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May 1st, 2020
What does it mean to have good taste? Is this just a matter of style and preference or is there something deeper going on? And why does this quality of taste expand beyond the realms of what we eat and drink?
Thinking about taste in it’s most basic primordial sense, taste was what allowed us to know if something was good and healthy to eat. If something doesn’t taste good, if it’s rotten, chances are high that we’ll get sick, and in pre modern times, that could be disastrous.
Having good taste in clothes doesn’t seem to have such a visceral and obvious connection to health. Or does it?
When the concept of taste is applied to realms outside of the kitchen, good and bad taste don’t necessarily mean you’ll get sick if you’ve got the wrong idea, but it does have an impact on your life.
This is easy to break down in our current climate of productivity, self-improvement and success. Good taste in many areas lends to credibility in the eyes of others which in turn helps create a healthy image of who we are. Beyond this, there’s an even deeper implication about the actual items that compose good taste. Not only do they signal to other people that you have a mind that is healthy, aware, and can quickly solve for the problem of style, but many things that are purported to be in good taste often advance us on a personal level. An exceptional drama that delves expertly into the human psyche becomes like a healthy exercise for someone to experience when compared to watching a soap opera which is perhaps not in strong accord with the way people actually function and the way we really experience one another.
This sense of good taste and style extends to all areas, giving social clues as to how our mind works. In realms where our physical health isn’t directly affected, taste becomes a way of identifying people of a like group, and naturally those who have bad taste think those with good taste actually have bad taste. We all have good taste, but in the long run these preferences don’t just decorate our lives, they shape our lives, for better or for worse.
It’s easy to dismiss taste and style as something superfluous, but it’s worth remembering that the concept derives from a very basic filter that we have used to help get us to where we are as a species. Every little choice that we make that is in good taste or bad ultimately comes back to us in some form or another, however minute or unnoticed.