Thursday, May 28, 2015

"Habitual Drunkenness"

This quote by J.W.N. Sullivan might be completely off-base, but it does give food for thought. Replace "drunkenness" with several other kinds of activities (drug use, overeating, Internet addiction, habitual procrastination...take your pick) and you might have a pretty good general observation about human nature.

"Habitual drunkenness is usually, psychologists inform us, the result of the inability to accommodate oneself wholly to reality. It is often a vice in that unfortunate class of people who have imperfectly coordinated artistic facilities.

They yearn vaguely for something other than the world they know but they lack the capacity to create a world nearer to their hearts’ desire. Still more, do they lack the capacity to attain a comprehensive vision of the beauty emanate in this world. Neither the art of escape nor the art of revelation is possible to them.

Nevertheless they have perceptions they cannot use and impulses that never come to fruition. Drink, or some other drug, by relieving their sense of impotence and by blurring the unfriendly outlines of the real world brings them solace and becomes a necessity."

- J.W.N. Sullivan, Beethoven: His Spiritual Development

It's probably inevitable that, in a country where spiritual longing is abundant but the art of escape and the art of revelation are often viewed as decadent, immoral, or "fruity," big business has stepped in to fill the void with the quick fix "escape" of prescription drugs. John Oliver explored this billion-dollar operation on his show Last Week Tonight:

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