The Museum of Vestigial Desire
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Value tags: value sshop

Exchange can only happen when there is an agreement on a common notion of value. Establishing this common notion is an important role and function of culture. This function is performed very slowly and sometimes take a whole generation. Because of the speed of this operation, any possible change of the common notion of value is almost impossible. But still most of us hold on to their notions of value dearer than their notions of themselves. I would like to design games (not digital,…

Distraction tags: cloud

Attention is concentrated focus that is applied towards the thinking of anything. If we have less attention, we are more distracted. If we have more attention, we are are less distracted.

But attention is the currency of interaction. If we do not have this currency, we are not able to play any significant part in the world.

To accumulate currency in a distracted way would mean that one becomes a channel and not a collector. A collector accumulates, a channel merely allows passage.

Allowing passage and accumulating attention only via the trace deposit of the process allows us to be distracted and at the same time accumulate attention.

We can be channels, we can be distracted and we can accumulate attention at the same time.

But what will we do with all the attention? Because we do not want to be focussed and we want to be distracted in the first place.

We will use attention only as leverage to get what we want. We are aware of the value of attention. The media conglomerate and the attention economy is based on their ability to deflect and absorb attention in desired ways.

But what do we want? We want to stick around. We want to manage.

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Fellowship tags: remot-sensing

The Museum of Vestigial Desire announces a fellowship process for editors, readers and designers. For people who play all the three functions at the same time. The process of the fellowship will include selection of texts from our archive, editing the texts in correspondence with the authors and the design of the final publication. We will commit to producing and distributing the book each fellow produces. Archives need to produce records constantly in order to have certain marker of time…

Conversation tags: gate

Even if conversation never happens, the possibility exists. Because of this possibility, we engage and participate in conversations all the time. But what is a conversation really? A conversation is not just a dialogue with a multi-party contribution. Even if it says nothing, it happens as an outbreak of partnership. Even if no exchange happens, a partnership gets established. This partnership does not have any deep significance. A contribution is not valuable by default. That is where the…

Reputation tags: dentures

How are you known? How has your name become your handle in a very literal sense, your handle being the instrument by which you are pulled into surfaces, pushed out of anonymity. Your name used to have a meaning when you were born, but now it has been repeated so often that it has become a mere marker, appellation, label on the box. It has actually even taken on these dark undertones, these associations which are nothing short of evil. These undertones come back to you when you manage to sleep and when you actually manage to sleep. In the dreams, your name becomes a spell and a chant. Which is which you do not know, but sometimes it is repeated a million times and nothing happens except that you go into a trance and sometimes it is spoken just once and everything breaks lose.

In this muddled game you even think sometimes of how others think of you. Your reputation factors in your world view as if it were not a systematic form of distortion but actually something real. Of course distortions are also real, they have residing within them ghost images of other things for sure. But no one sees the ghost image, they are seen with pure artefact value, as a pure anomaly.

But even when you are living within a belief system, even when you stare only at the ghost image, enthused with the emotion of convincing yourself that it is real, the distortion defeats you. Because it is fragile. It is always under attack. Because at any given time, only a certain number of reputations can be loaded and mounted into a system. If you are in you are already on your way out. On the other hand if you are standing outside in the cold, at anytime at all somebody might let you in. Somebody might open the door.

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Scarcity tags: worm

Classically value is derived from scarcity and not function. Scarcity is just a parameter of limited distribution. Limited distribution is a symptom of inefficiency. Sometimes it is just not possible to distribute efficiently. Numerous road-blocks present themselves. Difficulty of access, the uncertainty of a potential for transaction and such other factors emerge. Sometimes nodes in the network refuse to present themselves for trade and then the entire network of trade gets broken. To convince…

Soft Architecture tags: flesh

Many consider soft architecture to be the software layer of architecture in which reals methods and materials adapt software frameworks that are developed and then the physical forms are developed. But soft architecture has nothing to do with software. It has something to do with the soft layer of our existence. The layer which is programmed by experiences, memories, intuition and narrative. Architecture is equal parts soft and hard architecture. What cannot be dealt with is somewhere a problem of capacity and calibre. Here we examine spaces which have become templates of how they come to be and what their purpose is by being denied their soft dimensions.

