the weltschmerz express
It's snowing again. I'm running out of food but I don't want to leave the house.
Last night I decided that in order to be the flawlessly cultured bartender I want to be, I had to learn how to make layered drinks. I started with a Southern Belle (brandy, white créme de cacao, and Bénedictine), which tasted pretty good but wasn't visually exciting since it was just different shades of brown. This led to my mistake, which was to try to recreate the French flag with blue curaçao (liberté), white créme de cacao (egalité), and grenadine (fraternité). It looked like the French flag, more or less. It tasted terrible. And suddenly I was hammered in the way that only sugary liqueurs will hammer you, and I ended up unconscious on the couch for two hours, and when I woke I was mightily displeased with everything.
So I revisited Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a man for whom I have great sympathy. To start out as brilliantly as he did, and then to see his poetic power sapped and his star eclipsed by Wordsworth's until he became such a laughingstock that Byron could write in his Dedication to Don Juan:
And Coleridge, too, has lately taken wing,
But like a hawk encumbered with its hood,
Explaining metaphysics to the nation:
I wish he would explain his explanation.
Add to this the poor guy's struggle with opium and his lifelong unrequited love for Sara Hutchinson (a pattern that seems to happen to a lot of writers), and it's no wonder that in 1802 he started having horrific nightmares that made him afraid to fall asleep. He chronicled them in "The Pains of Sleep", the final couplet of which is one of the most pathetic and heartbreaking ever written:
To be beloved is all I need,
And whom I love, I love indeed.
Also read last night: Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried. Really, everyone who's nuts over Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket ought to read this. Granted, I've never been a soldier, what the hell do I know, but O'Brien's book felt unutterably more real to me. And not just because of his sneaky trick of writing it like a memoir when it emphatically isn't.
Poe78 points out Hats of Meat: because the fashion industry should be obliged to do more.