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Old 03-27-2018, 09:12 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
37,213 posts, read 17,536,561 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobspez View Post
Alcohol and drugs are a tool, but must be used intelligently and below a level where the harm outdoes the benefit.
That is the logical response. I don't think that the authors I listed were approaching alcoholism from a logical standpoint. I suspect that in most of their cases, their drinking was part of their artistic being, part of the passion in their lives which drove them to achieve in the face of whatever existential angst they carried.

And of course in the case of Hunter Thompson, a lot of his writing was about what his drug intake was doing to him, take away the illegal stimulants and you take away Thompson's career.
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Old 03-28-2018, 08:16 AM
 
1,494 posts, read 607,304 times
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Very true, but people who didn't experience it don't understand it was a drinking culture. The TV series "Madmen" was a truthful depiction of NYC work culture in the 60's and 70's. People drank daily, whether they were laborers or executives, usually saving the heavier drinking for after work. Where I worked you couldn't get a promotion unless you drank with and bonded with the boss after work. At a bar you could hash out differences, make peace, and take each other's measure under the influence, decide if you could trust and rely on each other. We didn't see death but a meeting of the minds "in vino veritas" (in wine there is truth). By the 70's people were also doing drugs on a regular basis, during the work day and at night and weekends. Everyone I knew at work was popping pills, smoking pot and drinking on a daily basis, yet holding down jobs, getting promotions, raising families, etc. In the 1980's my company instituted random alcohol/drug testing, so it was good bye to drinking at lunch or smoking pot at any time. The whole health culture, jogging, exercise, drinking water all day, and a loss of connection between workers and their bosses seemed to take over in the work place. It was a large cultural shift for the working person.

I don't know much about Hunter Thompson, but an interesting case was William Burroughs who took heroin daily for decades, yet when he returned to the US, and switched to methadone daily, was still intellectually astute, as sharp as a tack in his 70's and 80's.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grandstander View Post
That is the logical response. I don't think that the authors I listed were approaching alcoholism from a logical standpoint. I suspect that in most of their cases, their drinking was part of their artistic being, part of the passion in their lives which drove them to achieve in the face of whatever existential angst they carried.

And of course in the case of Hunter Thompson, a lot of his writing was about what his drug intake was doing to him, take away the illegal stimulants and you take away Thompson's career.
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Old 03-28-2018, 12:20 PM
 
Location: Aurora Denveralis
3,292 posts, read 1,119,114 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grandstander View Post
A) I wouldn't take any creative writing advice from King. He cranks out mass oriented literature. Popular and good are not necessarily synonymous.


His popularity is not the biggest problem; very few writers of true note and quality can write about how to write. You either can write at that level, or you can't - no amount of coaching is going to turn a strikeout king into a feared slugger. Those who have written portentously about How To Write (King and Heinlein come to mind) tend to be write it-sell it-move on types, not powerful stylists or literarians. London's advice as above is another example - just because he could drink himself blind doesn't mean he could tell anyone else how to see.

(King also chose the worst possible year to publish his little musings on the art, but that's another story - not counting the mezzanine.)
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Old 10-19-2018, 11:45 PM
 
1 posts, read 131 times
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Default White Logic

White Logic is the awareness that a seasoned intelligent alcoholic has that life is no longer an amazing mystery but a dreary predictable outcome. It assumes that those who think life is amazing are missing the point that we are all animals living in a fruitless attempt to live because in the end we will all perish and there is no afterlife. Jack London in his White Logic state looks down on men that live and toil as if there is a meaning or salvation as they are no more important in the whole scheme of things than an amoeba, as he is. Basically, they are fools. In reading John Barleycorn I think he envies them because in his alcoholic and intelligent mind they are happy when they should be sad and he is sad when he should be happy. Too much thinking about what it all means and less about day to day screws your mind up and in his case like many others with brains who drink a lot leads you down a dark path. While you live, be tuned into the amazement that we are here and cherish every moment and loved ones in your life. Otherwise, life is bleak.
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Old 10-20-2018, 06:21 AM
 
