A confession Posted on April 25, 2012

When did ‘dilettante’ become a term of abuse? ‘Amateur’ no longer has the status it once had, either. I think the probable reason is that both suggest a life in which not every minute needs to be spent in gainful employment. A leisured class, indeed; ‘posh boys’, even.

Is there a paradox here? Leisure is what we spend most of our lives working for, only, when we achieve it, to have it despised. Meanwhile, the assumption has taken hold that only ‘expert’ opinion is worth listening to. And an expert (disregarding the disrespectful description of ‘a drip under pressure’) means a person employed to know and pronounce, whether properly qualified or not.

For myself, I reclaim the name of dilettante. And even, indeed, amateur. We are people who do things for their inherent interest and the love of it. We offer views we are not technically qualified to hold – or at least not to mention. A dilettante is probably a hedonist, pleasure being his goal.

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