Leave it to NYT's Idea of the Day blog to get those languid brain cells dancing. Today, the Week in Review Staff asks whether there is A ‘Churchill Gene’ for Creative Drinking? and explores the notion that a lucky (or unlucky) few of us have a gene that helps us turn booze into creativity.
The blog links us to Prospect Magazine's fascinating article I drink, therefore I can. In this piece, Philip Hunter maintains that many of history's most feted artists and writers and thinkers -- including Winston Churchill, Mark Twain, William Faulkner, Vincent Van Gogh, Jackson Pollock, Francis Bacon -- used alcohol as a "fuel for [their] muse," namely as a means to their creative ends.
Hunter points to contemporary scientific evidence that suggests that as much as 15% of the Caucasian population has a gene -- call it the 'Churchill gene' or the 'creative cocktail gene' or 'the G-variant of the mu-opioid receptor' -- that in fact makes ethanol behave more like an opioid drug, such as morphine, with a more intense than normal effect on mood and behavior. It has been argued and observed that the gene creates an initial euphoria, followed by prolonged periods of relaxation and enhanced creativity. It is interesting to note that Hunter also writes that people with this euphoria/creativity producing gene variant also seem more prone to alcoholism.
What do you think? Do you think the idea of an alcohol/creativity gene is plausible? Is this an attempt to defend the historical or contemporary abuse or misuse of alcohol in our culture? Have you experienced bouts of creative euphoria after knocking back a few? Do tell!