We are “accomplices” in how our day to day lives nourish our memories. Remaining alert to and concentrating on what happens to us helps to fill a trunk of memories that we later use in many different ways. For some time now part of my thinking about literature and life has been linked to W. G. Sebald, a German writer who went to live in England, where he became a university Professor before he was killed in a car crash. Sebald builds and rebuilds on the basis of memory, his own and that of others. He creates a new world based on a thousand things that people normally see in isolation: photography, history, painting, architecture, landscape, etc. are all seen from a bird’s-eye view.
If you live at ground level, all you see is a tree, a church, a road. But if you take to the air (mentally), you’ll be able to see where the borders of things lie and thus view everything differently. In a discrete, but extremely risky way (from an intellectual point of view), Sebald lived on the frontiers of thought, of feelings, of a narrative for the creation of a new world and a new way of understanding things that, 14 years after his death, is still very much alive. An exhibition dedicated to him, “The Sebald Variations”, is currently being held in Barcelona (until 26 July). In one of the texts, by Jorge Carrión, I read (about Sebald):
“Literature is miniature, but it aspires to represent the complex, the vast, a universe that expands like a quantum membrane in you, the reader’s, mind”. And I believe that when I attempt to talk about a wine, or the person who makes it, the landscape in which it is nurtured, the architecture and gastronomy that surround it and what happens in my quantical trunk of memories when I look at, smell and drink it… in one way or another, I’m attempting to create literature following (also) in the footsteps of Sebald (and others...). Isolated details are of little use, narrow margins and eyes that only look in one direction obscure the reality I’m looking for in a wine. You need to make an effort, take to the air and look down (in spirit). Like Horace when he turned himself into a swan to fly over the memories of his life and tell us how he himself saw them as a poet.
As Jules Chauvet explained to us with his daily example, with the wines he made, how he tilled the earth and, above all, how he penetrated, discreetly and silently, the spirit of the wines he drank and wished to describe: “Some wines do not only have precise natures, they also have ideal silhouettes. They can evoke fragrant spring mornings and emotive September evenings”. Open the trunk of memories when you want to speak of a wine; take to the air to discover its complex history. Then learn how to see that the tiniest details you can perceive on the vine –or are shown by the person who makes the wine– hide the reality of the universe. Understand that these small details (the ones I search for and try to sense) represent complexity; they shed light on the intimate details of a wine and make them visible, so that people can see it, drink it and experience it differently.
Literary aspirations –Sebaldesque perhaps– that give me a contented feeling when I propose the description of a wine or speak of its history.