Form v. Function


Many times upon pouring a bowl of cereal (never in the morning, because i don’t eat cereal for breakfast, ever), I think to myself,  “Why does cereal taste so much better at night if it’s breakfast?” The question offers an answer that speaks to more than just the food industry,  but rather provokes insight on life, in general. More often than not, things are better used in modalities other than their intended function.

The latter idea brings me back to a class I took years ago entitled “Philosophy of Film.” I was an ambitious high schooler taking classes at the local community college in attempt to get a leg up on my competition for college (as if i was the only student doing so). Anyways, back to the regularly scheduled program. In that class, I learned a lot. I started looking at films in an entirely new way. There was one lesson that I will never forget. It was when we were taught the terms”manifest” and “latent,” or the intended and unintended uses of a product. Here’s my favorite example because it has with it its own personal memories intertwined- cars: you buy a car for its manifest reason namely to get you from point A to point B. But, think of everything else you can do in a car, its latent functions. I could sit and spell them out, but how about you let your imagination and/or personal experiences fill that space?

If you think about it, more often than not, it is the latent uses of a commodity that provides connection with something tangible. It’s as if that is where the “soul” of the object resides.  In a world where hyper consumerism runs rampant, the desire to obtain the latest product is merely fleeting. We want something, and we want the immediate satisfaction of getting it right then and there. Digital media and the Internet are the main culprits, both providing us with false hope that everything in life can be so fluid and instantaneous. Media feeds us how and why we need the latest and greatest gadget, and most of us eat it all up, whether it be passively or actively. It’s so easy to succumb to the pressure surrounding our culture to act and be a certain way, to desire a certain lifestyle, to stick to the beaten path.

But, what if we took a step back and looked at all the enjoyment that can come from our imagination? What if we reflected upon what we really want, outside of gimmicks,  and what will come of it upon working for and achieving that true desire.? Not everything needs to be used in the function that determines its form.

So, eat your cereal at night. See how it tastes better. And, if you sense something different, do it again and again. Take that creativity and apply it to all areas of your life. Believe it or not, but the latent isn’t always so hard to find.


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