Thursday, February 3, 2011

Recently I randomly discovered a small bakery that makes some really awesome cookies. Nothing too extraordinary about them. In fact they lack some or have less amount of ingredients generally found in cookies from other bakeries. But I really love them. Sometimes I have to go through an hour of non-budging traffic to buy them. One day I offered them to a friend and after tasting his response was that they were "vapid". Similar thing had happened before when I took my roommate to my favorite restaurant specializing in authentic Italian pizza. His response after eating pizza was this: "Not enough spices." These got me thinking about our pattern of liking things. What I find is that we like in-your-face kind of stuff. Something that is exceedingly loud and earthquake alike. Below is my feeble attempt to identify them.

Social aspect: Folks with louder voices, huge houses and long cars have big impact on society and are looked upon as visionary leaders and saviors of everyone and society in general. Silent folks with humble opinions are ignored vehemently. Their voice is never given due attention to. Their opinion buried deepest in the pile of social noise. Just take a look at politicians, the loudest ones are the most successful. They don't even have to have an opinion of their own. They just have to throw huge amount of shit on the opponent to win. Loud and big-mouthed uncles and aunts are widely heard in our families. When we discuss something we talk loudly and overlap each other's chance to talk. Silence, which is just as necessary a part of discussion as talking, is never even considered of. And yes, we don't even rank an act a crime unless its a murder, even that at times.

Design: When we think of design we imagine this: An explosion of colors with lines and huge number of little ornaments flying here and there. And the topping of golden and silver, but shining, beads. So many and bright colors that eyes start to bleed. When I told my dad about a well designed poster I wanted to print he was excited. Later when I showed the actual print and he was like "What's 'designed' about it?" I got curious. I decided to show it to everyone in the immediate vicinity to get an opinion. To make long story short almost everyone wondered where that design was which I kept mentioning. Just like silence is to discussion, whitespace is to design. Look at our architecture, so many unnecessary and nonfunctional elements. Apparently we are in a war with the duo of minimalism and functionalism.

Food: All of our favorite dishes have two things in them: Meat and a truckload of spices. We like tastes that don't have to betasted. We like tastes that deliver themselves to us, in explosions. Then we rush for water and probably jugs of them at a time. We can't taste a silent taste. We can't feel something that's not generating explosions. We can't have a cake which is not 80% sugar. We like intense kicks in our taste buds instead of enjoying several small details. I am sure if we give someone who is accustomed to Desi food a foreign "vapid" dish, he is going to vomit that out.

Music: Speakers. Huge. A bomb in the air. Screams. Whole city dancing. Jazba Junoon. Shout. Louder. Louder. With so few instruments vocals overshadow small little intricacies of musical notes. Its like a throat is killing so many tiny little chirps. Sometimes I wonder why they have piano for music. I hardly ever noticed it in any song.

So, what that means? That means we like to be blown away by anything we see or hear. Everybody's facebook stream is full of that "must watch" stuff because that's how we get attention. We love books that take us to an intense instant gratification instead of those boring classics. I say, maybe its time to pay some attention to that weird guy mumbling something in the corner. Its time to see the worlds that have been around us all the time but we have been blinded by dazzling walls of noise.

  • Anonymous Anonymous said...
    February 10, 2011 at 11:22 PM
    I feel your pain. Subtle is not the way of this land. Have you also, by any chance, ever been called boring?
  • Blogger Vaqas said...
    February 11, 2011 at 1:57 AM
    quite liberally
  • Anonymous Anonymous said...
    February 11, 2011 at 11:55 AM
    Vaqas, you have highlighted a true problem. All aspects could be lumped together as the logic of power (or loud-ness), which most humans obey, albeit unconsciously. This is what I think is inbuilt naturally and one has to discipline oneself to understand it's falsity.
    Now the idea of putting a problem is to resolve it and not to just make loud cries. What do you think can be done about it?
    My point of view is that 1) the logic of loud-ness can be cut to its rightful size in the world most easily by civilizations of the east. Eastern civilizations have been appreciating silence, nature, simplicity and ironically subtlety at a much greater depth than the western counter part. And 2) this cannot be done by non-subtle opposition. Meaning the east should revive its traditions from within the loud western dominant east, and show the world how subtlety can solve contemporary human problems amicably. Doing it withing the loud culture is actually not an option, we are already part of it and your blog bares witness to it, wonderfully.


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