Here’s a passage from Montaigne –
Never did two men judge alike about the same thing, and it is impossible to find two opinions exactly alike (about the same thing) not only in different men, but in the same man at different times.
I’ve been passing a spectacular tree recently. It’s in the corner of somebody’s garden in Chateaubernard on the way into Cognac, not far from the Biocoop. Here’s a photo I took the other day. I think this is a “kaki” tree. Certainly that’s what the fruit looks like. It inspired me to buy one of the fruits and taste it. Mmmm….delicious. Or was it…..?
Montaigne says, it isn’t possible to find two opinions about the same thing exactly alike. You might taste a kaki fruit and think “yuk!” Yet, what can we do, other than say truly what we experience?
This passage of Montaigne’s made me think about all the reviews which surround us. The well established reviews of movies, music, theatre, and books which appear in most newspapers at the weekends have been added to enormously by reviews online. Amazon, for example, allows anyone to post reviews and it’s not at all uncommon to find widely divergent views on the same book – just as Montaigne said. But they also use their algorithms to show you what other books, other people who liked this one, liked (or bought). At least this second method helps you to find people with some tastes in common to yours. There are sites like Tripadvisor which let people review and rate restaurants, bars, hotels and so on. Again, there you’ll see reviews of any particular establishment which range from fabulous to awful. What do you do with that?
Add into the normal range of opinions and tastes, those who deliberately post positive or negative reviews for commercial or malicious purposes – making up reviews to try to affect the rankings.
So I wonder, what do you do? How do you find books to read, movies to watch, music to listen to, places to go? How often do you read the reviews and how do you find the reviewers you trust? Maybe you get familiar with a particular blogger and find you share a lot of their tastes. That can help.
Montaigne’s final point takes us back to the fact that everything changes. We all find that what we loved or hated in the past can turn the other way as we get older. Maybe there’s a certain kind of food you used to hate, and now you love? Or maybe there are authors or musicians who just don’t do it for you any more (or alternatively, who previously didn’t interest you, but now that you look again, you fall in love with them!). Have you had that kind of experience?