Friday, January 22, 2010

Get drunk militantly

by Lauren

Because it is Friday and the short weeks always somehow feel longest, today seems like a nice day for a slideshow of literary drunks and junkiesLife magazine put this together, complete with not-so-fun facts about the authors' addictions.  It is both troubling and somehow understandable that we almost instinctually feel genius and addiction go hand in hand--though undeniably tragic, what clearer manifestation of mental struggle than to spend your life at the bottom of a bottle?  If nothing else, the slideshow taught me some things:  in spite of my love for Little Women, I know little about Louisa May Alcott and had no idea she was an opium addict.  Also, F. Scott Fitzgerald, who I swear I must've seen pictures of before but somehow hadn't noticed--pretty hot!

I'm not equipped to judge the seeming correlation between genius and addiction (and not entirely sure whether there's actually a relationship--what percentage of brilliant artists of all stripes are perfectly sane and sober?  What percentage of addicts have no discernible artistic ability?).  But if we assume for a moment there is one, I wonder how many of these authors would have taken the trade of sobriety for a lack of a legacy.

(via Book Bench)


  1. I was just watching Elizabeth Gilbert on TED talk and she spoke about creative people and their mental anguish, so I believe the addictions are actually a secondary symptom, an attempt to calm the storms inside. I suppose the more creative the more anguish. So it stands to reason, manuscript rejections = mental stability. We should say to ourselves, "this is not a rejection, it's a confirmation that I haven't slipped off the deep end yet!" And celebrate our sanity.

  2. I can accept that writers might think more, and in thinking more, might suffer more and eventually seek ways to alleviate their suffering. But there's something too cliched about the tormented artist/genius forced to find solace in a bottle. Lots of people who aren't creative geniuses find life a lot easier to bear when they're drunk. Too bad plumbers, teachers and stockbrokers don't have the excuse of being tormented geniuses.

  3. This is a very interesting study, especially the question about which comes first, the genius or the addiction. I'm inclined to think it's the artistic genius. That's not to say addiction always follows artistic genius. Dedicating your life to art can result in several situations that might cause one to seek mood altering addiction. Feeling ignored, misunderstood, being poverty stricken, exploring the hidden places of your mind, etc.

  4. Interesting idea. Or, what percentage of derelicts would trade their addiction for a legacy?

    I've known lots of actors and artistic types, and many of them take that alleged connection between art and addiction as a license. But if you look at the people at the top in Hollywood, or any other artistic endeavor, you'll find that most of them work for a living. The ones that overindulge end up with less of a legacy than they would have had if they controlled their appetites.

  5. Yes, get drunk militantly, and go crazy...

  6. I watched an interesting documentary on this theory a while ago. (Unfortunately, I can't remember the name of it. I think it was on National Geographic.) Anyway, their theory was that the gene or brain structure that gives us a tendency toward the artistic also gives us a tendency toward addiction.

    It's true for me, at least. I have to stay away from video games or you won't see me for months on end.

  7. This is more even permitted in military forces that they are allowed to take drinks in their regular diet.They needs that,But going too much is not so much appropriate.

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