Dynamist Blog

An Indian Perspective on The Substance of Style

Reviewing The Substance of Style in the Bombay-based Indian Express, Bharati Chaturvedi adds an Indian perspective on the aesthetic imperative:

If one was to accept this proposition, it is also interesting to see how the world around us constantly reiterates it. Forget sweet boxes at weddings, which are supposed to be decorated. Think instead of the tree with red lights enclosed in PVC winding around it. It's not a universal sign, but it is popular ornamentation for a range of service providers, from dhabas to taxi-stands. In part, it's there because it meets with the current trend of flashy, bright, bejewelled and sequinned. It attracts attention precisely because many of those who will see it are likely to find it visually appealing and react to it positively. Spray-painted blue carnations invite similar reactions and buyers, no matter how bizarre it seems to have bright blue flowers.

In India, carpenters, metal workers and a host of other similar professionals have traditionally known this anyway, resulting in stylised and ornamented products for daily use. Newer mass products now realise they need to actively invest in the visual. These cater to our fantasies, feed our imagination and make the aesthete in us dig into our pockets.

So then, is this consumerism, the evil vice of the last 100 years? No way, I would say. It's closer to a worldwide acknowledgement that the human species is a highly sensory one, with a particular affinity for the visual. We turn to our senses intuitively as guides, and many of our judgments are based upon this.

Speaking of reviews, I'm working on an update to this site. If you know of any linkable reviews that aren't on the reviews page (or if you can supply permission and text for any that aren't currently online), please let me know.

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