Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Of Lawyers, Critics, Snobs, & Astro signs.

Some people like to say, recalling an out of context quote from Shakespeare's Henry VI (Part 2), that if they ruled the world one of the first things they'd do would be to hang all the lawyers. In Shakespeare's tale the words come from Dick the Butcher, a follower of anarchist Jack Cade, described as "the head of an army of rabble and a demagogue pandering to the ignorant," who sought to overthrow the government. In context the words are not a dig against lawyers. The point made in the play is that a sure way to chaos and tyranny would be to remove the guardians of independent thinking, the lawyers.

Lawyers I met, and worked with in my former life in England, were all men and women of integrity, as it happens. Anyway, if I ruled the world the lawyers would be safe but I'd - well, not hang because I'm against capital punishment - but I'd deport to an uninhabited and not particularly hospitable desert island ....all professional art and music critics

Why is it that in music and art middle of the road, easily understood, easily appreciated material is considered "uncool", and routinely bashed by professional critics and those who like to feel superior to other mortals?

What makes inaccessible art and music "cooler" or more sophisticated than easy looking or listening works? I smell an element of snobbery or elitism. The need to feel more educated, more sophisticated, better informed....better than.

Snob? Origin of word? From Word Detective:
Unfortunately, no one knows for certain. We do know that "snob" first appeared in English around 1781 meaning, of all things, a shoemaker, or sometimes a shoemaker's apprentice. One authority (Hugh Rawson, in his book "Wicked Words") raises the possibility that "snob" may have begun as essentially the same word as "snub," which came, interestingly, from an Old Norse word meaning "to cut short." Perhaps, notes Rawson, the "snob" (shoemaker) was so called because he "snubbed" (cut) leather. Today, of course, snobs "snub," or cut short, the rest of us all the time.

Whatever its actual origin, by the late 18th century, "snob" had been picked up by university students in England, who used it to mean "townsman," as opposed to a "gownsman," or student. By the 1830s, "snob" was slang for an ostentatiously vulgar commoner, and in 1848 the novelist William Thackeray expanded the term yet further in his "Book of Snobs," where he used the term to denote a kind of grasping, pretentious social climber. And by the early 20th century, "snob" was being used in its modern sense to describe a person who derives satisfaction from disdaining those of lower social rank
I chatted on the matter of art and music snobbery with my husband who contributed the anomaly that when many people like and enjoy something, it's considered to be "a good thing", yet easy listening music and illustrative or realist art are enjoyed by a majority but still instantly put down by those who say they know better. He also pointed out (ahem) that some music and art, "of course", require more thought than other types (ahem). Do I have an incipient critic on my hands here? Best close that conversation; more on this later.

Once upon a time it was thought that people in the USA were less prone to snobbery than those in the UK and Europe. This idea's origin is probably based on the thought that a monarchy, whether one still standing or one gone the way of all flesh through revolution, underpins or underpinned an eschelon of aristocracy, which in turn spawned a sharp class consciousness, from which root springs snobbery and elitism.

Snobbery can now be found in all spheres of life: sport, music, art, literature, entertainment, food, wine, beer etc. etc. All it entails is a penchant for looking down on the tastes and preferences of others in an attempt to make oneself feel superior - about anything at all.

20th century astrologer C.E.O. Carter had this to say in his little book Encyclopedia of Psychological Astrology

"Snobbishness is characteristic of Leos and Capricorns who are still centred on the material aspects of things. It is probable that the better sort of Capricorn is conscious of, and a believer in, class distinctions, but is quite ready to pay each man his due according to his own view of what ought to be accorded to a man in such a position. This belief in the value of caste is part of the love of orderliness which Saturn gives; there is a feeling that every one has, and should have, his right place in life, and should keep there, unless he can raise himself by worth, expressed in such terms as Saturn can respect. The snobbishness of Leo is due to the enhanced idea of their importance which some members of that sign possess."
I get the gist of what Mr Carter wrote, and have to remember that he lived in a very different era from now, with different attitudes. I'm pretty sure that he would not tar all those with Sun in Capricorn or Sun in Leo with the same brush. He was using a kind of astro-shorthand, which those writing about astrology, in brief, fall into now and again, myself included. It's more accurate to think of the signs themselves rather than personifying them as "a Leo", "a Capricorn" - or if a sign needs to be personified I prefer to use, e.g. "a Leo-type".

Summer-born and winter-born people are likely to have some Leo and Capricorn planets in their charts. The key factor is how strong are those planets, what aspects are made, and from whence, and what kind of snobbery is involved. It's quite common for Sun Capricorns to have planets in adjacent sign Aquarius - probably the least likely sign to embrace class snobbery, though some extreme Aquarius-types do tend to think they know more than other mortals, and become elitists. Sun in Aquarius people often have Capricorn planets.....hmmmm.

Instead of wondering "am I (or is some other person) a snob", a better investigation would be to ask "what am I (or what are they) snobbish about?" This presupposes that each one of us has a whiff of snobbery within our personality; I suspect that we all do.

Putting up my own hand, I like to think that in general I'm not a snob, elegant accents aren't my thing, but sloppiness in writing, or crude vulgarity grates on me. In my younger dating days, if a would-be boyfriend was a sloppy speaker, unable to string a sentence together easily when writing, I'd turn up my snobby nose. Natal Mercury (planet of communication)in my chart is in Capricorn, ruled by Saturn, and is almost on the descendant, a strong position. One victory for Mr Carter's theory!

My husband feels much the same as I do about correct writing and speaking. He tells me that in his youth he made a point of training himself out of any regional accent he might have inherited. He has Mercury in Pisces, but conjunct Saturn, ruler of Capricorn. I have to suspect also (whispering).... that he's a teensy bit of a jazz snob. In his natal chart Saturn/Mercury sextiles his Venus(music)/Uranus conjunction in Taurus. He also has Moon and ascendant in Leo....nudge nudge, wink wink. Another tick for astrologer C.E.O. Carter!


Anonymous said...

GP: Snob, derived from `sine nobilitas`, lacking nobility. Usually manifest when stepping on someone lower down to further his own self-agrandissement.

It`s a cruel world! Snobs are usually stressing themselves, for what, one might ask?

Twilight said...

Anonymous/Gian Paul ~~

Yes, that's an alternative derivation for "snob", Nobody can establish for certain its true origin.

In their astro-nature I guess, GP, so maybe not as stressful for them as it is for their targets! ;-)

Wisewebwoman said...

I was sure SNOB was an acronym, T, but can't locate anything remotely resembling this on the webz.

I tend to be a bit of an intellectual snob but fight it as it is a most undesirable trait. My own inadequacies on display for the world to see :)


Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~~ I didn't see an acronym for "snob" around on the net either, WWW. Could you be thinking of a near relating "POSH"? (Port out starboard home?)

Well - you have Leo Sun as culprit, WWW, how could it be otherwise? ;-)

But I'm pretty sure I recall that you have lots of mitigating features in your chart. :-)

Twilight said...

I meant near relative (fingers moving without benefit of brain!