14 May, 2008

Gather Round, Ye Elitist Bastards

(Postdated so everybody gets to play.)

Right, my darlings. We're overwhelmingly for a Carnival of the Elitist Bastards, which must mean we're all elitist bastards. ¡Viva los bastardos del elitista!

For those of you just joining us, or who haven't yet decided to make your opinions known, there's still time. Go here and weigh in. There's room for more than one Carnival on this site.

And I do not want to hear, "But Dana, I'm not good enough to write for a carnival!"

Of course you are. We'll have no more of this crazy talk.

I might hear, "But Dana, what is a Carnival of the Elitist Bastards?"

That's what we're here to discuss.

First, for those of you who already plumped for being elitist bastards, I'd like you to stop reading. Yes, right this instant. Go write down what you thought such a carnival would be, and then come back for the rest. Don't let my opinions sully your original ideas.

Got it down? Good. I'll just continue, then, shall I?

It's always helpful in these cases to start with a definition. Being elitist bastards, we are likely elite, are we not? Here's what the Free Online Dictionary has to say about that:

e·lite or é·lite
n. pl. elite or e·lites
a. A group or class of persons or a member of such a group or class, enjoying superior intellectual, social, or economic status: "In addition to notions of social equality there was much emphasis on the role of elites and of heroes within them" Times Literary Supplement.

b. The best or most skilled members of a group: the football team's elite.

2. A size of type on a typewriter, equal to 12 characters per linear inch.

Somehow, I don't think #2 works for us, but if one of you clever buggers just felt an idea go "ding," run with it.

An "elitist" is defined as "someone who believes in rule by an elite group." Seeing as how we expect our fearless leaders to have two brain cells to rub together, I believe that puts us firmly in the elitist camp.

But what kind of elitists are we? Thankfully, they have a quiz for that.

I happen to be a Book and Language Snob.

You speak eloquently and have seemingly read every book ever published. You are a fountain of endless (sometimes useless) knowledge, and never fail to impress at a party.

What people love: You can answer almost any question people ask, and have thus been nicknamed Jeeves.

What people hate: You constantly correct their grammar and insult their paperbacks.
Yes, that's me. Hi, me. And what sort of elitist are you?

And what's so wrong with being an elitist, anyway? The Washington Post, never known for its brain power these days, likes to think it has our answer:

Other than being called a criminal, a philanderer or a terrorist sympathizer, is there an accusation in American politics worse than being branded an "elitist"?

The word supposes something fundamentally effete and out of touch, a whiff of brie and latte. There's something about it that grates against our Jacksonian, egalitarian self-image.


Admittedly, it's a fine line. It's okay to be perceived as smart (Bill Clinton) but it's not okay to be perceived as bookish and intellectual (Adlai Stevenson). And it's okay to be elite. Olympic athletes are elite, as are Marines and Navy SEALs. But it's not okay to be insufferably proud of your elite skills, which is just obnoxious.

Could we expect any better of a newspaper owned by Reverend Moon? Probably not. And that was a terribly elitist thing of me to say, wasn't it? (Update: I just realized it's the Washington Times that's owned by Rev. Moon, not the Post. How silly of me. I wonder what in this article could possibly have led me to confuse the two? Apologies to the Post - you've actually displayed a little less fuck-wittedness than the average mainstream newspaper lately.)

Here's how I see things: I think it's time to plant a boot firmly in the arse of the anti-elitist bastards. I think it's time to show the world that there's nothing wrong with being "bookish and intellectual." That, in fact, the world needs to celebrate more thinkers and fewer meatheads. Meatheads got us into this sorry state. Thinkers can think a way out.

It's time we took the word "elite" back. Time we turned the tables on the "populists" and made their "anti-elitist" and "anti-intellectual" poses the obnoxious ones. What they're basically saying is, people are stupid and enjoy mucking about with stupid people because they're too stupid to appreciate intelligence.

I say bunk.

I call bullshit.

I think there's all kinds of elites, and they're just too damned afraid of being branded elitists to say so.

Is there anything wrong with preferring wine over beer? No.

Is there anything wrong with loving a complex, elegantly worded novel more than mass-produced, simplistic trash? No.

Is there really anything wrong with being so smart you need a bigger skull for your brain? No.

And what the fuck could possibly be wrong with being an expert in a field and knowing more than a layman? Absolutely nothing.

People like to spout off about the "wisdom of the masses," but when the masses intentionally lower themselves to the mental level of their most intellectually deficient member, then the masses just ain't that wise. I think it's time for the masses to aspire to some of that vaunted wisdom rather than trying to flatten the bell curve with a sledgehammer.

