Selected Snobberies: Summary, Detailed Notes and Questions and Answers

SELECTED SNOBBERIES BY ALDOUS HUXLEY

Introduction

The present essay on Selected Snobberies is a fine example of what an essay should be. The writer has taken up an interesting topic and suggested some snobberies with which most people in the world are affected. The essay does not teach any moral principle but familiarises with a new subject that is applicable to most people of the world. It says whether we like it or not but most of us do have some kind of snobbery though we may not be conscious that it is only a snobbery. The unit aims at presenting a detail of snobberies enumerated by Aldous Huxley.

The essay consists of seven paragraphs in which the writer discusses the interesting subject of snobberies. The essay has been entitled Selected Snobberies which means that the writer discusses not all but some selected snobberies only. The selected ones here are the most common ones. These common ones are about diseases, booze, modernity, art and culture. Aldous Huxley’s style is quite interesting, particularly the way he exposes the weakness of each snobbery. For example, a society that has many snobberies has been compared with “a dog with plenty of fleas”.

About the Writer: Aldous Huxley

Aldous Leonerd Huxley (1894–1963), an English writer who spent the latter part of his life in the United States is famous for his novels and essays on a number of topics. He also published poetry, stories and film stories. He was not only a humanist and pacifist but a writer on spiritual subjects including those on parapsychology and philosophical mysticism. He was an intellectual and a leader of modern thought and philosophy.

Huxley started writing at an early age. He wrote his famous novel Brave New world in which he discusses the demeaning effect of scientific progress and in Ends and Means he points out that though everyone is in favour of a just and ideal society yet there are differences among people and leaders on how to achieve it. In 1938 Huxley became a friend of J. Krishnamurti whose teachings had a great influence on him. He was much attracted to Vedantism also and was introduced into the Vendantic Circle of Swami Prabhavananda and soon after he wrote The Perennial Philosophy in which he discusses some of the widely believed spiritual ideas and the mystical teachings of the famous mystics.

Summary of Selected Snobberies

There are all kinds of people and all kinds of snobberies so that there is nothing in the world about which people cannot be snobbish. There is however one exception to it. It is not possible to find a leprosy snob as none wants to suffer from it. But there are a good number of people who are disease snobs. There are examples of young men and women who are T.B. snobs. They think that it would be quite romantic to die of tuberculosis while they are in the prime of their youth. The regrettable part of it is that the end of these T.B. snobs is not as romantic as they seem to imagine. But there are many rich people who seem to think that they suffer from many diseases and they run from one fashionable doctor to another to seek a cure for their imaginary diseases. The only disease that these snobs suffer from is none else but that of over-eating. They eat more than they can digest and so they think that they are suffering from several diseases.

There are fashions in snobberies also. Old snobberies become outdated and the new ones take their place. Earlier people used to be snobbish about their families but now family snobbery is on the decline. New culture snobbery is on the increase though it is resisted by low-class people. The latest in our times is the booze snobbery and most young men and women also from fifteen to seventy are seen drunk in at least private parties. France has been famous for its fine wines and its fine tastes but such is the influence of these low-class people that the taste for fine wines is being substituted for strong wines and cocktails.

Modernity snobbery is not wholly new for it existed in the past also. Modernity snobs throw away old things and buy the latest that have been created or invented by machines. These snobs are the best friends of the modern industry producers. The producer produces the latest things that do not last long. This modernity snobbery is fast increasing in our times.

Art snobbery is another. These art snobs are of two kinds: The platonic and the unplatonic. The Platonic ones only appreciate and admire art without buying art objects; but the unplatonic art snobs actually purchase art objects and for them, an art object is not a piece of art but actually a commodity, a money symbol which they must possess just as they buy and possess motor cars. Some of these art snobs happen to be modernity snobs also and they claim to be the patrons of modern art. Without understanding anything about the art they just buy paintings of modern painters. In this way, these modern art snobs are a great source of the livelihood of the new art painters.

As for the value of snobberies, it all depends on the attitude of its practitioners. If they think that all activities are good then all snobberies are also good. But if they think that all activities are bad then all snobberies are not good. If they think that all the world is an illusion then all snobberies are meaningless. All depends on our attitude and approval of what is a good activity and what is bad. But most people take the middle position between these two extremes. Those who regard some snobberies as good activities they will promote only those snobberies and they will advise all people to acquire those very snobberies which they think promote good activity. Every snob in this way is the promoter of one snobbery or the other at a time.

Detailed Notes and Glossary

Paragraph-1: All men are snobs….. solicitude and pity.

