Many moons ago, I read a lot of Ivan Illich's writing. And George Grant's. And stuff by Bertrand Russell, Simone Weil and H.L. Mencken as well as anyone else it seems who were quite happy to tell you the general assumptions about anything were pretty much wrong but, one way or another, how it was also OK because the alternative, one way or the other, was the better place to be anyway. I think about these sorts of writings when I do my work as a lawyer or as a foster parent. I think about these things when I choose what I am going to do with my time and my money. As I smoke BBQ and daydream. The result appears to be living like you are at your cottage as much as possible while focusing on what's useful and helpful. Works for me.
So... I've been thinking a bit about craft beer and, how shall I put this... how little I like it. I love good beer and good company in a good tavern - don't get me wrong. It's just that the layers and layers of craft are building up to the point it's all getting both a bit boring and a bit confusing. Which reminds me in particular of Illich. Consider this from his 1977 essay "Disabling Professions":
Merchants sell you the goods they stock. Guildsmen guarantee quality. Some craftspeople tailor their product to your measure or fancy. Professionals tell you what you need and claim the power to prescribe. They not only recommend what is good but actually ordain what is right. Neither income, long training, delicate tasks nor social standing is the mark of a professional. Rather, it is his authority to define a person as a client, to determine that persons needs and to hand the person a prescription. The professional authority comprises three roles: the sapiential authority to advise, instruct and direct; the moral authority that makes its acceptance not just useful but obligatory; and charismatic authority that allows the professional to appeal to some supreme interest of his client that not only outranks conscience but sometimes even the raison d'etre.
Sounds a bit much to think about seeing as we are only talking beer, right. But then Jeff praises professional judges, Boak and Bailey face a beer that smells of "manure with a hint of bile" and (I think) Stan is seeing patterns that leave him reminding himself to follow his own interest. I am not going to pursue this very far tonight so much as to put it on the table and think about it for a bit. I like the merchants of beer just fine. Also, the guilds-folk and craftspeople - as in those artisans who craft something - if you can find them out there making good beer. I like all those people just fine. But consider the one craft brewer who recently disparaged another for that brewery having design staff. Was he just being bitchy or tellingly blind to his own comparable failings, most notably found in the glass of fruit flavoured "saison" that tasted like a discount lollypop. It was an amazing "judge not lest ye be judged moment" for me.
An accusation tantamount to pointing and calling out "professional!" by one similarly besmirched and reeking after wallowing in the same bog.