Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Aficionados and Snobs: The Money Angle

Two postings down, in my posting about aficionados and snobs, commenter Adam said:
A little bit to the side of the post, but Gertrude Stein has the following quote: “You can either buy clothes or buy pictures. It’s that simple. No one who is not very rich can do both.”
That's not at all to the side. It strikes at a key point. When you hear this sort of language (in the realm of fashion, food, home decor, art, or just about anything else under the sun):
How can any thinking human being imagine that it's sufficient for clothes to merely protect us from the elements? "Better-than-shabby" is an awfully low bar; fashion should say something, and this shirt says nothing, except that its wearer is a lazy conformist who really couldn't give a damn about quality."
.... it's natural to assume we're being urged to spend more.

Non food lovers frequently misunderstood the Chowhound credo, figuring it was just another example of clueless class snobbery - Mrs. Howells curling their lips at the atrocious garbage we scarf when we ought to be enjoying the far more refined fare at, say, Petrossian. "Let us eat cake"! Of course, that completely misses the point, which is that anything you might eat for $3 or $30 or $300 can be eaten hyperdeliciously at the same price point by simply trying harder and venturing further.

But in realms we don't care about, aficionado-ism always seems snobbish and spendy. I wouldn't know where to find an exceptional and soulful t-shirt, but that's just because I haven't invested the time; when it comes to fashion (and any number of other human endeavors) I'm as complacent as any Olive Garden patron. Shame me for my complacency, and I'll always figure you're urging me to spend up, because we're conditioned to assume better costs more .

The same would happen if you shamed an Olive Garden patron. They'd assume you're Mrs. Howelling them.

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