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The Bukowski cure for the blues? Four days in bed!

You probably would not be surprised to learn that writing is a pretty boozy profession, and by ‘probably’ we mean definitely.

This is not a recent development either, the Ancient Greek god Dionysus, later given a gritty reboot as Bacchus by the Romans, was the god of the grape harvest, wine, getting wicky-wicky wild, and of course the theatre.

The first evidence of Dionysian worship? 1350 BC, or nearly 3,500 years ago. Suffice to say then that the connection between getting straight tipsy and being creative runs deep.

Fast forward a few millennia and we find ourselves in 20th century America, a country that loves to cut loose so much that they attributed possibly the best line about beer ever – “Beer is living proof that god loves us and wants us to be happy” – to Benjamin Franklin, one of their founding fathers wrongly as it turns out.

It’s accepted wisdom that someone took poetic license with a line in a letter he wrote about the fact that water turns into wine every day in vineyards, in a boozy and blissful riff on the biblical miracle.

It took America a while to join the literary party, but when they did, as with so many other things, they turned up, smashed two beers over their head and flipped a table, figuratively speaking. From Ernest ‘write drunk’ Hemingway to Hunter S. Thompson to Jack Kerouac, in between all the short-sentence soul searching, these boys saw no reason to hide their winehog tendencies.

Every game has a heavyweight champ however, and for this one look no further than Charles Bukowski.

Once called the “poet laureate of the American lowlife“, whether in his poetry or his semi-autobiographical novels, Bukowski provided an unflinching window onto life as a barnacle clinging to the underside of the Land of the Free, with much of his writing articulating the desperation, disappointments and small victories to be found in the midst of an alcoholic fug.

This is not bar-room philosophy or counter culture hedonism but writing with mud on its face and a bad hangover.

When it comes to a cure for the blues, whether alcohol induced or otherwise, he’s a man you should be listening to. So what does the good doctor prescribe? Three days in bed as it turns out.

Listen to the man himself – in his inimitable, sweary style – extol the virtues of giving yourself a break when things get tough:

“People are nailed to the processes. Up, down, do something. Get up, do something, go to sleep, get up. They can’t get out of that circle. You’ll see someday they’ll say ‘Bukowski knew.’”

Of course, we all realise it’s pretty much impossible to hibernate every time you feel blue, but for an insight into one of the giants of modern Western culture, this is pretty hard to beat.

About the author

I came here to chew gum and write lightheared shortform articles about interesting subjects…and I’m all out of gum.

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