Bourgeois

Another comment from the English professor elucidated something about the anti-modern mentality; that there is a tendency among academics and artists to have a dislike of the bourgeoisie. Most people can relate to not wanting to be someone who fulfills the expected function of waking up, going to work, wearing dress clothes, drinking their coffee, and then obeying the unappreciative and unrealistic boss while living under the threat of human resources disapproval. But when seen from a different perspective this tends to wear off: “I’m making money while preparing for something else” or “I want to make a ton of money so I can do_____” or “I want to support a family.” Camping or hiking trips, or other ways of getting in touch with nature can probably maintain one’s mental health if they are not satisfied with their job. I don’t think that any of that is necessarily a bad way to live.

But I’ve begun to wonder what truly causes the differences in worldview between people who live, learn, and work in the same kind of environment. Why is it that there are “artists and academics” who naturally believe things differently from other people? How are they created?

I read about a month ago about the theory that the bourgeoisie in Europe was largely a eugenic creation of feudal-age hierarchy. The massive lower-class struggled to keep its population from declining since it had difficulty getting access to food and avoiding disease, while the upper-class multiplied since it was easier for it to survive.

While sitting in English class I wondered if the upper and lower classes merged economically because of emerging opportunities (I’m thinking mostly of the New World) but maintained their innate biological tendencies. In other words, I wonder if most middle-class Americans had ancestors who climbed the economic ladder by means of business rather than through a tendency for philosophy/science, letters, history, etc. while many of the working-class are left to ponder the meaning of God and of the stars while they are expected to do jobs that do not involve a degree. Most Fairfield students had ancestors who joined the middle class at some point in the 20th century; Irish, Italians, Latin Americans, and so forth. I think it’s possible that an innately biological aristocracy has been marginalized by the obsession with money, among other things. People live in neighborhoods, form social groups, and even marry according to their wealth.

I don’t like sounding like I do all of my learning from college courses, since that wouldn’t do my theory any good! But of course our choices of major or future profession say a lot about what we are, so long as we live in a country with diverse opportunity. I imagine that if I lived in most parts of India, I would not be taking so many art courses.

Nonetheless…

In my Heidegger course last semester, the professor made his point by asking a student why she was taking notes: “So I can look over my notes later.” “Why?” “So….I can study them.” “Why?” “So…I can do well on the test?” “Why?” “So…I can get a good grade in the class.” “And why do you want to do that?” “So…I can get a good job when I graduate.” “And what’s the point of that?” “Um…I don’t know?”

If I remember correctly he wanted to show how we focus on the tasks right in front of us without constantly thinking about long-term goals. The way I see it, a normal hybridized aristocrat/peasant (i.e. a member of the modern American middle class) is mostly concerned with “If I want____ what do I do to get it?” I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, just that it’s significantly different from asking: “How do I discover_____about the human mind, body, spirit…?” and then asking it again and again, never being satisfied, and having the impulse to get there.

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