Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Delight in excellence is easily confused with snobbery by the ignorant.

I refuse to eat at McDonalds and I pronounce ld’s musical selections as crapola. M&M’s are so plebian (notwithstanding the handfuls I snarfed yesterday) and don’t get me started on the Twilight books. Modern/creative dance is infinitely better than highly sexualized dance or drill team routines. I refuse to decorate my house with vinyl lettering or anything purchased from Rod Works or Deseret Book (cough, cough). Pop culture is for the masses, the uneducated proles. Blah, blah, I could go on and on about my hoity toity superior likes and dislikes.

Ugh. I hate that I am a snob. Sometimes (okay, most times) a pretentious one at that. I don’t know what to make of this. I dislike elitism in others.

Remember this article, by William Deresiewicz, a couple of years back?

The first disadvantage of an elite education, as I learned in my kitchen that day, is that it makes you incapable of talking to people who aren’t like you.

While there's truth to the article, there's more to think about.

Here comes Joseph Epstein* to work my thoughts. He says there's a distinction to be made between snobbery and elitism.

"High standards generally — about workmanship in the creation of objects, about what is owed in friendship, about the quality of art, and much else — far from being snobbish, are required to maintain decency in life. When the people who value these things are called snobs, the word is usually being used in a purely sour-grapes way. 'Elitist,' a politically super-charged word, is almost invariably another sour-grapes word, at least when used to denigrate people who insist on a high standard... Delight in excellence is easily confused with snobbery by the ignorant."

Like everything, it's a fine line, isn't it? We all pick and choose what to be elitist about. And is there such a thing as being a shallow elitist versus a cultured one? Can you be a snob as to what to be a snob about?

*Yeah, that Joseph Epstein. The one who wrote profoundly about Envy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ever had a MacRib? It will change your life and your digestion tract.