The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only at dusk, a wise philosopher has said. But the deeper question is: what does the owl pour into the glass on his end table? On the nose it is nothing less than the women’s powder room just off the vestibule outside of Heaven’s gates. There is butter, cream, buttercream icing, and ice cream. We also find honeydew drenched in kaffir lime juice. The honeydew is exceedingly ripe and sweet. The scent of fresh linen, perfumed hand towels, elegant body washes, and the mahogany trim on the couch round out this brilliant invitation to commence toward the end of history, the stage of Absolute Knowing.
Wow, this mouth is beautiful. It marries sweetness and bitterness in a way that is perfectly harmonious. [Bill: Would you say, John, that there is something like a thesis and antithesis thing going on?] Keep your powder dry, sport, I’m getting there! [Stephen: Quietly looks on eating popcorn] This marriage of the incompatible into something that transcends its constituents is [Bill: …a synthesis?!?] Dammit, man! Give me a chance! This marriage, as I was saying, would make the killer secret ingredient in a pisco sour. But what a pyrrhic victory that would be to adulterate this delicious nectar in a cocktail. This is the first single malt I can recall that presents such balance and joie de vivre that it is at one in the same time a singular, malt-ular whisky and a living, breathing scotch cocktail! [Bill, impatiently looking at his lap, is hardly consoled when Stephen says that he’s pretty sure Hegel mentions pisco sours somewhere in The Philosophy of Right]. You see, there’s depth here that we could not have descried on the nose. In fact, when we return to the nose, the sweetness now seems almost malty, almost like stoneground maize on the prairie. We also detect charred lemon rinds inserted into white grape sorbet. Key lime tarts with sorghum crust. It is the return of a long-lost child bearing great gifts, an inversion of the parable of the prodigal son.
The finish is the echolocation of the mouth. Spices emerge like guerrilla fighters under the cover of dusk, bringing out 5.56 mm caliber white pepper guns for suppressing fire as the camouflaged troops dart forward with purpose. Then, at the key moment—the temporal aspect that the Greeks tried to describe not as chronos but as kairos—depth charges placed by the buzzing, skimming PT-boats are felt rumbling in the distance, roiling the waters and announcing that yes, the attempt to rescue the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man is happening, it’s finally happening! Rindy aftershocks kick up in my palate. There is a touch of pith. Stephen’s head has taken up the lolling posture it assumes when he has reached hedonic overload. We are all witness to the genius that we can hold like liquefied gemstones in our hands. We are all witness to the final stages—the fat and happy stage, for lack of a better term—of a master whose fleeting whims surpass even the determined genius of his competition. And at the end, he is his own competition. His battles are self-contained. His aim is his own self-overcoming.
On the scale of technical terms in Hegelian philosophy–
The Compass Box Phenomenology is aufheben–Translated into English as supersede, abolish, cancel, or sublimate, this juicy Teutonic verb carries more contradictory baggage can you can check on a transatlantic flight. It can somehow carry at one and the same time a negative sense (to annul, abolish, destroy, suspend) and positive sense (keep, save, preserve). There is a third sense as well: to raise, hold, or lift up. And this we do with our glasses.
–Our thanks to Compass Box for the sample!