Travels with The Liquid Vampire.

“Enter freely and of your own free will!”
Bram Stoker, Dracula

 

Quotation Page

“Welcome to my house! Enter freely. Go safely, and leave something of the happiness you bring.” Dracula, Bram Stoker, 1896.

 

“Only cops and vampires have to have an invitation to enter.” – Christopher Moore
Christopher Moore

 

 

 

Themes

  1. What is it?
  2. What’s it good for? The Use of Alcohol as for Medicinal purposes, pleasure, and mood-altering rituals
  3. Technological progress: All Hail Fermentation and Distillation!
  4. Agriculture vs. Viticulture: The constant choice, Food or Drink?
  5. The Threat – excesses, threats to the overall survival, well-being, and at times, comfort of the whole.
  6. It’s a Class thing: Threats to the social order, the need to protect the lower classes from ‘us’ and themselves; so, it’s beer for them, gin for us. Changing views of drunkenness.
  7. It’s an Ethnic Thing: Drunkenness and intemperance and the demonization of ‘others’/immigrants.
    1. Ethnic Drinking: Euro vs. Americentric?
  1. Source: Ethic Drinking Subcultures, Greeley, Andrew M., et al., 1980
  1. Alcohol and the Media
    • Film & TV: Comedy, The White Logic of W.C. Fields, Film Noir, The Lost Weekend, Days of Wine and Roses, Laugh-In, Withnail & I
    • Advertising: What is Advertising?, The 1st Ad (1898), Subliminal Advertising, How do Ads Work?
    • Propaganda and Protest: The Church; Temperance Movement; Prohibition, Science, MADD, Deflate the Elephant.
    • Alcohol as Muse: On Drinking and Writers: From Poe to Hemingway, Fitzgerald to O’Neill
  1. The Gin Craze of the 18th
  2. The 19th century: Alcohol and the Period of Massive Social Upheaval, Mass Immigration, Industrialization, Mechanization, Urbanization.
  3. Plagues, Pestilence and Alcohol – Cholera outbreak of the 19th, did not affect drinkers, only water drinkers.
  4. Changing types of Treatment: The Asylum, the Big Book, or self-empowered change.
  5. Supply and Demand: Alcohol as an indispensable source of Underground and State Income – taxes, duties, illicit crime, and monopolies — look at the control of alcohol – Diageo,

 

  1. Supply and demand: Liquor ”Control” – industry, pragmatism, and self-regulation
  2. Societal Responses – demonization, treatment, prohibition, cultural, health, social control

 

Q: Why is that almost every product has a government-mandated labelling, but not booze?

 

Sources:

  1. History of Alcohol and Drinking, David J. Hanson, Ph.D.
  2. Dread: How Fear and Fantasy have Fueled Epidemics from the Black Death to Avian Flu, Philip Alcabes
  3. Alcohol in the movies, 1898-1962: A Critical History, Judy Cornes
  4. Burn this Book: PEN writers speak out on the Power of the Word, Ed. Toni Morrison
  5. Obscene in the Extreme: The Burning and Banning of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath / Rick Wartzman
  6. Blood and Rage
  7. Alcohol: The World’s Favorite Drug, Griffith Edwards

 

 

Notes

 

ADSTV is a great catch basin that reflects the levelling powers of addiction.

 

Until the 18th century, drunkenness was not a class thing. After, it was. Blame it on the emerging middle class. Blame it on industrialization. Blame it on the emerging stratification of society into the upper 1%, the middle classes, and the poor and destitute.

 

No, drunkenness has always been a class thing. Until the 18th and 19th centuries, it was a struggle by the rich for control of the mobs. With the emergence of a middle class during this period, there came newfound comfort and a threatening proximity to the out of control working classes and other urchins that made protection of that comfort a government concern. It must protect its citizens,

 

This new comfort was portrayed as under siege from below.

 

 

“What manner of man is this, or what manner of creature is it in the semblance of man? I feel the dread of this horrible place overpowering me; I am in fear — in awful fear — and there is no escape for me; I am encompassed about with terrors that I dare not think of…”
Bram Stoker, Dracula

“Walpurgis Night, when, according to the belief of millions of people, the devil was abroad – when the graves were opened and the dead came forth and walked. When all evil things of earth and air and water held revel. This very place the driver had specially shunned. This was the depopulated village of centuries ago. This was where the suicide lay; and this was the place where I was, alone – unmanned, shivering with cold in a shroud of snow with a wild storm gathering again upon me! It took all my philosophy, all the religion I had been taught, all my courage, not to collapse in a paroxysm of fright.