I think it's time we stop letting our culture celebrate willful ignorance and start promoting genius instead.

So that's my view of this Carnival of the Elitist Bastards: we celebrate our cerebrums, jerk the sledgehammer out of the hands wielding it against us, and kick anti-elitists to the curb. We'll delve into the delightful varieties of elitist and elite pleasures. We'll wax philosophical and hold up the elite of our societies for praise.

I don't think we'll have any shortage of material.

But that may not be what first came to your mind when you decided that a Carnival of the Elitist Bastards would suit you right down to the ground.

So it's your turn: what do you think this Carnival of the Elitist Bastards should be?

The floor is open.

Update: for more Carnival of the Elitist Bastards information, including contact info for yours truly, see this post.


Cobalt said...

I was hoping we could all get together and sip Benedictine while we plot how best to subvert anything that threatens the stability of our bourgeois patriarchal heteronormative status quo (and while we're at it, whip out the thesaurus to create some more jargon...)

george.w said...

I'm in! The relentless denial of complexity has ruined public discourse and driven some spectacularly bad national decisions. It's an inevitable result of sound-byte politics and long past time to push back. When is your submission deadline?

Matt said...

Cheers to all on this glorious day, the first of our open revolt against the hoary head of ignorance whereever its whack-a-mole head may appear next!

Here's an idea for our carnival badge:

Not the typical little tag/logo but simply a thumbnail image of Christopher Hitchens. Let each express ones self but let it be the elitist bastard face of Hitch. You go to a blog that has the Scarlet A and you know you've arrived in hard-core atheist country. But you go to a blog that displays some random thumbnail of Hitch with a link to our little carnival behind it and your anti-elitist ignorance better run like hell 'cause Hitch will burn it right out of you with the lasers in his eyes.

Here's one I might use.

PS. I'm a Book and Language Snob too.

Dana Hunter said...

OMG, Cobalt, you have the highfalutin' language down so well it's scary! LOL.

George: no submission deadline yet. When do you all think we should hold this? I'm thinking around the middle of June should give us enough time to pull things together and consult our thesauri.

I'm liking the photo Matt found of Hitch. Any of you good enough with the Photoshop to whip up a suitable logo or two?

Efrique said...

I have a post on the dangers of anti-elitist rhetoric ready to go. Should I just post it in my blog and then point to it here, or wait for a theme and see if it fits?

Dana Hunter said...

Champing at the bit, I see, my darling! Fantastic!

It's likely going to take a few weeks to get the Carnival ready to go. I'll leave it up to you whether you want to post now, or wait until closer to the Carnival date so as to keep the goods fresh. I'll be soliciting links just as soon as we have things ready to go.

Paul Sunstone said...

Count me in! I'll be using my elitist bastard leisure time to think of a topic.

By the way, thanks for the sidebar link, Dana! I'll be tipping my next bottle of brew in your general direction.

Dana Hunter said...

Tip some o' that direct into my thirsty maw, Paul!

My darlings, I don't think we're just going to have a blog carnival. I think we're going to have the elitist foundation of our very own island nation when this is done. Who else is up for a lifetime of lying on the beach drinking and thinking?

John Pieret said...

"Elitist Bastards" ...

It has so much more je ne sais quoi than "Brights" ...

Anonymous said...

Hi Dana,

Saw your comment over at Paul's blog and wandered into the crossfire.

Quite frankly, and call me an elitist, but a blog is hardly the height of intellectual discourse. I simply blog to remain in touch with the less, how shall we say, neuron blessed. Those that expound on the social mores of the day and then sit back and smugly count themselves as well-educated.

A true elitist would never stoop to admitting to a blog, or, even worse, Face Book. The sacred art of prose has been reduced to profane snippets of text that pass for witty and desirable conversation. Give me the scent of a fine cigar, the deep bite of brandy and the aged wisdom of persons who have spent a lifetime in pursuit of knowledge.

Let the unwashed masses pursue links and comments and the thrill of supposed blog buddies connecting in solidarity. These little issues will remain that, little, but we elitists will remain above the fray and instead exercise our minds in esoteric themes.


Brian aka hummingbunny

george.w said...

Hitch certainly fits the bill.

Another possibility (not at all influenced by the fact that I live in his home town) is Adlai Stevenson. When an Eisenhower supporter called him an "egghead" he responded "Eggheads unite! All we have to lose is our yolks!"

When one of his supporters told him "Every thinking person in America will vote for you" he said; "Thank you maam, but it won't be enough. We need a majority." His campaign slogan was "talking sense to the American people."

("Next on the O'Reilly Factor: Is Stevenson too elitist to be out there for the folks?")

