States of Matter. State that matters – An Explanation. And a joke!

This is the explanation for my previous post – States of Matter. State that matters. (click)

I do not believe in writing ambiguous posts, especially as part of the reason I write is to know how others and I view the same things differently. I believe, if not most, some people do have reasons for what they become/what they choose to become. And when the same things are viewed differently, it gives all the parties involved a chance to review what their belief systems are, and what are they based on. At the ‘end’ of the discussion, one may emerge more confident of the views held priorly, or less so. One may also feel insecure of new ideas if they threaten to upset the equilibrium of their life, which usually is very difficult to achieve, and this is probably also what contributes to the inertia we experience in reviewing and imbibing new ideas, apart of course, from the fact that whatever we currently know/think would be outcomes of numerous experiences, mistakes and rewards, which consolidate our confidence in our ‘own’ ideas. So with this short preface I seek to establish that on my blog, I wish to be understood precisely, and to understand the contributors equally precisely, though it will only rarely so happen that I change someone’s views, or someone, mine.

The only reason I had not included this explanation was the constraint of length of 18 SMSes. Also I did not want to dilute the spontaneity of my ideas by inserting technical explanations for abstract analogies, for it is ever so rare that I come out with posts, which I feel rather than think. I had planned to clarify the analogies as a part of my replies to comments, but I realized, I needed to also come up with a detailed explanation of what I meant through each analogy.


Fluid. By ‘fluid’ I did not mean weak or flexible. For one talks of flexibility only when there is a shape one could identify with.

By gradients of availability, I meant rushing in for things only because they are available. An avarice for things without pausing to think if we want/need them or possessing them would make us any happier.

A simplistic, but illustrative example is weddings, where so many times people take so much ice cream that they cannot finish it. Mind you, I am not talking here of etiquette, or health hazards of gluttony, or wastage of food, which are separate issues in themselves, but of a weird kind of opportunism. An opportunism that does not even serve our interest! But the sheer pleasure of enjoying something unearned, and probably undeserved (which is contentious, though), but worst of it all, undesired and unrequired! If that ice cream would be required or desired, not so much of it would be found wasted in the plates at the end of the parties!

By falling into next empty space, I was talking of the same opportunism, but manifesting itself differently. Flattery, imitation and insincere agreement. Others’ needs for praise and approval are like empty spaces, and on spotting an opportunity (availability) they can be filled! They can be filled instantly and effortlessly, only because this fluid is guided by a gradient. It does not have its own ideas or opinions (no shape), or probably does not value them enough. Does not have any attachments or committed loyalties (no place), and hence has nothing to lose when it goes and occupies the next available space.

This fluid comes in contact with a vast expanse of surfaces, always leaving a trace of wetness (good impression). But it itself never knew what it stood for or against. Its attraction for things (gravitation) was its only guiding force.

The structure called self is a composite of ideals, desires, opinions, tastes, distastes, preferences, and a conscience but most important, a recognition and subsequent acknowledgment of all of these. By surrendering them to the ‘demands’ of opportunity and availability, this structure collapses, and that is what I had meant by to fall, in fact the collapse of an identity called ‘self’ is so profound that all shapes and senses of location and direction are lost, whereas as a person grows, it is expected that they accumulate more ideas, ideals, opinions, loyalties and attachments (climbing).

By evaporation, I did not mean destruction or death, but a total loss of identity of the ‘self’.

Passively plastic. A passively plastic person also lets their ideas and opinions get shaped according to external forces. There is nothing wrong with allowing external ideas to shape one’s opinions, in fact, without the action of external forces, not many ideas can be formed. But when one holds them only to fit into a collective/communal identity, then they lose their own ideas and aspirations. The identity of the individual is supplanted by the perceived identity of a community (mold). The driving force here is the willful assumption of a preformed, assembly-line-manufactured identity, even at the cost of losing one’s ‘real’ native identity, without a sense of remorse.

How is this deformation allowed, or rather sought?

Probably because the original shape was not loved enough? It did not receive assent from coexistence with a number larger than zero, that is, owing to being unique (‘one’)?

This can extend right from “a feminist needs to defend everything a female does” to “secular people have to side with the ‘minorities'”; from “doctors ‘should’ be dressed in formals” to “‘hip’ people ‘need’ to wear low-waist jeans”; from “you need to agree with everyone if you are broadminded” to “learn to say ‘whatevah’ if you are above the rest of petty people, and close to attaining ‘nirvana’ to firmly establish you do not care about their existence or their opinions”

Reactively plastic. This simply implies trying to be different from others. It does not matter if what I end up is different even from my ‘real’ self. The only priority is a need to stand out. To be a ‘trend-setter’, fully forgetting that trend would also be followed only by opportunists and those seeking the shelter of a collective, without ever respecting the very same shelter.

