Culture Snobs Vs. Ignorant Peasants (Sniff sniff)

26 Jun

I am trying to decide if it is worth being a culture snob. Do people who are experts on different aspects of culture, appreciate it more than people who just happen to like it?

Do foodies appreciate sushi more than my friend that eats it every day?

Does the art critic enjoy Monet more than my cousin who has Water lilies posted on to his walls, as his screensaver, and professional stationary background?

Does the Jane Austen fan love it more than an English Professor?


So, I’m going to try to look at it from both perspective, my level of appreciation and enjoyment of something when I’m an happy ignoramus, and when I’m a snobbish expert, Classical Music for the former, and Literature, the latter.


See, I like classical music. Yeah, I know it’s nerdy for a 20 year old with no background in music to be into it, but never mind. My point is, I like certain pieces; Clara Schumann’s Scherzo Op. 10 for one. I love the piano; I love the way the music speeds up, slows itself down, and repeats itself with variations on the original “tune”. Do I have to know about motives, motifs, and what “scherzo” actually means to appreciate it?


I recently started taking voice lessons (I have nothing better to do with my time). My teacher is very into the voice is an instrument; you need to be able to read music, and know basic music theory, blah blah blah. I don’t mind, it is something new. So, we were going through the minor scales and I think it was D- minor or something, and she’s like,


“Bach is all about D-minor, he writes everything in it that key.”


I nodded my head as if I knew what she was saying and that was that.


So my question is, who enjoys Bach more? I mean I love his “Music from the Ravine”, but I have no idea what key he’s playing in, I just know it sounds good, calms me down, keeps me focused. This is me being ignorant. It doesn’t hurt; I’m fine; life is good. No bad side affects other than people constantly sniffing at me.


            On the other hand, I think being an English Teacher has ruined reading for me. I know the elements that make a good story, I know the techniques; I know what to look for in style, voice, conventions. I know good plot development, three dimensional characters, and strong themes. And what does that get me: a headache.


I can’t read a book anymore without analyzing it as potential teaching material. I rip them apart; dissect them till it bleeds, and then kill them. After it’s dead I’ll extol it’s virtues as an after thought, much like a eulogy. I will disagree with certain character actions, the presentations of literary elements, sentence structures, poetic license…


 So, I know what to appreciate, I know the elements, I know the talent and effort, but I can’t enjoy it anymore. It is like watching a movie after visiting Universal Studios. They show you all the tricks, and it is not magic anymore, it is actually very disappointing. You find yourself looking for mistakes, a faulty mike, inconsistency in frames, a camera reflected in a mirror. You cannot just sit back and enjoy the whole piece.


But then again, knowing all the elements makes you go WOW!!! You can really appreciate and revel in the talent because you know what it takes to get there.


As I am writing, my mind is thinking, a normal process, and I have come up with a resolution for this desperate debate. Being a snob lets you appreciate the talent, ignorance let us appreciate the piece. And since the piece is the purpose, and the talent is the vehicle in which it comes, I think I would like to appreciate the end and not the means.


Ignoramuses of the world cheer!!!


Snobs, we will let you sniff.


P.S. I just realized that I could just settle this whole thing based on semantics. The Expert appreciates it, the Peasant Enjoys it… Now I have to go back and find every time I used appreciate incorrectly…




Posted by on June 26, 2008 in Teaching, Uncategorized


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6 responses to “Culture Snobs Vs. Ignorant Peasants (Sniff sniff)

  1. The Jewish Side

    November 27, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    I know exactly what you mean.

    Great post.

    I was thinking the same thing about appreciating and enjoying.

  2. Child Ish Behavior

    November 27, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    IMHO, your premise is faulty. You can’t compare apples to oranges, is an old saying that goes back a long time. Comparing how much different people appreciate different things is doing exactly that. Each person perceives things differently and in different ways. You can’t ask the question about who appreciates things more, because by doing so you are taking a subjective judgment and universalizing it for everyone.

  3. tooyoungtoteach

    November 28, 2008 at 1:16 am

    Child Ish, I hear, except, I was asking in a more general manner, based on each background, who has the potential to “appreicate” something more.

    What I propose is not a hard and fast rule, but it’s something to start from, and gives a perspesctive on each side.

  4. Mikeinmidwood

    November 28, 2008 at 5:32 am

    You have distorted the greatness of knowing something. You said, If you know how it “works” then its not as enjoyable. Sorry, If you know how it works it makes it more enjoyable. E.G. a plane. If you know how it works; then, you enjoy it more through understanding it. Same with a gemara you didnt know, and then you did, its more enjoyable now that you know it. Plus you get to brag about it know and thats always fun.

  5. The Jewish Side

    November 28, 2008 at 5:44 am

    TooYoungToTeach: Now that I’m thinking about it again, maybe one is a superficial level, and one is a deeper level. That no matter how much enjoyment you seem to get from something, it’s just the surface. Then once you become an expert in something, and understand it, then you can appreciate it, and it becomes real joy in it. Even if you see it from a more professional eye, there’s still happiness left when something catches your fancy on a professional level.

  6. Princess Lea

    November 28, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    I prefer to bask in the middle road; I was a n Englsh Major, true, but preferred the “Language Arts” category, rather than Literature or Creative Writing. If I had to take classes strictly based on dissecting textual art, I would scream. If I had to analyze and overanalyze and reanalyze my own writing, I’d go bonkers. Therefore, I selected the degree that would prevent “Pride & Prejudice” from becoming a social text bent on ridding the world of social class, as some professor would likely insist that it is.
    Yet I mask my opinions in flowery speech, so I am classified as a snob, though mine is a peasant’s heart.


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