John Barleycorn HTML version
But the freight has to be paid. John Barleycorn began to collect, and he collected not so
much from the body as from the mind. The old long sickness, which had been purely an
intellectual sickness, recrudesced. The old ghosts, long laid, lifted their heads again. But
they were different and more deadly ghosts. The old ghosts, intellectual in their inception,
had been laid by a sane and normal logic. But now they were raised by the White Logic
of John Barleycorn, and John Barleycorn never lays the ghosts of his raising. For this
sickness of pessimism, caused by drink, one must drink further in quest of the anodyne
that John Barleycorn promises but never delivers.
How to describe this White Logic to those who have never experienced it! It is perhaps
better first to state how impossible such a description is. Take Hasheesh Land, for
instance, the land of enormous extensions of time and space. In past years I have made
two memorable journeys into that far land. My adventures there are seared in sharpest
detail on my brain. Yet I have tried vainly, with endless words, to describe any tiny
particular phase to persons who have not travelled there.
I use all the hyperbole of metaphor, and tell what centuries of time and profounds of
unthinkable agony and horror can obtain in each interval of all the intervals between the
notes of a quick jig played quickly on the piano. I talk for an hour, elaborating that one
phase of Hasheesh Land, and at the end I have told them nothing. And when I cannot tell
them this one thing of all the vastness of terrible and wonderful things, I know I have
failed to give them the slightest concept of Hasheesh Land.
But let me talk with some other traveller in that weird region, and at once am I
understood. A phrase, a word, conveys instantly to his mind what hours of words and
phrases could not convey to the mind of the non-traveller. So it is with John Barleycorn's
realm where the White Logic reigns. To those untravelled there, the traveller's account
must always seem unintelligible and fantastic. At the best, I may only beg of the
untravelled ones to strive to take on faith the narrative I shall relate.
For there are fatal intuitions of truth that reside in alcohol. Philip sober vouches for Philip
drunk in this matter. There seem to be various orders of truth in this world. Some sorts of
truth are truer than others. Some sorts of truth are lies, and these sorts are the very ones
that have the greatest use-value to life that desires to realise and live. At once, O
untravelled reader, you see how lunatic and blasphemous is the realm I am trying to
describe to you in the language of John Barleycorn's tribe. It is not the language of your
tribe, all of whose members resolutely shun the roads that lead to death and tread only the
roads that lead to life. For there are roads and roads, and of truth there are orders and
orders. But have patience. At least, through what seems no more than verbal yammerings,
you may, perchance, glimpse faint far vistas of other lands and tribes.