The Books of My Numberless Dreams

Drunken inspiration

Posted on: June 18, 2008

My life is nowhere near as simple as it may appear. Being me is a job — is labour so time-consuming and expensive that I have to have a second job just to support it. So that I can drink, I have to get drink and that isn’t something people give away and then there’s drink that I need because I have drunk and the other drink I have to keep around because, sooner or later, I will drink it. That’s a full-time occupation: that’s like being a miner, or a nurse. I involve constant work. Robert said that he’d be cross that I would bear, because he didn’t understand my situation and couldn’t know that it was a lie. I already have my cross: we’ve been getting acquainted for years.

The truth of the matter is: yes, you do carry the weight of it, drag it along and heartily wish you were free — especially during mornings, early evenings, periods spent in bank queues, or near banks, or any part of of any Sunday. You believe that you should not, and cannot, go on and, naturally, you are right.

Because in the end, you will always trade places: this is a physical law: that your cross will change to something merciful, will lift your body up and start the task of bearing you.

I drink myself higher, it’s all I need to ascend. This is my meditation when the worrying gets bad — in conjunction with this lovely truth: that many others long before me have recognised the nature of my calling and left ingenious clues behind them to that effect. Al-khol, ethanol, ethyl alcohol — we christened drink in the magic of distillation, we baptised it with tokens of its heat, the words we give it kindle, burn, shine. They are made out of alchemy, spirits: coloured with Arabic, Latin, Greek: and they hide within their syllables the names for primordial matter and for the ether that soothes between everything, that permeates all substance and all space. C2H5OH — generations before its components were discovered, we understood th essence of alcohol, its absolutes: that is oxygen and hydrogen and carbon — the earth’s irreplaceable elements, the water of our life.

I work this all out in my kitchen: how it makes sense and is like a poem, in that it also makes no sense whatsoever, but it any case touches you very much.

From Paradise by A.L. Kennedy

6 Responses to "Drunken inspiration"

I swear, A.L. Kennedy makes misery so readable.

Ahh, is that her trademark? I have her “Day” but decided to get one of her older books first. (“Paradise” is barely 4 years old…but still.) Had no idea what I was getting into since I haven’t read her “Day” reviews in detail…I just liked how she came across in photographs and Bat Segundo interview.

In the first few pages I wasn’t sure if I would like it. Now I’m more than half way through and am deliberately trying to make it last as long as possible.

Truly – pain as poetry – it’s gorgeous. One could sing it (or drink it).

Man, that makes alcoholism practically seem like art! Awesome. I shall immediately open a beer in praise.

I love this, and the fact that I love this is a little worrying! The second-to-last paragraph is gorgeous.

That’s what clinched it for my as a post-worthy excerpt. “Paradise” is definitely not your typical “alcoholism is bad” novel.

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