Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Waste and flavour

There is a specific type of delusion about the world that there is a lot of waste in a lot of processes, and if we could just find and eliminate all that natural waste, we could do life much more efficiently. Juice the world down to its essential components, its vital nutrients, and we could live an austere life of drip-fed, neon-bright super-efficiency. We were promised meals in pills, in the mistaken belief that most of what we ate was pointless, presumably evidenced by poop. We laugh at that now, but we still try to do it. We want shorter books that give us the essential message in easy-to-digest morsels. 22-minute TV shows have become 90-second YouTube videos of the funny bits. We tweet in 140 characters or less. We are trying to squeeze down the whole world to cram 6 billion people's days into our eyeballs and ears every waking hour.

But when you cut something away, you always lose something unknown. Flavour. Nuance. Character. How many times have you watched the story "boy meets girl, they fall in love, then they fight, but then get back together"? Could you even pinpoint a specific movie from that? Of course not. So what do you get from watching that same basic story over and over? We keep telling it with new characters, new settings, new dialogue, new hooks. The core is the same. Shave it down to that, and you lose everything you keep living for. You know the world already, or at least the skeleton of it. You're missing the flesh because we declared it irrelevant and keep trying to get rid of it.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - That's not to say there's not legitimate waste in the world.
PPS - Just that we overestimate how much of our world is waste.

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