Sunday, August 9, 2009

SNOBBERY vs. APPRECIATION

I’ve noticed that many people think appreciating excellence has something to do with snobbery. While the meaning of APPRECIATION is clear, the meaning of SNOBBERY seems to be a little more vague. My favorite definition of a snob is one who foolishly follows fashion and looks down on those who don’t. The OED gives several definitions of a snob and I’m mashing two together because I think it’s what most people mean when they say snob: One who admires and seeks to imitate or associate with those of superior rank or wealth and who despises those who are considered inferior in rank, attainment or taste. 
   
A thing can be appreciated for its quality, the value we attach to it, the amount of pleasure it gives us. Nothing to do with despising other things, everything to do with appreciating excellent things. Perhaps it’s admiring one thing more than another that leads people to talk of snobbery. And when a lot of people appreciate the same thing, it wins prizes, becomes famous and fashionable and its price goes up. That's usually where snobbery comes in.  
    We’re accused of being snobs for liking well-made books, clothes, shoes, art, music, food, wine, you name it, if it’s excellent and we like it, we’re snobs. Or worse yet, élitists. Appreciating something excellent is a matter of pleasure and passion. Feeling passionate about something is never snobbery or élitist. It’s only when you sneer at other people’s idea of excellence that you become a snob. Snobbery is foolish imitation and not worth much. The snobbery label applied to appreciation diminishes admiration and wonder.
    Appreciation of all forms of excellence should be respected and celebrated without apology or labels 
of snobbery
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