Thursday, January 19, 2006

Que suis-je? What it means to be a Metrocon

For those of you who are interested in getting a better sense of how a describe myself, let's just say that I would definitely enjoy hanging out with Mark Gauvreau Judge. He explains in detail what defines a 'metrocon', a label he uses to describe his dedication to conservative philosophy and his rejection of rural 'redneck' culture commonly associated with such beliefs. Among most conservative voters, people like Judge, the staff at the National Review and I are but a tiny minority. In spite of all my courteous efforts in reaching out to the traditional people of small towns, whether farmers, ranchers, and even a majority of suburbanites, there somehow arises an impermeable barrier of real understanding.

On a cultural level, I identify far more with eclectic people who live in cities. It is much easier for me to get to know and understand deeply a person coming from countries thousands of miles away than my next door neighbor in semi-rural surburban Texas. I love getting to know immigrants, and I frequent their restaurants, observing their social mores more closely than many of my own relatives. I've never truly reveled in any kind of folk culture nor have I ever cared to idealize the virtues of the pastoral life. That does not mean I ignore these important aspects of life, but that I engage them from the point of view of an outside observer studying the phenomena of 'folk life'. It's similar to the way I watch television: I will view some sitcoms and reality shows not as entertainment for its own sake, but as a window into popular culture that somehow I stand slightly apart from.

Cities are wonderful and I tend to prefer ones that have a bit of noise, lots of ethnic diversity, and some visible chaotic disorder in traffic and land development. I demand an international airport close by, high caliber art museums, orchestras, and yes, even a decent ballet company (sorry, my beloved Austin). It helps of course to be able to have a few nice architectural landmarks as well. My taste in music, if you haven't already figured it out by the title of the blog, is unknown in country towns but well loved by people in London, Manchester, Berlin, Chicago and Paris. I watch lots of foreign films, even while I watch a few blockbuster at the local movie theatre, though I somehow regret to find myself among the 'masses' outside the cineplex or at a theme park.

Call me a snob. It's a label I don't hesitate to accept, but it is not one based on money, but rather on intellectual value. At the local level, it gets lonely in that I have so little in common with most people who surround me, either in my neighborhood or at work, and I often wonder whether I would enjoy hanging out with the metrocons who work at the think tanks in D.C. or New York. But until then, I relish the contacts I've made online who share similar interests, and I continue to approach and befriend people different from me with home-grown humanity. Metrocons must be adaptable, after all.

Hattip: 2 Blowhards

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