Friday, May 16, 2008

States of consciousness

Have you ever wondered: What Does Your Drink Say About You? If I ever hear my drink talking about me, I'm going to obliterate it so fast… The link in this article to "Ten Drinks Men Should Never Order" doesn't work, go here instead. The link to "Ten Things Your Bartender Won't Tell You" is still good. And a commenter there links to Top Ten Myths About Bartenders, which includes

Myth 3: You can out-drink the bartender.

A more wrong statement has never been uttered; you can't, so don't even try. But, if you're buying, I'll certainly entertain the challenge. I don't care how much you think you can drink—any bartender anytime, anywhere can put you under the table, period.
Words to remember.

But then, some bartenders may take a different approach:
Strict Wildness

Music so poignant it wakes the dead,
We passion poets eke it from wine, not bread;
From wonder, not logic; heart, not head,—
But need clear heads to mix your heady brew.
We kitsch it if we swig it too.
Inspired insanity won't do.
Nor thin-lipped sane respectability.
Rigor lone is rigor mortis.
Rigor-plus-wild is the right-bank tortoise
That beats the chic hare of Rive Gaucherie.
Are poems magic? Sure. Till magic
Believes itself. Then it's bunk.
Art, being bartender, is never drunk.

— Peter Viereck
Before I Google'd up that poem, I had remembered that last line as "Art, like the bartender, is never drunk." Now I suppose I'll be the only source for that quote on the whole darn Interweb. Is that actually a different line, from another work? Anyone who can set me straight on this, please do.

All this brings to mind the ancient Persian custom of considering decisions in different states of consciousness:
It is also their general practice to deliberate upon affairs of weight when they are drunk; and then on the morrow, when they are sober, the decision to which they came the night before is put before them by the master of the house in which it was made; and if it is then approved of, they act on it; if not, they set it aside. Sometimes, however, they are sober at their first deliberation, but in this case they always reconsider the matter under the influence of wine.
If Iranians would still do this today, they might have a more sensible take on the world. Do MADD and their prohibitionist fellow-travelers ever notice how toxic becomes the worldview of whole societies where drink is prohibited? I suspect not.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden recently linked to a description of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. She was intending to say that Internet trolls display this syndrome, and I'm sure that many of them do. But as I look through the document, I see Arafat and Ahmadinejad in every paragraph. I wonder if an entire culture can suffer from a personality disorder.


Update, Nov. 2009: Aha! It was Fritz Leiber who misquoted the Viereck line, in The Pale Brown Thing, which appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in January

and February of 1977. That's where I would have read it. The longer, full version of the novel was later published as Our Lady of Darkness. Cover image swiped from SciFi Buys, an amazing (!) source of vintage magazines, to which I shall be returning, now that I've found it.

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