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Good Taste and Bad Times

“All of life is a dispute over
taste and tasting.” 
Friedrich Nietzsche
Back in those bad old days, men would savour anything from roots and shrubs—the one with the hardest nails getting the most delicious parts—to the flesh of any prized catch. Now in a sort of time-machine leap to the present time, we have the blandest egg curry served in the finest ceramic plate, sprinkled with nicely sliced onions and bits of green chillies in ostensibly what is called a good presentation and serving and we would relish to our heart’s content. In a similar pulse, a public hanging for lousy criminals would be a grand entertainment in the bygone centuries but we have heightened our taste to the degree of using only fingers in front of an electronic box for amusement today. This gives us, precisely, a rough idea of how we have evolved through the ages and the difference between, to put it brusquely this time, the cultured and uncultured people. In the latter there lies a conflict, a dispute over the guffs of being overly civilized or not civilized.

Initially the act of refining and getting refined sets our living condition, at least it has been the case as we march forward to the glory of our civilization. But as in the ups and downs of a private life, we also have the sporadic periods of regression. This is a serious problem in a land, which is marked as underdeveloped in a modern parlance. In such a place where survival can become an act of resistance, there is also a thin line between the cultured and uncultured people as well as disdain for both, though without no reason; and clearly there is a naked show of absurdity in elegance and poverty.

WE THE LIVING   Statistics shows a lot of confusing numbers, so without it, the illustration of difference and contempt will be clearer in this context. In such a place, as we see luxury cars and SUVs increasing gradually, people of good taste are obviously on the rise—those who read from the oldest Aristotle to the latest chick lit, dine in fine restaurants, travel from one corner of the globe to the other, appreciate Rembrandt and van Gogh, cultivate the art of being connoisseurs, et al—while completely refusing to see the large shit hole that smears the sophistication of being in a supposedly high class. Those years of education and effort and thence the luxury to treat themselves are damned. If not for more personal interests or altruistic values in exceptional cases, the halfway is indistinct as if there is a crack at the centre.

Juxtapose the luxury cars with economic blockade, literally a very economical term in a sense that this kind of agitation is rare in the whole world. Imagine in a failed state, where a blockade results in shortage of oxygen supply for hospitals and many tragedies many a time, the indulgence in things of good taste. This is not a question of different sensibilities but of desperation. Where should we position the societal desire for good food and clothes and their taste when there is a big interrogation mark over living, as in dying? On the other hand, poverty is rich in hopelessness. In the impoverishment, sympathy and victimhood hide not only the civility and other such cultivated things, but also the shit hole-ness of a failed state. So in any case, there is no touchstone but the realisation of the world per se. We have come a long way from the days of root eaters but it seems like, in this part of the world, the road of humanity is quite longer than others.

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