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Lady Aquila

Jan 27, 05 - 11:27 AM
Trivial Matters

A thought occurred to me. We were doing a Quirrie General Knowledge Quiz and I suddenl had a thought about the term "General Knowledge" itself.

In the Pit it tends to be called "Trivia" these days, and people who have a lot of Gerneral Knowledge are invariably treated to the cliche that they are "full of useless information" (if they don't use it about themselves first).

Has anyone any idea how his change in the attitude to General knowledge has come about - from being something valued and admired to being something joked about and invariably called "trivial"?
Miss Belleanne

Jan 27th, 2005 - 12:37 PM
Re: Trivial Matters

Knowledge is elitist.

Being intelligent is better than being stupid. Knowing a lot of things is better than not knowing very many. These are surely objective values that anyone can recognise.

But in the Pit, we are all unique(!) and no one may make a "value judgement" setting up one person's uniqueness as better than another's. Influential bongos are simply terrified of any hint of elitism, of anyone being seen to be better than anyone else, because they know that if everyone were ranked on a scale they would be very near the bottom.

So anyone who has the general knowledge that comes from broad reading or even, heaven forbid, having had a good education, is obviously an elitist swine and must be knocked down a peg or two by having their knowledge disparaged.

Miss Peekaboo

Jan 27th, 2005 - 12:56 PM
Re: Trivial Matters

This is an interesting point M'Lady.

I must say I have noticed this also. Bongos seem to have a disregard, or even actively deride those who have good General Knowledge.....I won't reproduce the more derogatory words they attribute to such people.....but I would agree that they are often sighted as being "full of "useless" information", and that the people themselves seem apologetic and self deprecating on the subject. They are often forced to play down their own level of knowledge for fear of verbal attack.

I'd be interested to know what Bongos consider to be "useful" information, if good General Knowledge is considered "useless".

Also my theory regarding their fear of and disregard for those who ARE well informed, is that they are threatened by people who show an interest in things other than the usual Bongo tripe (ie ~ the latest Bongo film, television programme or unbearable music, or the telling of tasteless and coarse jokes ) these are safe and expected territory.
Other information or subjects of conversation raised, that your average Jane Bloggs Bongo doesn't have the knowledge to contribute to, causes her to lash out at the instigator of such things and proclaim them "odd" or "pathetic" or "square". It is THEY who are in the wrong, not she.

This phenomenon is yet another tragic aspect of Pit Life. I must say however, for an Aristasian struggling in the Pit, such knowledge or interests can be useful if you wish to get rid of a Bongo! For example, I was in what I thought was quite a reasonable Public House dining with a friend, and whilst waiting at the bar, was approached by an odious, inarticulate male Bongo specimen, who seemed to believe it acceptable to approach and attempt to speak to me, with no introduction. He muttered a lot of old rubbish, amongst which he asked "What kind of music d'ya like then?" to which I replied that I predominantly enjoy classical music, and was currently having a "Bach and Beethoven phase!" Anyone would think I'd slapped him about the face and insulted his family! He backed away with a look of bemusement and horror and walked to the other side of the bar to be served! I do not exaggerate! hurrah!

I'm not sure exactly when this disregard for knowledge came about.....although I could have a fair guess.

Miss P
Lady Aquila

Jan 27th, 2005 - 1:28 PM
Re: Trivial Matters

Thank you, Miss Belleanne and Miss Peekaboo, for your thoughtful responses to my enquiry.

I have been mulling it over, and I think there is still another point - though it is not unconnected with the ones you have both made. It concerns the modern idea of education.

The traditional idea that was known in Telluria and a "liberal education" or "gentleman's education" - in Aristasia it is called a rayalin education (which is literally "ladylike", but probably better rendered as a lady's education) - that is, an education which creates an Educated Person - is largely lost in the Pit. Instead there is the bourgeois idea of education "for a purpose": that is, to make money. Liberal education is an aristocratic ideal; though increasingly it was once made available to the more intelligent portion of the rest of the population. That is now gone.

What has replaced it is a weird compromise based on the idea that everyone must be educated alike, even though people are not alike. What this means is that what Aristasians would call Paccia people (working class) are not allowed to learn a trade in their early teens, which would be useful to them. Raihira people (the higher classes) can no longer have a liberal or rayalin education, but everyone has a sort of watered-down version of a Magdala (bourgeois) education.

