Old folk at lunch

Friday, June 25, 2004

PURITANISM, SOCIAL CLASS ETC.



Commenting on two recent posts by Keith Burgess-Jackson: Keith noted that I use only a dialup connection and commented that it must be my Puritan heritage, considering that I could easily afford any connection I want. There is considerable truth in that. My Presbyterian upbringing did indeed teach me frugality, or, as the Scots say: "A careful way wi' money". The sites that I visit are rarely graphics-intensive so dialup is not, however, the frustration it might seem. My frugality is still moderate by Scottish standards, though. When I was in Scotland, I occasionally made jokes about "using things up", "getting your money's worth" etc but nobody ever saw that I was joking. They all thought I was being perfectly sensible!

In another post Keith spoke with some asperity about "dolts" who don't think much about the world around them and know little of politics. Another philosopher -- Socrates -- once said something similar: "The unexamined life is not worth living". Keith got a blast from one of his readers for speaking so ill of ordinary folk -- a blast that Keith posted up without comment -- by way of a mea culpa, I assume.

I can actually see Keith's point of view as well as that of his reader. I am aware of a large gulf between academic types such as myself and the man in the street and I normally have little to do with those with whom I cannot share at least some intellectual or aesthetic interests.

I do not however think ill of ordinary people in any way. I admire them for getting by and leading generally decent lives without the intellectual resources that I have. They quite simply need almost all their attention for their day-to-day lives and so cannot afford the luxury of constant reflection that I can. And I am strongly inclined to believe that, in general, a simpler, more basic life leads to greater wisdom and balance than the far flights of fancy one often encounters among intellectuals.

I have certainly found that so in my personal life. I find that intelligent working-class girls are far easier to get on with as wives and girlfriends than bourgeois women are. The bourgeois ladies are always getting bothered about little things that don't really matter whereas the working-class women just look at the basics and are delighted to get those right. There is no doubt which group is happier.