Steve Earnshaw: Drink dissolution: antibiography
Posted on 03-09-2013
Through many centuries there has been an abiding idea that alcohol and dissolution are natural bedfellows, and to give one’s self over to drink is in effect to temporarily cast off the everyday self. Most return to habitual modes of being the following day and restore themselves to personal and social narratives, to biography and autobiography. Van Gogh’s
painting from 1888 offers the view that we are beset by the possibility of eternal dissolution, that at nighttime we might lose our coherent selves for good. One persistent understanding of the power of alcohol is release from the burden of a coherent self. Alcohol is antibiography. Don Paterson’s poem ‘The Ferryman’s Arms’ (1993) similarly locates the dissolution of identity within a public house. Here, ‘drawn, like a moth, to the darkened back room’ he plays himself
at pool. The self that wins walks out of the pub, leaving behind the ‘losing opponent’ self sullenly / knocking the balls in, for practice, for next time’. The poem sets the scene for a collection entitled Nil Nil and prepares the reader to accept the fissiparous power of alcohol as prequel to a self that will become nothing. The paper will meditate on these and other
examples of writers and artists who yoke self, social space and alcohol together, using drink to dissolve biography.


Under Control?

Location: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

"Under Control? Alcohol and Drug Regulation, Past and Present"  conference was held at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine 21-23rd June 2013. Under Control? was supported by the Alcohol Research UK; Bowling Green State University; the Alcohol and Drugs History Society, Brock University (Faculty of Applied Health Sciences); the Society for the Study…

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Lifeline Project & FEAD Read more

Welcome to Lifeline and FEAD (Film Exchange on Alcohol and Drugs). This project has been shaped by the wealth of experience, openness, and knowledge of the contributors. You are invited to comment on the clips, which are supported by footnotes to which you can add. FEAD is an ongoing Lifeline Project initiative.

Lifeline Project: In 1971 the Lifeline Project opened a day centre for drug users in Manchester. Since its foundation Lifeline has grown and developed, and now works in a diverse range of settings across the UK. Our purpose is to relieve poverty, sickness and distress among those persons affected by addiction to drugs of any kind, and to educate the public on matters relating to drug misuse.