As an avid listener of BBC Radio 4's Thinking Allowed, I was reminded on this weeks podcast of an enigmatic aphorism.
"Talking about music is like dancing about architecture."
Surely all I do on this blog is totally analogous to the aforementioned architectural boogie. Why do we do it? Why do we read it? Does it have any merit to write about wine? To commit hundreds of words to paper or screen only to edit our soul down for consumption, the secondary consumption (for reading about wine can in no way be a substitute for for drinking it) of a listless group of netizens killing time waiting for the UPS guy to deliver their latest fix of whatever takes their fancy.
At it's worst any kind of critical writing is breathing in second hand tobacco smoke. At a slightly higher grade it can be filled with jargon, in jokes and references designed to impress a credulous audience. Only at it's finest can wine writing fool the reader into the almost impossible. Assimilating the thoughts of the writer as if they were their own.
The basis of communicating about our chosen subject can come from a variety places. Other fields of human endeavour have a number of stimuli. I can only accurately talk about myself. Hopefully I'll find that I'm not totally full of shit.
1) Have some self respect
Nobody likes to get caught out by as lack of knowledge in their chosen field. Even an honest "I don't know" can leave oneself feeling rather crestfallen. An uncomfortable silence is mortifying. Setting yourself up as a blogger on any subject will, in the successful candidate, engender a a burning quest for knowledge and self development that drives the writer forward. This will not only help in avoiding nasty mishaps of the "I'm sorry I haven't a clue" variety, but also in the long run help develop the writers ability to entertain as much as inform. Am I boring you? I hope not. I'd hate that. Anyone who sets themselves up to criticise must hold themselves to the most rigourous standards, if not in the ultimate level of knowledge one has at any time, but in the desire to broaden and deepen their overall skill set as quickly and effectively as possible. It's a matter of self respect.
2) Whack passivity
With cricket bat. Just consuming is a de-humanising experience. I think it necessary to draw the line between things we consume from necessity and things we consume for love. I've no doubt that somewhere on the Internet there's a blog dedicated to white sliced bread or toilet tissue, but the people who write those are nuts. No, to fully engage intellectually with an interest you must not only consume, but also engage. This might be producing in, working for, trading in or educating about your chosen subject. Even if this merely means keeping a diary of the different hair care products we've tried or writing a letter of complaint about a shoddily produced yoghurt, it's the kind of activity that raises us above the level of consumer statistic. Engage the gray matter even if, like yours truly, you don't have a particularly large amount to power up.
3) Drip, drip, drip.
While trickle down economics might be a broadly discredited theory in the modern world, trickle down knowledge might have a little more substance to it. All the bloggers, all the readers, all the critics in the world are slowly, surely and deliberately increasing the mass of knowledge, opinion and curiosity in the world. Wine is a great example. There may be a preponderance of three line descriptions on Cellar Tracker and Vivino may condense wine to far beyond the point where descriptions have meaning, but everything improves engagement. My hope is that eventually this will lead to better wine from everywhere, for everyone. Idealistic, I know, but I'm certain it won't happen without criticism and development of consumer knowledge.
Anyway, rant over. Apart from anything else I enjoy it. There's something addicting about writing that I've never experienced (aside from nicotine). So that's good enough for me. You'll have to excuse me, I'm going for a boogie. Norman Foster's just come on the wireless.