Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A Coterie is a Self-Appointed Aristocracy

It will be obvious that the element of secession, of indifference or deafness (at least on some matters) to the voices of the outer world, is common to all Friendships, whether good, bad, or merely innocuous. Even if the common ground of the Friendship is nothing more momentous than stamp-collecting, the circle rightly and inevitably ignores the views of the millions who think it a silly occupation and of the thousands who have merely dabbled in it.[...]

A circle of Friends cannot of course oppress the outer world as a powerful social class can. But it is subject, on its own scale, to the same danger. It can come to treat as "outsiders" in a general (and derogatory) sense those who were quite properly outsiders for a particular purpose. Thus, like an aristocracy, it can create around it a vacuum across which no voice will carry. The literary or artistic circle which began by discounting, perhaps rightly, the plain man's ideas about literature or art may come to discount equally his idea that they should pay their bills, cut their nails and behave civilly. Whatever faults the circle has--and no circle is without them--thus become incurable. But that is not all. The partial and defensible deafness was based on some kind of superiority--even if it were only a superior knowledge about stamps. The sense of superiority will then get itself attached to the total deafness. The group will disdain as well as ignore those outside it. It will, in effect, have turned itself into something very like a class. A coterie is a self-appointed aristocracy.
~C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves, "Friendship", (1960)


On this day:

1937 J.R.R. Tolkien published The Hobbit.

Cool link of the day: Shire Post Mint and Postal Service

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