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COLUMN

Hedonism, Inebriation at MacKeggor

Roy Esaki

Granted, it was late Saturday night, and I didn’t yet feel the impetus of imminent doom that would have compelled me to start my homework, but it was solely in the interests of journalistic edification that I went to my first MacKeggor drinking event. As a person for whom an enjoyable Saturday night would involve living vivaciously through an X-Files rerun with the amenity of a comforter and a cup of Earl Grey in my hands, I do not mean to evoke the usual irony suggested by “journalistic interests.” No, it was to contribute to my brown study on the motives and intentions of this quintessentially collegiate phenomenon of the mass induction of inebriated stupors that I spent a full five minutes of my weekend thus engaged.

The prevalent view among most of my contemporaries seems to be that of hedonism-based moral relativism and unbridled self-determination: as long as no direct harm is inflicted on others in the process, one has the prerogative to undertake any endeavor, regardless of motive or consequence. This franchise includes the inalienable right to freely wallow in one’s crapulence (the words one learns from a cartoon show), and wallow many students happily do.

My observational experiences are limited, and personal accounts nonexistent, so my ensuing contemplations are not judgments or imperatives, at least not for now; thus I leave it to the reader to account for my inexperience.

It seems one may strive to become inebriated for intrinsic enjoyment, or for the pleasurable outcomes of the impairment of one’s self-consciousness and better judgement (all the more enjoyable if it’s someone else’s judgement that’s conveniently impaired). In the far more prominent latter case, I believe that the human desire to escape the burden of responsibility, if only for that comes with free will and responsibility, is manifested in no small part.

It was Sartre who professed that mankind is condemned to be free; an inexorable corollary of freedom is that there is an ever-burdensome responsibility thrust upon us, as we are accountable for the natural and societal consequences of our actions. Whatever impulses we harbor within us we cannot deny, though societal mores, our “better judgement,” and our conscience compel us to censor and restrict these impulses.

By impulses, I mean not only those physical inclinations that are most certainly latent in the modus operandi of college students, but also the various impulses that recall our animalistic ancestry: the impulse for tribal (or cultic, as the case may be) multi-polarization, aggressive competition and envy, domination, and, of course, the impulse to be unique.

The desire to manifest these socially unacceptable impulses was at one time satisfied by such mechanisms as Truth Or Dare, whereby we were “forced” into performing tasks that satisfied these desires, and because we had no choice as to the matter, we bore no responsibility for the cathartic act. This abdication of freedom affords us the excuse to experience, ironically, what we most truly desire. With intoxication comes the same liberating abdication, as we are free of the stifling dictates of our judgement and rational faculties. The conclusion thus reached recalls the most unoriginal premise of alcohol consumption as an escape mechanism, but in actuality, inebriation would be not an escape, but instead a complete submission, to the incorrigible woes and drives that besiege us.

To return to the original subject of contemplation, I am personally of the view that being master of these drives and trials is preferable to being an indentured servant to them. However, to each his or her own, and each is entitled to whatever whets his or her whistle (thanks to political correctness, I can increase my word count substantially).

I think, however, that it’s worthwhile for every individual to consider not only the immediate consequences of an action, but also its philosophical and psychological foundations and ramifications. For my part, I would consider the psycho-philosophical ramifications of my theories espoused in this article, but I need another drink. Of Earl Grey, what else?