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In Vino Veritas. On Blind Testing and the Culture of the Symposium

    Time to read: 15 min

    Wine has a longer life than us poor folks. So let’s wet our whistles. Wine is life. I’m giving you real Opimian. I didn’t put out such good stuff yesterday, though the company was much better class.

    Petronius, The Satyricon (Trimalchio’s Feast)


    Blind tasting

    The world’s best violin is called “Opus 58” and comes from the studio of Swiss master violin maker Michael Rohnheimer. In 2009, a so-called blind test was conducted in Osnabrück, where experts in the art of violin-making listened to a violinist who – hidden behind a special curtain – played five different instruments in succession. Considering solely the instruments’ quality of tone, the jury deemed the best violin to be made of wood with a specific cellular structure obtained by treating the wood with a specially selected fungus. Aided by technology and scientific knowledge, Rohnheimer’s violin surpassed the instrument created by the master Stradivarius himself. It should be noted, however, that of the 180 people giving their verdicts, as many as 113 were convinced that the characteristic “warmer, more rounded sound” (Ochs 2009) must be made by a violin made in 1711 in Cremona.

    The reason I mention this blind test is the disappointment which – as I can well imagine – the participating jurors must have felt upon hearing they had outclassed the stradivarius. A disappointment perhaps only tantamount to the fury with which French participants in a blind tasting greeted their own verdict on the superiority of Californian wines over their country’s classics. Accusing the organizers of falsifying the procedure, the jurors demanded having the forms on which they had previously recorded their ratings returned to them  (Scruton 2012b: 49). It was because in that instant, the forms had become material evidence of the participants’ betrayal or even blasphemy. And though nobody accused them of it, they themselves immediately saw the profanity inherent in their own deed.

    For a moment the jurors in both tests believed that if objective criteria were used to judge the object of their love, the more its magnificence would shine through and the more desirable it would become to others. They forgot that love does not require objectivity; on the contrary, objectivity is unnecessary and can even turn out harmful. A husband, who adores his wife, does not encourage her to take part in a beauty pageant. After all, winning a contest cannot determine his spouse’s beauty (neither can it define who she is or how much she means to him), and a possible failure does not change anything here. A reasonable husband will never say to his wife, “You are beautiful to me.” Firstly, because such a statement, apart from few exceptions, can only serve as a backhanded compliment, and secondly because it is simply a half-truth. “The judgement of beauty (…) is not merely a statement of preference. It demands an act of attention. (…) Less important than the final verdict is the attempt to show what is right, fitting, worthwhile, attractive or expressive in the object: in other words, to identify the aspect of the thing that claims our attention.” (Scruton 2011b: 13).

    It is the very asymmetry that conditions this important relationship, which blind tests or blind tastings (let us remain in the realm of music and wine) de facto disrupt. In itself, sound or taste exist either outside of culture or in a dimension that many of us tend to avoid. How does it matter that the chemical composition of brewed coffee remains unchanged, if its taste depends on whether I drink it from my favorite cup, glass, or from a plastic mug? Someone will say that, after all, it was nobody else but the above-mentioned judges who declared the sound of the particular violin to be the finest and the taste of the particular wine to be the most exquisite; that they cannot blame anyone but their own senses for leading them to such a verdict. Roger Scruton would say that this is precisely where the problem lies. Namely, that our senses lead us astray not because and not when we trust them, but when we trust them alone.

    Let the foregoing paragraphs serve as an introduction to a reflection provoked by Roger Scruton’s extraordinary work, which differs from many others not only in form and content, but also in its provocative title. On the list of bibliographies of scholarly work, I Drink Therefore I Am, since that is the book in question, looks just as unserious as Jean-François Lyotard’s The Postmodern Explained to Children (1998) (a remark I owe to Krzysztof Łęcki, whose text resides within the pages of this book alongside mine). Although, as Scruton (2012b: 170) points out, the quasi-Cartesian title is taken as much from Discourse on the Method as from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, the book as a whole is as serious as the relationship between wine, truth, and culture can be. The book’s cover should read In Vino Veritas if such a title did not come off as pretentious. Apparently, this maxim tends to be treated as superficial and pretentious, and – from the perspective proposed by the author of the Xanthippic Dialogues: A Philosophical Fiction – almost vulgar. That is because it is associated with treating wine as truth serum, which suggests an analogy with the veritas Scruton describes that is as adequate as one made between a haystack and the turf at Wembley Stadium. Perhaps the Emperor Claudius in Robert Graves’ well-known novel, meant something similar when he stated that the ability of one who said in vino veritas to perceive things clearly must have been severely limited. For the matter is, as I have said, of greater importance.

