Posts Tagged ‘Letterkunde en drank’

Louis Esterhuizen. Die muse se gebottelde inspirasie vir skrywers

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013


Ek reken dat dit vry algemeen aanvaar word dat skrywers nou nie juis beskroomd is wanneer die wyntrollie verby kom nie; trouens, talle skrywers beweer dat ‘n entoesiastiese alkoholverbruik noodsaaklik is vir hul skryfwerk. Hieronder is legendariese dronkskrywers soos Jack Kerouac, Dylan Thomas, John Cheever, Ernest Hemingway en natuurlik F. Scott Fitzgerald. “Write drunk; edit sober” is immers een van Hemingway se befaamde punte van advies aan aspirant skrywers …

Nietemin, in ‘n uitgebreide artikel wat Blake Morrison onlangs vir The Guardian geskryf het, word daar juis meer pertinent na dié simbiotiese verhouding tussen drank en pennevrug gekyk. Volgens hom wil dit nou voorkom dat Dylan Thomas hom nié doodgedrink het tydens sy besoek aan New York in 1953 nie, maar dat hy verkeerd gediagnoseer was. “What his doctor in New York took to be delirium tremens and treated with morphine may have been bronchitis and pneumonia, which morphine injections only made worse – after the third of them, he went into a coma,” skryf Morrison. Maar dat Thomas hom in ‘n verwoestende drinkroetine bevind het tydens dié oorsese besoek is nie te betwyfel nie; in dié mate dat Kingsley Amis die volgende reëls as grafskrif aan Thomas gerig het:

They call you “drunk with words”;
but when we drink
And fetch it up, we sluice it down
the sink.
You should have stuck to spewing
beer, not ink.


Dylan Thomas

Dat die verhouding tussen druif en pen al ‘n eeuoue fenomeen is, is natuurlik ook ‘n gegewe. “The excitement of alcohol and the excitement of fantasy are very similar,” se John Cheever, byvoorbeeld.  En dié gebruik dateer terug tot selfs in die antieke Griekse beskawing toe gedigte gereeld tydens die drinkorgies voorgedra en/of geskryf was. In ander kulture ook, uitteraard: “The idea is common to other cultures, too, including the Chinese, where in the third century AD the seven sages of the Bamboo Grove retired to the country to drink wine and compose verse. ‘Once drunk, a cup of wine can bring 100 stanzas,’ the poet Xiuxi Yin claimed. The drunker the bard, the more the words flowed.”

Kingsley Amis, nog een van die legendariese dronk skrywers, het in sy Memoirs die volgende teorie oor skrywers se dranksug geformuleer: “A writer’s audience is and remains invisible to him, but if he is any good he is acutely and continuously aware of it, and never more so while it waits for him to come on, to begin p.1. Alcohol not only makes you less self-critical, it reduces fear.” Volgens Amis verskaf ‘n vol glas ‘n “final burst of energy at the end of the day”, maar is dit iets wat vermy moet word tot dan. “The writer who writes his books on, rather than between, whisky is a lousy writer. He is probably American anyway,” het hy beweer.


Ernest Hemingway

Daarteenoor het John Cheever weer gewroeg oor die hele kwessie van drankgier in Die Bybel: “Why is drunkenness not among the deadly sins,” het hy gevra. “Why in early religious myths and legends is alcohol presented as one of the gifts of the gods? The belief that to be drunk is to be blessed is very deep. To die of drink is sometimes thought a graceful and natural death – overlooking wet-brains, convulsions, delirium tremens, hallucinations, hideous automobile accidents and botched suicides … To drink oneself to death was not in any way alarming, I thought, until I found that I was drinking myself to death.”

Nou ja, toe. Cheever is natuurlik nie heeeltemal reg in sy beskouing nie: “Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after their drinks, who stay up late at night till they are inflamed with wine.” (Jesaja 5:11). En selfs in Homeros: “[I]t is the wine that leads me on, the wild wine that sets the wisest man to sing at the top of his lungs, laugh like a fool … it even tempts him to blurt out stories better never told.”

Nog ‘n paar amusante (self)regverdigings wat deur Morrison aangehaal word, is die volgende:

“Wine was almost a necessity for me to be able to stand her [Zelda’s] long monologues about ballet …” (F. Scott Fitzgerald)

“Modern life … is often a mechanical oppression and liquor is the only mechanical relief.” (Ernest Hemingway)

“The writer cultivates, extends, raises and inflames his imagination. As he inflates his imagination, he inflates his capacity for anxiety, and inevitably becomes the victim of crushing phobias that can only be allayed by crushing doses of heroin or alcohol.” (John Cheever)

“I began to drink heavily after I’d realised that the things I’d most wanted in life for myself and my writing, and my wife and children, were simply not going to happen.” (Raymond Carver)

“Why drink so, two days running? / two months, O seasons, years, two decades running? / I answer (smiles, my question on the cuff). / Man, I been thirsty.” (John Berryman)

“I usually write at night. I always keep my whiskey within reach.” (William Faulkner)

 “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.” (Dorothy Parker)

“I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.” (Hunter S. Thompson)

Maar gaan lees gerus Blake Morrison se omvattende artikel. Dit is ‘n deeglike besinning oor ‘n heel komplekse probleem. As verdere lusmaker, sy slotparagraaf: “Why do writers drink? Why does anyone drink? From boredom, loneliness, habit, hedonism, lack of self-confidence; as stress relief or a short-cut to euphoria; to bury the past, obliterate the present or escape the future […] To the literary biographer, binges and benders are a godsend – a chance to recount lurid anecdotes under the guise of earnest psychoanalytic enquiry. But for the rest of us, the words on the page are what matter. And most of them get there despite the drinking, not because of it. ‘Drank like a fish, wrote like an angel,’ would make a pleasing epitaph. ‘Drank like a fish, wrote like a fish” is more likely’.”

Selfs in ons Afrikaanse lettere is dit natuurlik nié ‘n onbekende fenomeen nie. Om dan ook nie te vergeet van Daniel Hugo en Etienne van Heerden se bloemlesing,  Miskien sal ek die wingerd prys – Ryme en gedigte oor wyn en sterk drank (1989: Tafelberg), nie … Hieronder volg egter een van my persoonlike gunsteling drankverse; om verstaanbare redes.


Omdat daar wyn is


Vanaand het ek lief


omdat daar wyn is om te drink

en iewers die warm verwagting

van wolke broei


omdat daar mense is met oë

en lewe en bloed

soos blomme en voëls

en omdat daar geheime toppe

van nagte is


Op my tong

is die kelkie skemer rooi

en soet


my heupe is viool


die reën spat

en reën saadkorrels

deur die ruit


© Marlise Joubert (Uit: Domus, 1973: Tafelberg)