For those who miss the columns of former N&O book page editor J. Peder Zane among our pages, he has a fun and interesting story in The New York Times today about the difference between being a consumer and a connoisseur.
Here's are excerpts:
AMERICANS didn’t always ask so many questions or expect so much in their quest for enjoyment. It was enough for them simply to savor a good cigar, a nice bottle of wine or a tasty morsel of cheese.
Not anymore. Driven by a relentless quest for “the best,” we increasingly see every item we place in our grocery basket or Internet shopping cart as a reflection of our discrimination and taste. We are not consumers. We have a higher calling. We are connoisseurs. ...
... If connoisseurship is a way of thinking, its rising popularity reflects the fact that people have so many more things to think about. ` Robert H. Frank, a professor of economics at Cornell whose books include “Luxury Fever: Why Money Fails to Satisfy in an Era of Excess,” noted that the British economist John Maynard Keynes worried during the 1920s and ’30s that rising productivity would lead people to work less as it became easier to satisfy their basic needs.
“It’s funny,” Dr. Frank said, “that someone as smart as he was didn’t realize that we would invent a million new things to spend our money on and create higher and higher standards of quality for those products that would cost more and more.”
Hence the $5 cup of coffee and the $8 pickle.
Read the rest: In Pursuit of Taste, en Masse