    But Claudius could also have been referring to an entirely ordinary thing. For example, that the tongue loosened by wine turns obsequious to stupidity and nonsense, or – referring to the full wording of the Latin adage, namely in vino veritas, in aqua sanitas – that alcohol, unlike water, is detrimental to health.

    The culture of wine

    I discovered Scruton’s oeuvre too late to get acquainted with his books in the order in which they were written and published. I have therefore read I Drink Therefore I Am only recently, and not as a wine lover, to whom the book is dedicated, but as an admirer of “The Salisbury Review” editor’s work (see Scruton 1989), who in his book Thinkers of the New Left responds to the “challenging and exasperating” (Scruton 1999: 13) writings of the title characters; who, years later in Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left, exposes, inter alia, Deleuze’s “glutinous prose”, Žižek’s “mad incantations”, and Habermas’s “communicative action” (Scruton 2015: 6); who, in Xanthippic Dialogues (2005), points to male weakness, female wisdom, and the power of humor; who, in The Uses of Pessimism (2012a), dissects the false stereotypes that limit thinking; who, in The Intelligent Person’s Guide to Modern Culture (2006), defends high culture from being stripped of its essentially religious identity; who, in Culture Counts (2010), talks about the need to reinvent the West and offers his own definition of culture; who, in How to Be a Conservative, defends those whose “position is true but boring, that of their opponents exciting but false” (Scruton 2016: 7). It is a great, and probably not so common, comfort for the reader to pick up another work by a writer without having to first consult critics and check reader reviews.

    Later on I will return to the issue of blind testing mentioned in the introduction, here I only want to indicate that the example of blind testing seems to me relevant not only in relation to the above-mentioned cases. They are followed by others, provoking what is the primary goal of all Roger Scruton’s work: to reflect on “the literary, artistic, and philosophical inheritance that has been taught in departments of humanities in Europe and America, and which has recently been subject to contemptuous dismissal (especially in America) as the product of ‘dead, white European males’” (Scruton 2007: x), i.e., on what, as he himself points out, is best in the Western culture. Literature, painting, music, architecture, philosophy, and history – all of these disciplines, accompanied by noble exaltations, form the culture of the symposium (or symposion) with its ancient lineage and lofty example. Wine, Scruton’s storytelling implies, should be treated as one of its participants: both host and guest of honor at the same time. As the  p a r t i c i p a n t, without w h o m Europe (and the West more broadly) loses not only its taste, but also its identity. So what if some people divide the Old Continent into three areas: Europe of wine, Europe of beer, and Europe of vodka (Roszkowski 2019: 23). After all, when someone cannot distinguish the first one from the other two, he or she is not automatically thrown outside the European tradition.

    I personally would not call myself a “European of wine”, and not just for geographical reasons. Over the years I have subjected my palate to experiences that may have dulled it rather than sensitized it. Unlike my sophisticated friends, when I taste wine, I put much more effort into noticing the subtleties of the long finish, the pronounced chocolate or citrus notes, not to mention the tinges of toffee. It is not my intention to make a virtue out of ignorance, which always looks good with a humble face. On the contrary, I want to point out that, thanks to works of the kind similar to Scruton’s book, people like me can also feel a sense of belonging to the aforementioned culture of the symposium. Not because they begin to “know” how to taste wine, but because by appreciating the story in which it plays an important role, they have a chance to reach the point of its author’s delight. And from there, one little step may lead to the joy of knowing the world, where with the help of special means of expression one speaks about things that are important and sublime also for others. Perhaps that is why – even though I am basically learning about the world of wine through books – it appeals to me immensely when Scruton states: “the literature and the wine seemed to me to be different manifestations of the same idea” (Scruton 2012b: 17).

    But the idea must have an exponent – preferably, a great writer who knows how to wield these “special means of expression.” To reiterate what I mean by that I should say one does not have to be an expert, or even a wine lover, to sit down with Scruton at a table where dispute reigns. It is the dispute that always rushes first into the places where the aforementioned stand proudly in the ranks: literature, painting, music, architecture, philosophy, history; the dispute breaks their line, squeezes in-between, and finally closes the parade. If wine is the host and the main character of the symposium, then the dispute serves as its patron and sponsor, and the course of the feast depends on it.

