Saturday, May 7, 2011


Industrialized society has ensured that I have spent most of my life in institutions surrounded by people of my own age. As I start de-constructing the various groups of comrades I've known, I can make bubbles within bubbles to arrive at a respectable amount of people with pretty much the same socio-economic background as mine, though other regressors like education of parents and major life experiences will vary.

This sample makes up the demographic to which I belong.

Things now begin to get complicated. The word under scrutiny today is premium.

There are perceived premiums on certain attributes that we possess as individuals. These premiums are relative, of course, but for the purpose of understanding, we will assume a set of generally accepted traits and talents that are valued by our society at large.

We'll consider only a few of these, though in my opinions there can be millions if one were to truly codify the world in ones and zeroes.

Consider beauty. It is relative, but in my sample, there are individual features that hold premiums. In fact, beauty is too vague a term and to remain objective and proper let us use the term physical attractiveness. It is a disgusting notion that we harbour innate biases but we are generations away from being free of prejudice. A thick set of curls on a fair-skinned, slim torso is a pleasing sight to us lowly ethnic groups/populations. I choose my words carefully, because:

"...the term 'race' is not applicable to a species as genetically homogeneous as the human one"
- UNESCO 1950

Great. That makes life simpler. We are all governed by the same genetics and subsequent drives. What turns us on may differ, but the fact remains that we get turned on.

For me, recently, a half-Egyptian with features previously described did the trick. Damn, you should've seen the hair.

But we are complex beings. My generation and newer models are much sharper than the antique processors of our fathers. We are also more complex, and demanding. We aid our arguments with research, such as:

" was found that physically attractive men and women were perceived as more sociable, dominant, sexually warm, mentally healthy and socially skilled compared to unattractive people."
- Perlini, Bertolissi and Lind, 1999)

As we drove towards the edges of the city, and into the heart of Sindh there came a point where she remained quiet for a few minutes, staring at the desert landscape rolling lazily past. I could hear her nails rhythmically tapping her can of Carlsberg to the beat of typical sunday classics. The baron was playing for us melodies from simpler, happier times.

I glanced frequently at her tresses and the bright rays of Karachi summer amplified her beauty. From beyond the golden-brown, I could make out the orange from her imitation wayfarers. This was enough, and I should've soaked in the image for longer.

Instead, I asked her what she was thinking.

'Do you really want to know?" she asked.

I persisted.

"I was thinking about time and space."

She didn't need to. She shouldn't have. I had already accepted her premium as one of those fleeting good things that happen to a person- a delightful experience that I would cherish just for the aesthetics of it all.

It is shallow, and this simple, primitive drive makes for a flawed reasoning system. So are we really better off with our i7 processors? I'm pretty sure this is a truth that my father realized at the same age, with little mental distress.

I can assure you that this truth distresses me greatly. It has been my belief that it was intellect feeding my ego all these years, and fuelling my arrogance and disdain for all things normal.

But things are becoming clearer of late. There is nothing intellectual in reserving big words to impress hot chicks.

I want a perfect body, and I don't believe in the soul. So I want a perfect mind, instead.

Except I realize that the soul is nothing but an irrevocably imperfect mind. If you are able-bodied (if not beautiful), think vertically and grew up with people in a society of more than just a few, you are not you. You are them. Every me, and and every you.

Those of us who fight to suppress our natural drives are fighting a noble cause. Keep it up, find a partner fighting for the same cause and start a brave new world on an island.

The big question, though remains: what will guide your actions? Is the pursuit of physical perfection enough? Is gymming a religion?

Or can the pursuit of knowledge be an end in itself?

What's your premium?

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