Since the whole point of bourgeois education is to be "useful" (that is, financially profitable) - especially when it has cast off the last traces of classical liberal education and speaks with the post-Eclipse pseudo-pleb accent - anything that hints of real education and that does not have an immediate market value is classified as "trivia" or "useless information".
Miss Lindie

Jan 27th, 2005 - 6:17 PM
Re: Trivial Matters

Very true, my Lady. And indeed, one may say that each group of people is deprived of her proper education.

The higher classes are deprived of a liberal education. The lower classes are deprived of a trade and an apprenticeship. Both are forced into a bourgeois education which is not suitable for them.

But the bourgeois education, in order to make it accessible to people who are not suited to it, has to be "proled down" to a shadow of its former self: so even the bourgeois does not get the educaton proper to her.

Ironically, such an education really does consist of largely useless information.

Jan 27th, 2005 - 11:53 PM
Re: Trivial Matters

I just wanted to ask, does "rayalin education" mean the same thing as "raihiralan education". I have heard the term used. Are they just different forms of the same thing?
Betty Boop's Sister Beryl

Jan 28th, 2005 - 9:08 AM
Re: Trivial Matters

In practical terms there have been some benefits to some people of having the sort of education system we have - I THINK they would say so anyway. The trouble is, I suppose, that everybody does have to earn a living somehow so they DO need that sort of preparation for life. Can anyone suggest an alternative?
Miss Belleanne

Jan 28th, 2005 - 9:40 AM
Re: Trivial Matters

As a blonde, I can assure you that I have absolutely no idea how to earn a living and no intention of finding out. It would give me the vapours.
Lady Aquila

Jan 28th, 2005 - 9:49 AM
Re: Trivial Matters

Dear Miss Boop - welcome to the Club!

You raise a very interesting and important point.

If one is talking about modern education in a general sense - that which prevailed throughout the greater part of the twentieth century - I think you are right.

The really great problem (and also the new negative atitude toward General Knowledge which started this conversaton) comes toward the end of the twentieth century.

Before that there was an educational system where people of a non-academic type were taught to read and write reasonably well - and, unlike the present situation they actually were taught. Adult illiteracy was much lower then, and the semi-literacy that prevails over much of the polutation was much less - just look at the difference level of prose in a working-class newspaper like the Daily Mirror in the 1950s and now. Once they had become literate they were able to learn a trade which was really useful to them.

Now they are forced to stay in academic education (or a very watered-down version thereof) long into early adulthood. Most of them are unwilling, learn nothing, cannot be disciplined owing to new rules, and complain bitterly that the whole thing is useless to them, which it is.

At higher levels, academic standards have dropped ridiculously. While authorities boast of "more passes" in public exams - as if they were talking to a population of idiots - everyone knows that that standards of those exams are a fraction of what they were. Experiments show that pupils with strings of A-stars at A-level cannot pass the 1950s eleven-plus exam for pupils finishing primary school.

Some may argue that this allows more people to have qualifications, but in fact those qualifications are increasingly devalued. What is actually happening is that people must spend the first quarter of their lives geting a degree (and running up a huge debt in doing so) in order to prove to an employer that they are at the level of a 1960s school-leaver with a few (real) A-levels.

Meanwhile the Universities themselves, which once gave every member of the population with sufficient ability to get there a chance to experience a taste of real liberal education with advantage to her career prospects too, have become glorified polytechnics (in fact many of them are polytechnics, simply re-named).

The upper section of the educational ladder, under the pretext of "opening it to all", has simply been lopped off. The University in the old sense just doesn't exist any more.

In short, while changes up to the 1960s may have been broadly beneficial, since that time, they have been going backwards, to the benefit of nobody
Umm Jack

Jan 29th, 2005 - 8:55 AM
Re: Trivial Matters

Would it be appropriate for me to discuss this issue from my perspective as a homeschooling mother, or would that be outside the bounds of the Club?
Miss Annalinde

Jan 29th, 2005 - 9:54 AM
Re: Trivial Matters

Dear Umm Jack - I am sure that would be perfectly fine. Since the topic has come up, let's shed all the light we can thereon.

Diana - about your question. In the West of Aristasia Pura, the term "raihiralan education" is sometimes used as if it meant the same thing as "rayalin education". Actually true raihiralan education belongs to an earlier period in the West and to some parts of the East.