    Some will say that this is an exaggeration. Some will say that personifications fulfilled their role when it came to understanding mythical truths taught by Iustitia, or Lady Justice, armed with a scales and spear or Libertas wearing a Phrygian cap, and that today tame statues representing them suffice. Monuments to writers, philosophers, even politicians, are an understandable custom rooted in culture. We have also become accustomed to the presence of deities and God in public spaces, which take the shape of temples and shrines. During the French Revolution, a statue was erected by the municipal cemetery in Paris to commemorate Dream, and on the occasion of the bicentennial of the fall of the Bastille, the Monument to the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen was unveiled in the Champs de Mars. Although the latter is not a personification (it rather pretentiously refers to an Egyptian building), it expresses the need for tangibility of abstraction and emphasizes the expression of feelings with sublime metaphor (cf. Lakoff, Johnson 1980). Ancient intellectual ancestors of the English philosopher, paying homage to Virtue, had her figure carved in a niche of the Ephesian Library of Celsus. Scruton – paying tribute to all that Western culture has elevated above others – authored a book on the culture of wine.

    Reversed test and state of mind

    In his approach to wine, which Roger Scruton presents and invites us to assume ourselves, we see a strong emotion towards what is simultaneously great and subtle. An emotion that demands to be externalized, which often leads to this very “exaggeration” and makes us commune with wine as if it were an interesting interlocutor. “When we raise a glass of wine to our lips”, writes Scruton, “therefore, we are savoring an ongoing process: the wine is a living thing, the last result of other living things, and the progenitor of life in us. It is almost as though it were another human presence in any social gathering, as much a focus of interest and in the same way as the other people there.” (Scruton 2012: 123). The author of The Intelligent Person’s Guide to Modern Culture turns out to be a worthy heir of Charles Baudelaire, who wrote that

    each individual wine resembles an individual human being (…), I would not be surprised that, seduced by some pantheistic idea, rational thinkers should attribute a kind of personality to it” (quoted after: Bieńczyk 2001: 17).

    Baudelaire was not a patient poet and attributed a personality to it himself. From the content of The Soul of Wine, one of the poems that make up the volume titled Flowers of Evil (also known in Poland as Flowers of Sin), it seems that the personality of wine would be altruistic and, so to speak, full of appreciation. Let us quote the first stanza (Baudelaire 1998: 214):

    One night, from bottles, sang the soul of wine:

    ‘O misfit man, I send you for your good

    Out of the glass and wax where I’m confined,

    A melody of light and brotherhood!'

    As for “the idea of pantheism”, if Scruton was a pantheist, it was only in this particular way, in which gratitude to God for the Wonder of Creation is combined with evangelical praise of work akin to a prayer and full of respect for tradition. At this point I cannot help but quote one of my favorite passages from the book:

    Visitors to Burgundy (…) will be enchanted by the medieval towns and villages, and by the monasteries and churches whose shadows fall across the land like benedictions. They will sense all around them the history and religion that made the Dukes of Burgundy into such great medieval potentates, and they all know that this soil is hallowed soil: it has been blessed and cajoled and prayed over for centuries, many of the vineyards being worked by monks for whom wine was not just a drink but a sacrament. Burgundy was for many centuries the heart of the Christian mission in Europe, with the Benedictine Order centred at Cluny, and the Cistercian at Cîteaux and Clairvaux. Even in this skeptical age their vine is, for the Burgundians, something more spiritual than vegetal, and their soil more heaven than earth (Scruton 2012b: 36-37).

    With this quotation one could, in principle, end not only this article, but any work devoted to a similar subject.

    Here, however, I want to venture an observation that seems relevant in the context of the theme I have hitherto been threading in between paragraphs. Namely, I read the quote above as an illustration to a “reverse version” of the blind test with which I began these reflections. I have already indicated what shape this kind of test would take, say, in its classical form. Here, on the other hand, we are dealing with a situation in which it is not an instrument or a wine that are blindly tested but the tester himself. It is the juror now who has to take the exam. The said “reversal” consists in the fact that the juror has all the information about the wine (this time let us focus solely on it) that in an ordinary blind test would have to be guessed. Thus, both the brand and the vintage are known to him, the name and location of the vineyard pose no mystery, the wood from which the barrels were made has likewise been revealed, and so have the time of bottling and refining the liquor. “The only” thing he has to guess comes from his knowledge that goes beyond all that. And there is more to it  than just the necessary – as a sociologist would say – cultural competence in the established sense of the term (see Back et al. 2012: 23; Łęcki 2008: 208-209).

