Thursday, August 07, 2008

To live happily, we must go hidding

I romanticise absinthe. That must be dated from my teenage years when i was so in love with oscar wilde and found in his biography that wilde ended his desolate years in France by drinking cheap absinthe. What a melancholic and decadent drink. Verlaine became a scum, Van Gogh cut off his ear, all under the influence of green fairy, dangerous but essentially charming (and artistic). Sadly my wish to taste this green elixir have never been quite fulfilled.

It is not easy to find Absinthe in Hong Kong as this is never a place for bohemian. However, it is also not easy to find the green fairy in Europe, the aftermath of its general ban during 20th century. Wormwood, the main ingredient of Absinthe, explains the mysterious effect after consuming it as wormwood was said to have a chemical which produces similar effect of cannabis, causing hallucination, inspiration or waking up one's innermost dream, evil or uplifting, you name it.

My first sip of absinthe took place last year at my beloved rendezvous in pottinger street. The drink was not green in colour, as it had already blended with water and sugar. Two glasses of it I didn't slip under the table but i did slip down the slope in front of the bar. Effect of wormwood or just alcoholic intoxication? (and the girl at the bar had warned me of the high percentage of alcohol - 45%) Of course I'm not saying I was invincible but 45% should not be that formidable challenge, so will it be the effect of ... (but i had already consumed a bottle of red wine and several cocktails beforehand). Even the hangover was peculiar, i didn't feel headache but literally, I could not get off the bed, like i was not here nor there, or i was not myself, did van gogh cut off his ear under this state of mind?

I was not sure if I drank the real thing or not, it is said that there is no real absinthe nowadays. I tried again at agnes b. Formality was larger than anything. Cold water dripped from a crystal water fountain, melting the sugar cube placed on a slotted spoon and diluting the green fairy into an opal cloud. Elegant and pretentious. I was warned of its extra-high alcoholic percentage (something among 60%), but i found its extra-sweet taste more horrendous. I couldn't find any whimsical wake afterwards, though it's fun to undergo the whole set of ritual.

Devil's picnic was an interesting book which the author visited every corner of the world to find the forbidden fruit, which included absinthe. Wish I have his resources, sadly i have not. But what if there was serendipity? My awareness for the green remained sharp though I was in the paradise of hedonists. Loitering around, it's not difficult to find absinthe, in the name of absenta, in those backstreet wine shops of Bacelona. The price was really cheap, I asked the old lady of the shop if they were the real thing, of course resulted in communication breakdown, so no matter of what, i grabbed a bottle. I am waiting for the right moment to lose myself.

The search for the legendary absinthe is still on and on, of course the one which i most wanted is like this:

Tendency to escape

From what? Boredom? Duties? Daily life?

And how?

Physical escape. Useless. I reckon I may escape my boredom, duties and daily life by flying to a foreign land. But what if the place is not foreign anymore? Then inevitably it will turn to another daily life which I want to escape. Or just like a tribal member to live here and there without rooting yourself? Deep down, wherever I go, I will be the same person, with the same traits, thoughts, weaknesses and arrogance, so after all these years, I concluded that in addition to duties, boredom and daily life, what I mostly need to escape from is just myself.

Internal escape. That is the intoxication Baudelaire talked about. On wine, poetry, or virtue. Or some may find it on music, food, drug, sex or religion, whatever makes you forget yourself. aldous huxley's famous quote, been quoted too often, almost becomes a cliche, but still holds the truth, "most men and women lead lives at the worst so painful, at the best monotonous, poor and limited that the urge to escape longing to transcend themselves if only for a few moments, is and has always been one of the principal appetites of the soul".

... humm our soul longs for an escape.

I have much sympathy for those people who have to give up their intoxication by force, not according to one's own will, such as a court order or health problem. We need a few moments of insanity in order to stay sane. That imposed sanity, almost a twist in his sobriety.


galaxy said...

係咪無左生活寄託呀 ?
除了聽歌, 想想你還有什麼興趣, 工作只是糊口吧了, 工作之後可以做你想的東西。 一架好靚的跑車, 都要停下來加油, 然後再上路, 哈, 但都要行在Highway(哈,對你應該用motorway)上才適合。

britple said...

umm it rather makes me like a devil to show you this link, or maybe you the expert already know it?

it's a shame that i didn't know this place when i was there (i definitely would buy you a bottle!), only after i came back reading a magazine. but the writer shows no knowledge about it, no mention of the drink at all when the taken photo shows lots of different green bottles behind the bartender.

the escape takes so long, so long that i inevitably have to look into it. i may find no solution, but to embrace, or in fact, drown into it in order to be saved.

kittyshambles said...

galaxy,你唔好講到我好似好頹好有問題咁啦,我好似無乜問題喎,不用緊張,我只是稍稍表露對某類酒的感覺。係呀,除聽歌外,我都有其他嗜好, 好似如我所講的飲酒及逃避現實,都是我的嗜好,哈哈(被我氣壞呢?!) 我唔係因為生活無寄託才這樣,只純粹那些真是我的嗜好。(我覺得生活寄託這幾個字好老土呀)

kittyshambles said...

Thanks for the link britple! I didn't know this site but it seems all in German. I did find some sites which you may order absinthe online, claiming they have high percentage of wormwood. Poor that branded "libertine" is no longer available.

Enjoy your escape! This is sort of luxury, to be able to escape, even just for a short moment, not to mention for a long period of time so, yes, take it, embrace it, drown to it, while you can.