To explain: at one time the system of the Estates was more predominant and each Estate had its own kind of education. The Magdala, or "makers", went to something like grammar schools where they received a sound basic education. This was paricularly the case when they were actually "sellers" - merchants and entepreneurs rather than craftmaids. For the craftmaids, the Guilds undertook much of their education, which took many forms but centred on the "mysteries" of the craft which were something much more than mere "trade secrets" and had both an effective magical application (with relation to craft practices - for the making of things was and is less a purely physical matter than it is in Telluria) and also constituted a Spiritual Path.

The Raihira, or Noble Estate, received a raihiralan education, which, in early times consisted of learning many "accomplishments", such as languages, singing, mathematics, drawing, poetry (every accomplished Raihira should be able to produce well-constructed verse) and so forth. In some cases there was a primary stress on the Vikhelic (martial) arts. While Blondes and brunettes learned many of the same things, there were often certain subjects specific to blondes and others specific to brunettes.

Later, as the Estate system weakened and moved closer to the modern Western form (which is more akin to the vaguer system known in telluria as "class") the great Royal Schools were founded - akin to the Tellurian British Public School (not to be confused with the American public school, which is a very different thing). These were very traditional, concentrated much on Estrenne languages and ancient Raihira tradition. They were the ultimate foundation of the modern rayalin education - hence the confusion - but they were still something quite different.

The Haiela, or Priestly and Intellectual Estate, was educated mainly in the Temples. The more secular Haiela went to Temple Schools. They learned most of what the Raihira learnt, and also many higher things. Some were hightly skilled at philosophical enquiry. The highest, of course, pursued Realisation through the path of Pure Intellect, transcending earthly reason, yet even these received a thorough grounding in "speakable philosophy" - that wisdom which can be spoken an is therefore not the highest. Philosophy in the end is a preparatory stage. Etymologically it means love of Wisdom, for it is that which prepares us for Wisdom. It is not Wisdom Herself.

The training of the Haiela, at all levels, was extremely rigorous.

This, then is the Old System, described rather briefly. Of course it took different forms in different times and places, but this, essentially was its structure. In the West in more recent times, the system of the Estates became weakened, and the raihiralan education of the Royal Schools became a more general rayalin education (which properly means "education for a titled lady" but nowadays means just "education for the higher sort of person"). The Royal schools are now attended by the Raihira, much of the Haiela and the upper Magdala, while the lower Magdala (and some less accomplished Raihira) use the grammar schools.

The system of Estates is much less marked in the modern West, and many people only vaguely associate themselves with their Estate, having a much less specific "class"-based view of life.

In parts of the East, however, the Old System prevails, and even older systems are found in many places.
Umm Jack

Feb 10th, 2005 - 9:35 AM
Re: Trivial Matters

Thank you, Miss Annalinde.

I would like to address Miss Beryl Boop's point. It is a very good game that the Pit-schools like to play, claiming that they are the only purveryors of the skills one needs to sell oneself on the open market, which is, in the Pit, the only way to avoid penury. Leaving aside for the moment the complete illegitmacy of this form of social order, I would like to point out that even by the Pit's own lights it's simply not true that no one can learn anything valuable to the "job market" except in school. And proof of this is very simple. When today's great capitans of the ordinator industry were in school, there were no ordinators anything like what there are today! They did not learn to do what they do in school; it would have been impossible. I do not want to discuss this in too fine detail because I am sure no one wants to be bored by ordinator history. However, it is a field I am tolerably familiar with and it is one in which the sheer uselessness of the Pit-schools to produce even the creature they claim to most want to produce is apparent. The major technological successes, and the robber baron-like accumulation of wealth, of this generation have happened because people wanted to learn something, and taught themselves how.

Secession from the Pit-educational system started in significant numbers in America about thirty years ago. There is now a generation of children growing up whose parents never went to school and who will never go to school themselves. When I hear someone ask, "what is to be done," I answer, look to the people who are doing it and have been doing it. In America, that is primarily ordinator professionals and homeschoolers.
Miss Susanna Dangerfield

Feb 24th, 2005 - 4:55 AM
Re: Trivial Matters

Relevant to this is a practice of ancient Greece and Rome. In both, free people -- mostly patricians, of course -- were given a "liberal education", including literature, philosophy, art, etc. Slaves were given only "vocational education", training in whatever service they were going to perform. They were not permitted education in the "humanities" because it would cause them to become individuals with thoughts of their own, complete human beings, which is inconvenient in a slave. Whenever I hear any bongo dismissing the study of "irrelevant" things in school, I find myself wondering if they have any inkling of what they're moving towards.