Summary:-

There is no end of snobberies and all people have one kind of snobbery or the other though there may be no leprosy snobs. But disease snobbery is common enough. There are many T.B. snobs who wish to die while young but their death is usually not so happy as they seem to imagine. There are some rich snobberies which are the snobberies of rich people. These rich people think that they suffer from several diseases and they run from one fashionable doctor to another in search of their cure. In fact, these rich people do not suffer from any diseases but they disease is that they eat too much and then they think that suffer from many diseases.

Word meanings:-

snobs = one who holds a very high opinion of himself.
mortal = resulting in death.
leprosy = a disease that forms silvery scales on the body.
Consumption = tuberculosis or T.B.
Keats = an important romantic poet of the early nineteenth century who died at a very young age.
Marie Bashkirtseff = (1858-1884) a Russian French artist; she was one of the most romantic figures who lived in the most intense cultural period of the nineteenth century.
fading = slowly dying. ingenious = here it means one who thinks of new diseases.
poeticizing = thinking sentimentally.
pathetic = deserving pity.
maladies = diseases.
from spa to spa = from one good doctor to another good doctor.
lavish = generous.
solicitude = consideration.

Paragraph-2:- Disease Snobbery is……. the privacy of a party

Summary:-

Snobberies change with time. Some snobberies of the past have been replaced by the new ones. The family snobbery is on the decline but the booze snobbery is on the increase. The taste for fine and soft wines has been replaced by strong drinks and cocktails. Culture snobbery is also being replaced by low culture snobbery. The drink snobberies is becoming quite popular and women also have taken to drinking in private parties.

Word meanings:-

multitude = a great number.
Ebb and flow = rise and fall (here it means that they flourish and disappear).
booze = strong drinks.
wrestle = fight against.
low-browism = the habit of low-class people.
repulsive = hateful.
malefic = harmful.
connoisseurship = the ability to judge about tastes from good to bad.
solecism = against good manners.
branding = marking.
cocktail = mixing of strong drinks.
headway = progress.
tempered = softened.
I

Paragraph -3:- Modernity snobbery…… snobsnow

Summary:-

Modernity snobbery has been there in every age and a modernity snob is the modern producer’s best friend. A modernity snob will always be hunting for the latest goods that he will buy and throw away the old ones. The modern producer of goods will always produce the latest things for the modernity snobs. The more he produces, the more it is sold. The modern producer produces the most perishable things that do not last for a longer time. He spends a lot of money on advertisements. His great desire is that many and more people should become modernity snobs; so that he becomes richer very quickly.

Word meanings:-

unprecedented = not happening before; something quite new.
economic = here its means one of a spendthrift nature.
production running out of consumption = there is more production than its utilisation.
skyscraper = very high building.
perishable = soon finished.
gospel = religion; here it means the theory.
enormous = very large.
flood of advertisement = lots of advertisement.
docile = unable to resist.
reiterated = repeated two times or more

Paragraph-4: Most of us are… fleet of motor cars.

Summary:-

Art snobs are of two types. These are the platonic and the unplatonic. The Platonic ones admire art objects but do not buy them but the unplatonic ones actually buy art without admiring it. They treat art objects only as commodities or as money symbols like motor cars.

Word meanings:-

Platonic = those people who love art for its own sake but do not buy it.
unplatnoic = One who does not love art but actually buys it
hybrid = from parents of different species; here it means of a mixed breed.
mule = a hybrid of horse and donkey.

Paragraph -5: The value of … means of subsistence

Summary:-

Many art snobs are modernity snobs also and they buy the paintings of the modern artist. They are a source of income and livelihood of the upcoming artist.

Word meanings:-

Old Masters = paintings by the famous artists of the past.
Eccentric = peculiar, not normal.
subsistence = livelihood.

Paragraph -6:- The value of snobbery…… diseases and culture

Summary:-

The purpose of snobbery, in general, is to keep its practitioners always busy and active. There are practitioners of every type of snobbery in society — be it booze, diseases, modernity, art or of any other kind.

Word meanings:-

humanistic point = from the point of advantage to everyman.
stimulate = encourage.

comatose = dull.
devotees = active followers or believers. unceasing = non-stop or restless. succession = one after the other.
perpetually = permanently or continuously.
lion hunting = seeking the company of the best persons.
preoccupation = demanding the best attention.

Paragraph -7:- If we regard activity ….. particular Pope

Summary:-

Snobberies are neither good nor bad in themselves but they all depend on what we think about them. Those activities which we regard as good become good snobberies while others to us are either bad or indifferent. Everyone wants to promote among others the same snobbery which he considers to be good and he becomes a great and strong supporter of that particular snobbery.

Word meanings:-

Buddhists = the followers of the religion of Lord Buddha who preached that all the world is false and unreal and there is no truth in it.
out of hand = without any choice.
downright = completely or thoroughly.
detest = hate or dislike.
philistines = those who care for money only and not for culture.
tribute = something said or done to show respect or admiration.
Pope = the highest authority of the Roman Catholic religion. Here it means the strongest supporter.

