It’s Sunday morning and in recounting the events thus far I must say it’s been a rich full 36 hours. While not yet complete, there’s been enough thuggery this weekend to set a record had anyone been keeping track. Self-abuse comes in many forms and I’m reasonably sure I’ve dished out, received, or witnessed damn near all of it. Bertrand Russell said, “Drunkenness is temporary suicide.” Life styles aside, I’m beginning to understand what he meant. Not only does alcohol affect us physically by destroying brain cells and beating the hell out of our collective livers, but it also has an insidious way of killing off any social reciprocity that may have benefited us from regular human interchange.
Of course the severity and speed to which we fall prey to the above is directly proportionate to the volume consumed. I know it’s stating the obvious, yet it needs to be said as I suspect I’ve taken my drinking up a notch. I’m not sure how I feel about it yet. I’ve always scorned and made fun of anyone preaching the evils of drink, and condemned them as narrow minded hypocrites. Well not so fast!
Does alcohol release the creative spirit?
I’d like to think so, but unfortunately in an empirically derived report released by Dr. Henrietta Boween-Jones said, “The majority of people who drink alcohol do not automatically become more creative after a few drinks.” A consulting psychiatrist and expert on addiction she has studied gifted artists who’ve been clinically diagnosed as alcoholics. These include writers, actors, as well as visual artists. “There is a limited amount of research indicating that people who drink in moderation may, after a few drinks, become more adept at solving certain cognitive tasks.” I think the key word here is “moderation” something I know little about.
Jackson Pollock a well-known abstract painter (dripping paint onto canvas) as well as a raging drunk who died at 44 from driving into a pole said this about his work: “When I am in my painting, I’m not aware of what I’m doing. It is only after a sort of ‘get acquainted’ period that I see what I have been about. I have no fear of making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through. It is only when I lose contact with the painting that the result is a mess. Otherwise there is pure harmony, an easy give and take, and the painting comes out well.” He was on top of his game when consulting with Jack Daniels.
The list of great thinkers, poets, visual artists, actors, and musicians including Francis Bacon, Truman Capote, Oliver Reed, hank Williams, Dylan Thomas, Jack London, Vincent Van Gogh, Winston Churchill, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Amy Winehouse, and Earnest Hemingway are just a small handful of recognizable names who were also drunks. I suppose I should be flattered to be associated with the likes of those listed above, but sadly I’ve not attained the same level of notoriety–but do share the same affinity for booze. From ‘Dadaism’ to the ‘Beats’ the creative juices flowing through their collective brains was 90 proof!
So this is my dilemma… Does drink help or hinder the creative processes? The two or three of you reading this ‘intervention’ must realize by now moralizing seems less “Artsy” less Dionysiac suggesting to the artist-drinker he/she should stop and regain control.
But who am I kidding….my relationship with booze is such that guilt causes me to pause and wonder, but only for a brief while…as I pour another drink for clarity!