Clerestory

Dry November: Day 22

November 22, 2019

Today thinking about Shakespeare’s Sonnet XCIV, which somehow reminds me of the chimp/bonobo divide.

I’ve also been discussing Sonnet CXXIX with a friend, about how it seems to nail dopaminergic impulses. “Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream” is pretty descriptive. Beforehand, one is sure one really wants to, and in the aftermath, one wonders what it was all about. I wrote a bit about desire with respect to George Eliot, and may need to think about that again through the lens of Shakespeare.

When it comes to my own desires, three weeks off booze has made it far less tempting, even when I’m with others who are enjoying it. It makes me wonder where this disinclination comes from. Is it that alcohol-adapted flora are dying off in my microbiome, and they cease to cause my brain to want to drink? Or is it that well-worn neuronal pathways just aren’t as greased as they normally are? Is there a moral element that comes to assert itself in defence of the actions I’ve undertaken, ex post facto? Or is it more like I have many consciousnesses, which cause me to behave in different ways, depending on the environment and interaction therewith?

Maybe they all amount to the same thing. In any case the not-drinking has gone well, though my mood hasn’t always been great. Otherwise I am greatly enjoying Byatt’s Possession, about which more later.


I'm Bryan Kam. I'm thinking about complexity and selfhood. Please sign up to my newsletter or see more here.