I thought of all this when my friend, Professor Goldfarb of the Harvard Philosophy Department, chided me gently for describing Memorial Hall as "ugly." He described it as "the best example of Victorian Gothic architecture in the US." It is, in effect, Best of Breed. But I am afraid that to my ear, that is rather like saying that a new book is "the best example of Hegelian metaphysics by an American."
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
BEST OF BREED
The American Kennel Club is the official arbiter of dog breeds and standards in the United States. Every year it holds a much heralded gathering at which breeders compete for the title of Best of Breed or -- the highest possible award -- Best in Show. Back in the late Sixties when I was teaching at Columbia, I actually went to an AKC Dog Show and watched the proceedings for a while. It was there that I saw for the first time a magnificent Great Pyrenees. For those of you who do not know it, the Great Pyrenees is a large splendid shaggy dog, looking like an unusually big pure white Newfoundland. It is the sort of dog that makes you want to throw your arms around its neck and hug it. There is a long list of officially recognized breeds, each with precise standards of excellence maintained by the AKC. In the early stages of the competition, Poodles compete against Poodles, Labrador Retrievers against Labrador Retrievers, and English Bulldogs against English Bulldogs. On the last day, all the dogs judged Best in Breed compete against one another. Now there really is no way to compare a Miniature Poodle with a Great Dane, so essentially the judges are asked to decide which dog comes closest to the ideal of perfection of its breed. You may like the Great Dane more than the Miniature Poodle, but the Miniature Poodle may be a better Miniature Poodle than the Great Dane is a Great Dane. I don't much care for English Bulldogs, but I can see how one might be declared Best in Show.