Snobito Ergo Sum
As we celebrate the 1st of June, my half-birthday (but who’s counting?), and the 55th anniversary of my First Holy Communion (yikes on multiple counts), I wanted to offer a brief post on intellectual snobbery, or, as I prefer to say, snobisme intellectuel.
Pink Slip readers may be blissfully unaware that I can intellectually shuck and jive with the best of them.
Why, I am always happy – in the right company – to hold forth on whether the Finnegan’s Wake experience is enhanced by doing parallel readings in Urdu and Finnish.
And didn’t I have this really weird dream the other night where Ludwig Wittgenstein and Antoine Doinel were competing at a Go tournament that, for whatever reason, was being held in Hoosick Falls? From what I can remember, the dream was actually quite hilarious – I haven’t thought of Antoine Doinel in years – but you really had to be there.
So, yes, indeed-y, I got some i-chops on me. Big time.
I’m sure that most who know me would completely accept my denial of the malicious claim that I once spent an entire Saturday, lumped on the couch, watching back-to-backs of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and Say Yes to the Dress. By the way, if I had done so, it would have been because a really bad summer cold had slumped me into a slough of despond so murky that it took me a full 7.5 hours to figure out that TLC no longer stands for The Learning Channel.
(Speaking of slough of despond, nobody but nobody has read Pilgrim’s Progress. Talk about nasty, brutish, and long… BOR-ING.)
But I’ve come across something that has gotten me to begin questioning just how bona my intellectual bona fides are. And that something was a letter to The New Yorker, which appeared in the June 4-11 issue.
Several writers wrote to weigh in on a recent article on what constitutes proper English, and one letter-writer really went at it. After noting the widespread use of “such horrors” as use of the words “exact” and “same” in tandem, J.A.F. Hopkins had this to say:
I was disturbed to come across the last [blogger’s aside: that would be “exact same”] in an otherwise highly resourceful English translation of Haruki Murakami’s novel “Umibe no Kafuka” (“Kafka on the Shore”); the translator also makes no attempt to indicate Japanese long vowels, the implication being that Americans are not sufficiently literate to be bothered with such niceties.
Right about now – if I were not the intellectual type – I might be inclined to ask “what the Kafuka?” Instead, I’ll just give up my shabby little pretense, my meager attempts to sound smart, and see what’s on TLC tomorrow. I feel the exact same slough of despond coming on that had me out flat last time.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------Reading this letter to the editor reminded me of a long-ago colleague who was a very smart guy – one I enjoyed working with – but someone who always found an awful lot to complain about. After he’d been on a trip with the very smart guy, another colleague reported that J (who is not blind) had been bitching up a storm about every little thing. “When we got on the elevator,” T told me, “He even pointed out that the braille floor numbers were wrong.”