I doubt not that moderate Drinking has been improv'd for the Diffusion of Knowledge among the ingenious Part of Mankind...drinking does not improve our Faculties, but it enables us to use them.
Benjamin Franklin, Silence Dogood, No. 12, 1722.
Franklin was 16 or 17 when he wrote that under a pseudonym. Smart kid. You know, quoting Franklin on beer can be dangerous stuff but, in this case, you know that is it true because you can read it for yourself on the internet. When I read that passage above in the introduction of Salinger's book, I thought not about Franklin or his sayings but beer goggles. They were in the news lately, as this piece from CTV reminds us:
Anyone looking for a mate in a bar, take note: Beer goggles really do make people appear more attractive, British researchers say. Scientists at the University of Bristol found that study subjects who consumed alcohol considered people to be about 10 per cent more attractive than did people who did not consume alcohol...Both the male and female subjects not only found members of the opposite sex more attractive, they also found members of the same gender more attractive, too...The researchers also found that men deemed women to be more attractive for up to 24 hours after they consumed alcohol.See, it's that last bit that Franklin's words mirrored - the continuing effect of the alcohol upon the faculty of the mind, an effect that lasted long after the alcohol ceased to exist in the body. Does the moderate drinker see the world through sunnier lenses generally? I wonder. I have had occasion by times to abstain for days on end - hard as it is to imagine - and it is in those times when find my imagination a little less vital, the roses passed sometimes unnoticed. Those are sad times. Pete Brown wrote the other day, by contrast, about how an introduction to craft beer opening the doors of perception to a whole new way of thinking about drink...but maybe it goes further than that, as Pete himself may be implying in his nod to good old Billy Blake, Franklin's junior by half a century, who wrote:
If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern.
Isn't that what the wee dram (or whatever the scientists of Bristol gave their human guinea pigs) did? Did it not cleanse the mind and reveal beauty? Is that no what Franklin saw when he was but a lad?