Nat Case ncase at
Tue Mar 27 14:09:32 EST 2001

>Perhaps it's because we don't notice it's so horrible? :) Honestly, US
>chocolate tastes fine to me, and though my friends from Switzerland have
>brought me many samples of chocolate from that land, I really don't really
>notice that much of a difference. We're just used to it, I guess.

Not unlike so much of American culture. Sorry, but it was an easy, if 
cheap, shot...

I had a long and rather heated conversation with some of my 
co-workers on a long road trip about this. I was trying to defend 
philistinism I guess. The question was whether there are inherently 
"good" qualities to art, vs. learned preferences. Is a good wine 
inherently "better," or is it cultural conditioning?

We who like cheap wine or its equivalent (I'm fond of community 
theater and pageant-like things like Revels, which make some of my 
theater friends wince audibly) tend to rise to its defense. I guess I 
come down this way: So much of our moment-to-moment judgement of 
quality is situational: the Budweiser that tastes so good after a day 
fishing with your buddies tastes tinny and thin in the nice 
restaurant on your anniversary. The development of taste can happen 
from the inside or from the outside--from the inside you learn values 
of good construction, joy of communal or individual craftwork, etc. 
 From the outside you learn to look for certain effects that resonate 
with your peculiar wants and needs.

I love DWJ and other fantasy writers from the outside, for the 
reassurance there is magic and wonder in the world, and for the 
delicious satisfaction of a story well-told and a world explored from 
a humane and wonder-filled point of view. I eat dark chocolate 
because it satisfies my desire for that sensual rush peculiar to high 
cocoa content, much the same reason why I love old single-malt 
scotch, neat. I also love singing in the amateur choir in Revels or 
the pick-up harmony singing at morris-dance gatherings, not because 
it would sound especially wonderful to a connoisseur of vocal/choral 
technique, but becuase I love the sense of communal chord-building 
that goes on.

Sorry, I do tend to go on. Chocolate, anyone?

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