taste

The Pevearsion of Russian Literature

Gary Saul Morson in a 2010 issue of Commentary — "Pevear and Volokhonsky, who are married, work in an unusual fashion. She, a native Russian speaker, renders each book into entirely literal English. He, who knows insufficient Russian, then works on the rendering with the intention of keeping the language as close to the original as possible. What results from this attempt at unprecedented fidelity is a word-for-word and syntax-for-syntax version that sacrifices tone and misconstrues overall sense."

Brillat-Savarin on the number of the senses

They are at least six -- Sight, which embraces space, and tells us by means of light, of the existence and of the colors of the bodies around us. Hearing, which, by the motions of the air, informs us of the motion of sounding or vibrating bodies. Scent, by means of which we are made aware of the odors bodies possess. Taste, which enables us to distinguish all that has a flavor from that which is insipid. Touch informs us of the consistency and resistance of bodies. The last is genesiac or physical love, which attracts the sexes to each other, and the object of which is the reproduction of the species.

It is astonishing that, almost to the days of Buffon, so important a sense was misunderstood, and was confounded with the touch. Yet the sensation of which it is the seat, has nothing in common with touch; it resides in an apparatus as complete as the mouth or the eyes, and what is singular is that each sex has all that is needed to experience the sensation; it is necessary that the two should be united to reach nature's object. If the TASTE, the object of which is the preservation of the individual, be incontestably a sense, the same title must indubitably by preserved on the organs destined to the preservation of the species.

Let us then assign to the genesiac the sensual place which cannot be refused to it, and let us leave to posterity the assignment of its peculiar rank.

(The Physiology of Taste)

"...as W.H. Auden had it, the old masters were never wrong..."

Joseph Epstein in the Weekly Standard — "Between time spent watching six segments of Seinfeld and listening to the late Beethoven quartets there really can’t be any argument about which is the right choice. Nor can there be any between reading, say, Tolstoy and Stephen King or Sir Ronald Syme and Doris Kearns Goodwin. As for visual art, about suffering and much else, as W. H. Auden had it, the old masters were never wrong, and any competition between them and contemporary visual art ended, sadly, with the triumph of Andy Warhol, after whom serious people no longer needed to be interested in contemporary visual art. The English philosopher Michael Oakeshott notes that one of the signs of being cultured is that one knows what one doesn’t have to know. Contemporary visual art, perhaps for the first time in the history of painting and sculpture, is one of those things a cultured person no longer has to know."

Kitsch and the holy: the origins of poor taste

"What I am calling “kitsch” is just that clutching at the viewer’s heartstrings, the sense of what Keats called a “palpable design” on the beholder. A fundamental uncertainty as to whether the artist and the viewer still form part of a community of faith creates a need to extort conviction when none might be forthcoming. But whatever is cringe-inducing in Rosso’s pictures is more or less inextricable from what sometimes makes them so breathtaking. Unfortunately, his great 1521 Deposition has not come to Florence from Volterra; as with any exhibition of Renaissance art, this one inevitably suffers from the fact that so many of what might have been the most important exhibits are immovable. In that work, the geometry of a massive cross becomes the armature for clusters of weirdly distorted bodies—geometricized yet weightless, as if they had been sculpted in Styrofoam—that arouse about as much credibility as Dalí’s soft watches, yet convey an anguish adequate to the painting’s subject precisely through this sense of dreamlike unreality."