What did the Conquistadors drink? I mean, they probably ran out of wine on the cruise over, don’t you think?
Listening to Toiler on the Sea from The Stranglers, incidentally.
Did they drink water? Oh, my God.
I am reminded of W.C. Fields. I haven’t the slightest idea any more which film that was, but in essence he describes, horrified at the experience, the crossing of a desert: „Nothing to drink! Nothing but food and water for weeks!“
I am, at this very moment, drinking grog, as it was known to the British sailors of yore. A simple mixture of rum, lemon juice, and water. Alright, I admit it, I put two ice cubes in it, and so it is probably more refreshing than the British tar knew it, back in the day. Ice was, back then, an absolute luxury. But even then, without ice, it must have been quite good. You can put in as much water as pleases you, so it becomes a very light drink if you like it that way. I happen to like it that way at the moment, since I have to get up early tomorrow. Work. The nemesis of our everyday lives. On the other hand, if I didn’t have work, I’d be starving, and if I was starving I’d have to go find food, which would be, you guessed it, work.
Of course, then the results of my work would be immediately recognizable: berries, roots, grubs… can you imagine eating grubs? Do you even know what grubs are? Pupating insects, my friend. Squirming, wormlike things, quite large, if you are lucky. Very healthy, I have heard, if you can get them down. Read Tarzan, he ate grubs raw, and liked it, b’gad.
But the Tarzan we know from films and countless cartoons and god-knows-what-all is not the Tarzan as he was originally conceived. The „real“ Tarzan was an intelligent fellow, though he found grubs toothsome, not just a great warrior. He was not „Me Tarzan, you Jane.“ He knew six different languages, including that of the apes. He spoke fluent French, one of the most beautiful languages on this bloody world, and he was a gentleman in the most holy meaning of the word. The only thing he was not, was a poet. No poet warrior, I am afraid. He could have been though, if he hadn’t been so disgusted with humans and their so named civilization.
And he was right in that: being disgusted with human beings. A disgusting and hypocritical lot we are, generally speaking.
There is such a huge difference between what human beings say and what they do… such huge lies… that I have to hiccup and take another big swig of grog. I might even have to make myself a new grog, although I have to work tomorrow. But in spite of our horridness we do manage, occasionally, a nice thing or two. Out of our horridness grows a sort of beauty, when we manage to transcend ourselves.
There are three kinds of human beauty (oh hell, there are probably a whole bunch of kinds, but these are the ones I can think of just now).
The one is engendered by love of detail, love of patterns, love of nature: we see what nature offers, the immutable, infinite repetitions of nature. Physics, mathematics, they are often reflected in art and the artful crafts, and though they are far beyond my feeble intellectual powers, I have the feeling that the higher planes of physics and mathematics are more like art than science.
The second is the beauty of destruction. The barren beauty of death. Human beings understand that very well, though they can never reach beyond the barrier of death. Human beings can revel in devastation, in the stark silhouette of a spray of blood. They see the beauty inherent in such things. They know, though they often don’t admit it, that death engenders life.
The other is, in a sense, more transcendent. It is the sense of beauty which can not be explained. Beauty we do not understand, though we feel it: Love. We feel love, but we can never understand it. We see a man, or a woman, or we talk to them, or both, and we love. We don’t know why. We can try to explain it: the way they moved, the eyes, the incredible fragrance, what they said, something so full of wit and intelligence, or just the sound of their voice, something… but we will never really understand what it is. We just know that we are in love, and that is the greatest beauty of all. It’s a beauty we feel.