Quote of the week

Robert Stacy McCain, on Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road and the subsequent Sam Mendes film, starting with the declaration that Yates was an intellectual:

[T]he intellectual’s instinctive hatred of “rural idiocy” / bourgeois conformity / small-town Babbitry is so nearly universal that it’s neither a cliche nor a stereotype, it is merely a fact.

Intellectuals love the city life, except when they’re engaged in noble-savage fantasies about far-away primitivism. The intellectual can simultaneously romanticize the aboriginal tribesmen he sees in National Geographic while denouncing as hopelessly backward the people of Brentwood, Tenn., or Cumming, Ga. — and he never even notices the contradiction, because there is no one in his urban intellectual coterie who thinks differently.

It’s a free country, and you are free to hate suburbia and suburbanites, if that makes you happy. But your hatred of suburbia does not make you superior, and it is the intellectual’s sense of superiority that informs his anti-suburban prejudice.

I intend to keep this handy next time one of the local hipsters spouts off about something within two miles of the city core that’s just “not urban enough.”


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