Excerpts from The Philosophy of Wine 2018-06-25T11:37:50+00:00
Excerpts
from The Philosophy of Wine

The first part treats of wine as a supernatural reality. The second speaks of wine as nature. 

This part is descriptive in character. It deals with types of grape, with varieties of wine, the relationship between terroir and wine, between water and wine, all with special reference to the wines of Hungary but also taking into consideration the more noteworthy wines of other lands. 

The third part is a survey of the rituals surrounding wine. This section investigates such questions as: When to drink, and when not? How to drink? Where to drink? What to drink out of? on one’s own? With another? With a man or a woman? It deals with wine and work, wine and walking, wine and bathing, wine and sleep, wine and love. It incorporates rules on the kind of wine to be drunk on different occasions, on how much to drink, with which foods, at what venues and in what combinations. 

This section by no means claims to be exhaustive. Its intention is rather to direct attention to the limitless wealth of drinking possibilities and calls upon one and all to supplement the study of these rituals with further chapters of their own.

Order is, as I say, not totally without meaning. And not only because we all, as human beings, generally ascribe especial significance to order. For the moment this is of secondary import. What I would like to point out is that according to the tenets of the scientia sacra, this passionate meticulousness belongs to the sign and planet of Saturn just mentioned. Saturn is the planet of the golden age. It is the ruler of that period when every thing and being was in its rightful place and was thus living in unalloyed delight. I am putting this badly. The golden age is not a historical period but a condition and thus present in every age; it all depends on whether anyone exists to implement it. Saturn is the symbol of the great primordial, paradisiacal order. This is why this planet is connected with three, the number of the golden mean. And why it is connected with wine, which raises us out of the confusion of the world, so as to restore us to the order of the golden age. 

The remaining planets, numbers, liquids, sounds, colours and metals in the table are also symbols. The entire diagram is but the world of creation arranged in precise order, like that linen press or that library catalogue. Order is the key to the world, says our saturn-possessed, passionate pedant. If I put things in order and each thing is in its place, the world’s meaning is restored. Every philosophy is such an attempt to restore meaning. And at times like that something quite special happens. Quite special, yes: for it transpires that the great multiplicity of seemingly disparate things is ultimately illusory. All things are one. Hen panta einai, says Heraclitus. Things flung about hither and yon appear different, but in actual fact each and every thing is a different manifestation of the same One. Its masks. Each thing that I can see and hear, eat and drink, conceive of and understand is a hieratic mask of that same unique One. The note C is no less a mask than tobacco smoke, song no less a mask than lead, blood, Thursday, or yellow. Whose mask? Who or what is this one? Böhme says that the devil has no faces, only larvae. 

Hereby I have articulated the basic idea of the philosophy of wine. What is wine? A hieratic mask.

Wine is a hieratic mask. In olden times this was something known to all individuals and peoples. The clue to the mask is that it is what brings relief from the convulsion caused by evil. Dionysos lusios, as the Greeks said, Dionysus the Deliverer. In saying this I have touched upon the topic only in the most general way. All I have said is that wine has a divine aspect. But as we know, wine in general, just like a human being in general, is not a reality. There is John, Paul, Bertram, Charles, and Louis, and there is Sarah, Barbara, Anne, and Maggie. And likewise there is wine from Somló, Pannonhalma, Arács, and Kiskőrös. Moreover, every year, every producer, every cask has a wine of its own. All wines are the preserve of a single god. But each individual wine has its particular genie. All of them masks. The mouth recognises the mask. Some highly talented individuals, outstanding wine-tasters, are always spot­on when it comes to identifying a genie. On wine­recognition I shall here offer only a few general principles that seem essential. 

I assume everyone knows that wine is made from grapes. The vine is a plant. Plants are the world’s most miraculous creations. Virginia Woolf says she prefers people to plants. Faced with that question, I am not sure I could reply so readily. And if I reflect that only in woodland, gardens and meadows do I feel in perfect harmony with the world, I might well opt for plants over people. 