Location: Old Mother Idaho
19,475 posts, read 13,130,434 times
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Meh.
London's white logic makes little sense. Alcohol was a cheap social control then as it is now, but it's not so hot at controlling, and certainly does not aid the creative process because it is a depressive. Sober writers write. Drunk writers drink.
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Old 10-20-2018, 06:41 AM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
16,930 posts, read 51,568,471 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by banjomike View Post
Meh.
London's white logic makes little sense. Alcohol was a cheap social control then as it is now, but it's not so hot at controlling, and certainly does not aid the creative process because it is a depressive. Sober writers write. Drunk writers drink.
LOL. Hemingway might have disagreed. Alcohol has many effects and affects people differently. The well known "loosening of inhibitions" loosens creative inhibitions as well. The other effects on authors can be damaging as well, but things like voluntarily joining the Spanish civil war held a greater potential for harm for Hemingway.
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Old 10-20-2018, 08:12 AM
 
Location: Old Mother Idaho
19,475 posts, read 13,130,434 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harry chickpea View Post
LOL. Hemingway might have disagreed. Alcohol has many effects and affects people differently. The well known "loosening of inhibitions" loosens creative inhibitions as well. The other effects on authors can be damaging as well, but things like voluntarily joining the Spanish civil war held a greater potential for harm for Hemingway.
Nope. When Hemingway was drinking, he wasn't writing. When he was writing, he was sober.
Both Hemingway and London were fearful men who had a deep need to feel brave, and booze was a way of assuaging their fears. Just as it is for even men who have less fear. War is fearful business for everyone.

Booze is booze. The difference between a heavy drinker and an alcoholic is one knows his limits and quits when he reaches them and the other doesn't. But alcohol also creates a dependency since it is an addictive, so both have to maintain to the lower limit of their addiction to survive for as long as they are addicted.

Hemingway drank, but he was never a drunk. He could control his addiction, so it often faded away to almost nothing, or returned with some brief strength. Hemingway was badly injured in his first war, and got hurt even worse later on in many accidents and other wars, so for him, drinking was also a means of pain relief.

London wasn't ever battered that hard, but he wasn't as brave as Hemingway, or as willing to confront his drinking. So, like a lot of alcoholics, he eventually gave in and let his addiction take over.

If either had been sober men all their lives, London would have lived the longest. But since neither were sober men, and both had enough income to supply them with anything they wanted, Hemingway lived on to become an old man and London died young.

A very wise man once told me "A smart person shouldn't think too much." That pretty much sums both of them up. Hemingway and London were both highly intelligent people, but one thought too much and didn't apply the thought to his work and the other didn't.

That's why Hemingway killed himself. He knew he was becoming demented, and the dementia was messing with his mind and abilities. He knew it was damaging his writing abilities.

So rather than live a longer, dimmer, more frustrating life with a failing mind, he decided to put an end to it while his facilities were still fairly intact. That was something Hemingway thought too much about, but London gave it no thought at all.
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Old 10-20-2018, 08:34 AM
 
Location: Old Mother Idaho
19,475 posts, read 13,130,434 times
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Creative work is very hard on a person. It can be extremely hard mentally, but it's often as hard on the body as it is on the mind, because creativity seldom flows easily from concept to completion.

Most often, any creative endeavor becomes a matter of physical endurance than an easy skate to the end. And in some things, like sculpture, physical strength is tested just as much as mental strength.

Both can make a person very weary and very restless at the same time. Creativity most often comes in fits and spurts; when the mind is afire with it, the work has to be caught and secured before the thoughts vanish, and when it isn't happening, the person cannot stand the blockage. The creativity either has to fire up or the work must be abandoned until it does.

It's all intense and internal, and sometimes cannot be relieved through a joint effort or by association with other people. And it can be very painful to live with something a person cannot get out of their mind but cannot envision a way to finish what was started.

The beginning is always far easier than the ending. That's the only moment when everything seems to be easy and perfect, but the process is always full of small problems that can block progress, and the ending is seldom exactly as it was envisioned at the start. There's always something that messes it up someplace along the way.

The greater the concept is, the more time, patience, and endurance it will need to be completed. And if there's a flaw in the concept that isn't realized, until the flaw is discovered and worked out, completing the work can become impossible. Other times, reaching the end simply can take years to do, and any creative idea can grow like Topsy. It always seems to be simple at first, but complications always set in. Especially when there are some small flaws in the basic concept that's driving the creativity.

Finding a flaw is like developing a cavity in a tooth. At first, it's painless and goes un-noticed, but the longer the flaw exists, the worse the cavity grows, so the flaw becomes the sore tooth that takes over a person's mind with the pain it causes.
And if the tooth is pulled, the pain can persist. In creative work, the mental pain may never go away even when the work is abandoned forever.

Flaws are like cavities in another way. One cavity can affect more than one tooth. A creative concept can start small in in the belief that it's a simple concept, but once into it, a much larger concept can be discovered that can turn a short amount of effort to a huge effort to reach a full completion at the end.

