Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Eileen Tabios is willing to review wines, to which I add: hey! send me a bottle, too!!! seriously, tho, I worked a long time for a wine store and can honestly say that tasting wines in a formal way enhanced my critical faculty. when I began there, I was in my early 20s with no interest in wine. bottles were always open for sampling in the tasting room (with sinks, mind you: we all spat what we sampled), and I took the opportunity. in formally tasting wines, one methodically assesses colour, aroma, and (finally) taste. I like the idea of this methodical approach. it is a way of staying on topic. Pound's ABCs of Reading similarly offered procedures of assessment, based on one's actual experience of the work. blind tastings are often great levelers of the playing field. lacking the bolstering effect of a wine's reputation, one must rely on one's senses. which is as it should be. I came to respect the critical process. customers would ask about wines and even ask, quite frequently, for recommendations. I learned to speak of each wine as accurately as possible, bringing forth the wine's qualities, not my taste. the Boolean like/dislike function is pretty boring, after all. the excitement of a poem is not simply a tripping of the I like sensor in my brain, but the experience of its whatness, if I can use such a Heideggerian sort of term. I have what I think is a reasonable resistance to Robert Bly's poetry. to speak of the clunky way he fakes his way thru a poem is not quite a pleasure, but it is still a poetic experience in which I (the Reader) enter language's potentialities. he doesn't write what I consider good poems, but his so called bad ones demarcate, in their way, what I do like. in the wine store, I found that each wine had a raison d'etre. someone could be found to like any wine, and what's wrong about that? I definitely had my preferences, and I certainly wouldn't spend the asking price for a great many wines, but I reached a point where I respected every wine for their specific qualities. the lacuna evident in (or not in...?) crummy poems expresses something dynamic even as I, maybe, figuratively fling the book aside. of course we all have our taste, which is to say our boundaries. to leave our taste in the uncomplex world of like/dislike is lazy and unfulfilling. the idea that any poem is all bad or all good is also pretty weak. the yes/no world is flat and prosy. the poetic world is an utter engagement of all salients and dimensions of language, even if it ruffles your truculent feathers.