Wine and Nature’s Rift

by Dwight Furrow Most of the wine purchased in the U.S is an industrial product made by mega-companies that seek to eliminate the uncertainties of nature in pursuit of a reliable, inexpensive, standardized commodity. But most of the wineries in the U.S. are small-to-mid-sized, artisan producers who lack both the technology and the inclination to…

The Aesthetic Value of Simplicity

by Dwight Furrow Black Square, Malevich 1923 However, traditional Western aesthetics apparently demurs on this point since it enshrines complexity as a fundamental aesthetic value. Works of art are considered great if they repay our continued attention. Each new contact with them reveals something new, and this information density and the way it is organized…

Wine Quality: Distinguishing the Fine from the Ordinary

by Dwight Furrow We who are absorbed in the philosophy of wine are usually preoccupied by questions about objectivity, meaning, the nature of taste, aesthetic properties, and other exotica that surround this mysterious beverage. But wine considered as an aesthetic object can never be wholly severed from the commercial aspects of wine, and no philosophy…

Art and Artification: The Case of Gastronomy

by Dwight Furrow In grasping the role of art in contemporary life, one noteworthy theme is the process of artification. “Artification” occurs when something not traditionally regarded as art is transformed into art or at least something art-like. As far as I know, the term was first used in a Finnish publication by Levanto, Naukkarinen,…

Camus and the Aesthetics of Stone

by Dwight Furrow I recently finished reading Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms on the same day in which the utter hopelessness of our political situation became obvious, as the “beacon of liberty” accelerates its descent into fascism. The final passages of the book didn't help my mood much. In Hemingway's masterpiece, the drudgery and pointlessness…

Why Americans are Fascinated by Food

by Dwight Furrow For much of the 20th Century, the U.S. was a culinary backwater. Outside some immigrant enclaves where old world traditions were preserved, Americans thought of food as nutrition and fuel. Food was to be cheap, nutritious (according to the standards of the day) and above all convenient; the pleasures of food if…

Mutant Nature

by Dwight Furrow Nature is not disappearing; it's just hiding in your salad bowl. Throughout most of human history human beings were utterly dependent on nature and everything about human life was determined by it. Adapt or die was the imperative that governed all life and so nature seemed infinite and without measure, a fact…

Wine Tasting and Objectivity

by Dwight Furrow The vexed question of wine tasting and objectivity popped up last week on the Internet when wine writer Jamie Goode interviewed philosopher Barry Smith on the topic. Smith, co-director of CenSes – Center for the Study of the Senses at University of London's Institute of Philosophy, works on flavor and taste perception…

In Defense of Eating Meat

by Dwight Furrow There are many sound arguments for drastically cutting back on our consumption of meat—excessive meat consumption wastes resources, contributes to climate change, and has negative consequences for health. But there is no sound argument based on the rights of animals for avoiding meat entirely. Last month, Grist's food writer Nathanael Johnson published…