Friday, July 18, 2008

Loud and louder.

Indians are loud and devoid of good taste, by and large, and I'm not being snooty. We speak loudly. We play gratingly loud music at home as well as in our cars and our discos and other gatherings. We install loudspeakers at the slightest pretext without a thought to the inconvenience they may cause the neighbours. We shout at the top of our voices to call attention to ourselves. We converse without caring to listen to the person we are supposed to be talking to. Our conversations are seldom dialogues, mostly monologues. We interrupt others all the while. Even our Parliamentarians who, in the Nehruvian era, were a well-behaved and well-spoken lot, have turned into hooligans who hurl abuse and shoes at their adversaries on camera. Our preference for loud noise is making us more and more prone to overstatement (look at most of our mainstream movies). Subtlety, suggestiveness, wit and irony are increasingly becoming alien to us. On our music-related reality television shows the participants make a loud show of humility by touching the feet of their mentors and judges. They in their turn make loud comments about the performances, good, bad or indifferent. Our clothes are becoming ridiculously loud and garish. So is our sense of design and décor. Even our commercial breaks are louder than the ambient show from which the break is being taken. If my anti-loudness lamentation does not please you, let me leave you the legacy of this advice on 'Rhetoric' in pulpit oration on page 308 of The Port folio, a US-based literary magazine in the times of Thomas Jefferson defunct since 1827: "For the same reasons that harshness of tone is to be guarded against, laboured loudness is to be avoided. This is not speaking, but bawling; it is not elocution, but vociferation, which some preachers aim at this painful and unnatural exertion of the lungs; they mistake loudness for force, and noise for oratory." A good preach, all told, methinks.