Wednesday, March 16, 2011


(Percy Heath and Jimmy Heath)

Like I was saying on Monday, if you have a democratic spirit in art, you focus little on your personal position. What matters is the well-being of the whole, animated by diverse parts. I confess again, I have a hard time letting my individualistic urges go. Therefore, not only am I an art capitalist, but I’m an art snob.

Virginia Woolf, in her hilarious essay “Am I a Snob?” (thanks Ixv) provides a definition:
The essence of snobbery is that you wish to impress the other. The snob is a flutter-brained, hare-brained creature so little satisfied with his or her own standing that in order to consolidate it he or she is always flourishing a title or an honor in other people’s faces so that they may believe, and help him to believe what he does not really believe – that he or she is somehow a person of importance.
Really what has to be highlighted here is that a snob doesn’t actually believe she’s superior. She therefore sets things up around her in order to feel better about herself: she’s comforted by certain friends that complement an image she’d like to project of herself as independent and edgy; she fills her head with lofty thoughts about the potential of art (I think therefore I am). This is snob psychology, and it explains why one such person would prefer to be surrounded by like-minded artists in a gallery. Because, braving difference on her own is too damn scary.

I can think of three art snob antidotes off the top of my head:

1. Find your inner-aristocrat whereby you don’t need to care about other people. My friend, I’ll call her Shields, was a good example. She had no censor mechanism and would tell dirty jokes at every dinner party possible.

2. Find your inner-Heath Brother. To quote Percy Heath, “The reward for playing jazz is that you get to play jazz… It’s something to live for.”

3. Genuine, if only temporary, feeling.

1 comment:

Max Stevens said...

Good stuff. I remember "Shields." I think she was related to Lynn and Meadow. She really knew how to silence a room.