Is it possible that alcohol helps the creative juices flow? Another fab ABE article asks this question and gives a nice look at those writers who for better or worse used liquor and various drugs while at their craft.
I’ve asked the rhetorical question–if Van Gough had anti-depression drugs in his day would he have used them to lesson the pain and burden of his melancholy, or would his art mean more than being happy? The correlation between anti-depressants and the muting or blunting of creative ability has been explored and found to be somewhat true. My theory is the writers who used these substances to get by were self medicating–an nice new term–in order to survive. And out of angst came art. It is a sad thing to think the people who gave us so much artistic wonderment needed to destroy their reality to do so, whether they enjoyed their addictions or not. Would Tennesee Williams have written A Streetcar Named Desire if not a deeply troubled homosexual in a unaccepting world? Would Poe have laid bare his dark demons if happily married to his cousin, living a clean sober life?
My opinion is no–their personal troubled minds worked for them in creating art, if not horribly against them in their lives.
Another goofy analogy–doesn’t it seem that many song writers have their most productive years when young and hungry? That’s when life is causing all sorts of havoc that needs to be expounded upon. Once successful, rich, and feted, the drive seems to have driven down Contentment lane, and things like Freedom, Paul McCartney’s response to 911 are born. Eek. No Hey Jude, for sure.
Whatever the reasons for an altered state, whether or not it’s a hindrance or a help, one can’t deny that a ton of our most brilliant writers had substance abuse issues. Take a gander at the article: