Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Drinklings

Want an excellent reason not to read Antony Loewenstein? Try this post.

Australian culture "defined":

"Almost 50 per cent of people believe getting drunk occasionally is part of being Australian, a survey suggests.

The study of more than 1500 Australians, by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, found one in 10 reported having a problem with alcohol at some point in their lives. Three in five said they knew a friend or family member who had experienced an alcohol problem.

Germany, on the other hand - with its own myriad of problems, to be sure - recently hosted the annual Frankfurt book fair, the largest in the world:

"The other pleasant discovery was the real seriousness with which the German media treat the fair. Almost every radio network in the country (they are state-based there) had a huge outside-broadcast van parked near one of the five huge exhibition halls; television interviews with authors, critics and publishers seemed to run non-stop; the newspapers treat it thoroughly."

Hard to imagine in Australia. After all, why celebrate an "elite" artform, when you can grab a beer or ten?

Australia's cultural immaturity lives on.
Actually, drinking and culture do go together. Noah sung and cultivated grapes. Ecclesiasticus wrote,

Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.

Christ turned water into wine for a wedding. The Greeks had a God devoted to the drinking of wine. So did the Romans, the Norse, and just about every other polytheistic people. Omar Khayyam wrote;

A jug of wine, a loaf of bread, and thou
Beside me singing in the wilderness,
And wilderness were paradise enow.

Keats loved 'the blushing Hippocrene'; Byron wrote,

... the future is a serious matter,
And so - for G-ds sake! - hock and soda water!

Lear 'drinks a great deal of Marsala/but never gets tipsy at all'; Australia's own A. D. Hope was overjoyed when he found that the formula for love was an alcohol:

At Munich on the Isar
Those molecules were found
Which everyone agrees are
What makes the world go round;
What draws the male creation
To love, my darling doll,
Turns out, on trituration,
To be an alcohol!

and Dorothy Porter had this to say on the subject:

I like to have a drink if I'm able,
Two at the very most;
Three and I'm under the table,
Four and I'm under my host.

So there you go, Antony. By the way, did you know that snobs are stupid, make boring company, and have less culture than a tub of yoghurt? 'Cos you're sounding like one at the moment.

UPDATE! Anyone got any favourite poems about drinking they'd like to share?

UPDATE! I'm working on a poem about Loewenstein's blog at the moment. Here's how it goes so far:

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Loewenstein's blog is silly,
And Antony is a p

I just can't think what to write next. It's a toss up between,

a) Peacenik conspiracy theorist, and a very silly person too
b) Person who I have great disagreements with, in case you never knew

Hmmm, a) or b)? What do you think?


Caz said...

Refer my comments on James.W's site, and subsequently posted on the Low site.

Anonymous said...

Immanuel Kant was a real pissant
Who was very rarely stable
Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar
Who could think you under the table
David Hume could out-consume
Schopenhauer and Hegel
And Wittgenstein was a beery swine
Who was just as sloshed as Schlegel
There's nothing Nietszche couldn't teach ya
'Bout the raising of the wrist
Socrates himself was permanently pissed

Will the above limerick do? Admittedly, it's not by any of the great masters of world poetry. But they wield a lot in cultural influence. The writers of the "poesy", I mean, not just the mighty thinkers mentioned in the poem. (As a matter of fact, the brothers Schlegel aren't even that important--unless you're into German Romanticism)

coffee and cigarettes said...

I am in love with German Romanticism, the best literature I have ever studied came from that era... you've inspired me to start reading more of it again, thanks :-)

vague said...

Come, my boy, bring me the best
of good old Falernian:
we must drink down stronger wine
to drink with this mad lady.
Postumia's our host tonight;
drunker than the grape is,
is she-
and no more water;
water is the death of wine.
Serve the stuff to solemn fools
who enjoy their sorrow,
respectable, no doubt -
but wine!
Here's wine!
The very blood of Bacchus.


TimT said...

Good questions, Caz, but you'll probably never get a response out of Ant.

Everyone, thanks for the poems. It's good that the Romans got a look in. I'm sure that Aristophanes must have written on the matter extensively, but can't think of anything off hand.

But who on earth were the brothers Schlegel?

Caz said...

I prefer door A thanks Tim, except that you've already used the accurate descriptor "silly" in a previous line, but that was in reference to the blog, while the second "silly" refers to the person, so maybe it would be okay to use both sillies.

Michael Sutcliffe said...

It's 'Dorothy Parker' not 'Porter', Tim.

I think it's funny Lowenstein bags Australians out for drinking too much at the expense of culture. I would say the Germans drink more than us, and that their use of alcohol in culture is similar to us.

I'll never forget a joke that I heard a German busker crack in Berlin: Q: "What do you call fucking British bitch"? A: "Brit Pop". He'd obviously been drinking. But the crowd, which included a large number of women, children and families, went hysterical. I was shocked that a busker would crack a joke like this to the public, but everyone else loved it. I realised then that the German sense of humour was close to ours, as was their use of alcohol.

Lowenstein is just one of those self appointed elites who thinks he is naturally better than everyone else and, therefore, has some natural entitlement to pass judgement on everyone else.

coffee and cigarettes said...

I've lived in various parts of Australia, and I have lived in various parts of Europe (both East and West), and I find it totally patronising to say that Australian drink more... yeah we might enjoy our alcohol outwardly, but I've seen Germans and Dutch and French and Austrians et al drinking beer at breakfast time around 10 a.m. as well as myriad eastern Europeans chugging on vodka around about the same time and earlier... so just because fancy people in European cafes might lament alcohol consumption doesn't mean that all Australians are alcoholics

TimT said...

Porter is now Parker. Thanks for the heads up, Michael.

Coffee&Cigarettes, you have a rather fine poem on matters alcoholic as well, I recall. Good comments about German culture/Aussie culture - there are plenty other observations like that on Loewenstein's blog. One of the funniest things about Loewenstein's website these days is the moment he posts, it's the sensible people that are likely to respond by way of criticism. His cheerleaders barely have a chance to make their voice heard.

Thanks for that feedback, Caz. Obviously I should have used something other than 'silly' ...

deeleea said...

As a soon to be Australian Kiwi I am familiar with the drinking culture of both nations...

And because I knew that culture very well in my early twenties (much better than I do in my thirties actually) I thought Jesus must be a top bloke due to that business of supplying the grog for a wedding...

TimT said...

Heeeeeeeeeeres to Jesus, he's true blue ....

Yeah, I think one of the Ship of Fools editors made a similar point.

Sal said...

"Remember, you must die whether you sit around moping all day long, or whether on feast days you stretch out in a green field, happy with a bottle of Falernian [wine] fetched from your innermost cellar."

-- Odes 11 3, Horace (deceased)

Darlene said...

Antony is a big willy.

Sorry, I wouldn't know poetry if it bit me on the arse.

coffee and cigarettes said...

I don't think I have an alcohol poem, but I do have one about farting

Email: timhtrain - at -

eXTReMe Tracker

Blog Archive