Rigged and Rigmaroled

As We Journey Through the Daily Grind

The Conventionality of Unconventionalism

Posted by Rani on July 10, 2009

The “oh (s)he’s so unconventional” tag is broadly applied to people in one or more of the following categories:
a. those with multiple piercings, beyond the “conventional” ear lobes
b. those with tattoos
c. those in off-the-beaten-track careers, like a DJ or a wildlife conservationist (ahem)
d. those who listen to rock, particularly of the death metal kind
e. those who dress “different”, whatever that means

There is this tendency to label you, as it were, on primarily external and obvious “symptoms”. And the average unconventional, oxymoronic as that may be, also tends to feel the need to conform to the stereotypes of the Unconventional. But the very act of conforming makes you conventional, albeit with different standards.

I believe if you want to be unconventional, you can’t. Its not an aspirational goal. You either are or not. And a true unconventional cannot be defined, thereby defying categorization and labelling.

I find such people fascinating, you can never understand them or analyse. And its not because they try either, they simply are. Too often, its seen as a “bad thing” or “different” but the entire concept of the uniqueness of human nature stands violated if it were otherwise. The flower children were not unconventional, they were simply anti-establishment and different from the norm of the day, but within the circle of love, one was largely like the other, thereby contradicting the unconventional tag, and hence also contradicting the “too different is bad” line of thought.

As with many things, the (un)conventionality depends on which side of the fence you look from. Aah. Another variable in the complexity of human equations.

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5 Responses to “The Conventionality of Unconventionalism”

  1. baruk said

    …most of the wildlife types i knew were extremely conservative, very conventional types. gang from the iisc. interesting people, though.

    you into conservation?

    • Rani said

      Oh, what I had meant was more the tree-hugging, lying-on-my-stomach-in-the-dirt-to-see-a-worm kinda guys. Interestingly, the IISc guys description, for me, was the unconventional. Hence the point that it really depends on where you look at it from.

      And me, I cant really say I’m into conservation per se, though I’m a big fan of the entire wildlife scene and getting back to nature. You know I’ve been to Khaziranga and Corbett? Okay, now I’m just showing off 😦

  2. Vamsi said

    Hi Rani! Nice observation I must say! Like you said, conventional or not is entirely dependent on the perspective. Once again, we encounter a set of opposites which are irreconcilable because the one completely depends upon the other for its own existence. Since there’s really no absolute definition for conventional it simply remains the opposite of unconventional – very, VERY relative!

    • Rani said

      Hear hear! And I like your point — its like you cant define darkness except as the absence (or opposite) of light. Of course, that’s not *always true — the classic good-is-more-than-just-the-opposite-of-evil theory 🙂

      But I sooo agree with the relative bit. About time we stopped judging others, eh? My meat really *can be your poison, or the vice-versa!

  3. Rani said

    Aaaand, it seems modesty, like unconventionalism, is an either-you-are-or-you’re-not kinda trait (albeit with subtle variations)

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/maybe-its-just-me/201012/the-paradox-modesty
    …the statement “I am modest” seems to be contradictory, for claiming to be modest is itself immodest! In other words, modesty is unique among the virtues in that it demands the modest person underestimate his or her self-worth…

    Of course, the article goes on to disprove that last line (underestimating one’s self-worth) but the basic premise remains. It’s not a state you can “boast” of!

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