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Try This Rationalization for That Fourth Scotch: I’m Being Creative


by Jerome Weeks 6 May 2009

Philip Hunter in Prospect magazine lays out the case for a “Churchill gene,” named after the British prime minister who seemed perpetually three drinks ahead of everyone else yet still seemed supercharged: Some scientists have theorized that a few creative types like William Faulkner and painter Francis Bacon have had a genetic variant, the G-variant, […]

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Winston Churchill, ordering drinks for himself and imaginary friend

Philip Hunter in Prospect magazine lays out the case for a “Churchill gene,” named after the British prime minister who seemed perpetually three drinks ahead of everyone else yet still seemed supercharged: Some scientists have theorized that a few creative types like William Faulkner and painter Francis Bacon have had a genetic variant, the G-variant, “that makes ethanol behave more like an opioid drug, such as morphine, with a stronger than normal effect on mood and behaviour.”

As a result they reported stronger feelings of happiness and elation after their shot of alcohol. This initial euphoria is usually followed by a longer state of relaxation, lasting several hours. For those with the G-variant, this period aids the creative process. Perhaps the odd additional tipple might be needed to keep the fire burning, although too much further consumption douses the flames prematurely, inducing lethargy. … this may be why  Francis Bacon, by his own admission, worked well after a few drinks, but not when drunk.

Hence, too, I would think, the phenomenon of the ‘functioning drunk,’ the self-description of prolific writer and drinker Christopher Hitchens.

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