It all started with the petty battles, with a collective comedown on a cultural philistine like me - one without taste in music, art, literature or topic du jour.
What they looked in each other was not for glimmers of intelligence, but for a bit of something shared. Something to set them apart from the rest, the secret handshakes, the shibboleth to exclude those of a lower culture. Respect doled out for abstract obscurity, while clarity was despised. The vaguer it got, the easier could everyone trot out their pet ideas without stepping on each others' toes.
I could've been a mute spectator to all that. But then the challenges appeared on my table.
I never did define my identity with things external. Rarely was it propped up with books, music or art. Something reprehensible to embellish yourself with someone else's creativity. To listen, read, collect it. And dole it out instead of your own. There I was, with life's experiences and I thought that was all that remained to be said about me. What I do, that is where my fount of self is rooted on and with some sort of gratitude, I pour myself back into it.
Never felt the urge to defend my choices, in anything that fed my mind. But I almost fanatically defend the choices I make, when it comes to actions. What went in seemed far insignificant to what eventually came out. My principles, ethics and the path I tread in life, those are up for criticism - always have been.
There was no point in responding to those challenges - to be beaten down just for someone's pleasure. For them in their world to feel superior. Maybe that's what gets them through their day, but I've got no time or energy to fight these petty battles. I've got things to do.
Culture intrigues me. I'd rather learn than fight about my personal opinions. Bizarrely, the same people fighting for their opinions object to others sharing theirs. What they always craved I guess was smug superiority, not to convince. Popularity of their niche seems to be their enemy rather than a sign of success.
The world of high culture is full of people who'd love something, yet dissuade the world from sharing it. In a sort of self destructive selfishness, they cordon off their niches. Watching them over the years, I've seen these hypocrites slink away from the bright sunlight of popular attention. Not revel in the new found wisdom of the world or applaud at its good taste.
I've tried to learn what it is about these ideas that make it special. Read Hegel & Kant, Foucault & Derida. Listened to Mozart (ooh, the 5th!), gone to Chopin recitals (thankee hyacie), observed the layered randomness of Coltrane. I've liked some, I haven't others. Perhaps arbitrarily, I don't know.
But equally arbitrarily, I've followed popular culture. I've liked some, I couldn't care less for others. I dig down into Simpsons or Futurama, I play Lady Gaga in a loop for days. Not mindlessly, I notice the nuances of timing & melody of the Gaga, the college level literature references littered in Simpsons, the secret messages written in alienese in Futurama. I notice, I enjoy and I'm not ashamed of it.
I'm overcome by an urge to share & enjoy. I think the fact that more people enjoy it, the better it was. Perhaps it takes more talent to make something the whole world can enjoy. A deeper understanding of all humanity perhaps. And I'll do my part. I can't understand how someone can enjoy something so much, but dissuade someone else from exploring. Even more puzzlingly, only seem to enjoy things that nobody else around seem to be capable of appreciating. Are you that special or is that all a facade put up?
After much thought, I've come to a shocking, but inescapable conclusion.--
Show me an elitist, and I'll show you a loser.
-- Tom Clancy