Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Gestalt and cigars? What the hell is gestalt?

I was recently discussing the word "gestalt" with Famous Smoke Shop owner, Arthur Zaretsky, during my lunch hour. Since I'm fluent in German, I was well aware of the literal definition, "form, or shape," but the English counterpoint is infinitely more fascinating.

In English, "gestalt" is the idea that things are greater than the sum of their parts. Walking back to my desk from the break room, I couldn’t help but ponder how, on so many levels, this concept applies to premium cigars.

A premium cigar comprises longfiller, binder, and wrapper tobaccos. Smoke them separately, and you taste those specific components. But when well-rolled in the right proportions, those same components render a fundamentally different experience.

Widen your focus to consider presentation. Most cigar smokers I know care more about a cigar's flavor, aroma, and burning qualities than its packaging, and rightfully so. But what about breaking the seal of an attractive box and observing the elegantly understated treasures within? A bundle could never whet my appetite like that!

Now zoom out to include drink pairing. A cigar you may normally enjoy suddenly attains new complexities when juxtaposed with a beverage. Zoom out another level…does it get any better than punctuating a delicious, well-prepared meal with a fine handmade cigar and digestive? Only if you take an even bigger perspective and consider the added joy of good company.

My wife must often wonder what it is I like so much about cigars. It's all of these things, but so much more. In a word, it's the Gestalt. What about you?

- Hayward Tenney

3 comments:

Agent 10 said...

Great article! Thanks for giving me my daily dose of philosophy AND another way to look at appreciating the cigar experience. Well done.

TimD said...

I agree totally, it's the whole cigar 'experience' for me. I spend good time to get prepared to enjoy a great cigar and love when everything falls into place and my high expectations are met!

Anonymous said...

Gestalt?? I haven't heard that term since my prep school days. Nice one to resurrect and very applicable. Smoking a cigar can be so much more than burning leaves!