(Dracula’s Guest)”
Bram Stoker, Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Tales

“My revenge is just begun! I spread it over centuries, and time is on my side.”
Bram Stoker

 

 

“We learn from failure, not from success!”
Bram Stoker, Dracula

 

In order to kill the vampire, we must learn what it is, where it comes from, why it has cast its pestilence upon our lives, and most of all we must find out its weakness … this is how we will kill it!

 

Alcohol is everywhere. Alcohol is many things – medicine, elixir, delightful diversion, a poison, the ‘body’ of Christ, a ritualistic potion, a source of great wealth, a source of great poverty, a source of great comedy, a source of great tragedy, a catalyst for violence, a rite of passage within certain cultures, a great leveller of class and gender, a great barrier to class and gender equality.

It goes by many names – booze, hooch, the green fairy, the liquid vampire, [work on this]

 

What is it? At room temperature, it’s a colorless liquid which in pure form is astringent and unpleasant to the tongue. Dilution makes it less unpalatable, and alcohol and water mix easily together. Spirits are about 40% absolute (pure) alcohol; port, sherry and other fortified wines 15-20%; and wine around 12%. A standard beer will be about 4-5% alcohol by volume, although strong beers can be closer to 10%.

For a chemist, the correct name for the substance we expect to find in alcoholic drinks as, ‘ethyl alcohol’ or ‘ethanol’, while ‘alcohol’ is the generic name for a class of chemicals of which ethyl alcohol is but one member.

Essentially, it’s a neutral substance. What gives these various beverages their attractive and distinct tastes is not the alcohol (diluted or otherwise), the chemicals that get into them in the course of production.

Put unkindly, it is the dirt in the drink which makes it attractive to the nose and the palate, and which turns a mixture of alcohol and water into a good beer, a fine wine or a famous malt whisky. Vodka is relatively free from contaminants, and hence relatively colourless and odourless.

Put this neutral substance in the hands of imperfect beings such as humans, and then the trouble begins.

Add in a dash of technological innovation and all hell can break loose, and that’s what happened after the rediscovery of the process of distillation in the Late Middle Ages. For millenia the simple fact of alcohol-induced self-limitation fermentation [smooth this phrase out] meant there were ceilings on the strength of the product. By the 16th century, alcohol was easily available throughout Europe at more than three times the concentration at which people had previously seen or tasted it. All sorts of old balances between populations and their drinking were destabilized. The very word ‘spirits’ carried a magically dangerous message.

Fermentation

The ultimate source of all beverage alcohol is the breakdown of naturally occurring carbohydrates (starch or glucose) to ethyl alcohol, water and carbon dioxide, by the action of enzymes. Most commercial beer derives from the action of brewer’s yeast on barley and other cereals, with hops added to some beers for flavour. Wine derives from the breakdown of the sugar contained in the juice of the grape; cider from apples; birch beer from birch sap; chicha from maize; rice wine from rice; palm wine from palm; [edit this]

Other than in the Arctic regions, there is probably no part of the world where the abundance of nature aided by a kindly enzyme has not resulted in the availability of some sort of alcoholic drink.

Man has an innate fear of disorder and chaos. When something threatens the order he has imposed on nature – so that it becomes incomprehensible, becomes ‘the unknown’ — he needs to label it in order to distance himself from that thing.

When confronted with public drunkenness, society has continually responded by imposing controls on it. When confronted by the mentally ill, man built asylums to throw them in (“out of sight is out of mind”), when confronted with a massive influx of immigrants, man responded by demonizing them (labelling them), when confronted by thousands of homeless waifs/orphans/foundlings/urchins (“gamin”) running wild on the streets of the metropolis, they built orphans asylums/children hospitals, or threw them on trains and shipped them out West in a sort of indentured servant roles on the farms.

I’ll spare you the lengthy history lesson and quickly jump to the 18th century. Suffice it to say that wine and beer have been manufactured since at least 10,000 BC. The moderate man who thrives on law and order has been in pitched battle with intemperance ever since. The moderate Greeks and Romans battled the excesses of those who preferred to ‘live for the here and now’, ‘eat, drink and merry’, ‘die young, stay pretty’ in various festivals and orgies dedicated to Dionysius, Saturn, or Bacchus. But there was another equally important battle not one for the souls of those poor fools who can’t help themselves, but one for wealth. There has always been so much wealth to be derived from wine and beer that left unregulated, farmers gladly gave their fields over to viticulture, this despite the famines that devastated their people. Civilizations come and go, but people need to drink. During the Dark and Middle Ages, the monks kept the secrets of wine and beer making alive until the rest of civilization settled down from their constant fighting. …

In the 18th century, it was the development of the technology of distillation that set the table for the so-called Gin Craze.

 

 

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