Let’s begin with a quote from the Cynthia Postan translation of Georges Duby’s The Chivalrous Societyi :
I begin with a very ordinary idea, a simple statement of a known fact. This is that the cultural patterns of the upper classes in society tend to become popularized, to spread and to move down, step by step, to the most deprived social groups. If we take the word ‘culture’ in its narrowest sense, beginning, that is, in the realm of literary or artistic creation, of religious knowledge, belief and attitudes, it is very easy to discern this phenomenon of popularization.
Simple, ordinary, known fact, very easy to discern… Aye, there’s the rub. The westernised public “school” kid would swear on zher’s Holy Book of Pantsuitscience that Duby was talking out his crazy ass for all the relevancy of his SELF-EVIDENTLYii nonsensical ramblings, whether applied to the 11th-12th century feudal France as in his subject, contemporary western “culture,” or some third place as wholly imagined as the second and as approachable as the first, where little girls fancy moving to.iii This is evidenced by the gobsmacking “controversiality” of What is art? and related, flying as it does in the face of received wisdom.
The unkind reality that the upper crust in a functional societyiv dictate language, art, culture, and everything else besides is so far removed from the upside-down nonfunctional westerner experience that it can only be branded as “fake,” so existentially unpleasant is its mere possibility. So it’s the world that doesn’t understand, it’s the world that broken, and it’s the world that’s an emergency room in such desperate need of our urgent and immediate iatrogenicism. It couldn’t be that our public schooling was a sufficiently well crafted mental cage that 99.8% of us couldn’t break out (and only 0.001% spent the requisite 6-12 months reading with the remaining 0.199% being lost somewhere in between). Oh no. Anything but that. What a ridiculous notion to even suggest! Public education is the great equaliser between the classes donchaknow.
So what if supposedly rich white kids wear hoodies, flat-brimmed baseball caps, baggy pants, and full-sleeve tattoos ? How could that possibly be a bad thing ? Aren’t we all cut from the same cloth ? Sure, you go with that, homeboy. You go with that.
It probably seems to you like a very ordinary idea, a simple statement of a known fact.
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- 1977, University of California Press. The original was entitled La Société aux XIe et XIIe siècles dans la région mâconnaise and published in a collection entitled « Bibliothèque générale » in l’École Pratique des Hautes Études, VIe section, 1953. [↩]
- “I just want the facts!11″ [↩]
- Y’know that one where the little girl living in the Soviet Union learns in class about how wonderful life in teh USSR is but it’s in such stark contrast to her lived experience that she goes home in tears crying to her parents that she wants to move there, to the place where ice cream and rainbows and the will of the people abound ? Ya, that’s the way “westerners” should feel when they learn about the supposed glories and abundances of “ourdemocracy.” Unfortunately for them, they’re apparently only too distracted with digital simulacra to notice they should be bawling uncontrollably and / or Joe Stack’ing. [↩]
- Unlike, say, our “society” where young kids of all creeds idolise black rap culture and its supposedly more unsavoury aspects including but not limited to drugs, violence, rape, materialism, and hate for police. Isn’t it weird that this “lowly” urban black culture that “needs fixing” maintains such a distinctly superior cultural position over everything else it interacts with in the soi-disant “civilised world” ? Doesn’t that make you think “Hmm maybe the reason I find the “n-word” so offensive is because I’m even more of one than they are ?” Well it should. If the lower class is being wedged into the role of the upper class, the tragedy that is B-Rad is an inevitability, as is Sovietism. [↩]