Ideally these two should not be distinguished. They are part and parcel of the same experience. There are no clearly demarcated boundaries between hard and soft ways of doing architecture but there are certain variables that are often given up on or are not dealt with because they are too complex and the architect lacks a way of dealing with them.

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Optics tags: lens

What do we see? And do we see it? It is true that we only experience the remnant flavour of the nature of our vision in our dreams. The quality of our dreams is very important. We seem to be able to choose what we see in a pretty simple way, but there seems to be no way to choose our dreams. Textbooks explain that dreams are only re-synthesized memories. In CINEMA we have already laid out an argument against that perspective.

And that is where the concept of a LENS helps us hold on to as well as walk away from the field as it exists. Our minds are lenses, if nothing else. Everything we manage to see is through the faculties of our minds. If our minds are programmed in specific ways, our experience will have that specific flavour. And there is no way to work on our minds directly. It is like shooting at a figure, when you can see them in a mirror. All the figures we can see are only reflections in the mirror.

We work on our mind only by applying it in specific directions. Practices are directions. Writing, Thinking, Walking - each is a practise because we can script the actions, but not the experience. Ways of performing practices can be gestured towards but the content has to emerge.

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Laboratories tags: structure

Laboratories are spaces for iterative development of solutions for pre-defined problems. They also reserve the right to forget about the problem at hand totally and become spaces for play and exploration. Laboratories are essential spaces for academic tendencies to breakout of their non-stick, hands-free character and become viruses which can effect lives at large and not impose philosophical biases about the trajectories they lead to. Laboratories are wedded forever to a certain idea of industry and enterprise. If business was to be biologically grown and not fuelled by entrepreneurial lust and social warfare then maybe laboratory spaces would be of a different nature, maybe they would even be farms with ample sun and fertile soil.

Laboratories of course can also be oblivious to all of this and design a process with chaos and disarray at the foreground. It can be seen as a clown's errand, a halfway house between a space for therapy and full-scale nihilism. Doing so takes a lot of strength, so much strength that no one has been able to do it yet in the whole world. There was a time in the past when this strength did exist and such laboratory spaces did exist and that time is the sole reason for nostalgia still being meaningful. In that time there were no shared set of goals, no common objectives, humanity was a lost cause and any guess was good enough. The troops rallied in any direction that was clearly pointed out. The group dynamics was wonderfully cheerful. As no one had the answer and everyone was equally lost there was no diabolical layer to society. Politics was not about image manipulation in a terrain where no one was a star, but rather it was a game of chance where it did not really matter because nobody really cared and nobody really had any secretive schemes for taking over and displacing anybody else. Important decisions were taken over casual discussions over a marked table at the local bar. These decisions were then conveyed to the person who happened to be in charge and like a diligent clerk, the person went about implementing those decisions.

But the laboratories that we present here do not have too much to do with these histories. Maybe a little bit but not much. These individual specific laboratories do not even have distinct human minds looking after them. These are rooms in this building where diseases of different kinds can breakout, these are algorithms for predicting the pathways of outbreaks that may happen. When experiments go wrong here and things explode, things still have the potential energy to fly off in the right direction. Things still have a fair chance to conveyer belt that is connected to the main switchboard. These explosive fragments are charged with the laboratory's infectious ambience. In a way the laboratory travels in the particles of the dust, smoke and powder of things falling apart.

Laboratories do not necessarily invoke any cultural traditions at the first instance. Science, technology, industry, secrecy might be part of the history, might be embedded in the backstory but these do not enslave the idea of the laboratory, only co-inhabit it. Such co-habitations are many many and we would only be able to trace out a few here. These traces will emerge and get drawn out of things we do here and also the things we don't of course but also the things we merely sketch in words, merely write about. Because things being the way they are we figure that if you have to die you can die as much from holding a well-sculpted shred of thought in your head as you can from a bullet-wound.

