Thursday, July 01, 2004

Sparkle: "Good Taste" as a Weapon of Oppression

"Ah Good Taste - what a dreadful thing" - Pablo Picasso

Taste is in general a very vague term. What is maybe 'good taste' for one could well turn out to be extra-horrid for another; yet determining 'good taste' have long been subjective and speculative sets of arguments and never an agreement has been reached. In the time-honored tradition of the aesthetics, one may reasonably conclude that taste is more about shared interests and passions that, all too often, results in controlled tendencies of a small group of people towards identical behaviors and or proactive appreciation of very many habits, sincere or otherwise.

Ironically confluence's of acquired modern day 'tribalism' or plain cultish propensities are all too often considered 'superior taste', and this fastidious approach leads on to snobbery that begets behaviors most unwanted. The worst victims in the bargain are none other than the perpetrators themselves who veer between thin lines of acceptance of their so-called 'refined taste' and those in his/her immediate vicinity who often have to swallow their pride and 'change' as the status quo determines. Frictions and divisions lead on to further divisions, and before long one is left to wonder how it all started and when will it, if ever, STOP.

Most people tend to equate taste on terms of commonalties associated with what we eat. For example, all of us can identify and appreciate things that are sweet, sour, bitter, or whatever. The 'taste' exercise in aesthetics is however more complex and has a tendency to hover around the parameters set by the marginal on the masses. All too often the marginal are as we mentioned earlier 'marginal', and use their taste as a weapon to stigmatize and ultimately overpower the masses into acceptance - regardless of how it is done. Wealth (read money) for the marginal is an important criterion for those involved in the gruesome exercise of ''furthering evolving taste" and their societal behavior revolves around how they wish to unleash their most inappropriate weapon.

However, for the man on the street constituting vast majorities in any third world country, appreciation of cultures 'foreign' are considered important in the acquisition of 'good taste'. Whether they be endless nights spent watching Western serials on TV, to music and books - down to jaunts and binges in the nearest 'fast food joint', 'good taste' in the so-called global scenario is up for grabs, just around every corner. Yet none of those 'taste' necessarily has to be 'newly acquired', for very many a generation have grown up knowing nothing else. From the sixties on to this new millennium Western influences on cultures have had a tendency to gravitate across a large spectrum, for no other reason than it comes packaged, labeled and produced for mass consumption - not necessarily for the 'majority', who actually catch on a wee later and proceed to become it's biggest CHAMPIONS!

As time went on, not much changed other than on the periphery, 'good taste' also came packaged with elements to lead man's surge on to notions of 'success' in a world that all too often-needed generic standardizing to be on any real significance - as generic as say for common understanding; how does Bangladeshi
nuts fit into French screws, or coat hangers have the same size, or shoes of various fits have numbers?

Gone are the days of herbal sticks used for brushing ones teeth. In came toothpaste and toothbrush to replace what was essentially 2 in 1 and, for most purpose, free!

Mouthful of man-made chemicals to sparkle our teeth and freshen our breath and do make us look (or think) 'fresh' every morning, but what remains unexplained is the amount of toxic poison our system has also have begun to accept and will probably 'die' without, in our malignant dependency.

That leaves us asking - are we then to throw away these modern-day implements and return to scrubbing out teeth with charcoal…..ugh! (Bad Taste?)

No easy answer there - but what is never even pondered for reasons of being dumped into heaps of 'uncivilized' behavior and bad taste' for the time being is: Are there any guarantees, say 20 years down the line, people with newer 'emerging taste' would not brand us WRONG, and question us - as probably what we have set into motion are sets of generalized behaviors on consumption bordering on the plain idiosyncratic?

Would they go back to the good old days of herbal sticks and CHARCOAL powder?

No hypothesis this - any 'taste' that goes against the natural process leaving us to eat too much, sleep too little, and have more questions than we have answers to submit, makes us love to hate or feel queasy when it is TRUTH that it hits us squarely on the face, leaves us despondent and uneasy to handle any situation which is unexpected or uncalled for, are indications forceful enough that the time is on the horizon for our so-called 'good taste' to go through a thorough overhaul.

The notion of "simple living and high thinking" is as old as 'old taste', but their die-hard practitioners seemingly enjoy a level of peace that can only be equated to BLISS. Narrow mindedness under disguise of apparently civilized behavior to indicate 'good taste' is a worn out but a much practiced catechism among those who seemingly masquerade in public, unbeknownst that they have a case of the 'bad breath' no matter the millions spent on toothpaste and mouth fresheners!

Private behavior lurking on and latching on to the PUBLIC realm all too often exposes things without our knowing; the problem is the one with the acquired 'good taste' of bad breath is the last to know, that the world has caught up and are actually 'smelling things most foul'!

Most people hide jealousy or plain ineptitude behind the facade of 'good taste', when it is wealth, acquired for real or through robbing the masses at large, or maybe even through some stroke of an Aladdin's Lamp; yet for the masses rejection of those with 'good taste' has been usually very brutal.

Nature plays its own part in regulating 'good taste' (if there is at all any such thing) - and whatever may be it resultant equation, there is not a shred of doubt, that unless and until we discover an alternative to our demeaning 'good taste' hang-ups, and try to evolve standards of acceptability in a cohesive and centripetal manner, 'Good Taste" as a Weapon of Oppression's days are numbered.

End line: Money can buy most anything - what it cannot is GOOD TASTE.

Any doubters?

First Published 1st July 2004


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