Sunday, July 25, 2010


"I've got wine and so do you," sang the Queens of the Stone Age... and, baby, ain't that just the truth?

Since the dawn of time, or at least since about 10,000 B.C.E, we humans have popped the proverbial cork and downed alcohol. While alcohol was as common a drink as water (which could be unsanitary) in some eras, it also served symbolic purposes in communities. We all need a slight reprieve from reality once in a while, and we often prefer to embark on these reprieves with others. Community drinking sessions are as much a part of human tradition as, say, partnering, accepting power structures, and seeking truth and beauty.

British archaeologists recently discovered remnants of a large party in Wiltshire, near the Avon River, from approximately 2500 B.C.E. The party took place at a henge, which we know were used to mark and celebrate astronomical and celestial occasions. While no wine was discovered, hundreds of pig bones were, leading archaeologists to believe the Stone Age tribesmen threw one hell of a party.

In the 6th century C.E., near the Avon River, the Celts gorged on Byzantine wine. And they did it in a beautiful location: on the beach. Where the earth becomes water and water becomes sky, the community feasted and drank.

While these example are from Britain, evidence of drinking can be found all over the world through all the ages in which humans have appeared. This tradition was paramount in many religions, and it has often been used to celebrate or to escape. We celebrate life together, with booze often present, but when we drink to escape, we often drink alone or without real community.

At universities, this escapism is ever-present- perhaps even part of the college community itself. Yesterday, I was walking down Union Street in Athens, passing by Jackie O's, when I heard one young man say, "Yeah, I'm just hanging around. Drinking. Being an alcoholic, but only for the next few quarters, you know?" I was immediately simultaneously nostalgic and sad. Nostalgic because my few quarters of copious amounts of drinking were beautiful and brief; sad because, looking back, that time could have been spent making real connections with other people... And because most students aren't as mild-mannered as I am; drinking contributes to most of the crime in this quiet little town.

Anyway, drinking has its place in the annals of humanity, and I think we should give it more thought and discussion than we often do. It, like most things is this world, is a tool, neither inherently good or evil, that we mold to our own devices.

If you enjoyed this topic, you might want to check out these cool articles, my sources: Dr. David Hanson's "History of Alcohol and Drinking Around the World.", David Keys' article in The Independent., and his other article in The Independent.

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