The history of hammering, and why some of us should keep doing it

How we danced and stumbled our way to civilization
by Edward Slingerland

Frederick the Great of Prussia had a problem: his soldiers were drinking coffee instead of beer. “This must be stopped,” he wrote widely to state in 1777 on the “disgusting” new craze. Why would any commander want a group of guys with guns that deplete liquid neurotoxins, instead of making nutritious brews that are rarely associated with brawls, karaoke, and regrettable tattoos (regarding liver damage and hangovers? nothing to say)? Caffeinated armpits may seem more relatable than their spiked counterparts—but King recognized that beer was a uniquely potent bonding agent and a key to morale.

He was not the first to understand its practical applications. As Edward Slingerland wrote in “Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced and Stumbled Our Way to Civilization”, “Cultures around the world for thousands of years have clearly understood that the sober, rational, individual mind is a calculus for social belief.” obstacle.” A new study that is equal parts anthropology, psychology, and evolutionary biology. Drawing on recent experiments, Neolithic burials, eclectic myths and global literature, Slingerland teases the evolutionary benefits and enduring benefits of having a blitz. It is a rowdy banter of a book in which the ancient Roman historians Tacitus, Lord Byron, Timothy Leary, George Washington, the Chinese poet Tao Yuanming and many others toast the virtues of the Apollonian cause drowning in Dionysian abandon. We go to the wine-soaked temples in ancient Egypt, chichaThe official “Whiskey Room” in the capital of the Inca Empire, a Fijian village, Irish pub and a Google complex, leaving behind bits of evidence for Burning Man and “Beowulf” along the way.

Although Slingerland, a professor of philosophy at the University of British Columbia, praises the pleasures of drinking in moderation – and sometimes in excess – for his own pleasure, the functional upsides of addiction are his primary concern. Drinking alcohol not only allows careful, self-interested individuals to drop their guard and cooperate, he writes, it also facilitates the creativity and playfulness our species needs to innovate and survive. . A Negroni would essentially wipe out the prefrontal cortex, the site of practical, adult thinking. Zap the same area with a transcranial magnet and you’ll get the same results: happier, less inhibited, more child-like adults. Given that transcranial magnets are “expensive, not very portable and generally not welcome at parties,” wine is an easy, low-tech tool to get good will and new ideas flowing.

For our ancestors, drinking was particularly essential, “a strong and elegant response to the challenges of letting a selfish, suspicious, narrowly goal-oriented primate set loose and engage with strangers.” This is why hunters probably started producing beer and wine before bread. Wine-making and drinking vessels at a 12,000-year-old site in eastern Turkey suggest that people were “gathering in groups, fermenting grain or grapes, playing music, and then truly before agriculture was explored.” I was hitting it with a hammer.” Then, when humans began to settle, sow crops and domesticated livestock, it was wine that allowed them to do so, giving rise to a large number of towns and cities. “It is no coincidence that, in the brutal competition of cultural groups from which civilizations arose, drinkers, smokers and trippers emerged victorious,” writes Slingerland: Human societies exist without adequate lubrication. Will not done.

Slingerland is adamant that chemically induced abstinence is just as valuable (and perhaps especially necessary) in modern times, but he addresses the more obvious medical and economic costs of alcoholism, the devastating effects of addiction, and subtle, harmful ways In which drinking can lead to isolation and exclude outsiders. Some readers may find the treatment cursory given the seriousness of these issues, but Slingerland argues that they are well documented, while serious scholarly work on the value of narcissism is surprisingly scant. As a result, bad alcohol is “defenseless” against doctors and government policymakers who paint it as pure evil. Slingerland takes reason with all the chivalry of a knight-mistake, and his infectious passion makes the book a romp as well as a refreshingly ephemeral response to popular wisdom.

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