In the original state of Creation, in the Garden of Eden, it was plants that preserved the most delicate and essential oils of the world’s spirituality. As a matter of fact every plant is itself a genie, that is to say, an angel, and I am able to recognise this little daemon by its shape, colour, blossom, or fruit, though not directly, only in the abstract, in the way that the eyes can recognise something. Directly, only the nose can experience a growing plant because what lies at its innermost core is conveyed by the oil that lives in it. Its scent is the secret of a plant’s being. From childhood onwards my way of getting to know plants on my walks has been by plucking their leaves, rubbing them between my fingers, and taking time to inhale their scent. I do this to this day, though I no longer encounter unfamiliar scents. I know mint, thyme, hemlock, centaury, rosemary, basil, celery, yarrow, chysanthemum, – oh, and bay too, and my heart’s darling little fairy, ravishing lavender. I dare say that there is, under our Hungarian skies but perhaps also in the mediterranean region that I have so often visited, no plant whose genie I do not know personally. 

At this point, I shall not forgo the opportunity to bring some rather important matters to our puritans’ and pietists’ attention. Those have only an abstract knowledge of women, acquired through the eyes and ears, hence with scarcely any direct experience. It is rare for them to get as far as touching. Anyone with a serious interest in this topic should read the relevant parts of D.H. Lawrence’s works so as to get an inkling of the kind of knowledge hands can obtain of a woman’s body. Personally, I would venture further than Lawrence and say that, as with plants, a woman’s secret lies in her body’s scent. From afar, at an abstract distance, this scent seems rather undifferentiated. But if you approach and immerse yourself in the detail, you will appreciate the difference between the scent at, say, the back of her neck, at the hairline, and the scent at her wrist or shoulder. The female body contains much more oil than the male and is for that reason lighter, more rarefied, more genial and ultimately more spiritual. The charm of the female form is in fact very much a direct consequence of its infinite richness in exuberant oils. Yes: anyone wishing to gain a great deal of direct experience of oils should certainly not leave women out. Let them inhale the scent of a woman’s lips, and take a little time to analyse all it contains:  impishness, chit-chat, provocativeness, coquettishness, sweetness, intoxication, fire, giddiness, glamour, cussedness, baseness, lustfulness. These are all tiny genies, atingle in the scent of her lips. 

For my part, I have a preference for three zones especially. One is the lips, as I have mentioned, but particularly the corner of the mouth, more spicy by far than the middle area. The second is the popliteal space, the hollow behind the knee. Stupid or not, I declare that, for me, that is the spot where a woman is most a woman. Why, I do not know. These tiny little dimples in the inside bend of the knee give off an incomparable fragrance of warm oils. The third and most fragrant zone, the richest in spicy oils, lies higher than the knee, at the inside of the upper leg, where the skin is softest and smoothest. The scent-centre of this innermost part is located some four or five fingers’ width above the knee. Often, after some overwhelming scent experience, I have resolved to write a whole book on this minuscule area, barely two palms wide yet absolutely the most fragrant to be found in the entire universe and the richest in spicy oils. it is here that a woman’s being develops most fully. I would go so far as to say that it is where I sense the extent and nature of her erotic intelligence. When this scent strikes my nostrils, I know how much erotic spiritual oil there is in her, with what kind of flame it flares, how far it illuminates, how warm it is, what its vapour is like – white, lilac, blue, pink, yellow or gold. 

These are not lessons I would urge upon those who take themselves and their lives seriously. Of such matters they would be aware in any case. These comments are addressed to the pietists and the puritans as a warning that they should abandon the path of abstraction and themselves take matters more seriously. They will see that no woman exists (unless abstract herself, usually because she is unfortunately not good-looking, hence playing no part in the game) who would not appreciate being the object of such a study, and the more detailed, exhaustive, far-reaching and fundamental, the better. 

