Saturday, 4 May 2013

A connoisseur of the commonplace

The Pyramids. Taj Mahal. Ajanta, Khajuraho, Mamallapuram. Angkor Wat. Mona Lisa, Last Supper, Sistine chapel. Parthenon. We marvel at these works of art, sculpture, painting, architecture. They are rare, unique, extraordinary. We travel days and thousands of miles, we spend thousands of rupees or dollars, we go in hundreds, thousands, crores to see them - because of their rarity.

But how do we go? In cars, trains, buses, and planes. Spending a hundred different currencies. Using phones, paper, credit cards, laptops to book rooms, tours, sessions. With cameras, water bottles, backpacks, spectacles, shoes. In cotton clothes. In steel-concrete rooms, with AC, frig, electric lights, fans, washing machines, TVs. Well all these things are common place.

Nothing remarkable, not rare, not unique.

NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!! They are very remarkable, quite extraordinary. Nobody, not the richest king, the smartest genius, the noblest saint, nobody had them a hundred years ago. Now billions do. Yet here we utterly not amazed, not astounded, not delirious with delight, not satisfied, not thrilled at the democracy and ubiquity of engineered products.

Because they are not unique. Not rare.

We don't even have to spend a ton of money, or travel great distance, with great effort to see or use or enjoy them. They come to us, at affordable prices, lowering every day, improving every month. Yet we only notice them when they slightly go off whack, or we break them, or don't know how to use them.

I dissent. I  delight in their everyday extra-ordinariness. I am a connoisseur of the commonplace.

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