Saturday, October 24, 2015

the loss of servants

My mother was a lot of things, but stupid was not one of them. So when she observed that "the greatest change of the 20th century was the loss of servants," I absorbed it and assumed it came from a wider perspective that I lacked.

I was not really interested enough at the time to ask her for further detail and so today am left with a bald and bold statement for which I have little or no supportive data. I can take a shot at agreeing or disagreeing (World War I and the flu epidemic of 1918 come to mind as social levelers) but then I run out of energy and kind of wonder about sweat shops and steam engines. And then there's the question of what to do about the actual, if not precisely institutionalized, existence of servants that persists to this day.

"Servants" and the loss thereof has a kind of arrogant feel to it as if the person observing the loss might be personally aggrieved -- and thereby biased -- at having to prepare his or her own supper. But bias, whether true or false -- does not interest me so much as the generalization itself and whether it might be warranted when issuing from the mouth of someone who was not stupid.

Yes, there can be raging against the night of "inequality," but how then does the sotto voce longing to be ruled fit in? What if that too were lost?

I suppose the whole matter takes more energy than I've got. Trying to pinpoint what, precisely, a "servant" is would be necessary if I wanted to determine the impact of the loss.

Oh well.....

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