After these observations it will be easy to guess what I want to say about wine. Each wine is individual and distinctive. In every wine (variety, vintage, region, terroir, age) there lives a genie of its own that cannot be replicated or imitated. This genie is the oil’s materialised form. Its mask. Each part of the female body has its characteristic scent, which cannot be confused with any other. How can this be? Because each is inhabited by a different little daemon. Wine is a beverage with a spiritual oil­content. In each wine there lives a little angel who, when a person drinks it, does not die but makes its way among the innumerable little fairies and angels who inhabit that person. When the wine is drunk, the little genie is welcomed on arrival by those already within with songs and a deluge of flowers. The little fairy is enchanted and all but bursts into flames with joy. This joyous fire streams through and carries away the drinker. There is no resisting this. That is why I say that a glass of wine is the atheist’s death leap.

I distinguish between blond (white) wines and brunette (red) wines; next, between male (dry) and female (sweet) wines. Furthermore, I distinguish between soprano, alto, tenor, bass wines, unison and polyphonic or symphonic wines. But I also habitually distinguish solar (sun-like), lunar (moon-like) and astral (star-like) wines. By the by, wine is quite easily amenable to the drawing of every kind of distinction. There are, for example, logical wines and mystical wines, visual and acoustic wines, wines that flow from right to left and those that flow from left to right, and so on, ad infinitum. Every wine imposes on us a duty to draw a new distinction. 

In the original state of Creation, in the Garden of Eden, it was plants that preserved the most delicate and essential oils of the world’s spirituality. As a matter of fact every plant is itself a genie, that is to say, an angel, and I am able to recognise this little daemon by its shape, colour, blossom, or fruit, though not directly, only in the abstract, in the way that the eyes can recognise something. Directly, only the nose can experience a growing plant because what lies at its innermost core is conveyed by the oil that lives in it. Its scent is the secret of a plant’s being. From childhood onwards my way of getting to know plants on my walks has been by plucking their leaves, rubbing them between my fingers, and taking time to inhale their scent. I do this to this day, though I no longer encounter unfamiliar scents. I know mint, thyme, hemlock, centaury, rosemary, basil, celery, yarrow, chysanthemum, – oh, and bay too, and my heart’s darling little fairy, ravishing lavender. I dare say that there is, under our Hungarian skies but perhaps also in the mediterranean region that I have so often visited, no plant whose genie I do not know personally. 

At this point, I shall not forgo the opportunity to bring some rather important matters to our puritans’ and pietists’ attention. Those have only an abstract knowledge of women, acquired through the eyes and ears, hence with scarcely any direct experience. It is rare for them to get as far as touching. Anyone with a serious interest in this topic should read the relevant parts of D.H. Lawrence’s works so as to get an inkling of the kind of knowledge hands can obtain of a woman’s body. Personally, I would venture further than Lawrence and say that, as with plants, a woman’s secret lies in her body’s scent. From afar, at an abstract distance, this scent seems rather undifferentiated. But if you approach and immerse yourself in the detail, you will appreciate the difference between the scent at, say, the back of her neck, at the hairline, and the scent at her wrist or shoulder. The female body contains much more oil than the male and is for that reason lighter, more rarefied, more genial and ultimately more spiritual. The charm of the female form is in fact very much a direct consequence of its infinite richness in exuberant oils. Yes: anyone wishing to gain a great deal of direct experience of oils should certainly not leave women out. Let them inhale the scent of a woman’s lips, and take a little time to analyse all it contains:  impishness, chit-chat, provocativeness, coquettishness, sweetness, intoxication, fire, giddiness, glamour, cussedness, baseness, lustfulness. These are all tiny genies, atingle in the scent of her lips. 

