Standardization of standards
My spurious attempts at being an "antalagh toloogh"
July 25, 2002
Standardization, the sister of globalization is an imminent, constantly evolving,
happening. But do I have a choice? Do I have to listen to the hotelier's pride and
joy of piped music at $700 a nap in The Maldives or watch the Coca-Cola Christmas
man sweating away in front of a load of German pensioner's in Thailand?
Surely, as with McDonalds' good record of loo hygiene even in Shanghai, so I'm told;
a global standard for drinkable drinking water should be first on the agenda? Isn't
this elementary? Vociferous objections to sound pollution go way back to the 60's,
but did anyone listen?
At London's Virgin Mega Store I couldn't find copies of Mary Poppins nor Jungle
Book amongst the latest debris of dreadful Disney tunes or whatever fad. I could
not hear myself choose either: the banging of those modern-day tribal tunes are there
to numb the mind to a point where it can only pass on its credit card details.
I cannot see whether I look civilized in a synthetic Gucci garment
made-in-where-ever at $2000 a thread, listening to the banging of the latest pop
piffle. But I can bid for a hand-made, painstakingly embroidered, properly cut "oriental/ethnic"
jacket at a fraction of the price at auction or scavenge in a bric-a-brac. And surprise
surprise: the "oriental ethnic" cut suits my shape much better because
it was made for me in a roundabout way, and it transcends the regurgitations of fashion
Eating out seems to be cumbersome too. I often feel myself moving my knife and fork
in rhythm to the foreground "music" racket to be rushed out for the next
sitting, before even missing my mouth. And what is put in front of me is similarly
of dubious origin. When have you last seen a real carrot or peach in a shop? The
ones that made one giggle because they looked like someone's nose or private parts?
The taste of natural, seasonal nutrition lingers only as a memory!
But we all have to keep up appearances of being "normal". As a phenomenon,
keeping up with the Jones's is not new. It's just that the Jones's nowadays are supposed
to have the IQ of Forrest Gump, grunt in imitation of the latest groovy, grotesque
lingo from the latest TV comedy fix and be as creative as that infamous inanely profound
plastic bag floating in the wind. But is it any wonder when the former First Lady
of the most powerful nation in the world commences an acceptance speech with the
gruesome grovel of "Wow"!
The lowest common denominator is appeased in plugging
products: there is a wanna-be Jean-Claude van Damme on every street corner from Bangladesh
to New York. It's human nature afterall. But there used to be standards instead of
an imposition of below-the-par standardization across the globe.
Cary Grant was an actor. Sylvester Stallone isn't; he is a commodity. Yet more people
are familiar with Rambo than Rimbaud. (I also had to look up the poor poet's spelling!)
Together Ravi Shankar and Yehudi Menuhin created a celebration of cultures. The occasional
Three Tenors concerts are only an ephemeral reminder of the possibility of redemption.
Noel Gallagher on the other hand is simply not a musician. He is admired for pissing
Advertisements teach me a rigmarole of base cough-ups like "whazzup" to
represent a life-style. Where exactly is the style in that? And they also tell me
to be different - like everybody else in the same uniforms from Gap to Chanel and
fight for my right by declaring war on split ends with a shampoo. Ha?
Children are to grow up in front of the TV to keep them quiet, armoured with now-even-crunchier-and
louder crisps. They have to be entertained in order to jump from one sensory instant
gratification to another starting with the teletubbies to computergames.
Going on a treasure hunt for conkers used to be one of our family treats. We didn't
even need the commendable Lego. We were allowed imagination and made of conkers what
we wanted them to be. We were allowed the freedom to think.
The colour pigmentation that we used - instead of subjected
to - were not that of a screen, but watercolours sprayed through old kitchen-sieves
with an even older toothbrush. Nowadays there are debates about conkers being banned
at school in case of schools being sued; rugby seems to have had its day too.Weren't
saying "please", "thank you" and "sorry" less troublesome
and more humane than the destruction of a ginormous amount of trees because of someone's
Bizarrely, at the same time, teenagers can have coffee breaks to give them instant
oh-so healthy kicks to the stomach and immune system and young teenage girls can
use their mobile phones to calorie-count ad infinitum or anorexic limbo to slick
into silicon and Gucci garbage.
Surely as with any healthy food diet, a mental diet of variation and moderation is
the common-sensical natural course to pursue. Enough of my spurious attempts at being
serious and "antalagh toloogh"("intellectual" -- blame my father
for the expression!): have you noticed how lately soft drinks are getting harder?