Monday, April 25, 2016

An Existential Commentary on Alcohol and Art

"Drink because you are happy, but never because you are miserable ... his is the wine that shuts out the universe, not the wine that reveals it. It is not poetical drinking ... it is rational drinking, which is as prosaic as an investment, as unsavory as a dose of chamomile."
~ G. K. Chesterton, Omar and the Sacred Vine 


Some say that alcohol is an art - craft beer, wine, and so forth. A theoretical problem with all art, however, is how the art will be consumed. This has to do with interpretation and the means used in order to attain such. When you walk through an art gallery, you are expected to refrain from boisterous ambitions. You are expected to tread slowly, giving proper attention to the objects that have been set in place for your viewing; it's called manners. You don't run through an art gallery screaming obscenities and taking into observation the work as quickly as you possibly can. To do so would be obnoxious. Based on this analogy, if alcohol is indeed an art, then frankly, it's not often treated as such. Why quaff eight cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon and subject yourself to a moment of psychological, philosophical, and spiritual forlornness - not to mention put those in your social environment(s) at risk - instead of enjoying one or two cans of beer? Is it not true that things done in repetition are usually not enjoyable anyway? So why not make drinking a rare occasion? Make it your shooting star and your Ides of March. Even if your desire toward drunkenness is not so rare, if you are able to withhold, this will mean that your projection of that desire will be a rarity, and it seems to me perfectly possible that this could not only be virtuous in itself but even be impressive to the utilitarian. Why don't you think about the color of the liquor? Why don't you take your time to drink, amidst the fast paced, cacophonous modernity we often find ourselves surrounded by? Why don't you think about the way aluminum feels in your hand? Why don't you think about the nature of the can in relation to the nature of the table? There is so much one can do with these "boring" moments in human life. It is time to transcend the mediocrity of the consumer and instead become an artist within consuming. Creativity can only be born out of the mundane. The motivators toward drunkenness are numerous, and well beyond the limits of my meandering here. One such motivator, and maybe the most common one (based on intuition), is the disenchantment with reality. Many who grow older also grow wiser, and with wisdom comes great sorrow as the author of Ecclesiastes tells us, so sometimes an escape from reality (alcohol or otherwise) will be of mammoth temptation. Indeed, it is easy to resort to our Glass Menageries. Tom and the cinema, Laura and the glass figurines, Amanda and the youthful nostalgia. But for the things we deem art, we must treat them as art. If alcohol is an art, drunkenness should not be occurring, for it is parallel to the loathsome antics of the "spectator" in the art gallery who knows not how to be one.

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