For my part, I have a preference for three zones especially. One is the lips, as I have mentioned, but particularly the corner of the mouth, more spicy by far than the middle area. The second is the popliteal space, the hollow behind the knee. Stupid or not, I declare that, for me, that is the spot where a woman is most a woman. Why, I do not know. These tiny little dimples in the inside bend of the knee give off an incomparable fragrance of warm oils. The third and most fragrant zone, the richest in spicy oils, lies higher than the knee, at the inside of the upper leg, where the skin is softest and smoothest. The scent-centre of this innermost part is located some four or five fingers’ width above the knee. Often, after some overwhelming scent experience, I have resolved to write a whole book on this minuscule area, barely two palms wide yet absolutely the most fragrant to be found in the entire universe and the richest in spicy oils. it is here that a woman’s being develops most fully. I would go so far as to say that it is where I sense the extent and nature of her erotic intelligence. When this scent strikes my nostrils, I know how much erotic spiritual oil there is in her, with what kind of flame it flares, how far it illuminates, how warm it is, what its vapour is like – white, lilac, blue, pink, yellow or gold. 

These are not lessons I would urge upon those who take themselves and their lives seriously. Of such matters they would be aware in any case. These comments are addressed to the pietists and the puritans as a warning that they should abandon the path of abstraction and themselves take matters more seriously. They will see that no woman exists (unless abstract herself, usually because she is unfortunately not good-looking, hence playing no part in the game) who would not appreciate being the object of such a study, and the more detailed, exhaustive, far-reaching and fundamental, the better. 

After these observations it will be easy to guess what I want to say about wine. Each wine is individual and distinctive. In every wine (variety, vintage, region, terroir, age) there lives a genie of its own that cannot be replicated or imitated. This genie is the oil’s materialised form. Its mask. Each part of the female body has its characteristic scent, which cannot be confused with any other. How can this be? Because each is inhabited by a different little daemon. Wine is a beverage with a spiritual oil­content. In each wine there lives a little angel who, when a person drinks it, does not die but makes its way among the innumerable little fairies and angels who inhabit that person. When the wine is drunk, the little genie is welcomed on arrival by those already within with songs and a deluge of flowers. The little fairy is enchanted and all but bursts into flames with joy. This joyous fire streams through and carries away the drinker. There is no resisting this. That is why I say that a glass of wine is the atheist’s death leap.

With regard to more complicated, primarily to prepared foods, it is essential that I draw the cross of flavours. This is as follows: 

These are the four cardinal points of the flavour compass. Before drinking, we should keep this figure in mind and adjust the food to the wine. Why the food to the wine? Because wine is the spiritual, hence the higher-order phenomenon, food the physical, hence basic phenomenon. You need thoroughly to acquaint yourself with the cross of flavours and bear it in mind when you drink. You will never be disappointed. 

What wine likes best is actually fish. Cold or hot, boiled or fried, dried or smoked or tinned, in olive oil or in tomato sauce, even mashed up, it’s all the same – just so long as it is fish. Fish does not detract from the flavour of the wine. I would go so far as to say that fish is complementary to wine in the way yellow is to blue and green to red. 

What mystery lies at the heart of all this I have not fathomed. What I do know, however, and experienced it countless times as I snoozed in my bed in the summer heat, having drunk copiously after a lunch of fresh sardines – countless times, I repeat – that at such moments something quite special takes place in the human stomach. For the stomach, hunger is darkness, eating brings light. Before food is taken, darkness reigns, and the first bite resembles the mystery of “Let there be light!” The fish sinks into the stomach and all is bright. Now wine makes its appearance, the soul’s illumination. O you human, have you any intimation of what happens at such a moment? Brahman’s highest form is nourishment. 

In the original state of Creation, in the Garden of Eden, it was plants that preserved the most delicate and essential oils of the world’s spirituality. As a matter of fact every plant is itself a genie, that is to say, an angel, and I am able to recognise this little daemon by its shape, colour, blossom, or fruit, though not directly, only in the abstract, in the way that the eyes can recognise something. Directly, only the nose can experience a growing plant because what lies at its innermost core is conveyed by the oil that lives in it. Its scent is the secret of a plant’s being. From childhood onwards my way of getting to know plants on my walks has been by plucking their leaves, rubbing them between my fingers, and taking time to inhale their scent. I do this to this day, though I no longer encounter unfamiliar scents. I know mint, thyme, hemlock, centaury, rosemary, basil, celery, yarrow, chysanthemum, – oh, and bay too, and my heart’s darling little fairy, ravishing lavender. I dare say that there is, under our Hungarian skies but perhaps also in the mediterranean region that I have so often visited, no plant whose genie I do not know personally. 

