Sunday, January 4

Alcohol Makes you More Creative

 This was in the Good Mail column in the Sunday Mail (Queensland Australia)

"As if we need an excuse to drink.
According to a new beer on the market called The Problem Solver, research shows that the average person is at their most creative when they have an alcohol level of exactly 0.075 per cent. The handcrafted ale comes with a handy indicator on the bottle so that drinkers can work out how much they need to drink to reach that level."


Something to think about. Would work for wine too I am sure.  It is not something I would actually think about - and I tend to drink a glass of wine (or two) at the end of the day when my writing/creativity is done for the day.


Still, I am sure many creative people do work with a bit of help from alcohol.  In fact I have heard many stories of this - though can't recall names etc.  Though the following story is something I do know about.


In 2008 I went to China for one term/semester of English teaching at Yuexiu University of Foreign Languages.  One day one of my students took me to place called Lanting, which is famous for the Orchid Pavilion story.

It was a park not far from the university - a short bus ride away in fact.  As one enters the first interesting spot is the Goose Pond, complete with white geese.

Further on, we learn more of the story - this piece from Wikipedia might help to explain what happened.



"The Orchid Pavilion Gathering of 353 CE was a cultural and poetic event during the Six Dynasties era, in China. This event itself has a certain inherent and poetic interest in regard to the development of landscape poetry and the philosophical ideas of Zhuangzi.[1] The gathering at the Orchid Pavilion is also famous for the excellent quality of the calligraphy of Wang Xizhi,[2]who was both one of the participants as well as the author and calligrapher of the Preface to the Poems Composed at the Orchid Pavilion, not to mention the literary quality of this introduction.
The Orchid Pavilion Gathering of 42 literati included Xie An and Sun Chuo[3] and Wang Pin-Chih at the Orchid Pavilion (Lanting) on Mount Kuaiji just south of Kuaiji (present-day Shaoxing in Zhejiang), during the Spring Purification Festival, on the third day of the third month, to compose poems and enjoy huangjiu. The gentlemen had engaged in a drinking contest: rice-wine cups were floated down a small winding creek as the men sat along its banks; whenever a cup stopped, the man closest to the cup was required to empty it and write a poem. This was known as "floating goblets" (流觴, liúshāng). In the end, twenty-six of the participants composed thirty-seven poems."  
Within the park the scene is recreated.  There is a small winding waterway - perhaps one would call it a brook or a stream - it was only about half a metre wide, and along the banks of this waterway were low cane seats. It was easy to picture the scene of all those years ago with these talented Chinese writers in the national dress of the time, picking up the goblets and drinking the rice wine.
Shaoxing is famous for its rice wine - which is a very strong brew.  I have tried it.  I can imagine the blokes sitting and drinking and getting drunk and writing.  Remember, writing was not as we know it - but calligraphy with long brushes.  Only 26 of the 42 "literati" managed to complete a poem - I am assuming that the others were too drunk to do so, but I might be wrong.
There is more information here - Lanting - and a copy of one of the works and English translation.
(I have been searching for any of my photos of my two visits there - but so far cannot find them.  Will have to schedule a BIG SEARCH!)





In any case it is a good (true) story.  I am sure there are many linking alcohol and creativity.  Perhaps my readers will know of others.
More on Lanting, Shaoxing, China the BBQ.



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