Monday, October 28, 2013

Presenting a dialogue with my dangerously opinionated alter-ego and arch-rival blogger, GTOOSPHERE as we ponder over the deepest mysteries of urban living ...

WARNING: The authors intend this immature material for strictly TIME-PASS use only ... DO NOT (NAIVELY) EXPECT ANY KIND OF ACCURATE INFORMATION OR RESPONSIBLE WISDOM

FLAWSOPHY: ... And then, after dessert we had this ice-breaker event where we went around the table and said a few words about us and our hobbies. You know what I observed? Everyone lists the same 2 things as hobbies: “reading” and “watching movies”. And I sat there thinking, “What's the big deal? Don't all of us do some kind of reading and watching movies? Are we allowed to claim such basic stuff as hobbies ?”. 

GTOOSPHERE:  hehe … I have observed that too. People do that from time to time. Although, it seems like quite the contrary should be the criterion. A lack of reading or movies in your life is rather a serious cause for concern 'coz people would look at you like a weirdo if you say "I don't read books nor watch movies" … You can't NOT HAVE a preferred way to soak in "Life of Pi" and "The Lord of the Rings" in this current age and time :)

FLAWSOPHY:  Yeah! Shouldn't be there some rule, like, if everyone's doing it, it's no longer a hobby? There has to be at least some exclusivity with a hobby. Right? So ... in the long term interest of preserving culture and humanity, Flawsophy is officially removing these items thereof from the approved list of hobbies … I suspect, people are totally getting away with not having to have a real hobby by claiming "I like to watch movies" and I, for one, am going to bust this scam …

GTOOSPHERE:  hehe … yeah … feeling special because your mandatory school education taught you how to read sure sounds more like a scam than time-passing … 

... You are right. Like if you have an iPhone these days, people no longer stare at you like you are some zoo animal showing off. Everyone has them nowadays. Same thing. May be in the days of colonial rule when astrologers and kings passed a law that only their families are supposed to have a monopoly on all knowledge and were the only ones who are allowed to read books or when being a village idiot who fetches water from the pond to the farm was an actual career choice, reading and movies could have been a luxury and would have passed off as hobbies and pass-times. But, nowadays ... naah!

FLAWSOPHY:  OKAY. Here’s the real worst part. Everyone I know watches movies and reads books nowadays. They may not read as much as I do but they are doing it nonetheless. And with the criteria being so vague, I am sure some of the cunning ones are counting reading textbooks that they are being forced to read in school anyway. And if you walk up to them to explain, "no … see… I read Joseph Campbell and you read Chetan Bhagat. I read nonfiction and you consume trash romance you bought on railway station platforms" … If you tell them that it’s not the same thing that “you watch sell-out, garish commercial Bollywood productions and I watch Satyajit Ray or Woody Allen or some art-house malayali cinema with under-paid actors and subtitles …” when I try to explain the difference, almost invariably, I am the one who will end up sounding like an arrogant snob and an asshole at the end of that conversation. There is no way I can show them that my taste is more refined or I spend more time being artsy-fartsy and it just doesn’t seem fair. So, screw the whole thing … when I get no credit, I will not let anyone have it too … and hence, no one gets to claim these as hobbies. Besides, reading or movies are simply a glorified form of consumption anyway. So, what the hell :)

GTOOSPHERE:  hehe … with music, it's even more subjective. Someone listens to Sunny Deol's super-hits and I listen to jazz music and both are supposed to be equivalent.  Everyone who bought an iPod is walking around thinking he has a taste in music. Of course, we know this is not true. If everyone has a taste in music, the whole concept of "taste" is out. Isn't it ? Hey, we should include music in the list too. Everyone listens to music and everything thinks their choice is unique and counts as a hobby. Reading, movies and music - these 3 should be the list of banned hobbies 

FLAWSOPHY: Right ho! Reading, music and movies have come to be necessities for the average middle-class community pass-times … besides, when all the urban outdoors have been turned into real estate and apartment complexes, what is left for anyone to do but watch TV or light reading. They are necessary to function normally in civic life … we can't treat them as special anymore …

GTOOSPHERE:  yeah ... for the same reason bathing and brushing are not in the list of hobbies. Big deal. So what if I brush twice a day in the morning …

FLAWSOPHY:  and zero times at night ?


FLAWSOPHY:  hehe ... me too … I somehow feel morning deserves more paste and more brushing. I don't get the point of people brushing at night. What's going to happen during sleep ?

