January 23, 2007

The Intellectual Snob

Very familiar... where have I met them before?

From the very first time you read "Hoppy, The Playful Bunny" in a nursery school, to the very last time you read "Happy, The Playboy Bunny" in a nursing home, you can be assured that your literary taste will be ridiculed by some unnerving, unspeakable, self-righteous entity known as the Intellectual Snob. Generally, an Intellectual Snob will know all there is to know about Stephen Hawking and Andrei Tarkovsky but absolutely nothing about Steven Seagal or Andre Agassi.

People assume that the Intellectual Snob is smarter than others just because they call attention to their brilliance more often than regular folks. In truth, the average Intellectual Snob is an untalented soul, who begins life as a babbling brook of big words, quickly grows to a cascading river of meaningless mouthings until he ultimately wreaks havoc by inundating all around in a deluge of swirling trivia.

It's easy to spot an Intellectual Snob in a crowd. They're the ones sitting in a cafe reading "The Collected Works of Friedrich Nietzsche". They're the ones picking out the plaster-of-paris bust of Rene Descartes to give as a house-warming present. They're the ones packing for a vacation to Goa because they heard that there's a great museum there. And they're the ones on the dance floor at the disco dancing to "Swan Lake".

Some psychologists think that Intellectual Snobs become what they are because they secretly feel inferior. Maybe that's why they never voice an opinion about a movie they've seen until they hear what that critics have to say. That's why they subscribe to scholarly journals for the sole purpose of impressing the postmen. That's why they tell everyone they're watching "Discovery Channel" when they are really watching "Kaun Banega Crorepathi".

An Intellectual Snob's aloof air of superiority often causes him to be thought of as nothing but a tightly closed mind attached to a wide open mouth. In reality an Intellectual Snob is much more; he represents the paragon of Mature Wisdom having a custom vehicle registration number with his IQ on it; Warm Generosity eager to share his knowledge of correct grammar with the less fortunate; Deep Humility wearing a glow-in-the-dark top-10 college sweatshirt; and a Veritable Fountain of fatherly advice who never had children of his own because he never got married because he never found a girl who was good enough for him... or could even stand to go out with him.

Strange to say, the world probably needs Intellectual Snobs. Someone has to explain what the prime minister just said in his speech that everyone heard. Someone has to read through those long newspaper articles that come between the cartoons. And most important of all, someone has to buy tickets for all those Mahesh Dattani plays.

No one really knows what strange internal chemistry produces these pontifical purveyors of profound prattle. Some Intellectual Snobs seem driven by an invisible force to learn everything about Iranian cinema because they can't seem to understand anything about cricket. Others seem compelled to acquaint themselves with poor 15th century Flemish painters because they can't acquaint themselves with rich 21st century rock stars. Still others seem obliged to quote long passages from Shakespeare because they don't have any thoughts of their own which bear repeating.

Naturally, anyone who talks so much while saying so little is bound to slip up. But the Intellectual Snob cannot bear to have his remarks challenged, no matter how absurd they are. The true Intellectual Snob will quickly defend his pronouncements by flashing a superior smirk and replying with the same contemptuous words that he has uttered so often before:

I wouldn't expect you to understand.