IN PRAISE OF SALESMEN. I want to highlight one sentence in the article about Josiah Wedgwood by Judith Flanders. She writes that for Wedgwood, “Selling was an intellectual pleasure, an art form.” I am pleased to see an undervalued profession spoken of in such terms.

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  1. Annalisa says:

    You might say that I’ve been developing a theory (albeit a simple one) that accommodates this statement. My theory is that elitism has no usefulness except for buttressing the fragile egos of people who need it; generally (I admit there are exceptions) there is no inherent greater value to one activity over another, except for illegal ones. I started thinking about this because of a Holly Lisle article about experts vs. professionals. I continued thinking about it because of how you, Dad, consider something valuable even when it appears worthless to you, as long as other people are eager to pay for it. Paris Hilton is a good example.

    Edit: I would like to add two things. One, that this relativistic-type thinking does not take into account personal taste. Personal taste is highly individual (or should be) and carries a lot of clout with me. After I wrote out my theory here, I started to be dissatisfied with it because my personal taste tells me that A LOT of things that other people like are garbage. Two, I want to add a third reason for this theory, and that is my years spent at Carnegie Mellon where my art and writing were regarded as worthless. That experience made me think twice about dissing even such artists as Thomas Kinkade (who I believe has been a topic of discussion on Pater Familias before).

  2. Mary Jane Schaefer says:

    I see what you mean, Annalisa, but I’ve got to draw the line at Thomas Kinkade, “Painter of Light.” Talk about salesmanship! He reminds of Erika Jong, who wrote a successful potboiler and then compared herself, in print, in The New Yorker, to Keats!

  3. jim arrowsmith says:

    Phil, the report that you are willing to accept something as valuable even when it appears to be worthless to you ” as long as other people are eager to pay for it” simply reflects the intellectual damage done by long years of studying free market economics. Of course, even worse than the market are the evaluations of the pompous intellectuals who dominate the worlds of art, literary criticism.

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