There is an idea that youth culture holds some meaning, or that it is even compelling. I know that this is an illusion but there are times when I forget. And so I have picked some difficult hobbies to remind me that the snobs do not retreat. One of these hobbies is history and historical fiction. And since I have given up my public spiritedness for the time being, I am trying to put what may be the illusion of democracy at arms distance as well.
I spent some time with my daughter yesterday, reminded that she very much enjoyed that fraction of 'Man on Fire' that she was able to stay awake for the other night. She told me that the film reminded her of how much most movies 'try to baby me'. My little girl remains mine, but not so little is she.
History is the story of power. We tend to forget that and behave as if people are as nice as they appear. American political partisanship is clear-eyed distrust of the other guy and projection. I have a little to do with that as possible, retaining the bad rightward habit. We pretend that nobody today is as bad a Gengis Khan. We pretend that smrgols don't do man in the middle attacks. We forget about the sewers beneath our suburbs, that shit does indeed roll downhill. We forget these things so that we can enjoy the little that we do understand, giving ourselves the comfort that our perceptions of the various melodramas presented for our amusement are true intellectual gifts.
What are we to make of the society that allows us such conceits?
I told my daughter that the British of Empire seem to know everything merely because they were connected to those who knew quite enough. When a first class berth on the P&O was what it was, perhaps they did know. Some of us pretend that we know of liberty better, but that may be the fool's luxury afforded to us by snobs who simply don't desire to mix it up with us.
And so is born a new rule. Snobs do not retreat. They are only beaten down and retire from the field with some honor.
When you know what you know, you have no reason to retreat. You have to manage your knowledge and your face. This is the lesson I will be teaching my daughter, because she admitted that she, like I, doesn't like to take anyone's word for it. She wants to know everything, and she hates the idea that she doesn't. Except she acts nice around people who don't. I'll try to teach her how not to - how to insist on what she knows to be true no matter what - how to survive the ostracism of the peasant class. How not to look too good nor talk too wise while being both.
I think that it is a private enterprise - like knowing your own and daily improving, yet hiding your kung fu. Once you know. Know that you know and do not retreat.