Monday, May 14, 2012

Coffee. Balzac. Fueling the Beast. All the things.

I've been so tied up with Uni these days that any writing outside of an assignment context seems repellent.  So I am going to blatantly steal someone else's piece of writing, a short passage that caught my attention at the end of last year and gives me much entertainment whenever I read it.  Also, seeing as I am neck-deep in assignments right now, it seemed fitting to share this passage about something very near and dear to my heart (and stomach..)

The passage describes the addiction to coffee of French novelist and playwright HonorĂ© de Balzac - 

'Balzac fueled his prolific writing by drinking something like 50 cups of coffee a day - until that failed to be enough for him, and he began eating dry coffee grounds straight, a tactic that he describes as "a horrible, rather brutal method that I recommend only to men of excessive vigor, men with thick black hair and skin covered in liver spots, men with big square hands and legs shaped like bowling pins." The coffee, he writes, "brutalises these beautiful stomach linings as a wagon master abuses ponies; the plexus becomes inflammed; sparks shoot all the way up to the brain.  From that moment on, everything becomes agitated.  Ideas quick-march into motion like battalions of a grand army to its legendary fighting ground, and the battle rages.  Memories charge in, bright flags on high; the cavalry of metaphor deploys with a magnificent gallop; the artillery of logic rushes up with clattering wagons and cartridges; on imagination's orders, sharpshooters sight and fire; forms and shapes and characters rear up; the paper is spread with ink - for the nightly labour begins and ends with torrents of this black water, as a battle opens and concludes with black powder." '

[To give full credit where credit is due, this passage was written by Emily Temple and can be found here.]