Tuesday, June 23, 2015

"How to Drink Like a Gentleman", or timeless wisdom about imbibing from H.L. Mencken.

Photo credit: Modern Drunkard

If you're unfamiliar with H.L. Mencken, more's the pity. All those who appreciate and cherish adult libations in their many, varied forms should be card-carrying Menckenites, if for no other reason than his polemics against the prohibitionist instinct in humankind.

Consider this quote.

Teetotalism does not make for human happiness; it makes for the dull, idiotic happiness of the barnyard. The men who do things in the world, the men worthy of admiration and imitation, are men constitutionally incapable of any such pecksniffian stupidity. Their ideal is not a safe life, but a full life; they do not try to follow the canary bird in a cage, but the eagle in the air. And in particular they do not flee from shadows and bugaboos. The alcohol myth is such a bugaboo. The sort of man it scares is the sort of man whose chief mark is that he is scared all the time.

H.L. Mencken, "Alcohol", Damn! A book of Calumny, 1918

Following is the link to an essay of Mencken's that I don't recall reading. First, the introduction and background information.

H.L. Mencken was a columnist for the Baltimore Evening Sun and editor of the American Mercury. This essay was originally published in Liberty Magazine on January 12, 1935.

From 1924 to 1950, Liberty Magazine published the work of such writers and public figures as Greta Garbo, Margaret Sanger, Babe Ruth, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Its weekly circulation reached 3 million. Today, the magazine is largely forgotten, but many of its pieces are being reissued in several collections available on Amazon. The above essay was republished with permission from the collection "Liberty on Drinking."

Enjoy the advice of a master.

How to Drink Like a Gentleman: The Things to Do and the Things Not To, as Learned in 30 Years' Extensive Research, by H.L. Mencken (Gawker)

... The physical and mental effects of alcohol, whether in large doses or small, are very simple. Physically, it slows down all the bodily processes, save maybe digestion, and produces a faint and pleasant drowsiness. And mentally it works in almost the same way. That is, it causes what the psychologists call a raising of the threshold of sensation. The external world retreats a bit, and its challenges become less insistent. The drinker is not so much disturbed as he was by what goes on around him, and so his reaction to it is more friendly and tolerant. And simultaneously he is not so much disturbed as he was by what goes on within his own head, and thus he gathers a sense of contentment and well-being.

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