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Superhero tags: sand shop

The superhero is thought to be a person endowed with special powers, abilities, temperament or wealth. Such endowments help the person overcome extraordinary challenges and come through as a leader for the mindless masses of the world. The superhero is necessary a hero and is interested in being good and is interested in victory and positive PR in some form. We have a superhero amongst us. This superhero has no special abilities. We still see something super in what he manifests in his…

Journals tags: barometers

Journals record the content that consciousness produces. These records are not plain and attempts at representation but rather they attempt to mount a web of discourse into view. A view available for examination and a view that is ready raw-material for history to weave its stories out of. These webs of discourse are like theatre, with figureheads who each seem to stand for a position and nuance of their own. From the world of simulation and modelling, journals are actually model simulations of a world with contrary opinions, hard-line politics and reputations built on them. Each journal tries to inherently be the friction and the noise that emanates when ideas with degrees of variation in their world-view have to acknowledge that they cannot be completed without the other. After movements orchestrated to differentiate and distinguish themselves they have to now make peace with other perspectives and agree to forge a landscape together.

Rather than become mastheads themselves journalists are lighthouse keepers who agree to abide by the inflammable friction that the journals contain. They agree to standby even with the risk of being engulfed by the fire that the friction could cause. And this is a real danger. As is the danger that the friction will subside and become just a rumble echoing from history. After a point, journals still have to remain what they claim to be. They cannot start short-tempered chases after social media brownie-points or financial market ambitions. They cannot suddenly desire to be stars in their own right, they have to commit themselves to being channels, like window-panes let the glass pass through. They cannot hope to become redundant specks of dust on the glass. Various rules apply to journalists. Besides the rules that relate to transparency and fidelity there are a bunch of rules that deal with fraudulent use of language. Journalists should be like lab-rats in the observatory of life. They should only relate authentic observations through media. Fabricated material ensures the death of the channel. On repeated violations of fraud they become nothing but stenographers. They become dependent on a voice that dictates something to them. They lose the capacity to write a single world on their own. They become like zombie-journalists, losing any individuality which they might have had.

Journals are maps of arguments, each journal is piece of fabric that holds the strands of a discussion together. But they are also stagings of fake dramaturgy. Stagings of the empty shells of superfluous construction of drama around empty ideas, not worthy even of consideration by the bored and idle otherwise. These are necessary too, of course, to populate the space of dullness, the off-white space that refuses attention and whispers, "go on searching, this is not where you stop." The moment when they whisper this, energies in the synthetic universe get balanced again and sighs of relief are heard all over, at least there is honesty in this space infested with namesake heroism.

Our journals are without much fanfare not interested in multiple voices, in the outside chance of discovering under published voices and becoming a platform for more bullshit than we know what to do with. We are not just self-obsessed, we genuinely find a satisfying kind of content in the mist of togetherness. Between Alishan and me, issues of journals only need to be transcribed from the radio of our misty heads. We do it one at a time and spread across months rather than days because we empathise with you and we want you to have adequate time for reflecting on each issue. We find calls for entries, invitations for content sent out into the vacuum of hope and unknown genius tiring and wasteful. If we already have an idea of what we want, why don't we do ourselves a favour and just deliver it to ourselves. Our journals are webs of postures that Alishan and me strike when we play amateur theatrics. And being such ardent fans of excellence in theatre we pour ourselves fully into our postures. We literally bend our psyches out of all their elasticity.

Rid of the imposed responsibility of having to discover other voices and promote the voices once discovered, we feel free and light. So light that we can dance around the few pages of our journal with a free-footed ease that betrays the betrays flavour in our heads. We know how to shape the many-sided polygons of the complex nature of concepts that humans consume and into spherical pellets that can be swallowed whole. These pellets are nutritious, low-fat and high in fibrous-content. They are fully digested and there is nothing left for you to shit out.

