Quote uncoat

“Keep up with the Joneses”

This means you want what others have, and that is not good. Right?


There is an assumption that each thing on this planet is monogrammed for individual consumption and enjoyment. Since it is not, we have no choice but to keep up with the Joneses, the Janardhans and the Jaffers. Most objects are essentials; some are luxuries. To desire these only because somebody else has them is considered materialistic. But, think about it. What if you do not know of anybody who has them and still crave for them? Who are you then competing with? The Joneses inside you?

You go shopping and the person next to you at the counter has selected something nice. Suppose it is table linen. Her eye espied it first; perhaps you missed it. You might ask for a similar set. Are you keeping up with anyone? You like the look on a magazine cover and want it, if it means a lipstick or other cosmetics. Are you competing? The best way to judge how stupid this theory is to visit a sale that offers huge discounts. Then everyone is keeping up with the Joneses to just get hold of items that are close to reaching expiry date, are no more a fad, or, in the electronic world, have been replaced by upgraded versions.

The problem is that we only seem to notice the tangible. The assertion is restricted to what we can see. The ‘materialism’ of competing with thoughts – not in the sense of brainstorming or expanding on ideas – to spread one’s own wares is far more acquisitive. Intent is sometimes worse than action.

Also, one has to be rather insecure to believe that by keeping up with the Joneses you will lose yourself. It might happen if you strive to be a clone. I have several objects that many others do. It is how I use them that will tell me apart.

And to be honest, I do get a kick thinking that I too might be the Joneses that others breathlessly want to keep up with…

1 comment:

  1. The only way anyone is going to keep up with you, Farzana, is if you let them catch up. :)

    Which is, in my view (and half-serious kidding aside), what is oftentimes called for. There have always been avante garde -- prodigies, in their way. Invariably, their . . . well, "brilliance," draws a certain type of emulator like a moth to a flame . . .

    But it really isn't about moths and flames -- its about immature folk looking to bask in some reflected glory of another, imv, albeit for the most part ignorant of at what cost that apparent "brilliance" comes. Roman Polanski and his twelve year-old "fan" comes to mind . . .

    There's also Plato's parable of the cave, where one somehow managed to escape the mesmerizing play of shadows on the wall to emerge into the light, but was nevertheless compelled to return to persuade his/her fellows left behind to do likewise. On the one hand, we might suggest the prodigy only sought that they too might emerge into the light and expand their horizons; on the other hand, it might well be that, without his/her fellows, the light had swiftly lost it's charm.

    One wonders if there isn't some of that in play with the band, Pragaash . . .

    In terms of the more utilitarian, certainly the innovation of plumbing can be argued as a better way than a twice-daily trip to the well, bucket in hand. But neither are such innovations without their costs -- accumulated and/or swift (as in the case of Bhopal) . . .

    I'm not at all certain, Farzana, if much of what we call contemporary culture did not exist in the time of prophets and messiahs. Perhaps the difference lies only in manner and appearance?



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