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Savoir-Faire and Savoir-Vivre

Post #1675 • April 8, 2014, 6:27 AM

[Image: Sara Jane Ho, from a ]

Sara Jane Ho, from a story about her at The Australian.

Artspace interviews Sara Jane Ho, proprietress of the Institute Sarita.

At Institute Sarita, our mission is to take the modern-day woman by the hand, in this time of great change and pressure, and lead her to a better, more fulfilling life of family-oriented values, excellent taste, and quality ideas. The cultural value of appreciating art and the heritage or new perspective it can give you is very much included in that.

Call it reactionary, but Ms. Ho may have a better sense of what it all means than a lot of art aficionados in the West.

While people have different motivations for viewing art or collecting, I would like to caution against seeing art as a must or a steppingstone for making one’s way through society. Art is accessible to all, thanks to museums, galleries, Artspace, and the like. But in relation to society, with its newfound wealth, Chinese are adopting a higher measure of quality of life. They have deeper desires, hold themselves to higher standards, and want to earn the respect of others—these are all indicators of social progress. So as a society becomes richer, it is natural to aspire to more sophisticated—and expensive—hobbies. ...

In my finishing school, we teach that being a true lady is not determined by how rich you are in terms of money but also in culture and experience. ... Refined people seek refined works of artists around them. When you buy a Louis Vuitton bag, there will be thousands of women around the world who have the same bag. When you buy a sculpture or painting to hang in your home, it defines you in a much stronger and more unique way.

The Institute Sarita observes, Savoir-faire and savoir-vivre are critical today. This sort of thing could come in handy as the Dark Enlightenment takes shape. I wouldn't exactly say that I welcome our neoreactionary overlords but I have to admit that art had a great track record under the monarchies, and I wonder whether democracy requires ancient-Athens levels of philosophical vitality that we haven't had in this country since the late 18th century.

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