Aristocratic spirit was left out
August 7, 2002
“Let’s divide Aspen three ways,” Paepcke said lightheartedly. “Pussy will be in charge of taste and culture; I’ll be in charge of business and the mind and you (brother-in-law Paul Nitze) will be in charge of the body, i.e. skiing.” – “The Romance of Commerce and Culture,” J.S. Allen, 1983.
One of the Aspen Ideas is for the harmonious development of body, mind and spirit, but aristocrat Paepcke left out the spirit when he divided up Aspen. And the most important attribute of the aristocracy is its spirit.
Aspen’s image lacks harmony. Sour notes are heard in the endless bitching, whining and squabbling here. This lack of harmony may be due to the fact that some locals who once embraced the idea find that living here is a dead end for them. These people are self-destructive but are too selfish to leave town and let the majority live in peace.
Thanks to Walter and Pussy Paepcke, Aspen has been developed into a high-brow retreat for a few of the “better type” of people, not for a lot of locals.
The Idea was to create an awareness of the responsible uses of leisure time, a la the noblesse oblige of the British aristocracy. Its spirit was to do one’s best to improve the human condition and to pass it on in better state than one found it.
A culture clash between the Idea of an elite class and the American egalitarian dream was inevitable. The locals had the most votes and won one battle but lost the war when they adopted a growth management plan following the Idea that Aspen should be developed in good taste for the few.
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This made those with the most money the real winners and helps to explain why downtown Aspen is turning into a financial center for a billion-dollar real estate industry. The trade in portfolio homes has established a market valuation of property here of $14,458,229,040.
All the titles and trappings of the Aspen Idea’s aristocratic culture are here, but the town lacks a noble spirit. Our leisure time is not spent searching for the good, the true and the beautiful because these are spiritual matters that cannot be easily measured. On the other hand, those with money, fame and power are easily counted, gossiped about and photographed by the paparazzi.
Paepcke left out the aristocratic spirit when he divided up Aspen and now the lack of spirit has divided Aspen against itself.
Be Brave Comrades.