    In this case, apart from world history, the previously mentioned "more" would also include knowledge of local customs, rituals, the specifics of language, the tone of folk songs, and – what is particularly important to Scruton – the strength of a community’s traditional religiosity.  Scruton has no doubt that it matters what religion is at stake here:

    A great wine is a cultural achievement, not available to Protestants, atheists or believers in progress, since it depends on the survival of local gods. (Scruton 2012b: 34).

    But the fundamental competence for such a juror would be his imagination, eager to process all of this into a state of mind, which is the principal object of this “reversed test.”

    Land ho!

    The point is that Scruton’s admiration for Burgundy, a sample of which I quoted above, is rooted in what he construes from the wines created there. For although he “visits the region only in the glass” (Scruton 2012b: 36), he finds in it something of which one can perhaps only read in the verdict of a juror such as himself:

    The grape gradually retreats, leaving first the village, then the vineyard and finally the soil itself in the foreground. Historical associations come alive as tastes and scents, ancestral traits appear like submerged family features, and that peculiar Burgundy nose, as distinctive as the nose of Cleopatra, sits at the rim of the glass like a presiding god. The aroma of old Burgundy is the slowly rotting leaf-mould on a grave: a soft, sweet, musky fermentation, last breath of life from the sinner who lies decomposing below. (Scruton 2012b: 38).

    If I have ever deluded myself into thinking that I could even approximate such a degree of participation in wine culture, Judge Scruton’s rulings have deprived me of it. For a while I consoled myself with the thought that the unattainability of similar sensations (not to mention the gift of expressing them), in the case of gourmets of my kind, is due to, say, limited access to works of art created in various châteaux. I have learned, however, that many people who have had the opportunity to taste what is probably the most expensive coffee in the world, Kopi Luwak, were unable to see its value for money, while some others failed to recognize the importance of the beverage with which they were dealing. This gave rise to the suspicion that in blind tests I might demote a stradivarius to a rural fiddle or make a Mouthon Rotschild lose out to a popular table wine at the price of a large Coca-Cola. These examples, caricatured in their (so I hope) exaggeration, do not, however, weaken the educational value of texts such as I Drink Therefore I Am.

    For, in essence, it is not about "I drink", after all, but about the particular meaning of “I am”, or rather, “we were–we are–will be” that animates the life of the community. The settlement and cultivation of the land marks a great beginning to the functioning of the community, but then again – only the beginning. Just as the transition from the nomadic to the settled mode of living constitutes the entry into a special relationship with the land, sanctifying the place itself and granting the host his or her rights and imposing obligations – so the cultivation of this relationship becomes the collective task of the entire community. Reaffirmed regularly and systematically in daily rituals, periodic activities, recurring holidays, and rites of memory, social identity becomes something worth elevating and defending. There are various ways for community members to emphasize their sense of belonging to a place and their own culture. I have already mentioned the possible reasons, also the objective ones, from which this variety arises. Among them, macro-regional and geographical affiliations play no insignificant a role. For Scruton, however, there is no doubt that “[t]he most important way of expressing this sentiment is by planting vines, symbol of the divine right to be where you are and to enjoy the god’s protection” (Scruton 2012b: 82). He writes further on:

    Moreover, the fruit of the vine can be fermented and so stored in a sterilized form. It provides a place and the things that grow there with a memory, so becoming a symbol of a settled community and its will to endure. (Scruton 2012b: 128).

    The truth expressed here could be applied to another example of blind testing. This time a particular location shall serve my purpose. Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem may be treated as a space for shopping, haggling at stalls, or business meetings. For someone who has no knowledge of its history, or to whom it is irrelevant – a place like any other of the kind and perhaps in many respects less accommodating than others. While juxtaposing different streets of Middle Eastern cities to pass his judgement, the juror could and – given what has been said so far – even should listen intently to the voices of vendors and tourists, tune in with the cobblestones and stones that make up the tissue of surrounding walls. The decision about that must be reached at the outset. The next step is more difficult, because it requires distinguishing the words and sentences used to tell the (hi)story and again filtering them from the din of the crowd. Ultimately, the verdict depends less on what one can see, hear, touch, and taste on the Via Dolorosa, but on what one understands from the voices that reach us there.

