Apologies for the long radio silence. (Digital silence? Whatever.)
I wanted to give the purpose of this blog a little more thought, especially as its author was clearly running out of blogging steam, and there had to be a reason. (Does the steam engine analogy really work anymore? How many people have actually seen a steam engine, outside a museum? Is the fact that I continue to use analogies that represent the best technology of the early 1900s part of the problem?)
It occurs, reading the last twenty or so posts and excepting the Barbera Meeting coverage (still not done, alas), that this blog had become entire reactive. A dialogue with others is an essential part of blogging, yes, and the reactivity (coinages and grammatical repurposings are a part of blogging I'm not going to give up) will not be absent. Indeed there's plenty to be reactionary about of late, starting with yet another stupid blog lawsuit, a wholesale (and, I hate to say it, chickenshit and badly-considered) retreat in panic and ideological disarray from the word "natural," the breathless realization of the oenological youth that wines are more complicated and less categorical than they'd believed (and I'd like to issue the boilerplate apology to my parents and everyone else that I, like this newly-reformed youth, doubted in the same way and for the same reasons when I was a cocky young know-it-all rather than a rapidly-decaying curmudgeon), and so forth.
But there was far too much of this. Far too many measured reconsiderations of and gentle remonstrances over someone else's ideas. I don't miss the "attack first, think later, apologize never" fire of my youth (well, sometimes I do; everything was simpler then), but I picture the author I've reading sitting in a well-padded but increasingly-worn chair, pipe in hand (lets hope there's no ascot), legs crossed, delivering a slowly-unfolding scolding in verbiage so plummy and passionless that one barely remembers that it is, still, a scolding. And still, alas, about what someone else wrote.
What, I wondered while re-reading essay after essay, did I think? I mean, I know what I thought. But what about others? The subtext could be glimpsed via a very close reading, perhaps, but I've inside knowledge about the author. (He needs a haircut, for example, and to reconsider the volume of his coffee consumption.) But for anyone who wasn't me, the essays were mostly about someone else's thoughts. Not so much about mine.
And were did the travelogues go? Yes, they're a pain to write, but there are now unfinished series going back to 2005, and ultimately they're some of my favorite writing, because they're not just critical, ideological, or (worst of all) "talking about talking about wine" as so much of this blog has been. They're about the people, the places, the core ideas, the cultures, the differences that make wine worth talking about. Even when they're not about wine, except perhaps the passing mention of a bottle with lunch.
Well, enough of that. By which I, ever-equivocating, mean there will still be some of that, but there will also be something else. Something that's been missing for a while. I don't want to over-promise, so I'll let the posts themselves speak to the coming changes. The first installment of things to come is actually a good way to start. It's something more personal than I usually allow on this blog, being a private Scandinavian (and worse, upper Midwestern) sort with a genetic distaste for personal unpleasantness, involving the (hopefully temporary, but perhaps not) loss of a mentor and friend over what seemed, at the time, to be a very minor technological disagreement. I doubt the essay will help, in fact, but it's from the heart, and it helped me understand some things about that conflict and how it could have been avoided.