I have quite an elitist taste in literature (and arts in general, and maybe just life in general). This is not a problem: everybody likes different things and I don’t have to be ashamed of the fact that I like these things. I’m not bothering anyone.
However, sometimes I realise I go too far and I become a snob. For example, I have a tendency to think I won’t like certain aspects of popular culture, just because they are popular. If a book is very well received and talked on in all the big talk shows on TV, I immediately think I won’t like it, because I tend to like things that most people don’t like. But it gets worse: I also stop liking things when the masses discover it. It feels like a novel or a work of art loses its value once everybody starts liking it. It kind of feels like when you really like someone, and they use this cute little pet name for you which you absolutely love, and the next day you hear them use that pet name for three others. That was your special thing! You had this intimate relationship with this work of art and suddenly that intimacy is broken. It almost makes the artwork feel… kind of slutty, a word that’s just as problematic in this context as it is in daily use, because who am I to judge to whom a work of art presents itself? But it’s also why I hate it when a museum is crowded. It makes it almost impossible to experience that special bond with a painting.
Last week I was in Paris and I visited Musée de l’Orangerie, the museum where you can see Monet’s paintings of the waterlilies. These huge paintings are sublime, but the rooms were full of tourists just making selfies, or getting their pictures taken by friends, every picture more focused on their own outfit than on the painting. They were constantly standing in the way of the paintings and I just wanted to shout at them that it was not a freaking catwalk but a museum. Some of them didn’t even look at the paintings, they just thought of it as a background for their pictures for Instagram. Not only were they standing in the way of my view of the paintings, I also became hugely annoyed by their attitude towards the paintings. It just felt like disrespect.
Seeing people interact with art or literature this superficial way makes me angry. It makes me angry at them, and in some weird way at the painting as well, and it makes me angry at myself for making me distrustful towards other people. I’ve seen these things so many times that by now I just assume it’s the status quo. When I meet someone I assume they won’t appreciate those things on the same level as I do. And that makes me lonely, because I know there are people out there with whom I can share my love for these things but I just don’t even try anymore because I expect to be disappointed.