    By analogy, there are probably many villages, towns, and cities on the northern coast of France more beautiful than Boulogne-sur-Mer; with more charming beaches and quaint lanes, filled with their own legends. But it is only from there – should I ever have the chance to look towards Britain – that my gaze will follow the direction of Julius Caesar’s dreams, later fulfilled by Claudius, Roman emperor. It is precisely in that area that the latter most certainly and the former very probably ascended the decks of the ships that took them towards the conquest of the Island. Many places on the coast, and probably more than one in the city itself, must fuel the beholders’ imagination and whet their appetite – the flavor of those places is subordinate to what happened there in the past. Without this knowledge, and without the imagination fueled by history, Boulogne-sur-Mer is a city comparable to others, and one with a beach that has no unique character at that.

    The weakness of blind tests is not only that they do not take into account what is invisible. The main objection to blind testing is that they deny the value of what is apparently ancillary or unrelated to the subject of the assessment – but which, in fact, determines it. Scruton writes:

    To think you can judge a wine from its taste and aroma alone is like thinking you can judge a Chinese poem by its sound, without knowing the language. And just as words sound different to the one who knows their meaning, so do wines taste different to the one who can locate them in a place and a time. (Scruton 2012b: 36).

    And elsewhere, when he states: “[w]hatever I was to taste in the glass, I knew in advance that it was a part of France – the France that was already my spiritual home” (Scruton 2012b: 34), he means not only the knowledge that can be acquired by studying maps and guidebooks, by learning the history of a country, getting acquainted with its political system or even by talking to its inhabitants. And in the chapter titled Le tour de France, he continues thusly:

    That first face-to-face encounter with the soil of Trotanoydid not occur without preparation. The education that made this experience possible was delivered to me by Balzac and Flaubert, by the villages around Fontainebleau, by the Debussy Preludes and Berlioz’s settings of Gautier. And of course by Proust (Scruton 2012b: 34)

    Another variety of conclusive experience comes to mind. The exclamation of “Land ho!” means “Land in sight!” only when some landlubbers read about it.  But this laconic call-out swells with content in the ears of sailors who have spent months yearning to hear it. Not only does it promise sweet water springs and friendly harbors, but also a memory of the entire route they have travelled so far; a soothing of the daily pangs of conscience that have pestered them since the day they embarked. The longer the voyage, the more memories and dilemmas, more remorse and hope. Scruton would perhaps say that it is a good opportunity to glorify patience as a virtue that conditions maturity, amplifies promise and fulfillment - be it through the taste of life or wine. But what can a linguist tester say about it? Deaf to the sound of the sea, blind to the approaching rocks? At best, he might want to converse on the subject.

    The culture of conversation

    For Scruton (and many other great and humble liege subjects of Bacchus) wine and conversation are one and the two should not be separated. In an ideal world, this unity would be, nomen omen, literal, and successive bottles or barrels would set the rhythm and topics of disputes. But ideals, as we know all too well, are meant to be pursued perpetually unattainable, not to be achieved. On the other hand, it would be unwise to insist that without a glass full to the brim any exchange of thoughts is impossible. Just as there is nothing wrong with filling it up with anything other than wine. An outstanding Polish writer, essayist and translator, but also (and in this context – above all) a great wine aficionado, Marek Bieńczyk, wrote in the introduction to his All the Wine Chronicles: “I would also love to see some stray sheep among my potential readers, those who have no interest in wine as such. One does not necessarily need to be in love with Laura when reading Petrarch’s sonnets to her. In other words: one can also drink in merely words, and I would be very grateful for that” (Bieńczyk, 2018: 9).

