Expensive gin definitely works better.
Sometimes everything is just a bit much. Stress entwines so silkily amongst your selfness that you hardly notice it’s there. Until you have to cold call someone about an event you love, and find your tongue lolling like a dead sow in your mouth, and your chest has tightened in an unhealthy way, by which I mean in the pre-heart-attack sense of the word. Knock on wood. And you look at your life and your five-page to-do list, and think about your daily schedule, and your knuckles for some reason are still compulsively knocking on your wooden skull, and that state of mind twists another half-turn, moving it from entwining to strangling. And you think – like you are the first person in the whole wondrous wide world to think this: Damn the paleo diet, isn’t this something a gin could help?
And so you have four gins in rapid succession, and you’re like, double damn! Alcohol really is some kind of Carlos Castenada miracle! That would be your first inspired thought. Like wow, man, this feels a LOT better than that there before. But then
you have other thoughts, others perhaps more singular, less shared by the entire drinking public. You might also be less driven to write them down in this state, but at least you have them. Every fiber and sinew is not roping you to the sane world, the workaday world.
It’s not so risky to extol the virtues of alcohol, as compared to cocaine say, or heroin, or crystal meth. But the motivation to use must be the same. Anything to escape the strangulation of *life* with a very, very small “L”. I’m not here to talk about the destructive side effects. I know that a goodly proportion of my friends and forebears have (or should have) foresworn the demon drink because of them, and frankly, I sympathize.
But there are other escapes from the working-Josephine world. One of them is the dream state, which cannot be planned, though personally, I know when to expect it, and I try to prepare for it – turn off the alarm if I don’t have a class to teach, get a notebook and pen ready by the bed. Connected to that is the writing flow state, the joy of all writers, but I have not learned to predict that at all, though large swaths of unscripted time are very conducive.
Thirdly, there is a physical extreme that can transport you to different mental place, whether it be extreme fatigue or illness. Neither of these is comfortable, but what an unexpected ecstasy comes with it! An escape from deadly normality. (See HRH Virginia Woolf’s On Being Ill for a wonderful elaboration on this.)
The final escape state that comes to mind is something I have not fully experienced, that of a religious trance, always occurring in a group situation, often with drums, music and dancing. Sometimes the escapees are said to be “possessed” whether for good or not. I was reminded of it when reading a short story from the collection, Haiti Noir, edited by Edwidge Danticat. At the end of Madison Smartt Bell’s Twenty Dollars, the white guy, Charlie, is envious of the Haitian guy, Magloire, who “was nowhere
behind those eyes”, Charlie thinking, “If only I could see, could be, the face of a living god.” This state was also said to be the initiation (at Bwa Kayiman) of the victorious Haitian Revolution (1791-1804) which eventually made Haiti the first Black republic in this hemisphere.
Good enough reason to celebrate.
Cheers!, Gambay!, Salud! Et cetera!