This thumbnail is a mural of him on a building here in town.

Dana Hunter said...

Brian: I hope your tongue was firmly in your cheek, there. If not, you're destroying your elitist cred, having a blog with - gasp! - kittens on it. ;-)

George: Fantastic! I adore it! If we don't use the picture, I think we're going to have to work one of the quotes into the logo somewhere.

Opinions, fellow elitists?

Paul Sunstone said...

I like Hitchens, but I'd love to have Stevenson on the logo with one of his quotes.

Anonymous said...

But all great writers had kittens Dana. Rudyard Kipling, Lewis Carroll, Ernest Hemingway and many others were enthralled by cats.

Matt said...

To John Pieret: yes, I hate the whole brights thing. Quit lame.

Dana, I've done my promo post.

Went ahead with the Hitch idea for my own blog. But still think (maybe in addition to a uniform tag) that maybe using the image of an elitist bastard of choice with a common link behind it is a fun idea. So you see the image of someone who most would consider just such a bastard and that's a symbol.

Anonymous said...

Hey, can I join the carnival? How does that work? I'm new to this sort of thing....

Matt said...

Dana, at some point did you want to create a blog just for announcing carnival dates, misc info, and listing subscribers, etc? Or do you plan to do that all from En Tequila Es Verdad?

John Pieret said...

What kind of elitists would we be if we all agreed on one logo? Frankly, I'm more than a little appalled by Hitchens and would much prefer Stevenson or Alistair Cooke or Sir Kenneth Clark. Why not several?

Joshua said...

I am also interested in taking part.

Matt said...

John, I think the idea of several is what I had in mind. Let each blog choose their favorite bastard and only the link is the same across all blogs. The carnival's trademark will be this rejection of conformity but unity of theme.

The best thing about Hitch, I think, and the reason I would choose him as my own bastard, is that his arrogance is so great that it even offends other elitist bastards. :)

Unknown said...

I would love to participate in the carnival of elitist bastards! I even mentioned the possibility of an anti-anti-elitist post in my very first real blog etry (but still haven't gotten around to actually writing such a post; perhaps I was just waiting for this opportunity).

Dana Hunter said...

So much wonderful Elitist Bastardry, my darlings! I think we have a carnival!

I love the idea of individual pictures. Does anyone know how to set up some sort of html where the picture can just be inserted as part of a logo & link? That would be awesome!

Ames, Joshua, welcome aboard! Delighted to have you both.

@Ames: I'll write up a post here in a day or so with instructions on how to participate. I'm going to get us registered on Blog Carnival here soon, so submissions will be easy as Elitist dreams.

@Matt: a separate page devoted to Carnival business is sounding like an excellent idea. I can create another domain under my external website, so I'll look into setting that up over the weekend. I'll try to arrange it so that it's as interactive as possible. If that proves too much of a nuisance, we'll probably just set up a different blog with priveledges for us original Elitist Bastards. ;-)

If anyone has any ideas what should be included, let me know!

Thank you all for your ideas, enthusiasm, and plugs! This is going to be a definite success, and it's all down to you!

Dana Hunter said...

Etha! Bienvenidos! It's an honor to have you with us! Now's definitely the perfect time for that anti-anti-elitist post ;-)

You guys are all going to have me using multiple exclaimation points soon!!!1!1!! This is incredible. We own the world, damn it!

Paul Sunstone said...

Hey Dana, I just stuck a post up on my blog announcing the carnival.

george.w said...

Have you seen Paul's 'Elitist' thumbnails? Awesome! He has one of Hitchins, one of Stevenson, and they're great.

Paul, if you could make a few more in that style, I'd like to photoshop them into a title bar. A lineup of people who made real contributions by their combination of passion and expertise. May I suggest Norman Borlaug, Linus Torvalds, Ralph Nader, Noam Chomsky, Richard Dawkins, hell, as many as you feel like.

Paul Sunstone said...

I'll see what I can do, George. I've been having fun with this.

NP said...

In case there was any doubt, I'm a Book & Language Snob.

Dana Hunter said...

@Nicole: sisters we be! LOL. I'm thrilled you've signed on!

Unknown said...

As soon as someone starts name calling, that's a signal to me that they have lost. It's a cry of desperation. People who feel good about themselves don't take much interest in what people think of them.

Barry Deutsch said...

You're actually considering pictures of... of... political celebrities for your logo? If you're going to do that, why not go all the way and declare Budwiser the official drink of elitists? Silly rabbits, Hitch is for kids.

Here's my suggestion for the logo image. This way, the image will be a reference to snobbery, but in addition it's an obscure reference to the visual arts and to the ballet. What could be more elitist?