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Presence tags: fig-leaves

We still have hope from presence. When you take the trouble to withdraw yourself from everywhere and be here now, some intensity is definitely produced. You have tried to mimic presence many times and each time you have achieved marginal success. Some parameters of presence do successfully get mimicked. In the long run, you have hope to achieve presence through an entirely synthetic means, by either illusion or some extrapolated simulation project. But this hope will be quashed like an ant…

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Cinema tags: bread soap-bubbles shop

Cinema, the original grand narrative which has tried to replace reality itself as a reference frame, is misguidedly celebrating that it has survived all these years. We hold this celebration to be a mistake. We believe a mourning is more in order. Mourning how over the years it has slid down from its pedestal of spectacular magic to becoming a random image on a fifteen inch screen that fills time between advertisements. Mourning how at one time it was actually a living manifestations of the urge to create a life-like fabric, with bends, folds, ruptures, tears and mirror-work. In the act of playing God, very quickly what happened was a break down of the shamanic aura to a material logic of what propels it, the wisdom of awe broke down to the very base conversation about the mechanisms and techniques. So when video offered a fraudulent image as an alternative, cinema got distracted for a moment. Cinema started talking about method, viewing experience and technical quality. Cinema should have remembered that people still go to spas, temples, churches and still crave for a little bit of insulation as long as it is coupled with mystery, sour suspense and emotion. The cinema theatre could have grown up from a popcorn restaurant to so many other things.

But now we have a television at a home and a television in a darkened room. We have home theatres at all because cinema theatres are nothing more. Even commercial jets offer a more adventurous experience. I go to the toilet on a plane and I flush the toilet and I know I am flying through air.

Cinema is deeply wedded to the idea of continuous narrative, an illusion of space, time and emotion. Where does this come from? How did anyone ever think of a storybook which one could stare at and go home with a complete dream running in the head. Insomniacs to this day watch movies all night long, because it is an experience so close to sleeping. Even wet dreams are possible. Cinema is sleep. Cinema is dream-time.

To lovers, embedded deep within the love moment, this will remind them of something else. It will remind of love itself. When you stare at another person and track the fluctuations in their gestures across temporal landscapes, you are experiencing cinema. The first war known to humankind started when she said to him, "You are my cinema."

But how do you experience this when you are sitting by yourself on a dry rock in the middle of what was once a river? Only lovers have the automatic, continuous supply of cinema. Other folk, the cynics, the religious, the traders, the romantic, have no way to ever know this person-propelled-cinema experience.

And the world of cinema, the world of cameras, lights, actors and simulated sex was made to mimic the world of lovers for others. What shall we call the others, we don't know. The desire to copy this world is an unfulfilled desire. Unfulfilled in perpetuity. Vestigial. And this leads us back to the source of the desire. It lives in the heart of yearning. The same organ in the body of our emotion that years for love, yearns for cinema. When you are looking into the eyes of your beholder you don't need to watch a movie.

The need to watch a movie arises in the moments that you are disoriented, lost, joyless, dry, opaque, idle, wasted or nonchalant. And no movie ever made has been able to address that itch. They try to substitute the cemetery of dry as a bone hearts with lush green fields of evergreen emotions. But the replacement only lasts till the movie lasts, the landscapes are reset after that. And because you can't rent an apartment in the middle of the limelight, can't be the movie star's next-door neighbour cinema is peddling biscuits to the dead baby. Just peddling biscuits to the dead baby.

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Source tags: corn

The source is important because everything came from there and everything goes back there.

At the source of everything is the space for contention. Where is it? What is it? Who can access it?

The source can also be denied, but that is very difficult. To perform denial we have to investigate each and every source that supplies the world with the primary materials and sentiments from which culture is generated and demonstrate that we come up with nothing. This process needs to be exhaustive and empirical, leaving no terrain uncovered and so it is a time consuming process.

The only other way to perform denial is to argue with the very need to model channels of supply as sources and then project critical importance on them.

We will flirt with both these ways.

The SOURCE book was published by Banner Repeater, commissioned by Banner Repeater and Orbits.com for Banner Repeater's serial journal UN-PUBLISH.

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Self tags: climax shop

Who are we? How do we know who we are?

Is there an absolute constant answer to these questions or only a wavering inconsistent one?

If there is an absolute answer then why are we not born with it? Why do we need to go around solving a puzzle and accessing a mythological landscape to know this answer? Why is the answer not immediate, why is it elusive?

How do we achieve the mastery over the knowledge required to know ourselves?

