Furthest Right

Pipe Meditations (June 27, 2023)

Blend: Peterson Irish Flake
Type: Virginia and Dark Fired Kentucky Burley
Strength: Medium-to-Strong

Experience follows an arc. New smokers want to explore every blend and learn all the technique. They are overwhelmed by the possibilities and see positive phantoms behind each tin or pipe, promises of something really excellent just down the road.

In the middle of experience, people emphasize the mystery. They know they know a lot, but they are not certain how much there is to know, so they tend to under-value their knowledge and over-estimate how much is left to learn.

As experience enters into its final state, a state which can last for infinite time as far as one can tell, it becomes deterministic. There are many blends, but only so many types because there are only so many ingredients. Technique boils down to a few methods. Proficiency matters more than any one pipe.

Those who reach this level tend to find new areas to explore. That is, they blend their own, or seek out oddities, or simply aim to perfect their technique and knowledge, knowing that they already understand four-fifths of it but the remaining fifth can take infinite time to perfect.

As part of this, one rediscovers the eternal. That is, some things will always be good and probably have undiscovered internal dimensions instead of surface variations like the trendy stuff does. Irish Flake fits into that category: you can smoke it for decades and still find nuances.

Like most UK plugs — flakes are cut from plugs — this blend consists of Virginias mixed with dark fired Kentucky Burley, the latter giving it strength and a smoky flavor, while the former brings in sweetness and an elongated flavor profile, with the mix tasting like smoked roasted almonds.

On top of this they pour some kind of amaretto-style sauce with some propylene glycol, which keeps the flake moist and pliable, but not much, since you do not end up with breakfast cereal flake like the big Virginia/Perique blends. This is a nice balance in the middle, tending toward quality.

It seems that de rigueur lore says that flakes should be rubbed out and dried, but this does not work for me. Fold the flakes to half length, then twist them to expose inner layers, and slide (not cram) that into the bowl. It should go in easily with space on the sides.

Light that, tamp once, and then repeat until you have a flat surface of ash. At that point the process differs from ribbon cut or shag; you want to really give it the flame until it has penetrated an eighth of an inch into the leaf mass evenly across the top. Then insert in mouth and breath-smoke.

A good bowl of this stuff will last you a couple hours since you do not need to haul off and suck on the stem to get a lot of flavor. Just keep the lips sealed, blow out nine times a minute, and you will have a pleasant a long-lasting smoke.

Ironically this one was followed by a homebrew English here. In theory, one is supposed to smoke English blends in winter, but sometimes you crave that smoky spicy Latakia with the sweetness of Virginias made interesting by a piquant, sweet-sour mix of leaf types.

This blend came out of a jar of a type not used here for some years, which means that this is a “Lat-bomb” or a quarter Latakia mixture with layered Virginias but also strong Burleys and a touch of dark fired Kentucky Burley to tame the Latakia.

If memory serves, some of the Burleys come from Cube Cut Burley and some of the Virginias from Brown Twist Sliced, since these are my preferred ingredients for a stout English. Also a pinch of white Burley and a fair amount of Perique grace this blend.

Pressed leaf burns more slowly, and the Cube Cut Burley is basically a Burley plug cut into flakes and then cut again across the width, resulting in lots of little squares of compressed Burley like little micro-plugs. These slow down any blend to nearly flake levels.

Smoking this, staring into the fire that burns in the West today, one is reminded that humankind thinks in integers but nature thinks in sine waves. The wave rises, it falls, and then the two parts converge. It must do this to avoid the repetition-randomness of entropy.

Entropy might be seen this way, which is that the more different things you do, the more things you must consider before acting. At some point, that becomes paralytic. The wave structure of the universe emphasizes some as more likely than others, interrupting this paralysis.

This means that in summer, one smokes the Burley and Virginia-Perique blends, but in winter, out come the Englishes and UK plugs. People like me who seem out of step are in fact simply what presages the change; life is a ceremony of opposites, and some must flavor the atmosphere with what is coming.

In the same way, our present time is converging. The West rose on realism, then came across its animus in anti-realism, and now is looking for a realistic take on anti-realism as a precursor to returning to realism. People forget, and must re-learn, the eternal lessons of natural order.

We are looking toward in the long term an escape from anti-realism since it invites in the parasites. You can either have a cruel world which produces competence and therefore reduces cruelty over time, or an accepting world which reduces competence and eventually becomes more cruel than one can bear.

This transcends even politics. The money, fecundity, and competence have gone; the world has no use for another third world ruin. Those who can will rise up and do what is necessary, and the rest are going away, whether into exile, asylum, execution, or feudal slavery.

Patterns of history such as this depend on us to make them happen. The other option, for the wave to lose its spine and all energy to depart, is always there, and after that collapse, nothing rises again. Now is a good time to light our pipes and redouble our efforts to rebirth the West.

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