IPA as Sentence Structure

I love beer that brings across the floral qualities of the hops.  I once had a six pack of Lagunitas IPA that was so floral that if I were Romeo I would have told Juliet, “An India Pale Ale, by any other name, would smell as sweet.”

But each batch of beer is different.  Real beer, I mean.  There are certain beverages that are not what I would call, “beer.”  The hops and barley will never grow quite the same, the billions of finicky little yeast will never act exactly the same way.

I’m taking a seminar on 19th century science and literature (read, early science fiction), and we were discussing an article in which the author aims to evaluate the ability of two typists so as to scientifically improve the efficiency of all typists.  I mean, this guy totally dehumanizes typists – he’s only interested in how to make a person into the most efficient transcriber possible.  He wants automaton image to text translators.

This, by the way, is the same seminar in which I said, “I like British imperialism if only because it gave us IPA.”

So we were talking about this article and somebody asked why, when we learn typing, we don’t think of it as becoming automatons.  I think it’s because we’re not taught to type in order to become transcribers.  We are taught to type so we can convey our own ideas – even if that just means typing a paper for high school English, or a Facebook status update.  We are taught to type so that we can write.

And writing, like fermentation, never yields identical results.

Any writer or wannabe writer will know what I’m talking about, because all of them (us, I should say: I fall into one of those two categories…currently the latter) understands how fickle a sentence can be.  We’ll be walking to the store or trying to go to sleep, and a sentence will occur to us.  A fantastic sentence.  A sentence that, in the moment, seems as good as, “And in another second, had our contact lasted, I was certain there would erupt into speech, out of all that light and beauty, some brutal variation of Look, baby, I know you.”  Special thanks to James Baldwin for that one.

If you let it go, if you don’t find a piece of paper and write it down, that sentence will disappear and you will never get it back.  Whatever specific combination of phraseology and rhythm and alchemy that made the thing is gone, and cannot be recaptured.  You can build a sentence like it, but like the next batch of beer, it won’t be the same.

That’s why I love beer.

Wait, what?  Where am I?  Barkeep, hit me again!


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