At this point, I shall not forgo the opportunity to bring some rather important matters to our puritans’ and pietists’ attention. Those have only an abstract knowledge of women, acquired through the eyes and ears, hence with scarcely any direct experience. It is rare for them to get as far as touching. Anyone with a serious interest in this topic should read the relevant parts of D.H. Lawrence’s works so as to get an inkling of the kind of knowledge hands can obtain of a woman’s body. Personally, I would venture further than Lawrence and say that, as with plants, a woman’s secret lies in her body’s scent. From afar, at an abstract distance, this scent seems rather undifferentiated. But if you approach and immerse yourself in the detail, you will appreciate the difference between the scent at, say, the back of her neck, at the hairline, and the scent at her wrist or shoulder. The female body contains much more oil than the male and is for that reason lighter, more rarefied, more genial and ultimately more spiritual. The charm of the female form is in fact very much a direct consequence of its infinite richness in exuberant oils. Yes: anyone wishing to gain a great deal of direct experience of oils should certainly not leave women out. Let them inhale the scent of a woman’s lips, and take a little time to analyse all it contains:  impishness, chit-chat, provocativeness, coquettishness, sweetness, intoxication, fire, giddiness, glamour, cussedness, baseness, lustfulness. These are all tiny genies, atingle in the scent of her lips. 

For my part, I have a preference for three zones especially. One is the lips, as I have mentioned, but particularly the corner of the mouth, more spicy by far than the middle area. The second is the popliteal space, the hollow behind the knee. Stupid or not, I declare that, for me, that is the spot where a woman is most a woman. Why, I do not know. These tiny little dimples in the inside bend of the knee give off an incomparable fragrance of warm oils. The third and most fragrant zone, the richest in spicy oils, lies higher than the knee, at the inside of the upper leg, where the skin is softest and smoothest. The scent-centre of this innermost part is located some four or five fingers’ width above the knee. Often, after some overwhelming scent experience, I have resolved to write a whole book on this minuscule area, barely two palms wide yet absolutely the most fragrant to be found in the entire universe and the richest in spicy oils. it is here that a woman’s being develops most fully. I would go so far as to say that it is where I sense the extent and nature of her erotic intelligence. When this scent strikes my nostrils, I know how much erotic spiritual oil there is in her, with what kind of flame it flares, how far it illuminates, how warm it is, what its vapour is like – white, lilac, blue, pink, yellow or gold. 

These are not lessons I would urge upon those who take themselves and their lives seriously. Of such matters they would be aware in any case. These comments are addressed to the pietists and the puritans as a warning that they should abandon the path of abstraction and themselves take matters more seriously. They will see that no woman exists (unless abstract herself, usually because she is unfortunately not good-looking, hence playing no part in the game) who would not appreciate being the object of such a study, and the more detailed, exhaustive, far-reaching and fundamental, the better. 

After these observations it will be easy to guess what I want to say about wine. Each wine is individual and distinctive. In every wine (variety, vintage, region, terroir, age) there lives a genie of its own that cannot be replicated or imitated. This genie is the oil’s materialised form. Its mask. Each part of the female body has its characteristic scent, which cannot be confused with any other. How can this be? Because each is inhabited by a different little daemon. Wine is a beverage with a spiritual oil­content. In each wine there lives a little angel who, when a person drinks it, does not die but makes its way among the innumerable little fairies and angels who inhabit that person. When the wine is drunk, the little genie is welcomed on arrival by those already within with songs and a deluge of flowers. The little fairy is enchanted and all but bursts into flames with joy. This joyous fire streams through and carries away the drinker. There is no resisting this. That is why I say that a glass of wine is the atheist’s death leap.