The Duende

To express the inexpressibilities; this is the challenge faced by the word when its instruments and agents are applied to the intangible.

How do you explain what love is? How do  you write a flavor? How do you describe a scent? How do you phrase a color?

When melody becomes magic, what is the word for that?

When a wine lays upon your tongue in all its decadent languidity, is there a metaphor for all this brazen sensuality?

What is it that separates ordinary excellence from the near-spiritual lift of the transcendentally beatific?

What separates the world from the winsome otherwordly?

The juju, the mojo, the funk, the soul.

The Duende.

The answer is, today, The Duende.

Because today is the day that we remember the birth of Lorca.

Federico García Lorca.

Our poet of duende.

From Lorca’s great work, Theory and Play Of The Duende:

“I heard an old maestro of the guitar say: ‘The duende is not in the throat: the duende surges up, inside, from the soles of the feet.’ Meaning, it’s not a question of skill, but of a style that’s truly alive: meaning, it’s in the veins: meaning, it’s of the most ancient culture of immediate creation.”

“Reject the angel, and give the Muse a kick, and forget our fear of the scent of violets that eighteenth century poetry breathes out, and of the great telescope in whose lenses the Muse, made ill by limitation, sleeps. The true struggle is with the duende.”

“The roads where one searches for God are known, whether by the barbaric way of the hermit or the subtle one of the mystic: with a tower, like St. Teresa, or by the three paths of St. John of the Cross. And though we may have to cry out, in Isaiah’s voice: Truly you are a hidden God,’ finally, in the end, God sends his primal thorns of fire to those who seek Him. Seeking the duende, there is neither map nor discipline.”

“The great artists of Southern Spain, Gypsy or flamenco, singers dancers, musicians, know that emotion is impossible without the arrival of the duende. They might deceive people into thinking they can communicate the sense of duende without possessing it, as authors, painters, and literary fashion-makers deceive us every day, without possessing duende: but we only have to attend a little, and not be full of indifference, to discover the fraud, and chase off that clumsy artifice.”

“The arrival of the duende presupposes a radical change to all the old kinds of form, brings totally unknown and fresh sensations, with the qualities of a newly created rose, miraculous, generating an almost religious enthusiasm. ”

“All the arts are capable of duende, but where it naturally creates most space, as in music, dance and spoken poetry, the living flesh is needed to interpret them, since they have forms that are born and die, perpetually, and raise their contours above the precise present.”

“The duende never repeats itself, any more than the waves of the sea do in a storm.”

“The duende….Where is the duende? Through the empty archway a wind of the spirit enters, blowing insistently over the heads of the dead, in search of new landscapes and unknown accents: a wind with the odour of a child’s saliva, crushed grass, and medusa’s veil, announcing the endless baptism of freshly created things.”

This is the wine we chase. Season after season, through frozen rain and boiling heat, this is the wine we chase. Through bud and bloom, veraison and harvest, this is the wine we chase. By hose and tank and barrel, and bottle after bottle, this is the wine we chase.

I read a writer on the wire, late last night, who said that he was tired of tired descriptors:

I’ve grown tired of wine reviews that talk of hints of boysenberry and secondary aromas of eucalyptus.  While these descriptors may be accurate, they seem divorced from what most people want from a glass of wine:  pleasure.  Moreover, trying to pinpoint the right descriptor for a wine can take away from the emotional and communal experience that accompanies most memorable bottles of wine.

I am with him in his chase, and he with me in ours.

This is the wine we chase.

The wine with the odour of a child’s saliva, crushed grass, and medusa’s veil, announcing the endless baptism of freshly created things.


The excellent quote above about wine descriptors comes from John Trinidad, writing on his wonderful SF Wine Blog. You can read more of his work here:

Categories: Wine & Art, Wine & Music, Wine & Philosophy, Wine & Poetry, Wine Blogs, Wine Quotes

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