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Blupete's Weekly Commentary

December 13th, 1998.

"On Taste"

From the OED we learn that taste is the "mental perception of quality." Taste is a matter of judgment; it is a "discriminative faculty." The OED refines: taste is the "sense of what is appropriate, harmonious, or beautiful; especially discernment and appreciation of the beautiful in nature or art; specifically the faculty of perceiving and enjoying what is excellent in art, literature, and the like." For example, in quoting Coleridge: "A fine Musical taste is soon dissatisfied with the Harmonica, or any similar instrument of glass or steel."

Bad taste, says Burke "is a defect in judgement." One has to learn on how to distinguish between that which is "pretentious, wire-pulling and temporary" from that which is truly beautiful, that which is just and true. "Nobody comes into this world with a ripe judgement. ... To go wrong is natural, to go right is discipline. ... Each generation reduces with startling fidelity to the type the same old familiar, deep-rooted faults."1

If one is really desirous of cultivating his taste, then the best advise is this; do not pretend to like what you do not like. Do not pretend to know what you do not know. Do not be content with your taste as it is, but try to improve it; not expecting that you will ever like all that great men have written, or, generally, to have delivered up as art.



1 Birrell, "Is It Possible to Tell a Good Book from a Bad One?"

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Peter Landry

December, 1998 (2019)