    Hence, if wine does not constitute a prerequisite for conversation, let it at least be its subject. But a discussion about wine, as every page of I Drink Therefore I Am proves, is much more than a mere discussion about tastes. Before the floor is given back to Scruton, let Bieńczyk have his stance for a while  (2001: 5-6):

    When we talk about wine, we tend to look back towards the past: the vintage contains so much mystery of the moments passed, so many riddles of old age, so much time that has been neither lost nor wasted, so much contact with the years gone by, with the dates that, unlike the historical ones, still do not taste of ash and wormwood. But in its essence, I think, wine opens up in us and for us that other dimension of time in particular, i.e., the future. If there is any miraculous effect wine has, it is precisely that. I cannot and do not yet wish to describe how wine guides us into the realms that are not yet existent, where still life gets animated, where something is bound to happen and will, where our tongue shall never be silent, and where the animating power of giving names to things shall be ours forever.

    Once, among friends, I witnessed a discussion in which one of us asserted that the culture of 19th century Europe was a culture of conversation, now forgotten and atrophied. “But should we not”, I asked, “consider every culture a culture of conversation since there is no other culture?” Since the measure of greatness for individual cultures is determined by the words that dominate them, the places that set the tone, the forms of relationships in which conversations are born, and the will of the people who succumb to these forms. What I am increasingly convinced of as I am writing this text, and what I am realizing once again, is that for a conversation to be fully worthy of the name, it requires its participants to enter critically into the depths of tradition and at the same time cross the boundaries of what is real. A conversation about wine would constitute a special case here, but not a unique one – like reflections on the sacrum, disputes over the meaning of love, happiness and despair, discussions about the past of elderly people and the future of children. As is evident from the passage quoted above, such a conversation urges us to turn to old ideas and ideals in their most corporeal form. A form in which their sense is revealed in the form of their present consequences, and at the same time they appear before us in the form of beings as ephemeral as visions of days we do not yet know.

    Over the centuries the culture of the symposium has undergone a profound transformation, the extent of which can be seen in the distance that separates the essence of the ancient symposium (symposion) from modern symposia. Today we have grown accustomed to their official form, and so when we hear that good friends are arranging a “symposium” amongst themselves, there is a tinge of sarcasm to the statement. The term seems to suggest both a longing for the freedom of feasts and an idealization of disputes conducted by ancient Stoics. However, matters most is to give the meeting, even if not entirely consciously, an air of sublimity, and to pay homage to community and friendship.

    This brings to mind the criterion according to which the ancient Egyptians classified wines. They divided them based on their social functions. Thus, pharaohs’ subjects had “wine for first-class celebrations”, “wine for dancing”, “wine for tax collection day” (Scruton 2012b: 127), etc. In the aforementioned The Flowers of Evil, Baudelaire distinguishes in turn between “the ragman’s wine” and “the solitary’s wine”, which are the titles of relevant poems. I imagine that almost all of those mentioned here would have been invited guests at both the ancient symposium and the one convened by friends nowadays. The bottle of “the solitary’s wine” would be emptied the quickest. A second of the kind would not be necessary. With “the ragman’s wine”, a mocking toast would be made to the health of the host, followed by a series of loud curses at well-known public figures. “The wine for first-class celebrations” would dominate the table in direct proportion to the time that had passed since the previous feast, intermittently with “the wine for dancing”, especially (though not necessarily) if the symposium was coeducational.  Here we should note the glorious departure of today’s “symposia” from their ancient prototypes to which women in good standing were never allowed. Only “the wine for tax collection day” I would designate for use during lunch breaks at scientific symposia.


    * * *

    Above I described I Drink Therefore I Am as a work dedicated to wine. The statement is both true and not true, as I intended to convey in this short essay. Indeed, Scruton’s book can be viewed solely from this perspective, but to dwell solely on wine as such would reduce the text to a treatise on tastes. And then anything beyond that (i.e., most of the book) would have to be seen as an object lesson in phraseology. Yes, neat and pleasing to the literarily sensitive ear, but nothing more. It would be like reducing Don Quixote to a story of paranoia, or The Name of the Rose to a detective story (cf. Eco 1985: 53). But Scruton’s phrasing is truly delightful, his metaphors intimidating, and the wines he has chosen for us in his description are like “a frigate in full sail, a galloping horse, or a woman dancing” (Balzac 1978: 42).

    On the final note, the price of the Opus 58 violin fluctuates around 25 thousand Swiss francs, while the stradivarius, beaten by it, is valued at 2 million American dollars.


    * This article was originally published in the book entitled Tradition and Change. Scruton’s Philosophy and its Meaning for Contemporary Europe, European Conservatives and Reformists, Warszawa 2022.

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