De gustibus non est disputandum. And still, it is a subject we always return to. Taste is something we all know, but define differently. It is a mark of sophistication, of class – or not.
Taste is also illusive, en aesthetic mind is something that takes a lifetime to develop, and it needs cultivating. Maybe this is why rich Americans spend fortunes on stylists and interior decorators – they have the money to spend on the style they have no training to develop.
In European tradition, which of course means American too since they have very little tradition of their own, ( 😉 ) there are two main schools of aesthetics – the Greek and the Roman. I could give a lengthy lecture on this, but suffice it to say that Greek ideals claimed there’s nothing better to spend your money on than an understatement, while the Romans chose the opposite view – if you’ve got it flaunt it. With a few exceptions, mainly to do with court culture, European ideals have ever since the fall of the Roman Empire been very Greek – less is more, an educated eye detects quality – not quantity. America on the other hand have adopted Roman ideals, which can be seen in public architecture as well as in patriotic rhetorics and in general taste.
This has lead to Americans and Europeans (mostly) friendly habit of bantering over each other’s taste and ideals. Englishmen often find Americans loud and outspoken, while Americans find Brits to be stiff and old fashioned.
I was taught early that anything ostentatious is bad taste. Anything loud is bad taste. Anything gaudy is to be avoided like cholera. Because a lady is rather seen dead than showing a lack of taste. This is never said openly of course, it is just a part of our schooling. It’s silent knowledge. And if you don’t know it, it just shows a lack of education.
I know this sounds awfully arrogant. I would never have expressed myself like this ordinarily, but I’m trying my best to comply with the request of a valued contributor here, who said I have to speak candidly and clearly for him to understand since all this is unknown to him.
So, does it take money to have good taste? Of course not.
If you buy false Gucci-bags it proves you have no money and no taste. If you buy real Gucci-bags it shows you have money, but no taste. If you have taste but no money, you buy good quality second hand or plain IKEA, without pretending it’s anything else. If you have real money and taste, you buy quality with no visible label.
So dear Saad, if you have ever seen a program like The Real Housewives of Bevery Hills, I can tell you that those people seem just as vulgar and strange to me as they probably are to you. Tv-shows like Jerry Springer or Baywatch make me cringe, and I find the language in e.g. rap-music just as offensive as you probably do. But not because I am morally outraged, I’m just aesthetically gobsmacked.
If you’ve got it flaunt it appears just as vulgar to me if it’s a millionaire wearing diamond studded watches as if it’s young people wearing hotpants and bras only. American vulgar culture, as opposed of course to all parts of American culture that are not in poor taste, focusing on flaunting whatever you have hence to me is simply a statement of poor taste. Errors of taste are very often the outward sign of a deep fault of sensibility. 🙂
The above stated is of course a prejudiced generalization, I admit it willingly.
There’s a reason why de gustibus non est disputandum became a quote known by all 🙂