Thursday, October 04, 2012

My thought: 'What's wrong with middlebrow?'

Truth be told, that's probably the most apt term to describe my cafeteria-style cultural tastes. I aspire to highbrow in nothing (all together now: "We could tell!"), but have a hobbyist's interest in a wide swath of topics. It boils down to a belief that exposure to art, religion/thought, culture and history on a broad scale--enough to have a conversational knowledge, or to acquire the same with reasonable diligence--is critical to being a fully-rounded man or woman. If I could sum it up using a pop-cultural reference that's probably fading from view: not a Cliff's Notes version of the world, but rather the Time-Life Books level. And, yes, I have bushels of Time-Life books--just ask the long-suffering Much Better Half. Or, if you're feeling particularly ambitious, The Story of Civilization level. Yes, I have that one, too. Such works used to be staples, but now they have vanished from the scene, along with the middlebrow mindset that sensed such things were important.
Here. I think the Internet’s a gold mine for this level and for real study. As I understand social class, those stuck at the bottom can’t/won’t learn this way and resent you for doing/trying that, while the higher ones, or at least the nouveau climbers (real uppers have nothing to prove so they aren’t as likely to show off or put you down) sneer at the effort of bettering yourself as shown by the Time-Life etc. books on your shelf.

1 comment:

  1. I am hoping the internet eventually kills off the waste in formal schooling from elementary to high school levels. Not sure about college level yet, but I note the increasing amount of on-line education available, some of it "real time" on-line wherein you check-into a class with headphones and speakers. Only thing is lab work. You learn mathematics, computer science/engineering, science, and engineering in the lab or out in the field or both. Khanacademy.org is a good start!

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