GTOOSPHERE:  At nights, we are just tasting extra tooth paste. And just because our dentist told us? That kind of respect to authority is what is wrong with this world :)

FLAWSOPHY:  one day, it is your dentist and the next day, you are dutifully paying taxes because the government asked you to and publicizing personal details and privacy meta-data in exchange for a privilege to upload pictures of birthday parties and anniversaries. Tch Tch. Where does all this craziness end ? WHERE DOES ALL THIS CRAZINESS END ? :P

Any-hoo. Did we digress as usual? What were we talking about?

GTOOSPHERE:  Something like how eating is not a hobby but cooking can be ?

FLAWSOPHY:  Yes. Eating food is not a hobby. It's something you do to stay alive. Like swimming if you find yourself in water. It's not a hobby then. Is it? It's a necessity. I guess, that's our first criteria for a valid hobby - shouldn't be a vital biological or cultural function of life. After all, we don't have a sizable amount of people who go around saying, "I don't dig oxygen. I am more a carbon monoxide kind of guy", breathing oxygen and other related vital activities can't be claimed as a hobby. Period.

GTOOSPHERE:   hmm …  downloading ring tones is definitely not a hobby. Why is stamp collection a hobby?

FLAWSOPHY:  I don't know but it feels that stamp collection and downloading ringtones count … because they are pointless, unimportant activities that can give some people a bit of fun. So, we can't outlaw those :)

Ahaa! That's my second criteria for a hobby -  Should be pointless and yet be fun. Yes, none of that result-oriented crap. Like eating food can't be a hobby but wine-tasting can be. Because wine-tasting meets the criteria of aimlessness. Also, so is habitually stepping out and having 3 plates of pani-puri every evening even though you are not at all hungry. That is one consummate hobby and I recommend it whole-heartedly.


FLAWSOPHY:  You see? People don't consider idleness as a hobby. In fact, even if you are the type who loves lying on your bed and stare at the ceiling fan go round and round, you will be embarrassed to mention it as a hobby. That doesn't seem right to me at all. That is one perfectly valid hobby. Who are we to judge if it gives someone joy and it meets the dual criteria of a non-vital, pointless activity ... 

GTOOSPHERE:  Yeah … after all, any reasonable definition of a hobby should be able to include pure idleness or something unproductive like digging a hole in the ground with a stick. Loved it as a kid. I loved burning paper ... 

FLAWSOPHY: Oh me too. I used love the way plastic melts, cringes and collapses onto itself.

GTOOSPHERE: Remember how the toothpaste tube produces all sorts of mosaic forms as the colors from lettering start to dissolve among themselves ... 

FLAWSOPHY: Yeah. That was the best !

GTOOSPHERE: Yeah. All kinds of idle activities should be considered as hobbies. What the hell. We should show those self-important people who think they are more sophisticated because they take evening language lessons or be the first to buy the latest midtown madness that you don't need to blow up money to have a hobby … :)

FLAWSOPHY:  A-haa … of course, paying to attend classes, learn something can never be a hobby because there are expectations from such activities. No matter what your mom says, trying to get better at something in a finite amount of time simply can't count. Nope. It's not open-ended and pointless enough. May be it will count once the coaching ends and if you love to practice the piano all on your own, then it becomes a hobby. Same thing for painting or sketching.

I think we might have hit on something here. To summarize, a hobby is anything that is :

1.    Non-essential
2.    Pointless

Again, to quote the inimitable George Carlin, "These are my rules and I make them up" !!!

GTOOSPHERE:  Do you realize that according to this criteria, watching porn is not a hobby but if you are the committed kind who maintains 500 GB hard disks ...

FLAWSOPHY:  BINGO! If you watch porn for the same utilitarian 90-second everyday reason why every roadside guy also watches porn, then what you as a hobbyist has got to show for ? :)

GTOOSPHERE:  I got one more. Partying has to be the worst hobby. All that grooving and grinding and those guys who night-club party because "it's cool" or think that it’ll get them laid. Can’t be a hobby if you are looking to get laid even if it’s a soft-core strategy like Telugu Matrimony!

FLAWSOPHY:  But  … if partying is not a hobby ... so is not any sports too … that doesn't seem right. Besides, you are forgetting the universal over-riding principle: anything that anyone does to "look cool" is inter-galactically lame and ought to be criminalized by law !!!

GTOOSPHERE:  hehe ... yeah ... 

FLAWSOPHY: Also, that form of resolved partying violates the second criteria for they are partying for a purpose. So, you are right.

