Saturday, June 21, 2003

I'll say a little more about academic liberalism since I haven't gone off on this in a while.

I've spent most of my economic adult life doing physical labor. The casual contempt of the educated for the uneducated or those assumed to be uneducated in this country is something that I live with. Conservatives consider well off and educated liberals their naive and hypocritical younger siblings, and most of the time they are right in that assessment. I'm sick of seeing people I know and respect being treated like shit by those whose primary education has been in self absorption and self interest, and who if they are liberals can not in their secret awareness of their own shallowness even muster a little noblesse oblige.

I'm not a complete cynic. There are plenty of exceptions. A friend of mine, a Colombian immigrant with a wild globetrotting past, did a small contracting job a few years ago for a critic at the Times, and now drops by for cocktail parties (he's a great conversationalist). But his host is a critic not an academic, and he's certainly not trying to reform anything; they're both aware of the contradictions, and both are mature enough to laugh. And don't think Pablo is there as entertainment, he has a more sophisticated intelligence than many of his host's coworkers.

The problem in all of this isn't high-brow seriousness or low brow vulgarity, it's the pretension of the middle-brow which is intimidated by both; that is both esthetically and intellectually shallow, and deeply insecure. I'm not defending conservatism, especially neo-conservatism: do you think I imagine the celebration of greed is better than the celebration of self pity? And the Times piece today on Adam Bellow is a joke.

I still dream that sophistication can be taught. Absurd isn't it?

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