Hello Dove Talers! A tip for tipplers:
Here's the article that link goes to:
The spirits behind the writers
February 27, 2008
Horace reports that the 5th century Athenian poet Cratinus, in a light-hearted defense of his famed intemperance, declared, "No verse can give pleasure for long, nor last, that is written by water drinkers." Cratinus wasn't entirely kidding: Legend says he died of grief upon seeing a full cask of wine break into pieces. And writers of subsequent ages have taken his sentiment to heart. Wherever you find the pen-and-ink set, drink is an emblem of vivacity and wit, at times regarded with semireligious reverence.
Why do scribblers make drinking their second art? For one thing, it primes them for their task. In 1714, a young
Drink rarely causes a writer to underestimate his talents. And tippling is a handy excuse: Inspired writing produced under the influence is still inspired. But you wrote a tissue of nonsense? Well, one overindulges.
Prudent writers learn to take more out of drink than it takes out of them. Kingsley Amis, in a 1975 interview, prescribed a glass of Scotch as an "artistic icebreaker." John Mortimer told the
Some writers have found even deeper use for alcohol. Tennyson, according to his friend James Knowles' 1893 reminiscence, would "look upon his bottle of port as a sort of counsellor." When the poet received the letter offering him the poet laureateship of Britain, he brooded inconclusively until finally composing two letters -- one accepting and one declining -- placing them on his table and resolving to decide which to send after finishing his bottle of port. He accepted.
The writer's life is solitary, but not the drinking writer's. In his 1975 memoir, "Here at the New Yorker," Brendan Gill portrays the magazine (where he worked for 40 years) as a society of first-class bingers. One colleague believed that vomiting was, like shaving and showering, a natural part of any morning routine.
But there can be a dark side. Booze was the downfall of Hemingway and Fitzgerald, after it “pickled their brains,” in the words of
Is there really a muse in the bottle?
Intoxication, if not the source of literary creation, creates a cerebral aura congenial to it. It recasts the glare of life in a softer hue. It soothes anxiety and other stultifiers of reflection. It warms the mind and thaws thoughts frozen in timidity. The fruit of the vine does not give us insight but aids our discovery of it; it can allow you to eavesdrop on yourself.
The trick is to find the golden mean between exhilarating and dulling the intellect. Cratinus' belief that only bad verses were written without wine seems too appealing to be untrue. But the best verses no doubt arise when, the wine low in the bottle, Dionysus is still steady enough to dance to the tune of Apollo's lyre.
Joseph Tartakovsky is associate editor of the Claremont Review of Books.
Copyright 2008 Los Angeles Times (Larry sez: please note © !)
From Wild Thing:
Very funny, Larry! (Believe it or not) for me, wine and writing don't mix - kinda like driving. Too many accidents! But of the literary kind. However, editing circle's another thing.... *smile*.
Again from Wild Thing:
Well now you say so, alcoholic spirits make me feel tired and a bit dizzy. Never felt inspired to write, like when I am between sleeping and waking, and words and sentences just float in. You think it is a man thing? Do they need the courage, more so than a woman, to let go of their inner self? I knew a good guitarist and lyric writer, who I often invited to parties. He would not perform untill he downed a good amount of beer. Remembering writers/poets get togethers, it was mainly the men who were sauced already right from the start. I am open to be proven wrong about that.
POETRY NEWS? What exactly does that consist of? Of what, exactly, does that consist?
Seriously, Xena if you click on edit in the module on your Yahoo page, it should bring down a box that says "Email Module". Send me the link for those two modules, please. I missed them somehow in all the options for News, Sports, Politics, Useless Diversions...
Re: drinking & writing. Yes, it loosens the tongue, but tends to disorganize the thinking, no?
Re: online novels. I've downloaded gigabytes worth of online literature, plus other stuff, pages & pages, and it collects on my computer because I have difficulty doing sustained reading on the computer. Lots of reading, yes, but working thru a novel? Tough to do.
As for the other part, all my writing is free. So far. I've seen sites where people surround their material with copyright signs, dated, little messages saying, "This is my poem. I wrote it and it belongs to me. It's thin at the beginning, becomes much thicker in the middle, then thins out at the end. That is my poem, and it is mine." On the internet? Good luck! If you post it, someone will copy it, even if they have to type it out by hand.
Hey Wild Thing, you've thrown down the gauntlet to the men writers out there! LOL!
Larry will respond for the men. Is it an aspect of the artistic temperament? (What is the artistic temperament?) This phenomenon is not just confined to writing, of course. See my blog posts about Amy Winehouse. (And then there was Janis Joplin...) And you can see that it is not confined to men, although those two examples were musicians...
The artist struggles with two great difficulties...first, the battle to express accurately what one wishes to express...the personal struggle for self-fulfillment, let's say. And then second, the wish to share it with others...and have it accepted and appreciated. Failure in either one of these may drive you to drink. And success might as well, because success is the prelude to imagined failure to live up to both one's own and others' expectations in the next project...
Larry has a second thought: (his first second thought in decades)...
This is a discussion that should be going on on the much-neglected Dove Tale Blog! You writers, you!
I agree. Larry, do you want to translate it over? Post your email as a blog, and I'll translate Wild Things and my comments to the blog after? And everyone else, come join us!
And one final from Xena:
(Larry decides to do the whole thing himself, cuz he likes to be in control...plus, his Gmail gives him automatic easy-to-follow threads...)
- The question of drinkers who write, with all of the subtexts involved in that, including gender differences, and how useful is it to write while drinking...
- The question of online publication, giving it away for free...
- Why do writers write anyway? Is it just for the exposure? What constitutes pay?
- A "technical" Internet conversation about RSS feeds and Personal Home Pages and how do you get your news.
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