Sunday, June 29, 2008

Wine 12

Breakfast is the best time for sagacity. Something about a little bone-colored mug of bottomless coffee and the promise of eggs and toast can bring out the best in a person. Maybe it's the sudden realization that you get to be alive for another day, and the symbolism of eating representing that on a very deep, visceral level. Maybe it's the emergence from sleep and the way that the magical reality can flavor a pancake. Maybe it's just that I surround myself with really smart people all the time.
I think that the greatest sages of the twentieth century will go largely unrecognized. Whereas Ginsberg and Chomsky, the Dalai Llama and the Pope, people will remember if only because they wrote down what they thought, some of the wisest people of the century chose not to write. Does that make them necessarily unwise? Of course not. It makes them exempt from recognition.
If the wise spent more time writing and less time living, they would be recognized by future generations, but they would also be less wise. Every word slapped onto paper, one of them said to me once, is an iota of smart you've lost. What he failed to realize, I think, is that writing is an essentially additive act, and that every word you write down is one you don't have to remember as hard next time.
On the other hand, I'm writing. In doing so, I'm demanding, although I hope not too loudly, recognition for my little piece of clever. Does that make me a bad person?
There's a question which has been a plague to thinkers for almost as long as there have been two thinkers.
“Well,” thinks the one who wishes he'd thought of that, “he's only doing it for the women. If I just wanted to be popular, I could think stuff like that, too. I'm doing this for nobler reasons, so I can live with the abject disapproval of my fellows. At least I'm not a bad person for wanting other people to think I'm smart.”
Meanwhile, the other thinker is thinking, “Wow! Women! This wins!”
I can't promise you which kind I am. I know that if I'm the first kind, I wish I were the second. If I am the second, I'm pretty awful at it, but I'm having a great time.
What does this have to do with a Cabernet Sauvignon?
Not a damn thing. This wine was bad. It tasted strongly of Cedar and Mold, the finish was all tannin, and the nose was fresh plastic and banana ester. Yuck. I'd rather think about thinking than think about this wine. It got spoiled through mistreatment. I ruined it. It's my fault.
Does that make me a bad person, or does being a bad person make me ruin wine?
Ponder on that. We'll grab breakfast some time and talk it over.

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