Monday, September 29, 2014

Choices in a Marketplace

It is about noise and it is about selling!  What else should one expect in a market place?  So much to be sold - thoughts, self, body, soul…?  Every interaction a transaction!  One is curious to know whether the person just met fits in the same circles (of thoughts and rituals) and a potential addition to the clan and the network?  Isn't it insane to stand alone when only a community can provide sanctity and sanity to one's thoughts?  Yet there’s always a mad person roaming around in the market.

Movies, books, educational qualifications, art works, status and even life is marketed and pushed, starting much before it is even released.  Pre-marketed - supposedly big - names connect with it, depending on which league it fits in.  Everyone wants new, promising recruits in their collection to carry on the legacy.  One is told what to expect.  Meanings and abstractions (supposedly held within) are laid out.  Now one must appreciate and see what everyone else too seem to see.  The bottom-line of this preparatory exercise is that one must begin to ‘feel’ it is ‘different’.  If we do not see what we are supposed to, there is hardly a space to communicate in the great din of the marketplace.  You are subverted into becoming a seller even to challenge the very notion of selling.  The noise thus drowns any dissent to the notion of selling – be it politics or the politics of elitism in another domain.

Noise matters.  Non-noise doesn't work in the market.  When the sellers sell the earth as the center of the universe, you better see the sun revolving around it.  It is sanity verses insanity, where sanity is the noise - the heard, accepted, revered and even feared because it dons the robe of the sane and sits on a pedestal.  It may be too sane to be true but that is how it flows in a bazaar.

Everyone must be sold.  Every thought of the sold must be sold as profound.  If you don’t sell, turn into a product or an ‘anti-product’ product.  Non-products won’t do.  Produce noise.  Carry your flag on your shoulder so you can be branded and graded.  Join the catalogue - how else would a buyer know you.  And who is a buyer but another wannabe product who must buy so he / she can copy or join those who have similar products (like the Harley, Enfield or any other club).

A product must be chique.  It must be made to appear different, even if it is the same in its functionality and premise as the oldest shred of a loin cloth.  Noise changes perceptions and public memory is short anyway.  History books are littered with stories of wars, treachery and cruelty but the essence evaporates easily.  Every present and future war is sold as a brand new, never before product - only those who really deserve to die will die in ‘this’ one.  Collateral damage is natural.  The noise sells it and we buy because there can’t be so much noise without some truth.  The sun must have revolved around the earth before Galileo stopped it with his black (or white) magic.

There is a lot to sell in the market place.  That’s why the noise.  It’s a carnival.  Sell if you can, as much as you can.  Sell every thought of your clan - the only way, the only truth.  The market has only one religion, one slogan – sell.  Every seller is a priest, each from a different tradition, a different clique.  And each religion must be defended because it has to be better than the other.  Only heretics or the insane question it all and stand alone.  The sellers must dutifully drown them (and their voice) within the deafening noise of marketplace.  Why do the insane always dwell upon the unimaginable?

Text and Photographs by: Parvez Imam
(The Un-edited version of a piece published in my column in Financial Chronicle newspaper on 26th Sept, 2014).

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