Rigid. This is what I need to personally guard myself against the most. I know what I want. I know what I like. But I also know, the world is not going to act according to my wishes. I will not the get the kind of education system I want. I will not get as friends, people as honest as I would want. I will not work at places whose ethics would be in alignment with mine.

Because all these systems are too rigid to yield. Whether they are more correct, or I, is a different matter. What matters is that their walls and my contours are incongruent.

And if I barge into these systems brazenly, unprepared, it will be me that would be hurt. Both physically and emotionally. Gradually, I will start giving up. What were originally my aspirations would no more remain so. What I used to find pleasurable, would turn into pain.

As an example, I find it extremely immoral to simply memorize some fact and write/mark that as an answer in exams, without understanding its cause or significance. It, according to me is nothing short of copying. What is the difference? How is not knowing and copying wrong, but not knowing and pretending to know, right?

But I need to survive. I cannot change the exam system according to my wishes. In its confines, memorizing, without understanding is alright, or maybe, also admirable.

That brings me to elasticity. Elasticity is not absolute deformability, which is actually plasticity, but an ability to return to its original shape. A rubber band is elastic not because it can be stretched, but because it can recoil back. So possibly, elasticity lies somewhere between two extremes of plasticity and rigidity.

Deformability would entail that I will need to compromise on occasions. To fit in, to survive, to make life fulfilling. But same time listening to my conscience, to let it pinch, to not silence it, which will remind me that I had betrayed the ‘self’–my ideals, original aspirations, which I had loved. All this because the circumstances (edges and corners) had forced me to change. But also to remember that choice of fitting in and compromising were both mine, and mine alone.

Important is to not drown my conscience in “It’s okay!”. To remember to not compromise the next time out of force of habit, or simply knowing that a simpler route exists.

So yes, elasticity is indeed deformable rigidity, and thus by default a moderate property between the two.

Self-love. This is the trickiest to define. To love the self, first, it is important to recognize the ‘self’. Self is the innermost desires, doubts, the knowledge of what I like, what I hate, what I want to do. And if possible, also ‘why’? But this assessment needs to be most honest. Most of what constitutes ‘self’, calls for some action or reaction, be it, lazing late till afternoon on a holiday or ‘fighting the system’. To understand that it is alright for those actions to be directed by the desires, but within such a framework that very same actions will not bring ‘me’ shame in my own eyes.

Ultimately all actions have to serve the upkeep of self-image. If I love my ‘self’, I will make a most honest assessment of it. If not, I will try to shield it from my own scrutiny, or to distort it. The moment I try to distort it, I know, there is something that I do not like. Either I try to change it, or accept it as my limitation/deficiency.

Loving the self does not amount to serve primal-most self-interest to the exclusion of anything that entails sacrifice for the good of someone else, which if seems ‘right’, and not doing so, ‘wrong’, then it is indeed congruent with my desire to somewhere make a change outside of ‘me’.

This might seem too mechanical way of living–the loving-the-self-part, but actually it still is the most spontaneous expression of the ‘self’, just that it passes from under a screen of introspection. 🙂


A sinister, sadistic, half-asleep-from-previous-night’s-binge-examiner eyes neatly dressed, frightened, semi-prepared students of final year MBBS exam, standing before him in mock respect, but genuine awe, and thinks: WTF?

Neatly dressed, frightened, semi-prepared students of final year MBBS exam, standing in mock respect, but genuine awe, eye a sinister, sadistic, half-asleep-from-previous-night’s-binge-examiner, and think: WTF!

Examiner’s WTF? = Who to flunk? | Student’s WTF! = WTF!

11 thoughts on “States of Matter. State that matters – An Explanation. And a joke!

  1. Whats this all about? The comments and the post are totally unrelated and by the time I’ve reached here after reading 6 posts back to back and another 22 comments, I don’t know what did I want to say in the first place?

    And whatever comments have been deleted, Gayathri Maam’s name still remains 🙂 he he…

    I think I liked the part about Elasticity. If I take the analogy you mention, obviously Elasticity appears to be the most appropriate trait to possess.

    But in all this talk about GM food, obviously it should be labelled. You need to know what you’re eating.

    But honestly, my problem is a far larger one. I can’t understand why does Brinjal have to be shipped into India? Why can’t India produce enough Brinjal for it’s people? And if it doesn’t why do you only have to eat Brinjal?

    Imagine a Brinjal produced in a small village outside Bombay and harvested and sold in Mumbai the next morning and consumed within a few days of being harvested. I guess, this is ‘natural’. By natural I mean that only the resources that were necessary were used in producing the item and it was consumed in normal course of time before it could get stale.

    Compare this to a Brinjal produced in a foreign land, which is packed and stored in climate controlled places which consume large electricity and give out gases that could increase Global warming. Then this brinjal is shipped by burning large amounts of fossil fuel to India in the same climate controlled environment continuing to burn huge amounts of fuel and at the same time polluting the environment with emissions. And after a few days or weeks, you find it in a supermarket again in a climate controlled place sold.

