Zoo Station

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The most elitest quote I have ever heard

Posted by Chance on November 11, 2006

This quote was on my personalized Google Home Page today.

“To be able to fill leisure intelligently is the last product of civilization, and at present very few people have reached this level. – Bertrand Russell”

This quote bothers me for several reasons.

For one, Bertrand Russell was a philosopher and mathematician, who happened to be an atheist (not really anything to do with my comments here). No doubt Russell thinks he is one of the fortunate few who had attained the level of intellectual pursuits, thereby saving civilization.

Secondly, judging what other people do in their pastime is one of the most common, yet most excused forms of snobbery. It is the person attending the opera wondering how the poor brute can pass his Saturdays watching football. (By the way, my brother-in-law is a fan of opera, this is no remark against him; he is one of the most down to earth people I know). It is the person who quotes a few lines of Frost and just assumes everyone knows what he is talking about.

Do not get me wrong, more intellectual pursuits in one’s pastime is valuable. It is important to have a hobby in which gratification is not immediate, in which you have to work a little for it. One’s life will be truly richer if they read an occasional book instead of watching TV all the time.

I was just annoyed with the way Russell worded his comment. One should pursue certain things to enrich their lives and quit worrying about how others spend their time.


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