Assessment Questions

Q.1. Name the selected snobberies mentioned by Huxley in his essay on selected snobberies.

Ans. 1 According to Huxley the following are the important selected snobberies.

(i) Diseases snobbery.

(ii) Consumption (T.B.) snobbery

(iii) Family snobbery

(iv) The snobbery of ignorance and stupidity

(v) Booze (wine drinking) snobbery

(vi) Modernity snobbery

(vii) Art (Platonic and unplatonic) snobbery

(viii) Culture snobbery

Q.2. What are Huxley’s general views and observations about snobberies?

Ans. According to Huxley all of us are snobs about something or the other and there is nothing about which man cannot be snobbish. However, there is the leprosy disease about which hardly any person can be found to be snobbish. The writer says that he cannot imagine any person who can be snobbish about leprosy.

About the value of snobberies, Huxley says that snobberies make every person active and working for it. A society that has many snobberies will never be dull because all people are snobbish about something and so all people ought to be working for their particular snobberies. In this way, all people ought to be busy and active. “Every snobbery demands of its devotees unceasing efforts, a succession of sacrifices”.

No snobbery is good or bad in itself. It all depends on one’s view about life in general. If we think that all activity is good, all snobberies ought to be good. If, on the other hand, we think that all activity is bad and useless, all snobbery is bad and useless. The value of snobbery accordingly depends on what we think about the purpose of life. But generally, people avoid both the extremes. Generally, people prefer to take the middle position with regard to these extremes about activity related to snobberies.

Everyone is interested in promoting his kind of snobbery. He will promote only that snobbery which he considers to be good. He will naturally try to promote and work for that very activity. Thus for each snobbery, there is its promoter and its advertiser.

Q.3. According to Huxley snobberies like fashions keep on changing. How does the writer substantiate it?

Ans. According to Huxley snobberies also have their fashions and live according to their allotted time. Just as fashions change so do snobberies. There were many snobberies which were quite fashionable and popular a fifty or a hundred years ago but they are not valued now. With the advancement in medical sciences, the disease snobbery is increasing, while the family snobbery which used to be quite fashionable earlier is now on the decline. The culture snobbery is also there but it is being challenged by low taste people. For example, France was once quite famous for its fine wines and fine tastes. But the fine taste for drinking is being substituted by booze snobbery and people now want strong drinks and cocktails. The latest fashion is seen in the drinking habits of women also. Now every woman from fifteen to seventy is seen drunk not in public places so much as in the privacy of domestic parties.

There is also the modernity snobbery nowadays. In the past, people used to respect old families and old things and traditions. But now all this is a thing of the past. Today people are modernity snobs and they want to buy the latest things that are produced by the machines. They want to throw away the old things. Such people are the modern producers’ best friends. The producer is fast producing items that are quickly perishable.

There are the art snobs and they are of two kinds — the platonic and the unplatonic. The platonic ones merely appreciate works of art. They do not buy these things but only admire them for their artistic excellence. But the unplatonic ones actually buy these art objects without having any knowledge or taste for these things. Such people only show that they are interested in art but actually they are interested in showing their money power and value.

Q.4. What are the commoner disease snobberies of rich people?

Ans. 4. There are some commoner disease snobberies of the rich people who think that they suffer from incurable diseases. Such people possess a lot of leisure, sufficient wealth and health also yet they seem to suffer from undiagnosable diseases and for their cure they run from one famous doctor to another and spend a lot of money also and yet they find no satisfaction. The truth about them is that they do not suffer from any disease and are quite hale and healthy: but such people are only disease snobs. If they suffer from any disease at all it is only that they overeat and then they think that they suffer from several diseases. Overeating is their habit because they are rich people and they can afford to be disease snobs.

Q.5. What are Huxley views on unplatonic art snobbery?

Ans. According to Huxley art snobs are of two kinds – the platonic and the unplatonic. The platonic art snobs admire and appreciate art for its own sake. They do not buy art objects. But the unplatonic art snobs, instead of admiring art want to possess it and so they buy art objects as though an art object is a commodity like a fleet of motor cars. Thus they want to show that they have enough money and want to impress others by their power to buy art also. For them, an art object is a money symbol which is costlier than a fleet of motor cars and is nothing more.

They think that people will admire and respect them as real art lovers.

The unplatonic art snobs are worse when they happen to be modernity snobs also. In that case, instead of buying old art objects, they buy art objects made by living artists. In this way instead of buying the art objects of the Old Masters, they patronize the living artists. Thus they are a source of livelihood for the poor living artists. In this way, they think that they are great patrons of living art. The advantage is that the poor living artists benefit from it and so these modern unplatonic art snobs impress others by their money power.

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