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Santa Fe New Mexican: Sunday, October 2, 2005 - Page 100

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   New Mexican (Newspaper) - October 2, 2005, Santa Fe, New Mexico                                BOOKS Raise a glass to the civilizing influences of what we drink A HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN 6 GLASSES By Tom Standage Walker Co 240 pages Fermentation and civilization are wrote 20thcentury poet John CiardL Viewed through the lens of mankinds drinking habits author Tom Standage takes us on a novel tour of world history showing how succeeding civilizations reflected their culture in what became their widespread popular drink illumi nating their kind of life These drinks did far more than quench thirst and prevent sickness from drinking water that wasnt always safe They also influenced the development of their societies And were still drink ing them today Beer was first brewed in ancient Mes opotamias Fertile Crescent It resulted from an accidental discovery made by wild grain gatherers that gruel left stand ing would become pleasantly fermented Later Greeks cultivated the grape HISTORY in ISSES t Wine mixed with water was served at drinking parties called symposia Dis cussions followed on politics philoso phy no doubt gossip Greek commerce also brought wine to Rome Arab scholars then brought us the pro cess of distillation which produced spir its brandy and rum No longer spoilable these were carried everywhere by explor ers and sailors in the Age of Exploration Rum was involved in the early history of America and in the slave trade Coffee traveled from Arabia to Europe where it became immensely popular especially in England in the Age of Reason Coffee houses there became centers of intellectual exchange and commerce Tea drinking started with Chinese nobility Introduced to Britain by the English monopoly the East India Com pany tea was then grown in India and the price dropped worldwide To this day the wellknown English break for a cuppa is wellknown Lastly artificially carbonated soda became the basis for American Coca Cola Starting from a patent medicine for headaches the drink fortified by flavoring and coca became the worlds most popular soft drink It fol lowed American soldiers everywhere Gen Dwight Eisenhower introduced the drink to Russian Gen Georgi Zhu kov who liked it Since it would not do for him to be seen enjoying it in public Zhukov asked was it possible to make CocaCola so it resembled vodka It was And with President Harry Trumans blessing the company devised a colorless version It was shipped to Zhukov in special bottles labeled with a red Soviet star Of course none of these beverages could have been made without water Since the human body is composed of water to a considerable degree we cant get along without it We can last days longer without food than without water So the worlds increasing popula tion presents a problem Will there be enough water for all It seems likely that future wars may be fought over water rather than oil Today tap water in advanced western civilizations is well protected by public health measures But not so in develop ing countries where it can be a matter of Hfe and death The epilogue contains the answer to an important question What is likely to be the worlds seventh favorite drink Water The history of drinking has come right to its Standage writes Marion Loeb Loeb is aparttime Santa Fe writer Paglias poetry snobbery plain to see BREAK BLOW BURN Camilla Paglia Reads FortyThree of the Worlds Best Poems Essays by Camille Paglia Pantheon Press 248 pages Camille Paglia professor of humani ties and media studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia described as Americas premier intellectual provo cateur and happily controversial author of Sexual Personae Art and Decadence from Nefertitito Emily Dickinson Sex Art and American Culture and Vamps Tramps New Essays 1994 now takes on poetry The 43 essays on the worlds best poems have all the dynamic potential of genetically modified corn including the recom mendation of songwriter Joni Mitchell as a major contemporary poet Paglias book opened with anticipa tory delight for her takenoprisoners pleasure in topic and is a reincarnate maenad as one critic called it and yet despite the Viagra hype title Break Blow Burn does not deliver The introduction inadvertently sketches those ideas which limit the book Poems were selected to be mono lingual in English worlds best and then arranged to accompany an English literature course Declaring at the outset that the book is for a general audience Paglia goes on to assure the designated lowest com mon denominator that while poetrys declining status has made its embattled practitioners insular and selfprotective CAMILLE personal friend ships have spawned cliques and coteries in book and magazine publishing prize com mittees and grants orga nizations I have no such friend ships and am a propa gandist for no poet or groups of she sets an early precedent for didactic snobbery Taking to heart her statement that commentary on poetry is a kind of Paglia dissects the entrails meticulously tediously After several poems the linebyline exegesis quickly becomes kibbitzing as though we can not be trusted to make any interpreta tion unattended Thirty years of experience as room teacher has given her confidence that this sort of close focuses the mind sharpens perception and refines It also might be a mostjronic appro priation of the paternal in education Sit at my knee I will tell you how to think about this poem I tried poems I like poenis I didnt know until finally read ing all and decided that we and she should take her advice approach ing a make the mind still and blank Let the poem speak Barbara Riley Riley is a Sarita Fe writer and editor 16 SUNDAY Oct 28 2005 The New Mexican magazine   

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