Drunk the Night Before: An Anatomy of Intoxication

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This invigorating work traces the cultural history of convivial drinking before the concept of addiction overshadowed intoxication's reputation as a creative, philosophical, and spiritual force. Marty Roth's Drunk the Night Before illustrates altered consciousness from myth to contemporary life, laying bare the behaviors and beliefs, sacred and secular, invested in intoxication. From the days of antiquity to the twentieth century, Roth follows the often veiled language of intoxication through religion and aesthetics, poetry and art, popular festivals and film. In this sweeping work, he examines the cultural roots of love potions and the fountain of youth, drunkenness in Hollywood cinema, the religious concept of a spiritual high versus the condemnation of intoxication. Roth reinvigorates the currently rebuffed connection between intoxication and artistic creativity, taking up by turn the poet Anacreon and the canon of drink poetry - from classical Greek to the European lyric, Euripides' Bacchae and the figure of Socrates in Plato's Symposium, the heavy investment of Western philosophy in intoxication, and the concepts of the carnivalesque in Friedrich Nietzsche and Mikhail Bakhtin. At once deeply erudite and irresistibly congenial, this encyclopedic work makes critical sense of the long history of alcohol as potion and poison, as pharmakon and catalyst, revealing altered states as the hidden thread in the story of sensation and Western cultural consciousness.