Saturday, January 31, 2009
That necessary measure of irrationality
"Homer may have been blind, but his taste buds were alive to wine, and he reserved his richest adjectives for it: heady, mellow, ruddy, shining, glowing, seasoned, hearty, honeyed, glistening, heart-warming, and, of course, irresistible." So writes English teacher Alexander Nazaryan in "The Tipsy Hero," an op ed piece in this morning's New York Times.
Nazaryn, noting the extensive role of wine in ancient literature, admires "how open the Greeks were about to the role of alcohol in their society (unsurprising, perhaps, for a people whose highest ideal was 'the examined life')." Moderation was in, debauchery was out--but unrelieved sobriety was also out.
"Today," Nazaryn writes, "'irrational exuberance' means bankruptcies and foreclosures; for the Greeks, a measure of irrationality checked the rule of reason."