Do you know how to pronounce ‘quinoa’?

Good for you if you do and join the club if you do not. (It is keen-wa by the way!) If you only know the meaning and not the pronunciation you will be foolish, and even more foolish if you know neither – like I used to. This is the 29th criterion of ‘being cultured’ according to a British survey conducted back in 2015.

In the same vein, you ‘are’ cultured if you know about cheese.

“If you can recognise paintings then bingo! this is the second item on the list of ‘what makes you cultured'”

Well… Cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan, ricotta.. emm.. grated cheese? So what does this make of me? Anyways, I do not care a whit and I would rather dip pizza crust in garlic sauce and not take a four-cheese pizza for free if that is what ‘being cultured’ is all about.

A shout of hooray if you can recognize paintings. Bingo! Because this is the second item on the dubious list of “what makes you cultured”.

But wait… You can take a moron who had never been to an art museum or, do you know what? Forget about museums. You can take a moron who does not even spare a minute to look at a painting that showed out of nowhere while scrolling down their Facebook news feed (and I am deliberately saying out of nowhere because they have a silly Facebook news feed and the only chance a painting would show up would be from a friend who put a like or comment underneath a painting post).

Anyways, teach them these simple tricks I am quoting from a Facebook page (that I do fancy a lot, by the way):

1 – “If the images have a dark background and everyone has tortured expressions on their faces it is Titian” (but I’m not quite sure if that moron does not mix it up with a meme)

2 – “If everyone in the painting has enormous asses then it is Rubens” (enormous… well that is debatable)

3 – “If all the men look like cow-eyed curly-haired women it is Caravaggio”.

Give them a bunch of similar tricks and there you go: you are 39 items away from making a person cultured – I forgot to mention that the list is comprised of 40 items.

“There are no items to abide by and no role-models to idolize”

Seriously, I am not saying that all the items are as contemptible and actually my problem is not with the content itself. But I do not see any good of enumerating items and making a list and I have a totally dissenting point of view.

For me, there is no criterion for ‘being’ cultured and not even a down-to-earth dictionary definition. And if you have been wholeheartedly with me from the get-go, you would see that I put the word being between quotation marks and that is because I do not see the ‘not to be’ part – I know that marring the Shakespearean expression will not offend you as long as you see what I mean.

For me, we are all people of culture and I do not think that being a jack-of-all-trades is what makes us detain culture. I do believe that everyone is embracing culture in his own ways.

I write. I am responding to culture by creating my own, and there is no loftiness in admitting this by the way.

“look for what makes your heart sing and clutch it”

We read daily newspapers. We are responding to culture by being involved, even intellectually, in world issues.

We play video games. We are responding to culture by giving it a new category: ‘the modern culture’ if you want, previously known as ‘nerd culture’.

As far as I am concerned, there are no items to abide by and no role models to idolize.

Look for what makes your heart sing and clutch it: there you are embracing culture. Think of it as a clay and mould it: there you are making culture.

We are all people of culture but the self-deprecation and the fake elitism is what is making us think otherwise.

Roiya Souissi, Correspondent (Culture)

(-Picture, Philipp Alexander)