Back in grad school I took a course called “On Beauty,” where we read theory and fiction and poems and talked about aesthetics and deep/superficial things like that. I was a fierce champion of non-visual beauty, and wrote a final paper that talked about numerous fictional characters experiences eating and drinking and touching things. It got real: I quoted Helen Keller and Jean Genet in the same sentence. I was proud of it. Until now it was probably the most unrepentantly pretentious thing I’d done.
I bemoaned that while sight and hearing have huge amounts of critical work devoted to their aesthetics, taste and smell seemed to be plopped into a ghetto of “commercial” (IE restaurant) reviews. I wondered, if a painting can use one element (paint) to represent the range of human experience visually, can’t we have an equivalent for smell? Where my perfume critics at?
Then I moved to California and started going to wine tastings. And there it was. Continue reading