Everyday Oxymorons: My wish list

An oxymoron is a figure of speech that juxtaposes elements that appear to be contradictory. It is better explained by example: Living dead, alone together, same difference, deafening silence etc. 

I think I first heard the word oxymoron in seventh or eighth grade. How wonderful, I thought, it is to have two absolutely opposing words operate in complete conjunction with one another. The words that in my mind were sworn enemies, each trying to negate the other with their illusory guns, were standing right next to the other, displaying supportive intimacy. It is heartening, really. So oxymorons became my proof for all sorts of theories on universal harmony and balance. In a way, I started thinking of them like literary yin yangs.

I mean, seriously, they’re perfect. They’re a curious combination of words but they fit in so well that their oddity isn’t typically discovered until pointed out. You can pass off astonishing combinations of words together by pretending you’re being oxymoronic (the oxy- makes all the difference.) They embody the phrase “to eat your cake and have it too”. They’re so perfect, so utopian that I started to wonder if they could exist at all.

In a fit of overdrive, I applied oxymorons to everyday life. I embarked on a quest to find polar opposite things that not just coexist but also give strength to the other. I returned with the opposite. I returned with things that I wish would magically garner the wisdom of oxymorons. You know when you have to make a choice between two stupendous things, because even though you like them both very much, they do not seem to like each other? This is a list of such stuff. Stuff that you wish was as quixotic as an oxymoron.

Therefore presenting to you my wish list of everyday oxymorons aka combinations of beautiful but opposing stuff that I hope could one day live together:

Trees, Paper

This one has been said before. They’re both boons to humankind, essential for survival and civilization, respectively. However one of them must be unabashedly murdered for the other to be born. There are solutions though. Digitizing paper is ecologically beneficial. So I suppose we could stop the war by obliterating paper itself. But well, it isn’t a solution that brings contentment.

Free information and sharing, copyright

It’s true. Whether the excuse was convenience, laziness, unavailability of the said material or genuine poverty, we all have at some point indulge in some act of piracy. Okay, I shan’t generalize. A large faction of people indulge in all sorts of piracy. It seems like a utopian ideal, doesn’t it? A world where content i.e. “knowledge and culture” isn’t charged. But then comes the creator. Someone who has put in a lot of creative cells into the said project. Someone for whom the project is their source of income. And every pixel/alphabet/frame/other appropriate monomeric unit must be justly attributed as their intellectual property. But how does one implement that in a world of screenshots and forwards? I find this a confounder.

Individuality, Equality

This is not a tangible example, but I found it relevant nonetheless.  They aren’t opposites in the good-bad, sun-rain usage of opposites, but I seem to find that they do not exist together. Individuality seems to promote distinctions and equality does bear a close, undeniable relation to monotone. But they’re both perfectly good qualities. Individuality is an expression of being a unique life organism and a display of our hopes, dreams, desires. Equality is absolutely necessary in any society that claims a moral background. I wish there was a way where individual tendencies are highlighted and exalted but not judged unequal.

Stars, light

I have kept my personal heartbreaker for the end.

This doesn’t make sense right? How are stars and light adversaries? Stars are sources of light even. But wait, I have some logic, I assure you. Lights and stars are unarguably awesome and very necessary for human civilization. They’re often used as symbols for knowledge, progress, enlightenment. Lately however, the stars aren’t very visible in the sky, especially if you’re living in a metropolis. Some sort of idiotic pollution. Light pollution, in fact. The lights from cars, buildings shining in the night reflect in the sky and create a skyglow that hides the stars. It is a literal, vast glowing dome that exists over cities and towns. Now, I don’t find shutting off all lights in a city every night appealing. The lights are necessary, useful, beautiful even. But I’ve always dreamt of seeing the stars every night to. So I am conclusively stuck. (Of course there are attempts at solutions, better lighting, more focused lighting, etc. But they aren’t even remotely satisfactory. Who knows though, one day..)

Well, that’s just four things. But four items do make a list. I am sure however, that there are many more oxymorons I would love to wish true. I don’t know what the point of this list is but there is a point out there. An important one. Maybe its a lesson that there doesn’t have to be one right answer in multiple answers. Maybe this helps dispel the theory that stuff (ugh I need an alternative word for ‘stuff’ and ‘things’ ) is simply black or white. So maybe, just maybe, what oxymorons are actually trying to tell us that outwardly conflicting ideas could co-exist.

Oxymorons, the figure of speech which reveals the philosophy of life.

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Popcorn.

Do I like popcorn? Yes, I guess. Isn’t popcorn one of those foods you are universally obliged to like? Its the ultimate movie snack, for one. And the smell, that of a melted butter fountain erupting in Disneyland. Not to forget the most characteristic of popcorn properties, the “pop” sound. The way it almost might be the tune of your favourite song (almost). The way the sound pauses for just a second, and when it continues you feel like how the heart beep machine in the movies goes: A long terrifying straight line, followed by a sudden blimp.

Eating popcorn isn’t eating popcorn, its an experience. To stick your nose against the foggy microwave glass (I don’t actually stick my nose against it, it might be hot and yes, I’m a slight coward) and watch the wrapper as it unfolds itself. The excitement builds up in your stomach as the packet builds itself up. Given how much we know  of the universe, it could actually be a minimalistic version of the Big Bang.

Its beautiful, its exciting, its the next highest grossing blockbuster movie and you’ve used up a lot of precious time reading about what you’ve (in most cases) seen before. But what does popcorn taste like? Buttered popcorn is butter, salted popcorn is salt, cheese popcorn is cheese, caramel popcorn is something that’s trying to be caramel. But where is the popcorn?

My hypothesis: Popcorn is only there in your head. It is that extra zingy advertisement that sells you the World’s Best Electronic Plant that you don’t really need. Popcorn is the sum total of your excitement, your fascination, your awe and your imagination. Only the calories are provided in the packet.

So is popcorn <gasp> a bad thing? I would hazard a no. Its does give you the joy of anticipation and an opportunity to jump up and down and be all wide eyed. And I have always been a defender of unwarranted optimism.

Have you notice that futuristic scifi robotic movies are always so distant, dry and drab? It scares me! Why will humans suddenly stop loving colours and creativity? I love technology but that does not stop me from appreciating colour, art or the sunshine. There is an erratic quirkiness of life that is so visible in our small joys.

The sun, the stars (barely visible), some graffiti, an aimless walk, a illegible doodle, a happy dance, a book you’ve read a zillion times already, and some popcorn as well. This is stuff you do not associate yourself with because of any purpose or motive, but simply because you want to. These are things that take you away from the clockwork of reasons and compulsions into a rollercoaster world of choices.

So if you don’t like popcorn, you might just be a robot.

(Disclaimer: Before you seethe in anger and denounce my views, remember, I’m not a fine connoisseur of food. My extent of knowledge goes up to knowing the difference between chocolate and asparagus, and that serves me adequately. In short, I’m being a know it all when I know nothing at all.)

Also, first blog post! Yes yes yes! This is a good feeling.