In Boozo Veritas #3 by Teege Braune
Through the Looking Glass Darkly
No single narcotic or hallucinogenic drug mirrors a state of dream sleep better than a thoroughly annihilated blackout drunk. Marihuana with its transitions between anxiety and dopey boredom never creates the kind of mental adventures we experience while unconscious. LSD brings intense and often ridiculous analyzations of the world around us, giving exaggerated significance to every image and idea, whereas we usually take a dream’s absurdities at face value. Mushrooms may come close, imbuing our surroundings with a richer atmosphere and added texture, but the heightened awareness and slowed perception of time bare little resemblance to dreaming. The effects of cocaine are as about as far from a dream state as one can possibly imagine. Much has been written, especially in the nineteenth century, about opium and dreams: Coleridge, in his introduction to “Kubla Khan” famously explains that the poem arrived from an opium induced vision and Thomas De Quincy fills pages describing both the sublime and terrifying dreams his addiction to laudanum inspired. Nevertheless, while opiates may induce dreams, they dull reality to an insignificant, distant blur. It becomes not so much altered as tuned out altogether.
Only during a solid blackout drunk, as in a dream, do we find ourselves engaged in conversations with no discernible beginnings or regain consciousness in unfamiliar places to whence we never seemed to travel. Like Alice on her dreamy adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, we unsuccessfully attempt to retain decorum as the rationality of the world around us breaks down. A queen may become an ewe mid-sentence, or a shop may become a stream and back again with a flicker of light and blink of the eye. A vague nausea, the discomfort of displacement, may accompany such changes, but like Alice, we are forced to accept them at face value, too disoriented are we to rebel against them. Communicating with others becomes as tedious and difficult as unraveling the Queen of Hearts’ evidence against the Knave:
They told me you had been to her,
And mentioned me to him:
She gave me a good character,
But said I could not swim.
Pronouns lack referents, and subjects lose all meaning as connections are lost and forgotten. One more sip can make us feel larger than life or as diminutive as a caterpillar. We run our pointless Caucus Race, barhopping from one drinking-hole to the next, getting anything but drier, and in the end, after all hell breaks lose, the candles shoot fireworks from their wicks, dinnerware grows wings and flies away, and queens turn into kittens, when we are finally back in the reflective normal light of morning, all we can do is look back dazed and wonder just whose life we were living anyway. In response to the stories our accomplices later relate to us, things we said and did, witnessed by others but lost to ourselves, all we can do is ask, “Which dreamed it?”
I used to find the adventure and absurdity of this kind of drinking exciting, ever eager was I to subvert reality and step outside of my own existence for a few hours. I didn’t own a car to crash and assumed that my friends, themselves all drinkers, would forgive any transgression based on the sheer intensity of my intoxication. That is until one night when I regained consciousness to find my girlfriend screaming at me. I was aware that I had also been screaming, but the cause of this tumult was a mystery. We’ve all had anxiety dreams from which we awoke with a jolt and a sigh of relief upon finding ourselves in our own beds. In dreams the Queen of Hearts’ executions are seldom carried out and the armies closing in on us can always be scattered like the pack of cards that they are. Of course, real blackouts come with real consequences. The rage in my girlfriend’s eyes told me I had royally fucked up.
“I’m sorry, baby. I can see that you are angry, and I’m sure you have a good reason, but I have no idea what we are talking about,” I said sheepishly, all my anger turned to fear.
I think the bizarreness of such an abrupt change of demeanor and my pleading, plaintive tone convinced her I truly had no memory of the events that transpired. I genuinely and repeatedly apologized for and regretted the laundry list of grievances over which she was understandably upset. Though she eventually forgave me, it took a lot more than opening my eyes to make things right again, and I decided that I might benefit from ignoring those bottles with their earnest requests, “Drink Me,” at least for awhile. The next time I wanted to climb through the looking glass I would go about it the old fashioned way and simply fall asleep.
Teege Braune is a writer of literary fiction, horror, essays, and poetry. Recently he has discovered the joys of drinking responsibly. He may or may not be a werewolf.