    The actual carbon footprint of this brinjal could be actually even more than what your or my carbon footprint would be for a month. Is this the ‘natural’ way of consuming stuff?

  2. Hi Rakesh!

    Yes, somehow the comments veered far away from the original topic!

    And let me see, what I could do with Gayathri ma’am’s name! 😉

    I can’t believe you read all the comments! But then, you obviously read them!

    Yes, elasticity is like the ‘customized, optimized middle path’! Especially, vis-a-vis, rigidity and plasticity. 🙂 But everyone’s elasticity could differ in how much they allow themselves to be rigid v/s plastic.

    Regarding Bt brinjal, I didn’t know they were to shipped into India! Really! If that’s the case, then it’s totally ridiculous! I’d thought that the company would be marketing genetically modified seeds!

    And yes, I too am totally in for labeling. It is important to recognize that labeling would be more for safeguarding the interests of the farmers rather than the consumers!

    Thanks a lot for your insightful comment and reading so many posts despite your tight schedule! (I know it’s sounding excessively formal, but then I sincerely mean it! 🙂 ).

    Take care.

  3. Ketan: I read your posts in awe. I sincerely hope that one day when I’m a big girl I’ll be able to philosophise as you do.

    Then again, I’m not good at thinking at that level of concentration. Being usually only able to follow a thought from A through to B, and then if I’m feeling particularly intelligent pushing on through to C (C for conclusion!). That’s the full extension of my thought process. A-B-C.

    What provoked a thought however, was your comment on plasticity, rigidity and elasticity.

    I would consider myself elastic. I cannot elucidate from your comment on non-absolute deformability, whether or not you view it as a positive attribute or not?

    I am secretly proud of my elasticity.

    Mostly because, after my 28 years on this planet I am grateful that I have learned that taking the moderate approach makes for a more comfortable existence. I have learned to pick the moments where I reveal my “self-ideals”, and that NOT revealing them is not felt as a compromise of my ideals, rather as a sign of my maturity! 🙂

  4. Hello, Dr. S!

    It was really nice and relieving to have your comment on my blog after such a long time! I was worried if any of my comments had miffed you!

    Though, I’ve not really recommended anything for others as this was a self-directed post, I do view conscious elasticity as the best mode of existence. What I mean by ‘conscious’ here is being aware the compromises in ideals one is making in a given situation, and not to forget them only because they would be compromised upon in an instance. This is what would enable us to embrace them back when we no longer need to compromise! 🙂

    Personally, for most part of my life, I had been more inclined to rigidity, and that’s what I must guard myself against! So personally, I do not approve of rigidity for myself, not because it is immoral (possibly, is most moral of all the positions), but because it is impractical and is incompatible with fulfilling survival in the world amidst the kind of people we have!

    You’d been able to understand the series of these posts so well and expressed your ideas so precisely, I didn’t really see a need for your disclaimer of thoughts from A to B to C! 🙂

    And BTW, how have you been?

    And by any chance, did you turn 28 quite recently? In that case, wish you a very happy b’day!

    Thanks a lot!


  5. My birthday was on the 26 OCtober…so yes, I did turn 28!

    I’m so worried about my blog…finding it increasingly difficult to post. I’m scared that it’s dying! The last few months I’ve only managed one a week! I suppose it’s about quality rather than quantity right?

    Also – I’m very impressed with the tech-savviness of your blog. HOW DO YOU DO IT? I’m so ignorant about all this stuff!

    And no dear, none of your comments would ever “miff” me. 🙂

  6. Dr. S,

    You did not compliment me for my such an astute reading of your comment that out of 365 days in a year, I missed the mark of your b’day only by two days! 😉

    Are b’days celebrated in South Africa? If so, how did you celebrate yours?

    The fact that you’re worried about the death of your blog itself is reason enough you shouldn’t worry! Blogs die when their authors stop loving them, and your blog is not showing any such signs. 🙂

    Yes, quality is more important, and not just of posts, but also of readers! 😉 And most important is spontaneity. 🙂

    Personally, owing to my preparation-related concerns I’ve greatly but down on blogging and commenting.

    Is my blog tech-savvy? Well, I take it a compliment! Possibly, it could be so among medico’s blogs, but not otherwise! I keep on exploring new ideas, that’s all!

    By giving a blanket dismissal of my ability to miff you through comments, you’re only provoking me into trying even harder! 😛

    Have a great day!

  7. I truly truly agree and identify with every word you have written in this post.It is as if you have so nicely word smithed my thoughts.
    Sorry got nothing to add……so beautifully and rationally expressed…

  8. @ Sunil:

    Thanks a lot! It means a lot to get such high praise from a sincere reader like you. 🙂

    In matters of philosophy, agreement is the highest form of praise. So thanks, again! TC

  9. Pingback: States of Matter. State that matters. « Neglected Serendipity

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s