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Go Spotting: A “Highbrow” Game in 1949

Saturday September 6, 2014

Few charts deserve a page one feature article in The New York Times Arts and Leisure section, but pop sociologist Russell Lymes’ 2014.09.06_NYT-highbrowclassic 1949 delineation of “highbrow,” “middlebrow” and “lowbrow” tastes has been “reproduced and imitated countless times,” the Times reports (see Go Spotting: The “High-Brow” Game and An Unlikely Place 6/19/2014 EJ). Russell suggest typical preferences for each group in various categories, such as clothing, reading, favorite causes — and games. To see how go placed, click here.
- Roy Laird

 

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Your Move/Readers Write: More Thoughts on the High/Low Brow Matrix

Tuesday September 16, 2014

History is Not Offensive: “Regarding the ‘offensive’ qualities of the ‘Highbrow’ item (Your Move/Readers Write: High/Low Brow 2014.09.16_Patton_speaking_with_Lt._Col._Lyle_Bernard,_at_Brolo,_circa_1943Matrix Offensive 9/14 EJ), I’d like to rebut on behalf of the long-gone authors,” writes Peter St. John. “The thesis, which I believe was new in that era, is that appreciation of, and interest in, higher levels of abstraction is ‘high-brow’.  Go is more abstract than chess in the sense of being a level further removed from physical combat, the way Eisenhower immersed in logistics was a level removed from George Patton deploying tanks, who was several levels removed from the gunner pulling a trigger.” St. John also notes that “At the time of the article [1949] the only places to find go in America would be in the math and physics departments of universities. My dad learned, around that time, in a science laboratory from a mimeograph of a German article, because German scholars collaborated with Japanese scholars after the Russo-Japanese 2014.09.16_PoloHorsewar. I urge people not to be offended by history. We can learn from it, not in the sense of learning from an Authority but in the sense of learning from an Experience. The grid is a bit of history.”

Celebrating Progress: Noah Doss agrees, saying that the matrix “simply records historically the type of people who, in the time period observed in the matrix, were most fascinated with go.” He goes on to say that “Nowadays, go is not, in America, a game of the elite, but just because modern man has made some progress in quashing these societal imbalances in some respects doesn’t mean we need be offended by the fact that they once existed. I truly believe go is for everyone and, to be honest, if it was the way of polo or lacrosse in that everyone I met playing go had a trust fund, I would probably not love it so much, coming from a dirty farm town and an undersized stucco house. At a point in time, go was ‘highbrow’ but I think we should honor the fact that it used to be ‘highbrow’ and now we, as a society, have fixed that problem.”

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Your Move/Readers Write: High/Low Brow Matrix Offensive

Sunday September 14, 2014

“I am probably in a very small minority on this topic, but I found the ‘High Brow – Low Brow’ matrix (Go Spotting: A “Highbrow” Game in 2014.09.14_NYT-highbrow-cropped1949  9/6/2014 EJ) extremely offensive,” writes Gordon Castanza. “As with almost all pseudo sociology that passes as junk science, this crap is another example. Go, if anything is classless, colorblind, and non-age-specific. Besides, the entire matrix applies to any number of people at any given time. Glenmorangie Taghta can be enjoyed by anyone (of legal drinking age); it also knows no class, income level, working condition, color of one’s skin, or country of origin. I know you’re trying to show go in the most positive light possible, and I’ve enjoyed the ‘Go Spotting’ feature in the past. However, to have some C-grade sociologist put go, or any other human endeavor, into a hierarchical range is just plain stupid and intellectually dishonest.”

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Go Spotting: The “High-Brow” Game and An Unlikely Place

Thursday June 19, 2014

The Highbrow Game: Go is classified as a “high-brow” game in a chart detailing “the best and worst of art and popular culture,” in a 1949 issue of LIFE magazine, reports Molly Fitzpatrick on nerve.com .  “Looking at the other classifications, I am unsure whether it’s a compliment or not,” says EJ reader Garrett Bredell, who sent us the link. “But nice to see it mentioned anyway.”

An Unlikely Place: “My father spotted a go reference in a very unlikely place!” writes Alicia Seifrid. “An opinion article by Bob Pinato  in the latest issue of Microwave Product Digest spoke about the current world political situation, and it mentioned go in reference to China’s recent policy of claiming of nearby islands.  The author likened this to a real-life version of ‘GO, the ancient Asian game of power and strategy.’”

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