Permission to be obsessive

Most people would consider it pretty weird that Jay Leno owns over 100 fancy cars. Guitarist’s who can’t play their scales but have 40 different effects pedals are silly gear Nazi’s. It’s OK to collect stamps, but if you spend every weekend combing through old archives for goodies, you’re a nut job. Do you like Lost? That’s cool. So do a lot of other people. Own all 4 seasons on DVD? Must be a fan. Have a T-shirt, write fan-fiction on your blog and have Lost dress-up parties with your friends? Um. You’ve obsessed. Stay away!

Ah, but wait. Some things society gives us (or at least some of us) permission to be obsessive about. Even applauds it. Food and cooking is one of those areas right now:

Along these lines, a comment from specialty coffee buyer Peter Guiliano:

“Most of the people who payed $130 a pound for Geisha had access to coffee growing right next to the auction lot that cost $12.50 a pound. Why would they pay $130 a pound?

“This is an industry where the participants have constant permission to indulge in hedonistic pursuits. We are entrusted to pursue pleasurable things, and pleasure becomes the dominating force in our lives. the culture of coffee is exactly the same as the culture of chefs: society gives us permission to be obsessed. That’s what we think about all the time. I love the hedonism to a certain extend…love when we are comfortable experiencing the world through our senses, but it gets a little weird. Especially given the power structure. At origin, we are like rock stars. We are surrounded by people who want to spend time with us, who offer us every enticement imaginable. You are traveling for a long time, you are a young guy, and it is easy to get caught up in that and lose you footing.

“You’ve got to be off-kilter a little bit to get attracted to this business…By the time you are a little successful, you’ve been poor for a long time. A lot of these guys were social outcasts in the younger part of their lives…don’t have equipment to deal with some of this stuff.” – Peter Guiliano

-God in a Cup: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Coffee, p.232