Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Monday, September 27, 2004  

The Hoi Polloi

A snippet from a marvelous article at The American Spectator:

BUT CONSIDER HOW MUCH REGULAR FOLKS KNOW. If you have not been famous or otherwise insulated, you have likely had half a dozen jobs by the age of 50. You have perhaps started, or tried to start, your own business. You have moved at least four times in adulthood, and bought and sold perhaps that many houses or condos, You have researched a number of areas of the country and lived in two or three (and not just Washington, New York, and Los Angeles). You have perhaps served a military hitch. You have had children in public schools or you've been home-schooling; you've raised funds for a church or a lodge or a Boy Scout troop. In some context or other, you have sold something door to door, published a newsletter, sold advertising, served on a committee, had a hand in hiring and firing.

If you've ever had a hobby, you probably have an expert education in something like motorcycle mechanics, photography, flying, firearms, railroad history, or ornithology.

Just to the matter at hand: Like Buckhead, who is a 46-year-old lawyer, you have probably had to work with, or even specify the purchase of, several computer systems. Indeed, you're old enough to remember when there were no computers in offices. You have participated in the entire computer revolution. You're old enough to have learned to type on a typewriter, and maybe even to have worked on one.

So what's the big mystery? Not that ordinary people knew "arcane" things about typefaces and spacing, but that the big machers at CBS didn't know perfectly ordinary things.

If you watch cable TV or scan the channels you know that you find dozens of programs from Animal Planet to House and Garden to Iron Chef that will at some point feature ordinary Americans who have extraordinary knowledge and insight into one particular field of endeavor or hobby. This is the norm for most people I have met.

I remember a dear friend of mine from church (who died too young about two years go) who enjoyed "scrapbooking". When I first heard of it, I laughed inside in a snobbish way. After all, what could be interesting or complex about pasting family photos in an album?

I kept my mouth shut, though, and endured the process of Cathy showing me her albums. I was amazed. There's a whole industry for hobbyists. It's a Martha Stewart kind of thing, and the fact is that Cathy took ordinary snapshots from various occasions and arranged them in a way that was delightful and engaging.

Album pages were carefully decorated and arranged with an artful sense of balance, proportion, harmony, and interest.

Cathy, in a sense, was a family page web designer and it was wonderful what she did. But imagine the literati at some New York cocktail party being told about such a hobby or the guy with the model trains and so forth. The condescension would be extreme.

I was once watching the Food Network. It was a Cowboy Cook-Off outdoors in someplace like Wyoming. Dozens and dozens of people competed to complete full meals in dutch ovens over a campfire. An extremely difficult task made harder by a cold wind blowing through the coals making the temperature fluctuate.

Along with the cook-off, there was a contest for the best setup of an old time chuckwagon which meant that people had collected or saved heritage goods and created their own mini museums of the West to display.

The host of the show went to various cooks asking them about their secrets for success in the event. One fellow talked about how he had a new treatment for his stew that he was sure would lead to victory. Later on when they came back to talk to the contestants about their completed dinners, the same fellow had to shake his head about his chances since he'd learned that so many others were using the strategy he had thought unique to himself.

He said ruefully, "I guess everybody watches the Food Channel now." For that was where he had gotten the idea for his meal.

All the folks at the Cook-Out looked ordinary -- pot bellied men, wide hipped women, weatherbeaten and grizzled looking old timers. They gave no hint from their appearance that they were gourmet cooks who carefully studied ways to improve in their hobby and delight.

It's like sitting down with a couple of redneck bubbas discussing the merits of chardonney against chablis, rosemary vs. thyme, and what heritage tomato is the best.

Yet the intelligensia more than anybody else loves idiotic stereotypes, and mocks the genius of the working people around them without a second thought. They never tired of ridiculing Martha Stewart until Martha became an icon, incredibly wealthy, and demonstrated that she was really one of them except that she was crafty.

But Martha also brought enormous respect to domestic and homely arts and crafts. She celebrated well made goods and the talented people who create them.

America is filled with such people, and it is amazing to discover how insulated indeed the leftist elite is from them. Their need to mock decent, open-hearted, kind spirited and expert folk is chilling. One wonders what they base their sense of superiority on considering how narrow and pinched their reality is.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 1:59 PM |