Some quick flashbacks:
Medieval times: intellectualism not fashionable; mostly monks actively pursuing and preserving knowledge, everyone else too busy waving swords/fighting dragons
Renaissance: new sorts of intellectualism rising, but often more dangerous than fashionable, re: conflicts with church
Enlightenment right through to the Victorian era: intellectualism all the rage. High fashion. Parlor culture, involving getting a bunch of "intellectuals" and "artists" together in a room to be self-important. That's not really fair : a lot of really good works came out of this time, but there were also a lot of intellectual posers drifting around, it seems.
1920's: A criticism of this sort of fashionable intellectualism from T.S. Eliot :
|In the room the women come and go||35|
|Talking of Michelangelo.|
|For I have known them all already, known them all:|
|Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,||50|
|I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;|
|I know the voices dying with a dying fall|
|Beneath the music from a farther room.|
| So how should I presume?|
Now: Parlor is long dead, but we have Hipsters. Think about it. And the need for higher education. Think about that, too. Steampunk = a nostalgia for parlor culture? The most intelligent among us have become chronically more vulgar , and tend to hate the academic institutions that give us the words to hate with (less now maybe, more in the nineties).
I haven't really worked out what I want to say about this in my head, so I'm just throwing down some fragments of what's rattling around in there. Maybe I'll follow up with an actual post, later.