Tag Archives: Substance

Eternal Conflicts – Form vs Substance

I don’t post often to this site for two reasons. The first is rather simple. I have a day job. As much as I would like to write full time it doesn’t pay the bills. The other is equally straightforward – I prefer substance to form. What do I mean by that?

It’s been said that to garner the proper attention. One should post, whether to Face Book or to a site like this one, a minimum of three times a week. This is so that when someone visits there’s always new content for them to pursue, keeping interest in the site. The results are often banal, repetitive, and disappointing blogs. But they’re right in there with firm, they’ve met the criteria. And I think one of the most depressing things is that it actually works.

What’s another good example? Anyone who’s ever gone into a bookstore knows this one. When someone picks up a book they look first at the title. If that’s caught their eye, then the cover. If those two things aren’t interesting they lay it down again. They’ve examined the form and found it wanting.  Or, if the title and cover is interesting, maybe they’ll read the back. And, having thoroughly examined the outside, maybe they’ll open it to read a snippet out of the book, usually the first page or two. A glittering form has caught their eye and they want to check and see if it’s gold.

And this method of examination applies to people as well. It’s a well-established fact that beauty is nothing more than symmetrical – of good form. Pictures were taken of the same person, alterations made that were too subtle to be consciously recognized. And when asked test subjects invariably said the more even they were, ears the same height, same size eyes, even teeth, smile, and hairline, the more beautiful a person is. Form.

I’ll be the first to admit, I like talking to pretty women. And here is where I apparently differ from most. As a general rule I’ll talk briefly with the beautiful people. They tend to be vain, shallow, and self-centered. Without substance.

Ultimately each person must decide what substance is. Most will agree it’s some version of ethics, what a person is and does as opposed to what (s)he looks like. But if that’s truly the case I have to wonder why we look first at form. I remember well the first time a woman told me I was too short to consider dating. While I have to give her points for honesty and the courage to say it out loud, I have to deduct points for shallow reasoning. It’s not like I can control how tall I am. But ultimately her reasoning was a moot point, form rather than substance. The substance of the conversation was her negative response.

Even this blog post is an exercise in form. I try to make it pleasing to the ear, eye, and mind. But I also try to add substance. In truth one cannot exist without the other. But when did we start concentrating more on form than substance? Sometimes I wonder if TV isn’t to blame. We look in on that world and they’re all beautiful people. And then we go back to our lives and we don’t live in such a pretty and clean world. (If you want to know how much substance there is to your favorite actor read up on what (s)he’s been doing off the set.)

In the end I guess I’m somewhat middle if the road. Nice packaging is certainly a plus, but I’ll take a minimum of it for something inside. And that’s no matter what we’re talking about. Is a seat warmer in the car really that important? Not if the car won’t get me where I need to go. Is beauty helpful in a relationship? Not if (s)he bolts at the first sign of difficulty.