Sunday, 15 September 2013

Love and Whiskey

If we say that love is the gravity that holds the universe
together, and that love is represented by positive relationships, by
human empathy: our ability to connect with absolutely anything that
there is, then there is no difference between love and whiskey. That
is to say, whiskey is analogous to love.

There are more songs and poems about both than about everything else put together ten times over. They are both every bit as complex, valuable and unique as each other. There are fruity ones, there are nutty ones. Some are both, others are neither. Some burn on the way down, and some care vomited out the next day. Some are overrated, others underappreciated. Some are only good for a single self-loathing and foolish night of writing yourself off. Some are savoured for lifetimes. Some you have to water down, some you have to put on ice. Some you cannot afford, others you can but wouldn't touch.

Both are capable more than almost anything else in the world of inspiring men and women to the greatest of lofty heights and the deepest of sundered valleys. People who abstain too rigidly from one are generally pretty bad at the other. Both are pointless if you take the mind-warping and dangerous ingredients out.

Some go unappreciated by your palate, either because your faculties are beneath them, or maybe above them. Some are sweet, some sour, some blended. The best ones though are always the purest, and those most tempered and matured with age. Some are forged from a smoky, muddy morass at the edge of the known world, while others blossom by the river, meadow and ocean. These ones taste like ash and earth but warm the heart and soul, and years of aging makes them the best you possibly can find. Some you can't stomach unless mixed up with coke.

Some bring you primal pleasure, guilty and sensuous, indulgent. Some warm your bones, some ignite your mind, some pour clarity over your eyes. Some see you warm through northern winter, others delight in the balmy, jolly haze of summer. Some you come to appreciate or no longer, as your palate must needs change with time.

Most countries on earth have tried making good ones, and some are better than others. Irish are steeped in sad tradition and the warm glow of eternal kindness and friendship. Scottish are proud, varied, and some of the best in the world. American, sickly sour, overbearing and loud, but at times surprisingly noble and sweet. Japanese sounds and acts stiffly similar to a Yakuza grandfather, until you get to know him. Scandinavian goes down too fast to analyse.

Some will make you sick, some you will only ever experience once in your life. Some are Jim Beam. Some will teach you life's most profound truths, while others will give you a headache, make you cry, or even want to die. Some are appreciated by boys and girls, some by men and women; others wasted on anything but a true lady or gentleman.

Some very special though, those rare and perfect examples, if you are lucky enough to find them in this life, can be the only real thing you will ever touch. Everything that makes your life worth living.

I am grateful for all of these whiskies, thankful for all of these loves.


Don't Throw out the Bathtub with the Baby.

Don't Throw Out the Bathroom with the Baby, Part I

A Time of Change

We do indeed live in a time of change: American President Obama was not wrong about that. But after a few years, what kind of change do we actually see? Are we being the change we wish to see? Yes, or else we would not act as we did to bring it about. And it is, at best, not exactly the utopia promised in his idealistic politician's rhetoric. At worst, we are seeing the throwing out of baby, bathwater, and tub, and making sure the baby stays down by beating it over the head with the plumbing.

Since the end of World War II and the rise of secular human rights, humankind has been changing with ever more rapidity and intensity. It's like we are in collective puberty. Please allow me to explain: It occured to me about 20 years ago that the history and development of the human race paralleled the growth and development of a human child.

Humanity as a Human

In our infancy, we were grunting, relatively benign gatherer-hunter creatures with little self-awareness, less knowledge and next to no language. We didn't talk to strangers - our worlds consisted of our immediate needs, our family and nothing else. We shit where we ate, ran around naked and were totally dependant on what our Mother outright handed to us to live.

Our long childhood began after the last great ice age, humans found abundances of grains and things that enabled us to settle down and start to develop culturally (memetically).Our mother still largely took care of us, as we ate the food she put in front of us. We began to develop memetically, cognitively, emotionally and physically. We learned to read and right and build things out of lego bricks. We were dependant on our Father for guidance and obedient to Him. Oh, and we started to play - and fight - with the other children (civilisations).

Our continued growth taxed our mother severely. Luckily we learned a modicum of self-sufficiency, growing food in her fertile soils, the foundation she left us. A cautionary tale was left us - The Fall from the Garden of Eden. Naturally our Father was none too happy. We lived under His stern gaze for centuries.

Puberty is never remembered fondly. The 'Big Change" happened to the human race too - The Industrial Revolution. The pace, totality and intensity of change was stressful and traumatising. We awakened in a revolutionary sense to self, sexuality and other strange new desires. We moved away from Mother's nurturing arms and began to question our Father. The stress of caring for us made Mother very sick - we were a very bad child indeed.

Teenagers are rebellious - disregarding and denouncing with ferocity the old ideas. Exploration of new ideas began as our Mother grew chronically ill, and we barely speak to her anymore. The obsession with self and our 'individual identity,' trying all the latest fads and not-quite freshmen 1am dorm-room ideologies. We killed our Father who art in Heaven - 'God is Dead' in the words of Nietsche. 'And no-one cares. If there is a hell, I'll see you there,' in the words of Marilyn Manson.

Where are we now?

We're about 16, wearing an offensive hoodie and pants below our backsides just for the sake of offending someone. We definitely do not just want attention, and we were born bisexual vampires. Slutwalk is a good cause. Sarcasm, as well as popular science and philosophy demonstrates how intelligent and witty we are. We're smoking, the flask tucked into our $110 belt from Culture Kings doesn't contain smirnoff, and we were neither tripping nor high last night and stop harassing me get off my back I can do what I want!

Throwing out the bathwater

In moving forward into our evolution we are throwing out yesterday's dirty bathwater. This is a good thing. But when we view everything about where we came from with derision, shame and scorn, is that good?