy project, you just had to accept that every now and again, a Fraggle was going to come through and eat some of it.

Strangely they never seemed to be that bothered about it. I mean sure, there'd be a few grumbles here and there. But it never stopped them from getting on with things. It just seemed any large-scale construction effort required a certain Fraggle tax to be accounted for as part of its budget.

In one episode, the Fraggles stopped eating the Doozers creations. It was insensitive, they said, and they were made to utter a solemn vow not to destroy any more constructions. And so the Doozers could keep creating, until eventually their projects filled up the entire world. Once there was no space remaining for the Doozers to build in, they started packing up to go elsewhere. It seemed the Fraggles and the Doozers needed each other to co-exist.

The Doozers never really seemed to consider it much of a problem. Even though they'd spent ages working on something so clearly important to them, building something so beautiful, just to watch it get torn down. "Architecture is meant to be enjoyed," they'd say with a smile. I'm not sure what they meant by that either. To be honest, I feel the Fraggle analogy is possibly starting to fall apart at this point and I'm not sure if I'm the Fraggle or the Doozer in this essay. I suspect I may in fact be the 7ft tall grumpy giant that lives in the garden next to them. I'm starting to regret mentioning the Fraggles now.

The point is, people build. I don't know why. It seems important to them though. Presumably they have a process internally that at least they understand, even if we don't. And it makes them happy.

Which is nice. It's nice to be happy.

Written by Richard Mitton,

software engineer and travelling wizard.

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