When normality becomes a threat

In the 20th century, it was precisely this deviation from a purported middle-class norm of how people should express themselves verbally, or how they should write or paint, that was put forward as a (rarely sufficient but almost always necessary) criterion for aesthetic and artistic quality.

This notion originated in the birth of middle class society at the end of the 18th century. One of the great paradoxes in the development of the bourgeois individual was that the individualism ultimately given emphasis in the 19th century was almost immediately turned against that same class. For bourgeois individuals, nothing seems to be have been more important at times than to create an image of themselves opposing the very middle class they belonged to. An important feature of the 19th century novel, written by and for the growing middle class, is indeed depictions of class members as dull, narrow-minded hypocrites.

And so it has continued. It is enough to visit any performan...

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