Notes: Tasty

Not every page of notes becomes an essay, but sometimes the notes themselves might be interesting. There were my notes on the notions of good and bad taste.
We can declare that someone has "good taste" or "bad taste" - meaning they have taste we regard as somehow "morally superior" or "inferior", whether or not we share that taste ourselves.

A particular set of preferences could in priniciple be deemed "good" by everyone, even when no one has them. The starship-building species of Terry Jones' "Starship Titanic" novel all pretended to love "fishpaste", even though they absolutely hated it, as a matter of planetary pride.

This is taste in the sense of fashion - with the denial that it is fashion. "Good taste never goes out of style", "Fashions come and go but taste remains", etc.

You could define a snob as someone who pretends to others and have the tastes which they think would make other people admire them. Yes, a snob is both a sycophant and a con artist whose marks include themselves. Tangled web? What tangled web?

This notion of taste is of relatively unchaning likes. It would be surprising to hear "He has bad taste in clothes this week, but had good taste last week".

This idea of taste is of who you are generally, not what you're doing at the moment. "A morbid taste for bones", "It's just the way I am - my taste" etc.

But included in the notion is that who you are can change, and thereafter last a long time. "You need to change your taste in men", "He won't stop - He's gotten a taste for it now" etc.

This is taste as in personal preference - a preference that defines the person.

And yet it's perfectly true to say that my taste in tea goes in phases. This month, I'm into white tea. In the past it's been lemon tea, or green tea, or just plain black tea.

We don't have a clear notion for a personal anti-taste - you might encourage someone to develop a taste for Beethoven, but would you encourage them to develop a distaste for Bach? You might think it wrong that an older man has a taste for younger women, but would you think it right that he become repulsed by them?

I know someone who experimented a few times with gay sex...and two decades later found a taste for it. Was it there all the time but denied, or is sexuality just like any other pleasure - one you can enjoy when it happens but "take it or leave it", until one day you decide (discover?) you'd like it to be a habit.

What about occasional tastes? I drink spirits...once every few months. I go through periods of ploughing through audiobooks - no amount of listening to worthy classics can push me into the zone of like it if I'm not already in it.

Today I realised that for the price of a bottle of coke I could buy three times as much milk. Just as cold, just as pleasant to drink, just as hydrating - once you get past the strange looks people give you when you swig it on the street.

So I suppose that's my taste now.

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