Saturday, August 02, 2014

The ecosystem, the matrix and human behaviour

In the book, the Devil wears Prada, there is a exchange between the two main protagonists that goes like this...

(Miranda and her assistants are deciding between two similar belts for an outfit. Andy sniggers because she thinks they look exactly the same.) Miranda Priestly: Something funny? Andy Sachs: No, no, nothing. Y'know, it's just that both those belts look exactly the same to me. Y'know, I'm still learning about all this stuff. Miranda Priestly: This... 'stuff'? Oh... ok. I see, you think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select out, oh I don't know, that lumpy blue sweater, for instance, because you're trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don't know is that that sweater is not just blue, it's not turquoise, it's not lapis, it's actually cerulean. You're also blindly unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves St Laurent, wasn't it, who showed cerulean military jackets? And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. Then it filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic "casual corner" where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and so it's sort of comical how you think that you've made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you're wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room. From a pile of "stuff."  [Link]

What Miranda says is that the act of choosing a so called non-conformist sweater - that Andy thinks defies the system - is a part of the system itself. The ecosystem. The matrix of fashion.

Now what is a fashion quote doing on a blog like this.

A few months ago, I wrote about the Macaulay rebels who conformed.

The ecosystem around us - starting with our education system - especially the hand me down English education that we inherited which was spiced by left and socialism oriented thoughts bolstered by Christian education institutions has left us trapped in this matrix. The vicious circle of educating the rich in English and weaning them off traditions has slowly created our local version of English who work on civilizing the natives - from attire to accent to behaviour. (There is stuff to be changed, but there is much to be appreciated as well.)

In this present matrix, it is very difficult for you to appreciate anything Hindu. Of course, the caste system is bad and discrimination is high and the priests are rapacious and our traditions are bad. Our festivals are bad (Bursting crackers for Diwali, wasting water for Holi and our homas and poojas are a waste of resources and visiting a temple is pointless) - isnt that what you learnt in this ecosystem?

First of all we learnt in an English medium school - which makes you think that your own mother tongue is not good enough to be studied (yes, I am also one of them who studied in an English medium school.). This by itself is not a problem - but it also means that most likely, you did not have the time and energy to study your language, your traditions. And if you did study your traditions, you were most likely seen as 'uncool' by your shades sporting uncle and aunts.

Like in that lumpy blue sweater example, if you chose to ignore everything around you - the tradition of the country, the culture, the history-mythology, the architecture - it is because the ecosystem around you - the matrix wants you to do exactly that. It wants you reject everything around you - and mark it off as regressive and go in for that blue sweater.

That means being a non-conformist is not easy. A true non-conformist has really rebel out of the matrix. Which means, if you visited the coolest joint in town or went to the coolest tourist spot makes you a conformist, not unique. Which means, if you are in touch with best brands - you are probably conforming more than differentiating yourself. Which means, if your thought processes are matching with the talking heads on TV and the people who write in print media - then again, you are conforming, not differentiating.

And that means, the true rebels are the sadhus who give up everything and rebel agains the material world.

That means, if you truly want to find someone different, it is unlikely that you will find them in an airconditioned boutitue/office/retreat/hotel - you will find them at a place that is truly offbeat and it wont be easy. And if you want to be different, that is even more difficult.

That means, we all live in the matrix. Knowing the matrix, recognizing that the ecosystem is THE matrix and you have to get out of the matrix to truly be different - is perhaps a first step.

But to truly rebel is difficult. Human behaviour is all directed to being cool, being accepted by the cool crowd. And to differentiate yourself as apart from the crowd is difficult - especially if your life depends on facebook likes.

[Evolving thought, but I think this thought process will get somewhere!]

Because on the other hand, the ecosystem while driving you away from something - is also driving you toward something. Slowly, surely...across generations...

1 comment:

Swapz said...

It's a good reference, but not great as an analogy. There are many of us who don't want to rebel, but simply choose to ignore. I might conform with the blue or I might be differentiated using the red, but I don't care. My choice, even if influenced by the Matrix, isn't a reflection of the Matrix. It's a reflection of my thoughts at the moment. Similarly, ignoring our Sanskriti and Parampara and the many ills that go along with it doesn't necessarily scream rebellion to me.

Good point about the sadhus there. At least the ones who are genuine.