Wine, poetry, or virtue, as you wish

15 February 2021
15 Feb 2021

This is an excerpt from today’s issue of my weekly newsletter.

I’ve been thinking about Romanticism recently. Ironically, not the Valentine’s Day kind, the capital-R Romanticism. I wanted to share a couple of pieces of writing related to it that have found a way into my notes this week. First, from the French poet Charles Baudelaire:

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.”

Be Drunk…. In a much different tone, author John Green says:

… nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff. Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it. Hank, when people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘you are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness’.

Taylor Swift announced a new upcoming album (well, a re-recording of her old album) last week, and every time I get excited about her music, someone says to me, “Linus, you must be a Romantic.” And I think I am? No, I think I am. I like feeling things to the farthest extent they can be felt. Otherwise, what’s the point of having feelings?

There are so many inspiring things around us in this world that implore us to feel, that to be uninspired and unfeeling against it must take active work. So whenever I feel uninspired or unmoved, I don’t look for things that could move me. Instead I try ask: What am I doing to ignore and block out of my life the vibrance of it all?

Then I take a sip, try to fall gently back under the influence – of wine, poetry, or virtue – and get back to the work of feeling it all.

Life as a studio

Questions in science, questions of science