sigmonster: Highly zoomed in portion of a Julia set (a fractal image in the complex plane). (Default)
[personal profile] sigmonster
Last night's falling-asleep-not-necessarily-coherent-train-of-thought (who says English isn't agglutinative?) was about the description of hedonic experience. It seems to me that there are at least two different things going on, quite apart from the objective / subjective split:

1) Describing what x is actually like. This is difficult and usually rather pointless, whether it's the sensation of dirt under your fingernails while planting out seedlings on a breezy day in spring, or fried bacon.

2) Describing x is relative terms compared to other experiences of a very similar kind. This is much easier, but is also completely dependent on a shared background of experience.

Nearly all art notes, or wine tastings, or thatre reviews, will be of the second kind, and attempting to read them as if they are of the first kind will just screw you up and make you think people are being more pretentious than they actually are. Wine reviews don't say "blackberries and coal tar" to imply you could mix blackberries and coal tar and get a similar drink, they are saying that nearly everything about the experience overlaps with other similar wines, because they're all made out of grape juice, but this particular one has a distinctive handful of flavours over and above. And if you start doing horizontal tasting of, say, a bunch of similar age, similar strength, similar grape variety wines, the tasting notes get more and more baroque because nearly all of the tastes and scents overlap and the differences that exist will be more unusual and more distinctive. (One of the secondary motivations for oddball descriptions is just to be memorable, too.)

Anyway. What do you think about as you drift off to sleep?
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