I have been drunk for more than a month–mostly on wine and poetry.
by Charles Baudelaire, translated by Louis Simpson
You have to be always drunk. That’s all there is to it—it’s the only way.
So as not to feel the horrible burden of time that breaks your back
and bends you to the earth, you have to be continually drunk.
But on what? Wine, poetry or virtue, as you wish. But be drunk.
And if sometimes, on the steps of a palace or the green grass of
a ditch, in the mournful solitude of your room, you wake again,
drunkenness already diminishing or gone, ask the wind, the wave,
the star, the bird, the clock, everything that is flying, everything that
is groaning, everything that is rolling, everything that is singing,
everything that is speaking…ask what time it is and wind, wave,
star, bird, clock will answer you: “It is time to be drunk! So as not to
be the martyred slaves of time, be drunk, be continually drunk! On
wine, on poetry or on virtue as you wish.”
During Eleanor’s winter break, which ends tomorrow, we’ve been immersing ourselves in fictional worlds, reading a lot and catching up on movies and TV series that we like to watch together. We watched the newest Hobbit movie. We watched all the episodes of Agents of Shield, dipped into the most recent season of Dr. Who and started Breaking Bad. Eleanor and I passed James Morrow books back and forth, (in preparation for meeting him this March at a convention). My extended family went to the movies together to see Into the Woods, a show we have loved for years and found passable in this new version, although thought it’s a shame they left out the reprise of “Agony.” After we watched the David Tennant Richard II and talked about how we like it, a friend of mine came over and shared her access to an online version of the David Tennant and Catherine Tate Much Ado About Nothing. We have drunk many bottles of wine and eaten almost all of the pie.
And yet it’s not time for me to go back to any kind of real world. I see my friends who like their jobs marking off achievements, traveling to see each other at conferences, and gearing up for a new semester, but I am a wallflower at that party this year. One of my student managers, a guy I really like, asked me yesterday if I enjoy doing what I think is an important part of my job, a part I’ve fought hard for. Not much, I said at the moment. Later I asked myself why, and realized that I have been letting what other people think about me undermine what I used to do well and thought was important. Sometimes it takes being drunk to see that. It may take staying drunk for a while to decide what to do about it.
What have you been drunk on lately?