Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Intellectual Snobbishness

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), Complete Essays, Vol. I: 1920-1925 (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2000), p. 361:
I belong to that class of unhappy people who are not easily affected by crowd excitement. Too often I find myself sadly unmoved in the midst of multitudinous emotion. Few sensations are more disagreeable. The defect is in part temperamental, and in part due to that intellectual snobbishness, that fastidious rejection of what is easy and obvious, which is one of the melancholy consequences of the acquisition of culture. How often one regrets this asceticism of the mind! How wistfully one longs to rid oneself of the habit of rejection and selection, and to enjoy all the dear, obviously luscious, idiotic emotions without an after-thought. And indeed, however much we may admire the Chromatic Fantasia of Bach, we all of us have a soft spot somewhere in our minds that is sensitive to "Roses in Picardy." But the soft spot is surrounded by hard spots, the enjoyment is never unmixed with critical disapprobation. The excuses for working up a communal emotion, even communal emotion itself, are rejected as too gross. We turn from them as a cenobite of the Thebaid would have turned from dancing girls or a steaming dish of tripe and onions.

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