More importantly, given [Angus L. Hughson’s] study goals, describing the target wine was found to aid, not hinder, subsequent recognition of it, for both novices and experienced drinkers. Practising describing wines is a key part of wine training courses, and the researchers said their finding suggests “there is little reason to reduce the amount of label training” in these courses. (here, and also here)

Because meaning is a structure of differentiation, made by distinctions:

Social and cultural phenomena do not have “essences”; they are defined by a network of relations, both internal and external, which differentiate them from one another and enable them to function as signs. Whatever the phenomena one is studying, the task is to discover the underlying system of conventions which organize and differentiate them and so permit them to bear meaning. (Jonathan Culler, “Language and Knowledge,” The Yale Review (Winter 1973): 290-296; 291)

This would seem to be the structure of connoisseurship, whether one is such of wine, beer, or pretzels. This process also seems to work in reverse, as it is also possible to overburden something with meaning, rigidifying it and turning it into a sort of dead weight in its ability to produce new and different meanings:

Paradoxically, this liberation derives from a proliferation of meaning, from a self-multiplication of significance, weaving relationships so numerous, so intertwined, so rich, that they can no longer be deciphered except in the esotericism of knowledge. Things themselves become so burdened with attributes, signs, illusions that they finally lose their own form. (Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilization (Trans. Richard Howard, 1965): 18-19)

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s