Drunk Brainstorming

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Since I don't really have the time today (or the ability to focus) for putting a post together out of any of the several things I want to blog about, I'll just share an interesting piece of information I picked up from Karen Jobes's Esther commentary.

Apparently the Persian emperors had a special method of coming up with ideas for imperial policies. They would gather together their closest advisors, all get drunk, and then start tossing out ideas. If they still agreed with the policies after they'd sobered up, they would implement them. This isn't just the way some of their policies came about. According to Jobes, this was their usual method of figuring out how to deal with difficult policy decisions. This isn't unheard of in our day, either. I know several philosophers who come up with their best stuff when drunk. Since they have to wait until they're sober to write it up, I'm sure that allows some good quality control.

Of course, there's also the following corollary. If you have any ideas while you're sober, you should wait until you see what you think about them when you're drunk before implementing them.

3 Comments

Hard to believer ... that bit about philosophers coming up with some of their best stuff while drunk.

Hic !
- Raj

correction: "hard to believe"

If I recall correctly, this claim originates from Herodotus who records some very questionable things in his ethnographies. For instance, Herodotus confuses the Cushites (the people who lived south of Egypt in antiquity) with the Ethiopians who live on the southern edge of the world (right before you fall off!) and feast with the gods in Homer and other Greek myth. He then attempts to offer a naturalistic explanation of the origin of the myth: in Ethiopia, he says, there is a location known as 'the table of the gods' which is always filled with food and which anyone can eat from (apparently a sort of welfare program). It is called the table of the gods because the people are told that it is miraculously refilled each night - i.e., the gods are providing for them - but in fact, says Herodotus, an agent of the state refills the table each night. This, he claims, is the origin of the legend. In reality, though, the Cushites are simply not the same people as the legendary Ethiopians. There are similar problems with some of the things he says about the Persians, e.g. that the officers of the army drove their men into battle against the Greeks with whips. Herodotus is an amusing read and in many ways useful, but he doesn't always know what he's talking about.

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