With minimum bullshit
By Lance Sparks
Princeton philosopher Harry G. Frankfurt published a little essay in 1986 on a subject crucial to us all; in fact, it should be required reading for those of us who imagine ourselves reasonable free agents, capable of making choices on the basis of logic and fact rather than being puppets dangled on the strings of our emotions, easily manipulated by anyone who knows just which lines to pluck, particularly those that move our hands to our wallets or to a particular box on a ballot.
Frankfurt’s title was “On Bullshit,” and the essay has been republished by Princeton University as one of those cute little books sold in gift stores for under ten bux. Despite its seemingly humorous title and the fact that there are some very funny passages in the essay, the content is really rather serious, in part because Frankfurt applies critical analysis of the phenomenon of widespread bullshit, and in part because those who apply the craft of bullshit, particularly to market products and political candidates, ply their arts with so little regard for ethics or truth.
But Frankfurt’s essay is most important because so many of us believe we are too smart or too skeptical to be vulnerable to the techniques of cynical bullshitters. Frankfurt writes, “One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit.” Surely, no sensible person could argue that point. Frankfurt adds, “Most people are confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it.”
That’s a tough one. We think we’re immune. We get it: Bullshit, all done, next ad please. And make us laugh some more. Buy this drug; it might make you feel swell, like these happy, smiling people — but it might also make you want to commit suicide. OK, bullshit.
Actually, when the BS flies thick, some gets through. There oughtta be a BS app, or portable BS-o-meter, ’cause sometimes we‘re not as protected as we think.
Interested in Frankfurt’s book? It’s available, full-text, online. You like it, fine. You don’t, all right.
All this leads to wine, of course, and to this note: We here are not in the business of marketing wine. With rare exceptions, we buy all the wines we write about (full disclosure, we’re sometimes sent sample bottles in hopes we’ll write about them; some we do, some we don’t, solely on the basis of whether we think our readers will/won’t enjoy them).
Our only obligations are to our readers (both of them). And we all need to remember that preferences in wine — and many other matters — are strictly personal: If you enjoy a certain wine (or not), that’s all you need to know.
For late summer/early autumn slurping, we like these:
Crisp, dry white: Auto Real 2010 Macabeo ($7) is an uncommon varietal from the Bullas region of Spain. What you might want to know (besides price/value) is that it delivers some pretty citrus (lime) flavors with zippy acidity suitable for fresh seafood and late-summer veggies.
Charming pink: Muga 2010 Rosé ($13.50) is another charmer from Spain (Rioja region), surprisingly complex in flavors (roses, cherries, strawberries) and finely balanced for foods or kicked-back sunset-watching.
Pink in French: A perennial favorite among wine pros, Le Poussin Rose 2010 ($9) — aka “The Pink Chicken” — is created by the mega-talented Sasha Lichine “with hedonistic enjoyment in mind” — and though the color is pale, the flavors are lively with red fruits (raspberries), delicious for harvest dining.
Earth-friendly: Planet Oregon 2009 Pinot Noir ($19) has all the values of a bolder pinot noir — black cherry notes, smooth texture, acute balance, good value — with the added values of being made with an environmental conscience (organic, salmon-safe).
Good wines, folks, minimum bullshit.