• 'An older wine in need of decanting will be delicately pulled from the rack in the cellar, placed in a cradle to minimize movement, and brought to the dining room, where it is presented to the host of the table. Once the host has confirmed it's the correct bottle, the sommelier brings it to the credenza just as a normal bottle of wine would be treated. In a ritual of drama and elegance, the sommelier lights a candle to illuminate the bottle so that the thin layers of wine can be seen as it's poured slowly into a decanter. If properly done, the sediment in the bottle will not spill into the decanter. Guests often marvel at the sommelier's precision and concentration. Once the bottle is emptied into the decanter, it is placed on the credenza, it's label facing the guests. The sommelier samples the decanted wine. If it meets his or her standards, the sommelier approaches the table and pours the host a sample, and service proceeds from there.' ~Edmund O. Lawler in "Lessons in Wine Service from Charlie Trotter"

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So I read up on the term of art you’re employing here, and it seems to have several different connotations. The one I have the most respect for describes it as reinforcing the learning of the facts-and-dates-and-ideas-and-consequences side of history, and there’s no doubt travel can help inform the imagination. I am less sure, however, about the additional burden you seem to want to place on it, i.e., promoting a heightened sense of neediness as a basis for healthy community.

I know from prior posts that you are concerned about the dangers of individuality running amok, but it might be wise to remember that the sense of the individual gains urgency as political communitarianism (to name one possible pressure) threatens it—part of the balancing act all humanity must constantly undergo. If you are truly seeing “lone rangers” in threatening numbers, it may be in response to exaggerated neediness from others.


Perhaps you are hoping a sense of neediness can stand in for a sense of duty, long considered one of a set of virtues belonging to healthy communities, but more recently a dirty word. The many payoffs for the inflation of grievances have, I am afraid, ruined the sense of proportion which once helped us value duty.

One of the benefits of travel on that accounting, then, might be the opportunity to be yanked back to reality by seeing true neediness, and contrasting it with our own abundance.

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