And Yikes! Telugu Matrimony can't be a hobby at all …

GTOOSPHERE:  There's this guy at work who goes through Telugu matrimony searches through profiles and searches that name in all social networking sites. He picks up a name like "Swati" from the matrimony site and our hero is searching for her profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ … each of them open in each tab …

FLAWSOPHY:  wow … seriously, with a commitment like that, I am sure he'll land someone very soon. That is, as long as he doesn't share any of these details and strictly sticks to the usual set of lies in the arranged-marriage setting :)

On second thoughts, trying to get married in an open-ended way with no deadline or no urgency sure counts as a hobby … can't have a problem with that for it satisfies both the criteria :P

GTOOSPHERE:  hmm … anyway … I gotta go. Lunch time!

FLAWSOPHY:  Alright. Bye, bye ...


Sourav Roy said...

i have a feeling of thinking and discussing this over with friends numerous times. i am glad you wrote this down formally. will keep this is the official guide to hobbies from now onwards :)

Twilight Musings said...

I don't understand the criteria of a hobby to be "point-less". Most of things humans do are "point-less". e.g., what is the point of small conversation? It is both non-essential and point-less to say "hello" to your receptionist at office in the morning. Does saying "hello" to barely-known persons count as a hobby then?

If we can come up with a meta-reasoning for saying hello as having a point, then we can come up with reasoning for everything to have a point (painting/sketching or playing piano by themselves would result in practice and mastery -- all fine arts are similar to sports then. Getting married has a point - pleasing the parents). There are no valid hobbies.

Sash! said...

@sourav roy: thanks :)

@twilight: If you happen to derive a great amount of joy ... SURE, you can make greeting strangers a hobby ... whatever works.

Sports is a hobby. So is playing the piano. I did mention that. So, while an individual sport has a point ("winning"), that's not what I am talking about. I am talking more about playing for playing's sake.

I think my meaning of "pointless" is a little less abstract than you are perceiving it. What I mean by "pointless" is that as long as we don't ruin our hobby time with timelines, goals and results and manage to keep it fun and open-ended, anything goes ...

Also, ideologically speaking, Who wouldn't wish to marry because it's fun and an open-ended endeavor rather than some reason like "oh, my god! I am getting old" or "My parents are really behind me" ? :)

Twilight Musings said...

Doesn't movie watching perfectly fit those two things though? Non-essential, point-less (there is no competition to movie-watching, right?), free (the ones on TV on public channels), and modestly fun (when muted and voice dubbed with your fellow viewers, especially).

I think the key point of your definition seems to be 'exclusivity' of the activity rather the nature of it. Hanson has some interesting critique on that here.

Anyways, I seem to run around in the circles where people marry so that they don't die alone. If you think marriage falls under the category of "fun" in any shape or form, you are waiting for a rude shock, young man![/end shaking the walking stick] :)

Sash! said...

no, come on. you wouldnt drop me in a bucket like that. would you? because its not the nature of activity, I have to be the exclusivist. no middle ground for me. eh?

I completely agree with the article you posted. in fact, i made the same arguement that you dont need to do "sophisticated activities" to have a hobby. besides, I am not setting any exclusivity criteria for a hobby. that connotation is set by the way people use the word hobby. the most likely context for a hobby in everyday use is of the form : "I am special in this way because in my free time, I do -------". so, its not my fault. I am merely raising the question if movies and music fit this bill ... and my opinion is they don't because I choose to make distinction between a time-pass/recreation and a hobby.

of course, you would win this case in the court because of the legal loophole that consuming movies and music fit the hobby description perfectly but somehow, they are in the grey area between essential recreation and hobbies. so, I gracefully admit ... :)

haha .. thats why I said, "ideological" ... I dont expect marriage to be a picnic but do wish it be that way ... I think culture has presented me with sufficient cynicism to know any better :)

Sandilya Digumarthy said...

anything that anyone does to "look cool" is inter-galactically lame and ought to be criminalized by law !!! that.. :)

Twilight Musings said...

@Sash, I am still working on trying not to drop people into buckets. It tends to hurt them, I know. :)

I guess my understanding of a hobby is that something you do to relax, not as something to stand out. It helps to know that which of your friends will be available to see the latest blockbuster, which of them could discuss a book in depth, and who would rather run along the beach. Nobody is going to admit that they collect rare comics or build lego world in their bedroom in a room full of adults unless they are Sheldon Cooper. Do people really like saying "I am special this way...." to near strangers unless they are trying to project some exclusivity?

There are some who admit to hating books because they can't sit still. Same goes for movies because they hate to sit still in a theater. (I don't how I am friends with her but we co-ordinate her relaxing time and my work-out time :) )

OTOH, getting a DVD, pizza, popcorn and soda makes a decent get-together on student budget for people with varied interests. A great conversation starter for people who like that movie and who would hate it. Host doesn't have to work at moving along the strained conversation.

John Albert said...

thanks for sharing buddy......

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