Answers to these questions are possible only after experiencing a deep personal stroke of a clarity that comes from self-observation and more important self-reading. How do we know? We read ourselves.

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Civilisation tags: distant memories

If there is to be a conspiracy theory, let it be about how the civilisation was mounted externally into Earth from somewhere out there. This idea was essentially an act of aggression. A simple and sustainable model of survival was disturbed in its infancy and replaced with another. An idea that perpetuates itself through the constant urge to improve, innovate and push further. Nothing is good enough and there is no day like tomorrow. The tomorrow that never comes. Narcotics, business, culture, everything owes its existence to this open, empty and fraudulent promise. Even consciousness is locked into this loop. At least in the form that it is channeled through beings in bodies. Sketching the conspiracy further, the idea was transmitted to our atmosphere by radio and once it was in the air all we had to do was breathe.

The idea is ripe for conspiracy-seeking because it doesn't add up, it doesn't seem stable but has been a part of our fabric for so long. It can't be rationalised by history, experience or biology. It is a purely alien idea that suddenly appeared in our midst and then strangely also became the central idea. Without the idea of civilisation, we wouldn't be restless, paranoid and be so anthropometric. These are defining conditions to forever lock us in the loops of progression and recursion. There has been no reportage about the ascent of this idea. Maybe this happened before the development of culture and language, but that is purely speculative. It could also have happened in the silence of the night and the noise of our dreamworld. We have been confused ever since, not knowing whether we misremember a dream or remember a phenomenon that should be shared and reported.

The idea of civilisation has some more characteristics which might be more obvious. The details can be matched either way. So if the idea is to improve and be more sophisticated, then both the idea of domesticity and colonies on the moon make sense. There is no prescription of choices only a pattern and hinting mechanism for making choices. Potentially infinite things can fit. The myth of the prevalence of autonomy exists but in fact only the tyranny of civilisation prevails.

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Journals tags: gambit

Journals are regular editions of content that has a changing sequence of relevance for us across time. After every particular interval of time, the points to be made about the issues at hand change and need things to be articulated again. Once we start a thread, it can be woven further by public narratives. The kinds of fibres, the colours and the texture of the thread will surely differ. But these differences only help to construct the pattern in a more renewed fashion. The personal and the…

Being tags: destruction

Being is simple but not easy. To be you do not really have to do anything at all, that is the simplicity of it. But being is a process that is multi-variate and somehow becomes complex. This happens because in the flux of each moment we experience the noise of our mind, and this both distracts and confuses us. Even though we know that we can just slip into the default mode, our cultural programming demands us to listen to the noise in our minds and weed out a voice that we should most give…

Cost tags: teeth

We don’t know the price because we do not know the cost. To know the true cost of a commodity, its method of production has to be examined outsides the context that buffers it. To isolate the context that buffers it from other contexts that still contain it, some degree of dismantling needs to be done. Dismantling is a kind of analysis that is a part of reverse engineering but it does not involve an end-product. Things are taken apart but not put back together. Dismantling has no interest in s…

Shop tags: nomination

A shop is a place where products are displayed. But what if the products are not displayed? What if only a person stands there telling stories about the products that could possibly occupy space on the shelves? Do we want to buy things or do we want to get entangled into the mess of the world and are willing to pay for the privilege? We do not know anything about you but we know that you want to buy yourself back as much as much as we do. We are in debt and so we do not feel free to do what we…

Play tags: system

Spaces for play emerge in games, sport and often in the business of life too. Play cannot be hidden as easily as playful expression. Play seeps into everything that systems collide with. As an element of the wider epidemic of artfulness, play is a strong deterrent to the fossilification of the urge to create. The plastic of containment of artfulness in rigid modes of behaviour is the failure of the system to restrain from the process of smoothening and calcification as a knowledge terrain.

Playspace can be modelled specifically as a game or generally as a literary space that has ambiguous design parameters and require an experiential description to be conveyed. In the latter case, the description might not even bear the minimum descriptors necessary to make a game but can be accessed as a story with variable content.

