Authenticity Watch: Kingsely Amis -

Authenticity Watch: Kingsely Amis


The deafness that we have to our own aesthetic prejudices and biases is closely analogous to our deafness to our own accent. Just as each person thinks the way he speaks is perfectly natural — it’s other people who have funny accents — we all believe that our own judgments about what is ugly or beautiful, delicious or disgusting, reflects real properties in the world. It is other people whose tastes are so obviously conditioned by their culture or their social class.

That’s from my column in the print edition of this week’s Maclean’s…

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Authenticity Watch: Kingsely Amis

  1. Andrew,
    I think that is quite a good article. However, I do think you are painting with too broad a brush. Yes someone who will only eat organic or local can be a bore. owever, a local strawberry picked in season tastes 10x better than one picked in Chile. So, when local strawberries are in season, I go out of my way to buy, freeze, and eat local. Is that snobbishness? I think it is common sense – fresh food tates better. Similarily, for my 5 bucks, am I better off taste wise getting a BLT from Kettleman’s or a Big Mac? Again, are you being a snob to make this choice?

  2. Andrew,
    Some compulsory reading for you would be “Animal, Vegetable,Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver.
    Locavore could be snobbish but it could also be about, health, stewardship of our food supply and global warming.
    Check it out. You won’t look at food the same again.
    Keith McEwen

  3. Ah! the ultimate triumph of the human ego. This is why I always run the other direction and stop listening to anyone who prefaces a statement with ” The Reality is ” or another ” The Bottom Line is ” classic examples of my opinion means more than yours because the reality or bottom line being expressed is inevitably the opinion of the expressor! I was reading awhile back that there is a way to tame this human ego which amazingly enough may be controlled by our language which is defined by our culture : Noam Chomsky may be right on with this – simple too – change I too WE! and watch what happens very strange things can start to occur. Another classic example if this concept is web forms – have you ever noticed that people tend to read what they already agree with – take TGM web forms as an example read some and shortly after you begin to see that for the most part they are diatribes against the Conservatives then change to a Conservative biased blogosphere and you have the same diatribes against Liberalism this has always amazed maybe because am at heart a contrarian whereas I love being around those or involved with those that disagree with me!

  4. I enjoyed your article, but I am concerned by your extensive use of the deafness metaphor.

    Clearly the meaning you are attempting to convey through use of this figure of speech is; lack of understanding, not willing to listen and generally ignoring whatever point is under discussion.

    I am certain you do not mean to demean or otherwise insult deaf people in any way through use of this metaphor. You may be interested to know that while certain words or phrases referring to various disabilities have been fallen into disuse(e.g. deaf and dumb, retarded)because of the negative connotations, in fact the word deaf itself has remained and is commonly used to refer to those people who have a significant hearing loss. There is such a thing as the Canadian Association of the Deaf, for example.

    As it turns out deaf people do not ignore people, neither do they deliberately “tune out.” In fact they are remarkable for their ability to communicate either through aided speech and hearing or use of the sign language. They are keen communicators and do not fit the stereotype that your now outmoded metaphor implies.

    Therefore I respectfully suggest that you find another metaphor to convey your meaning.

  5. I agree with you – completely – about locavores and voluntourism. But i think you’re wrong in a larger sense. Elitism shouldn’t be a dirty word.

    For example, I don’t care what poor people think, Shakespeare IS better than James Frey (or whoever). The way you’re going, it would be wrong for anyone to judge anyone for anything, because they’re just reflecting the social prejudices of their class. In other words, you’d be advocating the OTHER stereotype people use when they make fun of the left: that they’re relativists who won’t take a stand for anything because they’re scared of seeming racist or snobby.

    (And also, why is it that when rightwing people pass an aesthetic or moral judgement, they’re unencumbered by political correctness, but when leftwing people do it, they’re trying to be cool. And when rightwing people say that aesthetic judgements are just disguised classism, they’re the ones who are in touch with the working class, but when lefties do it they’re relativist?)

  6. Hello Andrew,
    Congratulations on your thinking and writing abilites … you are blessed with both which guarantees your success as an “opinion salesman”. We are a boring people, so rich, so well fed and so guilt ridden that our looniness has become chronically boring. We have become a society of “do-gooders” clustering at their annual picnic trying to “one-up” the last nut-cake idea with one even more nuts! It’s like living in a kindergarten class where the teacher responds… “wow, Johnnie, what a good idea, let’s all quit eating grapefruit because they’re not grown by our local farmers”. You called it “accented narcissism” and I call it “maniaphobia”. Pass me a glass of Macallan and keep up the good work.