The more the person comes to understand what he's writing about, the more apparent the problems become, and the conception can enlarge to encompass them.

That's how what was intended to be only an article on the Civil War became a 20-year effort for Shelby Foote. He started that article as a writer of short story fiction, and by the time he finished it, he was a historian. Something he never intended to become or even thought about when he began. One creative idea changed his entire life, and it could have destroyed him as easily as it made him victorious.

It's all enough to drive a person to drink, and it often does. But not Shelby Foote. He found ways to live sober, possibly because he came to realize the enormity of his undertaking. He was going to need a long life to finish the job.

Last edited by banjomike; 10-20-2018 at 08:55 AM..
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Old 10-20-2018, 10:42 AM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
16,930 posts, read 51,568,471 times
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I think the concept in your post about creativity requiring work has merit, but in most cases I would differentiate the creativity inspiration from the craft of polishing that creative concept into something for more public consumption or appreciation.

The breaking of internal barriers, whether through dream, drug, alcohol, or even insanity or other mind-work is what gives true creative art its brilliance. Whether it is Van Gogh having altered color sense from his illness, London's despair, Hemingway's search for a masculine hero, or Basho's seemingly simple observations that trigger recognitions beyond words, we appreciate the creative breaks that we have not been able to make ourselves because of our own internal barriers and rules. Our insight is from the different sight, different perspective shared by the artist baring part of his soul and weaknesses.

The lead-up to what you call an "easy" beginning is more often anything but easy. Torment foments great art. Yes, the craft and skill required to examine your own torment in detail, and then to pick at that wound relentlessly with an end in mind can be incredibly difficult in many ways, but ultimately it is still the breaking of barriers, the inspiration, that supports the gloss of the finished work.

There are any number of highly competent crafts workers who can create derivative works once a barrier has been breached, but their work lacks the authenticity and bravery of those like London or Hemingway, who tore themselves apart in public. Their alcohol consumption was integral to their process. That the result was not their becoming the village drunks, but producing world class writing, is an apparent anomaly that is troubling for many, threatening their values and refuting their other experiences and preconceptions.
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Old Today, 04:23 PM
 
67 posts, read 14,555 times
Reputation: 240
Quote:
Originally Posted by banjomike View Post
Meh.
London's white logic makes little sense. Alcohol was a cheap social control then as it is now, but it's not so hot at controlling, and certainly does not aid the creative process because it is a depressive. Sober writers write. Drunk writers drink.
Quote:
Originally Posted by harry chickpea View Post
LOL. Hemingway might have disagreed. Alcohol has many effects and affects people differently. The well known "loosening of inhibitions" loosens creative inhibitions as well. The other effects on authors can be damaging as well, but things like voluntarily joining the Spanish civil war held a greater potential for harm for Hemingway.
Yes, probably. Chronic drunks rationalize.

It is true that alcohol can have a positive effect on creativity through disinhibition. It is also true that alcohol simultaneously degrades focus, lessens working memory (ie, remembering what you wrote a paragraph previously and a page ago, which are absolutely essential to any sort of narrative flow). So the key is to find that sweet spot where the creativity-inhibiting is sufficiently lessened but the myriad impairments of alcohol have not yet manifested themselves too egregiously, and that comes at a fairly low BAC, low enough that you'd probably still be able to legally drive. That's not what we're talking about with London or Hemingway. They weren't sipping wine at the moderate rate of a glass per hour as they wrote. They were drunks who put away prodigious amounts of booze.

Also, Hemingway's "write drunk, edit sober" mantra wasn't borne of the fact that writing while intoxicated produced superior writing but of the fact that Hemingway was usually drunk and if he couldn't write drunk then he wouldn't write much at all. He was also a drunk who had developed a capacity for drink and a tolerance that allowed him to function. He could probably drive him better than your average person who had had the same number of drinks. But that doesn't mean that drinking was making his driving superior. Or his writing. And editing? It's the fine detail of writing. It's where broader ideas become incisive details, where the chaff is unceremoniously tossed (and I suspect that much of Hemingway's editing consisted of chucking most or all of the stuff he wrote while drunk), where the first drafts that are doomed to molder in the basements of universities while interesting only academics become the classics that endure. Even Hemingway knew that when it came to that most critical aspect of writing, alcohol had to be avoided entirely.

Finally, the fact that some people can write while intoxicated by no means disproves the possibility that had they not chosen to impair their senses, they might well have produced even better writing.
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