The wind was strong against me as I crossed Burble Park on the way home today. ‘Strong and stable, strong and stable, strong and stable,’ it seemed to be saying, but it said it in a mocking tone, as though questioning whether it had any meaning.
While wandering the streets of Londres for earlier II noted, as I have before, that the houses and gardens of the wealthy are often very beautiful. This is annoying, but is also something worse than that. It is noticeable that the houses and gardens of the newly wealthy are far less attractive. It is the aristocracy, the squirocracy, old money, that seems to have the best taste. I say ‘seems’, because who made the decisions about what good taste consists of? Who decided what a beautiful house and garden looks like? They did.
So we can never consider objectively whether they have good taste, whether centuries of more free time than the rest of us has produced a wealthy subculture that has genuinely achieved something great in their houses and gardens, or whether we have simply been culturally attuned to appreciation of their dominance. It reminds me of someone I know who refuses to listen to the Beatles or attempt to judge their work: he claims that the deification of the band within mainstream culture makes it impossible to judge them on their own merits.
We are dominated in many ways that become naturalised. Yesterday I was thinking about rent, and considering the idea of ‘rent by consent’, i.e. all rent being agreed between landlord and renter, with the landlord perhaps making their accounts transparent to the renter. The fact that this would seem ridiculous to most people shows that we are used to the landlord being in control. For a house to be rented out requires two parties, and it doesn’t seem to me necessary or particularly desirable that one party be entirely dominant over the other.
By a curious coincidence, shortly after I had been thinking about this, the Dancy Meditator sent me a message to ask about rent levels for the room she is letting to a lodger. I told her I thought that all parties should agree on the rent, and she agreed, though I didn’t suggest she open up her accounts to the potential renter. It would seem to abnormal to everybody, I suppose. In the same way it seems abnormal to people in this country to be open about their salaries. In other countries such openness is normal, but here where it is not, it looks like an impossible ideal.