Some previous Easter posts are at these links
In Oaxaca Mexico there is a small mezcaleria started by a couple of young American guys called El Destilado just a block away from the beautiful Santo Domingo church. The restaurant is quite good including the wine but I visit primarily to sip the small batch mezcals offered by the enterprising owners whose private label (Cinco Sentidos – The Five Senses) expresses how mezcal appeals to our five senses (sight, smell, feel, hearing and taste).
One of the best descriptions of our five senses (and a few others such as weightlessness and marking time) can be found in Chapter 5 (The Realm of our Senses) in Dancing Naked in the Mind Field by Kary Mullis.
Most of us agree that we have five senses—five tiny windows—and we are locked in our own huge castle looking out through these five tiny windows. The world outside, we gather, has no limits except this one little one—it has no end to its hugeness or to the minuteness of its details, or to its tangled vines of complexity that coil around themselves from forever in ways that only very young fools would conspire to untangle.
Mullis is Mendocino’s own Nobel Prize winning genius (1993 Chemistry). Although he was not born in Mendocino, he owned property in Anderson Valley and he writes in his book that the idea that led to his Nobel Prize occurred to him while driving through the rolling hills on Highway 128 to his cabin near Boonville. The Anderson Valley Advertiser wrote a short piece about him HERE.
I think of Mullis as an eccentric mixture of eccentrics including such favorites of mine as Oliver Sacks, Ken Kesey and Richard Feynman. His book Dancing Naked in the Mind Field is similar to Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman by Richard Feynman also a Nobel laureate (1965, Physics).
Mullis’ eccentric lifestyle as a womanizer and consumer of LSD among other things and his controversial views on global warming, AIDS, and recently Doctor Fauci tarnished his image among some, especially conventional, scientists. But, I found his entire book both entertaining and informative even where I disagreed with him. Agreement should not be the criteria for choosing or reading a book.
Here is a short clip on Mullis who died in August of 2019.
A few more quotes from Chapter 5 of his book.
… we have this inaccurate perception that everything that is real is perceptible by at least one of our senses, and invisible things are kind of freaky.
How do I know when someone is standing behind be even though I can’t see them? I can’t hear or smell the person, but I have a sense about it. I also have a nonvisual, non-scent-related, non-intelligence-linked sense for finding my way out of the woods at night, which is convenient because I’m in there a lot and it can be very dark in Mendocino when it’s foggy.
On our limitations:
We have made a lot of cool things, some of them charming and some of them horrible, using the logic that developed out of those Fantastic Five. But perhaps the most important thing that those five senses and the rules of mathematics that we created from them have told us is that they cannot tell us everything. They are a narrow slit, swept only briefly through a glass darkly.
Pay attention to your senses. Neither differential topology, nor geometry, nor calculus has turned out to be the real underlying root of how things work. The rules of geometry and calculus were derived from sense perceptions and can be applied to the things that usually concern us—throwing a baseball, shooting a missile—things that we can access and confirm without five senses, but they are not the reality that we consider in this century to underlie our lives. And this is an important sociological point. At a certain level in physics—the realm of the smallst things—calculus means nothing. It is too dependent on time and space. Time and space don’t really count for much in the inferno of the very small things that we now think are fundamental. So senses don’t either. Geometry doesn’t work at all on the really small things.
Nobody who is sane understands what goes on down at the level where the fundamental things like quarks and electrons do not have any volume or any position. If you can understand something with zero volume and no position, then welcome to insanity.
There is an important story here. It is the story about how, as a culture worldwide after the big wars, we have begun to drift into the idea that reality is not what you see with your senses. That reality can be seen only by specialists with heavy lenses and special machines. It doesn’t seem to matter that for millions of years we’ve been developing some of the best sensory apparatus in the solar system. It grows in the wall of the castle that forms around us as soon as wee are conceived, and unless something fucks it up, it works quite well for fifty or more years.
So, since we have this wonderful sensory equipment that Kary Mullis extolls, let’s use this lovely Easter Sunday to try it out. Take a bottle of Cinco Sentidos mezcal (or any mezcal you have available-you should always have one in your cupboard-and have a sip. First roll a tiny drop around in your fingers to get the feel. Then listen to the bubbles in the bottle (they are called pearls) as you pour out a shot, then smell the exquisite aroma, take a careful look at the pristine color and quality and then sip (don’t shoot) to enjoy the unique flavor that agave, smoke and time can produce in the skilled hands of a mezcalero. Happy Easter !