Snobbery for Everyone ~ BitterSweetLife

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Snobbery for Everyone

When I started this blog in a public library on a whim three years ago, I had just finished Joseph Epstein's Snobbery--so of course I chose to give him a voluble nod in my first real post. Listen to me chatter happily while I did this new thing called BLOGGING:

So I’m pretty much anti-snob on all fronts, except for book-snobbery, coffee-snobbery, basketball-snobbery, and maybe a few more garden variety counts I’m seems that you could divide all bloggers, somewhat superficially, into two camps: snobs and anti-snobs, in terms of what they say and how they say it. I’m just being up-front about my voting preference.

Nice. Since then, of course, I have reversed my voting preference frequently, whenever the mood took me, in fact, like any good politician.

But if I remember correctly, Epstein admits that one of his pet snubs is reserved for people who didn't attend an Ivy League school. I'm obviously at a disadvantage there, since my undergraduate record is about as spotty as it gets where prestige is concerned: A year at Rockhurst U (private and pricey--too pricey, sadly), two years at Johnson County Community College (the king of jucos), all wrapped up online via Thomas Edison State College (it's in New Jersey). And I'm not exactly earning my graduate degree at Oxford.

So Epstein would no doubt glance at me dismissively, preferring, for example, some blue-blooded gorilla with a degree from Cornell (entrance standards aren't what they were ;). So it goes. But here's the thing. I would probably look at Epstein with a sarcastic grin, thinking, I bet you couldn't even dribble a ball up court, much less make a lay-up.

So maybe we all have our little snobberies. That was going to be the point of this post, before I got carried away with the Ivy League issue. In particular, I'm aware that my book snobbery may be getting out of hand: I want my books to look good. They need to be quality books--that goes without saying. But they also need to be well-dressed.

For example, I was recently thinking about trading in my old set of C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy for the newer edition with the covers that don't make Ransom's planets look like something painted by Salvador Dali in his pre-melting days. Is this ridiculous? I don't think so. I prefer to think that I've achieved a kind of holistic literary unity of spirit and body, in that a good book deserves a good cover. Is it possible I'm wrong about this, that I'm just becoming the kind of snob that other people secretly--or openly--laugh at?

No, this is not possible.

But you should probably take a good, hard look at your own life. What kind of a snob are you? Is it harmless? Is it affordable? Will it force you to repurchase books you already own?

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R. Sherman said...

I don't see a problem with replacing older books with newer editions or paperbacks from college with hardbound. I wouldn't call that snobbery; I'd call it preserving one's investment.

As for me, I'm a real snob about outdoor stuff although I don't verbalize it to others--merely a slight upturn of the nose in the direction of someone with an off-brand hydration system will do, thank you.


littlepeace said...

I am a language snob.
Witness the proof:

Regi G said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Regi G said...

I am an anti-snob, so I suppose that means I have my own brand of snobbery.

For instance, I can't stand it when someone belittles someone else, and doing such tends to place a person on my do-not-call/speak to/look at list.

Actually, I don't have such a list.

As for Lewis' book, I wish I had bought the first one with less conceptual art, because that would leave me to my own devices to enjoy Lewis' writing that much more.

Okay, okay, my snobbery is in the fact that I can't stand to shop in thrift stores. I'm a little afflicted by OCD and the clutter is just maddening! I can never find what I want and I'm out of there within 2 minutes. Give me the bookstore!

Will Hicks said...

I'm an entertainment snob. It makes me ill that more people watch "Moment of Truth" than "Lost".

When horribly unfunny spoof movies and recycled romantic comedies are selling thousands and thousand more tickets than "There Will Be Blood" or "No Country For Old Men" it makes me fear for the America my son will grow up in.

Romantic comedies will be the death of us all.

Ariel said...

@ Regi: Okay, okay, my snobbery is in the fact that I can't stand to shop in thrift stores.

Thrift stores, like dark coffee and jalepenos (eaten separately), are an acquired taste, but well worth the effort. My moment of conversion came when I realized I could find shirts that everyone else was not wearing for .005% of what everyone else was paying...

@ Will: I'm an entertainment snob. It makes me ill that more people watch "Moment of Truth" than "Lost".

For some reason, I hadn't thought of it in those terms, but sign me up. The bright side is that I have a lot less must-see TV.


Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife