Wednesday 18 June 2014

Food or Selfie - Which One Will it Be?

Sitting in my favourite coffee shop once again, thinking, something I do a lot of these days.  Been reading a couple of books lately about the wonders of the human brain and how it functions and the fight between proponents of theism and atheism.  Am I going to discuss the lofty heights both these  subjects reach?  No, of course not.  I wouldn't be able to give them justice.  Besides, I want to talk about something much more important - taking photos of food you're about to eat. Yes, folks, this phenomenon has been with us for sometime, but the ubiquitous use of mobile phones has increased the practice exponentially. 

Facebook is full of foodie pics. Why? Is it to torture your poor student friends who are in their dorm eating cornflakes with no milk or Maggie instant noodles with no flavouring? Or, maybe the person you are dining with is so darn boring, taking photos of food is a form of cerebral relief. 

Could you imagine going to see your friends for real and showing them a picture of what you had for breakfast.  They would give you a queer look and think, “Get a life,” but somehow posting it on Facebook etc. transforms you into an interesting informed foodie. 

I can almost understand it, if the dish was exquisitely presented and made from unusual exotic ingredients, but photography of a plate of fish and chips or Nasi Campur -  Really! 

Woe betide  any one eating before the unforgettable snaps      (in this case an oxymoron)  have all been taken, sacrosanct. 

Maybe some are documenting it in case it's their last meal, like a condemned prisoner awaiting their execution, so all the world can goggle over what they have consumed before they depart to the afterlife. (Makes me think, what is a perfect last meal? Is it better to be light - toast and marmalade or go out with a bang, a full blown 3 courser with all the bells and whistles - I transgress.)
Needless to say 99.9999..... % survive to eat another day.

Oh, the memories of using film for photography.  No indiscriminate shots of food those days.  It would have to be the level of a wedding banquet or a 21st birthday to justify the expense.

Maybe I'm being a little too harsh here. The average punter doesn't give it a lot of thought.  As long as you have a constant stream of info to amuse your friends ( or not ) on Facebook, that's all that matters.  

After reading most of the banality that passes for comment on social media, the occasional picture of food is fairly harmless and of course much, much better than that narcissistic selfie!    

Exquisite example of a bowl of light fluffy opaque over processed white rice. 

Sunday 15 June 2014

The Lost Art of Reading

The ironic part of this post is that the thrust of what I'm about to say most probably won't apply to you.  The simple fact you are looking at this means you obviously enjoy reading. 

Reading is an activity that most of us do, on a daily basis, without much thought.  We read the street signs going to and from work and school.  We read the daily news in print form, online or more likely, the headlines on television. 

Some of us are "Readers" and some of us are not.  What I mean to say is, only a relatively small percentage of the population read books for pleasure.  Is this a good thing?  You can argue either way, I suppose, but I know through my experience people  who read extensively are generally more knowledgeable and interesting to talk to.  Of course, that's a generalisation and I can hear you say from here that Uncle Freddy has never read a book in his life and he's interesting, the life of the party and knows everything about everybody and everything about everywhere.  True, but for all the Uncle Freddys' in this world, there are plenty of Nigel knows nothing.

Most of us start learning to read at school from early age.  We have to be able to read, if we want to learn from our text books and expand our knowledge and understanding of the world.  Very few enjoyed the experience though.  Reading can be tedious and boring for those who are have not developed the love for it by being exposed to their parent's bedtime stories.

Not long ago, I was in a senior high school classroom conducting a meet and greet session when I popped the question.  How many of you read books for pleasure?  Out of the class of 50, only two raised their hands.  Out of those two, only one read fiction novels.  You might be thinking to yourself, that's all very well, but these students are busy learning and spending time using their text books.  This is true up to a point but here is another example to ponder. 

In another senior class for English studies, the curriculum had designated only a single novel to be studied.  In the best class for that level, less than 50 percent bothered to read the book.  They relied on formulated answers for exam preparation to pass.  I would suspect this is not uncommon around the world.  Very few want to read for pleasure and even fewer want to read anything with substance. 

Is the art of reading dying?

Today's youth have access to television and computers.  To most, watching a movie is much more enjoyable than reading a story.

Movies are visual, of course and the information is fed to us by picture form and sound.  We can relax and let it wash over us in a manner that requires little energy or thought.  Books, on the other hand, require us to create an image inside our head through words that ignite our imagination.  It’s not passive information gathering; we have to work at it. 

The question to be asked then, ‘Is child development being hampered by not using reading as a tool for mental stimulation?’  This is not to say television or computers don’t hold an important place in the education development of the young, as they clearly do, but isn’t it like only having 4 senses to survive instead of 5?  We can be blind and still live, but we can’t see what the world really has to offer. 

Varied reading is like that.  It opens our minds up for us to see the many possibilities that exist.  It creates new worlds for us to explore; places and events that we may never be able to experience in real life but can dream about through the power of the written word.  Sadly, where I live, there is not a single book shop where I can go and buy a novel.  It's an ever increasing reflection on the dominance of other forms of media.  I'll leave you with this thought.

There is a tendency for authorities  around the world to attempt to control the content of electronic and printed media.  It is relatively easy to do.  By owning the TV stations and the press, you can feed the populous, pancakes instead of soufflĂ©.   Books, on the other hand, are much harder to censor. 

Life awaits you in this beautiful world of words.  Go and find out for yourself.