Friday, June 22, 2012
What do you call a person who talks when you wish him to listen? Even before you wink, the answer is: such a person is called a 'bore'. But for the past generations, 'bore' has neither been an emotional expression nor a psychological reality. Rarely would anyone acknowledge its existence. Sad, yes. Angry, yes. Depressed, yes. Crazy, yes; but 'Bore' would get a big 'No'. It is only in the past three decades or so that 'bore' and its derivatives 'boring and 'boredom' have sneaked for a permanent place in our lives.
Charles Dickens may have used 'boredom' as early as in 1852, in the novel Bleak House, but the word has remained alien to most cultures in the east. It is, however, another matter that for the present generation it is a form of frequently experienced emotional state from which there is little escape. Youth of today firmly believe that 'man is the only animal that can be bored.' Whether it is a reflection of 'intellectual defeat' or a result of 'failed attention', boredom is rarely discounted from our modern living.
And it is quite unlikely to be discounted because 'boredom' is the chief product of an automated society. Haven't we become bored with what we have? Try peeping into your lives today to find out that as affluence increases boredom grows. Affluence triggers insatiability, the desire to have more, which leads to restlessness. In an automated society, restlessness fuels 'desire for desires' which gets short term relief through novelty. Since none of the novelty ever has a longer shelf life, boredom sets in sooner. Without doubt, past generations were content with what they had and hence boredom to them was in itself a bore. Unless the world tackles boredom head on, it will continue to remain a boring place!
Friday, June 1, 2012
Why would anyone disagree that 'change' as a subject is not only fascinating but perennial too, especially in the era of liberalization when things and conditions are 'changing' by the minute. It is often said that 'change', howsoever slow, is indeed 'certain' and mankind is striving to bring about 'change' in everything it does. Only when the climate starts changing does everyone worry about maintaining status quo!
No wonder, the illusion of 'change' manifests itself in all pervasive status quo. Else, why would the menu in your choicest restaurant refuse to 'change'? Why would status quo continue to persist with respect to traffic snarl on the road? Why would corruption gain currency by the day as a new way of doing business? Why would one continue to crib about all things public? Simply put, the status quo is the only condition that is rarely vetoed as there are interests (including bureaucracy) that defend the status quo.
If you were to ask me I'd say that while change is desirable, status quo is indeed inevitable! I therefore agree with linguist Roger Fowler who considered the concept of status quo as being the common sense of our times. What is often perceived as 'change' is indeed habitualized common sense that doesn't allow us to see far. Such habitualization creates collective social thought that lead us to become increasingly uncritical. We let things the way these are, often caught in the status quo spiral.
How often have you heard air hostess' pronounce during take-off and landing that the 'cabin lights will be switched off, passengers might use reading lights on the panel above their seats'? That such an announcement is even made during day time flights is undoubtedly amusing, not much serious reading ever gets accomplished in those five minutes of 'switched off' status either. Intriguingly, it is the status quo that does not piss off anybody!