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Surfatial tags: research-collective

Surfatial (pronounced like palatial) is a space to perform personally experienced sequences of knowledge and talk about these to others. Somewhere in this process learning emerges. We prototype formats of conversation that allow the emergence of knowledge.

In its first year (2014-15), Surfatial organised its first season of six web based study groups. Each study group was a set of sessions on Google Hangout on Air. Each study group was developed on a talk-show format and had an anchor and invited guests. Discussions were possible across the board, between the anchor, the guests and the participants.

The distinguishing feature of Surfatial's study groups was the applied model and framework of knowledge. The guests and the moderator were only sharing elements gained and validated through a personal process. The development of arguments in the sessions of each group offered an experience that did not rely on an external narrative for its validation. Every strand of the narrative bore a consistent internal logic.

We are currently seeding a platform for the sharing and dissemination of alternate pedagogies and self-woven visions of the world. This desire responds to academia's hangover with the past and its inability to instil processes and incubate practices that can help students in a continual production of content. Academia, as we see it, does not deal with the substance and gravity of the present moment.

WORKGROUP MEMBERS: Satya Gummuluri, Malavika Rajnarayan, Prayas Abhinav

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Transaction tags: relinquish

Transactions can either signify the exchange, the value or the willingness to be absorbed inside a sequence of give and take. You cannot co-opt someone who is not willing to transact. That is a problem with those who are generous and those who are greedy - they do not reflect the desired parity in the likely candidates for being involved in a transaction. For transacting, ideally a candidate should want to give something and take something in exchange. The candidate needn’t be experiencing lack i…

Music tags: hunger

Music is a means to measure time. Clocks measure only absolute time. There is one distinct start and stop point. Continuously staggering sequences of events also need to be measured. These measurements are discreetly performed and have an infinite scale. The scale is vast at all scales of perception. How does this measuring help us? How does this expand the depth of our silence? What we know is that the abstract nature of our experience, our capacity of claiming perceptual drift at slight…

Freedom tags: splinters

Freedom is not just a matter of degrees. It is about the constraints and also attempts to describe the negative space of the constraints. In this description resides the potential of the freedom. In the degree of the opening, the scope of the negative space of constraints is defined. Sometimes through narrow slits and gaps, passionate potentialities are demonstrated. Because how free we feel depends only partly on how free we are allowed to feel and depends in equal parts on the level of our own disinhibition. Disinhibition cannot be rendered as a condition of the external ecosystem. It has more to do with the actor’s persona and how she has framed and declared her persona. What is the pitch of the actor’s voice? What does it say? What kind of response becomes necessary? By configuring herself, the actor defines the dynamic of the field.

The dynamic of the field can be shaped by individual actors as the interpersonal is the truly emergent space that sets chain-reaction off. Zones of freedom are demonstrations of the potential of freedom. These zones are outbursts of the improvised self-configuration exercises of actors.

Actors can self-configure if they choose to. They can also be automatic mirrors to the flux that they witness. Starting to play the game is a consent.

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Humour tags: velvet shop

Laughter is just symptomatically related to humour. There is no direct relation. Humour is a very sophisticated channel of communication. There are modes of perception. There are patterns of organising content. Each such pattern comes with its own reading apparatus and a prescribed set of conditions under which the pattern is evident.
 When the pattern is evident, the body of content makes sense. Humour is one such pattern that allows the body of content which is it represents to make sense. W…

Price tags: coin

What is the price? “Yes, what is the price?” We do not know and we do not want to find out. What do we want to find out, then? We want to find out the logic that can be applied onto the transactions and exchanges that take place everyday. This logic determines the prices. We want to know the pricing mechanisms because the point at which the use-value of any entity is specified, the first element of randomness enters into into play. The use-value of an entity cannot be determined. Even if it can…

Value tags: solar

Value must be assigned. It cannot be achieved unilaterally. It is not within the scope of individual action. So whereas merit can be cultivated and accrued, value must be assigned. We do not live in a merit-based society and the value assigned is not likely to be always equal to the worth of the true merit. Worth is a puzzling issue. Worth from whose perspective? How is the worth to be ascertained? Individuals have to be honest and forthcoming. They have to learn to place themselves in a system…