In Mr. George Bernard Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra, there is a scene where Cleopatra decides she wishes to learn to play a musical instrument and her teacher tells her that she must study Pythagoras and so on. She indicates a slave-girl playing music and asks if the girl has studied Pythagoras, and is told, "No, she learns as a dog learns." Cleopatra replies, "Then I shall learn as a dog learns," and also states that the slave-girl plays better than the teacher.

Now, Mr. Shaw was a great playwright. However, he also had a lot of silly proto-bongo ideas about socialism and deracinated, adolescent individualism. (I trust you all will understand the difference between this ersatz "individualism" and the real thing and I need not describe it here.) Here he displays his misguided contempt for higher education and insists that it will impair one in performing any craft. Also, the entire play displayed his misguided contempt for Queen Cleopatra and misguided admiration for Julius Caesar. I greatly admired his imaginary Caesar, but history is clear that Cleopatra was a wiser and more moral ruler.

Back to the fictional universe of the play: Cleopatra herself, being a queen, would not be harmed by taking a simpler route to learning something, but the sentiments she is expressing will be harmful by those in the audience who do not know any better than to make the obvious inferences from them.

Feb 24th, 2005 - 12:38 PM
Re: Trivial Matters

How lovely to hear from you, ma'am, and how wise your words!

I have seen the film ofCaesar and Cleopatra. Claud Rains's Caesar is wonderful, but Vivien Leigh's Cleopatra is just it beyond all itness. She makes one positively shiver all over, ma'am.

She is also a near perfect voice-model. We had recordings of her crystalline enunciation in this very film to study for our diction lessons.

Feb 24th, 2005 - 12:39 PM
Re: Trivial Matters

Oh bother! I've done it again. Sorry about the italics, everyone.
Sushuri Novaryana

Feb 24th, 2005 - 1:00 PM
Re: Trivial Matters

Miss Dangerfield! Welcome to the club, and many thanks for your learned contribution.

As a feminst-type one might have thought Mr. Shaw would have disapproved of the "accomplishments" approach to education for young ladies and favoured their being given a sound theoretical grounding. However he seems to take the opposite view here; modernist utilitarianism rearing its ugly head and leading slowly but inexorably, as you so rightly point out, to the style of education suitable for slaves.

Of course a thorough grounding in Pythagoras, particularly as it would have been taught in Ptolemaic Egypt, would have involved not only an understanding of the mathematical basis of music, but also (which would not have been considered a separate thing) of its metaphysical and spiritual basis including, of course the relation of the seven musical modes (based upon the seven notes of the scale) to the seven great Janyati.

But such considerations would, of course, be dismissed with insolent contempt by the callow materialism of a 20th-century socialist still living in the already-obsolete world of 19th-century mechanistic materialism.

One of the problems with modern education is that, without an understanding of the metaphysical bases of knowledge, even those parts normally considered "theoretical" still remain essentially on the level of base utility (otherwise called "scientific empiricism") and thus are not far from the Education of Slaves and readily descend into it.

Cleopatra's education in Pythagoras, and thus in the metaphysical principles underlying music, constitutes a vital element of the true raihiralan educaton.
Miss Susanna Dangerfield

Feb 24th, 2005 - 5:46 PM
Re: Trivial Matters

All of this is reminding me of a bongo I once knew, whose education was only slightly better than that accorded a slave. She subscribed to a lot of silly bongo leftist political notions, which meant that we argued a lot (we worked together). One day she presented a rather strange bit of revisionist history, and when I presumed to question it, she got angry and yelled, "I got an A in history, I know what happened!"

Well. Far be it from me to dispute anyone who got an A in history.

Mar 21st, 2005 - 6:44 PM
Re: Trivial Matters

I was thinking about the question which started this thread and it seems to me that referring to general knowledge as "trivia" or "useless information" is just self-deprecating, otherwise why have quizzes at all? They seem quite popular in the Pit, though I believe I would be embarrassed at knowing the answers to many of the questions. Oscar Wilde said "It is a very sad thing that nowadays there is so little useless information." The Pit has no such problem.

What does seem to provoke resentment if not positive hostility is a good vocabulary.