It occurs to me, that today, we place a lot of emphasis on the abstract. The idea began to take shape in my head, as I returned from a trip to the market with my sister. My mum needed some vegetables, so we were sent off to buy them… and to ‘top up’ my mum’s and my sister’s phones while we were at it. We spent Rs.666 (hmm… interesting number, that. Can read all sorts of significances into the incident now… but let us not digress.) on the phone recharge (333 on my mum’s phone and 333 on my sister’s). The vegetables we bought (tomatoes, peas, coriander, capsicum and lime) all came within the thirty four rupees change I got from the chap who recharged our phones.
Isn’t that strange? Food, a basic necessity- Rs.34. Phone top up- Rs.666. Apart from showing skewed priorities, and being completely unfair, I think it reflects something of today’s attitude.
A while ago, a thought popped into my head while I was going through some folders on my computer. I figured, that a computer was nothing but a way of exploring your own mind. Not only documents, but pictures, videos… everything one could save or access on a computer seemed to be an exploration of the mind. Even watching a movie, is an exercise in self-exploration, because each person reacts to a movie differently. (Connection being that you can store movies on your computer.) The internet networks different minds… gives us a way of exploring other people’s thoughts. Not directly and through personal contact as before, but anonymously, thus giving this exploration much greater scope and freedom.
When I was clumsily trying to put these two thoughts together, my dad added another aspect. He said that this was all communication. Knowledge is hyped these days, and we are willing to pay for communication rather than food.
So there we have it. Ideas, exploring minds, communication and knowledge. All of this is abstract… all our money is spent on things that don’t really physically exist. While our basic needs such as food aren’t valued as much.
Art today seems to reflect this trend, too. We have moved from realistic portraits through Picasso, and today are faced with modern art… bits of squiggles and splashes of colour among badly proportioned, faintly recognisable representations of people, animals, machines and other physically real things. Why are they valuable? Abstract art. They represent ideas…
But perhaps we are pretentious?
Who decides the value of things? Surely, we have no right to… human life, basic needs versus ideas… but then, Ideas live on, long after our transient lives have passed… perhaps, though, that is precisely the reason why we must value life more….
And while we dither, and bargain over tomatoes in the market, having spent five or six times that amount on a new DVD, a farmer in Andhra Pradesh commits suicide because he can’t pay off his debts.
Surely we have gone way off target here. Our system obviously needs revising.