Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I Wanna Be Elite

So, yesterday on NPR's Talk of the Nation there was a discussion of "elitism." A man who is a classical music critic got on the radio to talk with Lynn Neary about whether or not classical music is elitist. Somehow- imagine this happening!- within a couple of calls, the discussion had turned to elitism in American politics.

First, it was refreshing to hear a non-elitist view other than my own about classical music, which I enjoy, except for uptight, busy strings, which you already know, have you looked at my profile. A woman told us all, the radio audience, that she grew up playing piano and had never thought of classical music as elitist because of this experience. (Apparently, ragtime, honky tonk and whatnot were not in her repertoire.) Now, I grew up without a piano or classical music. So, honestly, I always thought both to be a bit, well, let's just say out of my league. I guess there really is a middle class in this country, or was, and they really can afford pianos and piano lessons. My parents told me I couldn't play the drums because it was too expensive- not just the wished-for Very Own Drumkit, but the lessons leading up to that eventual expected purchase.

Dammit, Dad, you did a number on my psyche with your reverse discrimination of the People with Money. Were you and Mom holding out, storing cash in a mattress somewhere, pretending you didn't have it so us kids would grow up stronger and more resourceful than either of you?

Back to the fascinating subject of elitism: A man got on the air via phone and brought up the current debate over whether or not various Presidents or presidential candidates are or were elites. This history buff reminded us how this country was founded by elites and asked wouldn't we rather have an elite who knows what he (or she... this will happen eventually, like this year if you vote for me) is doing than someone like our current President, who is not an elite? Or doesn't act like one? Or whatever it was that the man said that assumed outright that Bush is not an elite, even though it was quickly pointed out that according to at least one definition of "elite," just his holding a political office makes him one.

From Merriam-Webster online:
Main Entry:
\ā-ˈlēt, i-, ē-\
French élite, from Old French eslite, from feminine of eslit, past participle of eslire to choose, from Latin eligere
1 asingular or plural in construction : the choice part : cream bsingular or plural in construction : the best of a class csingular or plural in construction : the socially superior part of society d: a group of persons who by virtue of position or education exercise much power or influence e: a member of such an elite —usually used in plural 2: a typewriter type providing 12 characters to the linear inch
— elite adjective

OK, so we don't have to label Bush elite in the sense that we find him to be the cream, as in the best of the best, rising to the top purely on the merit of his character, but as Glen so aptly reminds me, without having to, anyone who wants to be President these days must be an elite, must have the money, the connections and so on, that set him (or her) apart from the rest of us. Of course, I think this whole theory is horsesh*te. For instance, you can vote for me, and I have hardly any money at all, though I promise I will make up for that with brains, social skillz that killz, and hard work. Put me in Aubergine House and prove that We the People do not have to perpetuate the stereotype that perpetuates the disintegration of whatever American Dream we ever had.

Crap, I didn't even graduate from high school in the Top 10, much to my friends' and classmates' surprise. I admit freely, before it is disclosed in a media frenzy, that I failed Advanced Math one quarter; I was more interested in reading the book and doing the problems on my own time, not accountable to a teacher who used to stand at the board and scratch her head and ask where the hell she had gone wrong in solving an equation correctly for the class. Advanced Math class was the time for writing stories and drawing pictures. Also, I was a terrible Class President, too shy at the time to stand up hard against the elites who had run the class for years, despite I won the popular vote by a landslide. Those days are over! Give me the popular vote by a landslide, and I will stand up hard for you!

Anyway, I checked out "elitism" on this new search engine Dennis sent me the link to, called Cuil. I like it. I got all sorts of leads, the most puzzling of which is a YouTube video of JR from Less Than Jake in an "exclusive interview." Now, that is elite. Check it all out: http://www.cuil.com/.

And go here: http://www.elitestv.com/

I have to go take a shower and get to work. (That 4-letter word people used to call "dirty" but now may be lucky to have.)

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