Monday 15 October 2012

Why do we take comfort in uniformity? (A shout out for Literature)

Have you ever wondered why we are so crazy about synchronised marching, swimming, and dance steps?

Why we go ooh and aah when we see perfect synchronised movement?

I suspect it has something to do with our primeval instinct to hunt as a group.

Alexandra the Great was able conquer his empire with his phalanxes; so too did the Romans with their Legions. Success depended on the movement of many - in tight formations - fighting as ONE unit.

They routed opposing armies that fought as individuals en mass instead.

Man soon found the power of men marching in unison could be applied to production during the Industrial Revolution. Workers turned out to be more efficient if they perform repetitive tasks.

Something interesting happened to education during and after the Industrial Revolution. 

Prior to this, the purpose of education was much simpler - it's to foster the development of learned men. It's this liberation of the mind that allows Man to call himself civilised or cultured.

Today, in order to feed the insatiable demands of business and industry - all in the name of progress - lots of bumble bees and worker ants need to be trained and developed.
What course to take is not what we intrigues us; but which faculty's graduates' got the highest median pay after graduation. Which specialty has the best career prospects... The triumph of the precision of numbers again!

I was surprised and dismayed that our local public schools have "discouraged" students in selecting Literature as a subject for O' levels!? Thank goodness we have realised we have let benchmarking gone too far to the right! 

I don't blame the educators. I salute the few brave students who can think for themselves at such a young age! Thumbs up!

Of course it's harder to score distinction for Literature compared to Maths and Science subjects ,where the answers can be more precised, more synchronised so to speak.  

There are no right or wrong answers in Literature - its more about you backing your interpretations with sound arguments. What has grades got to do anything? I thought you studied Literature because you love the language and culture?

Take a look at the video above again. Are you still impressed with the participants or the choreographer?

For investors, have you noticed most guru investors are great with words? They provide us with memorable quotes or words of wisdom; and they write witty annual letters to shareholders and publish books that turned out to be classics. 

Would their outperformance be possible if they march in unison with the rest of the markets?


  1. HEY! I watched that same clip last week! Haha, when I watched it, I was super impressed with the choreography and the person shouting the commands! It's not an easy feat :)

    1. :)

      The humourous (it's actually not fun) thing about meditation and/or reflection is that I can snip off the obvious strings that were tied to my arms and legs.

      The downer is I now see the tenuous strings attached to my mind and heart. I've yet the courage to snip them off :(

  2. talk about synchronised event in olampic, i hate it! why they include it i don't bloody know. my hair all stand when they perform, don't ask me, i have no control over my hair.

    1. by the way, what it has to do with literature? i remember it was one of my subject studied but i don't recall i took the exam haha.

    2. From Literature,
      i learn that the person who suffers most or depraves of most on earth is not the person born into the poorest family but born an orphan. And is raised as an orphan in an orphanage.

    3. 1) temperament,

      Mine is from my theme song: When a man gets tied up to the ground, he gives the world it's saddest sound. (coconut, it's a metaphor)

      2) coconut,

      Nothing; and everything.

      Literature is nothing but ink on surface.

      It's everything as it records our humanity and our identity with our past and future.

      Camelot is to the English what Romance of the 3 Kingdoms is to the Chinese.

    4. reminds me of north korea culture performence, the chinese revolution dance and the nazi duck match!

      i think it was goose step and not duck match haha.

    5. coconut,

      You are good at sports too! A hustler at snooker too ;)

      You are the most "unique" individual I've come across. But this only proves you march in accordance to your own footsteps and rhythm!

      Dyslexic? Hey! Lao Lee is one too! You have played the hand you have been dealt superbly :)


  3. Hi SMOL,

    This blog post triggered a memory. Quite bizarre.

    When I called someone a philistine in secondary school, he said he wasn't a philistine and that he was a Singaporean... Many layers of interpretation here. Have fun. ;p

    1. Wow! AK!!!

      During secondary you already knew the Jedi mind trick to mess with other people's minds?

      What you did isn't so nice. If we repeat it as adults, we may get a punch!

      But it's the impetuousness of youth! Ah! How nice. Your friend probably deserved it. For you to use that word, I can imagine you must be pretty worked up then! LOL!

      It's a bit funny and sad at the same time; like me calling someone obtuse and he replied his is not fat!

    2. Now, think "The Smurfs": Lalalalalala Lalalalala... ;p

      Aiyoh, I just had a bigger vocabulary than most people my age (at that time). I cannot remember if I was worked up but I can remember I said it with a smile. I assure you I was quite polite. :)

    3. Impressive AK!

      I bow in deference.

      While in secondary, I have not learnt about gentle poke yet ;)

      If I knew the other meaning of "philistine", I would have used it as a double insult. No sugar coating.


  4. OK, I better write a disclaimer about this post.

    I am not "bashing" those of you who enjoys marching in step with a group he/she identifies strongly with.

    You belonged to the majority that receives constant affirmation, confirmation, and recognition from your group members.

    You are the lucky ones.

    I am merely doing some cheer-leading to those of us who feels out of place or tries very hard to fit-in.

    No, you are not different; you are just unique ;)

    With love.

  5. you just added to my anger, i remember the first day in sec school, a lot of us which is new, was random pick by the teacher to perform in youth's day, puiii! 10 months of practice just for that one stupid performance.

    it was like being selected to face the firing squad #$@&^#.

    1. but on the good side of it, i think it does help to certain degree in trading you know.

      i tend to go against the market all the time and after years of abuse (by the market), i learn to also synchronise with the market movement.

    2. coconut,

      Now that's being in-tune with the market.

      There's a time to fade it; and there's a time to go with the flow.

      I wish I can reach that stage one day. Baby steps :)

  6. Hi SMOL

    Human beings are mostly social creatures, we need to connect with people to be alive. Of course, there are exceptions. :-)

    Be well and prosper.

    1. Yes Panzer,

      Human beings have the social need to "belong"; and at the same time, we want our own "individuality" too!

      Best expressed through the clothes we wear ;)


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