Balzac drove himself relentlessly as a writer, motivated by enormous literary ambition as well as a never-ending string of creditors and endless cups of coffee; as Herbert J. Hunt has written, he engaged in “orgies of work punctuated by orgies of relaxation and pleasure.” When Balzac was working, his working schedule was brutal: He ate a light dinner at 6:00 P.M., then went to bed. At 1:00 A.M. he rose and sat down at his writing table for a seven-hour stretch of work. At 8:00 A.M. he allowed himself a ninety-minute nap; then, from 9:30 to 4:00, he resumed work, drinking cup after cup of black coffee. (According to one estimate, he drank as many as fifty cups a day.) At 4:00 P.M. Balzac took a walk, had a bath, and received visitors until 6:00, when the cycle started all over again. “The days melt in my hands like ice in the sun,” he wrote in 1830. “I’m not living, I’m wearing myself out in a horrible fashion–but whether I die of work or something else, it’s all the same.”
"When he had a serious object to accomplish, his practice was to reflect on it previously. And when he had gone through this labor, he retired to sleep, without regard to the hour of the night, and, having slept six or seven hours, he rose and having taken strong coffee, seated himself at his table, where he would remain six, seven, or eight hours. And the product of his rapid pen required little correction for the press."
Heh, "to reflect on it previously," this sounds like a highly optimized form of hammock-driven development.
I admire this focus quite a lot. For the most part it was sustainable, although at times he nearly wore himself out and his in-laws the Schuylers had to drag him outside more to walk and ride horses to rest his mind and restore his body.
It’s not clear just when someone realized that things might have gone a tiny bit wrong, but the story does mention “violent side effects”, which you’d have to think were neurological seizures, and those must have kicked in pretty shortly. The students were hospitalized immediately and put on dialysis, and appear to have recovered with no permanent damage, which is pretty remarkable (one of them has some short-term memory loss). Each of them apparently lost over 20 pounds during the whole thing, which makes me hope that this doesn’t catch on as some sort of idiotic emergency weight loss plan. Being hospitalized near death will take off the pounds, but it’s not recommended. There’s a literature report of a fatality with a 12 gram dose, so I think we can conclude that (1) taking multigram amounts of caffeine is extremely dangerous, and (2) these two students were fortunate to have survived, and without immediate medical care they might well not have.
I'm sure the Voltaire thing is just "the dude drank a lot of coffee."
It corrects a lot of typos in the Gutenberg/Amazon edition. It also corrects missing accent marks on French names/words and a bunch of other transcription errors.
Father Goriot is an excellent book, and this translation is very fresh and modern, considering its age.
Coffee , as is this piece by Balzac), is like dramatic prose, whereas green tea is like a haiku. Coffee seeks to kick the door open with it's legs, applying the full force of the femur (caffeine), sending the imbiber into a frenzy of activity, while green tea knocks on the door first (L Thanine). And isn't a polite knock enough to open many a door?
Coffee's influence is like a sugar rush, an exaggerated high followed by an artificial low, while green tea's influence is like a smooth lift-off.
For some reason, I end up choosing coffee when I'm stressed, and it worsens matters. I go for matcha when I'm well-rested and want to be productive, and it always leads to a good work session.
Indeed, which is why I don't bother with it =)
I was very interested in caffeine / theanine as a nootropic but after a few days of trying I've given up on the pursuit.
The starting point may have a larger effect than your choice of stimulant; any stimulant is likely to make stress worse, and being well-rested and energized is probably going to result in a good work session regardless.
I used to this a lot and it never worked for me personally. Coffee used to give me so much rush that i couldn't focus at all sometimes.
The French is slightly dated in some ways, but definitely could have been written today (albeit by an old school literary type, of which we have plenty).
"Enfin, j'ai découvert une horrible et cruelle méthode, que je ne conseille qu'aux hommes d'une excessive vigueur, à cheveux noir et durs, à peau mélangée d'ocre et de vermillon, à mains carrées, à jambes en forme de balustres comme ceux de la place Louis XV."
The original text states "... with mixed/blended ochre and vermillion skin"
The Journal of John Woolman and Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography are both autobiographies written by Colonial Americans in the 1770's. Franklin's prose (save for obvious allowances, like the presence of obsolete words like breed, 'to rear [a child]') is much more lucid. He avoids the ambling conga lines of clauses that characterize the prose of the founding fathers and John Woolman, and he has a much better control of vocabulary and imagery.
Compare these two passages. First, Franklin:
>[B]ut they voted an aid to New England of three thousand pounds, to put into the hands of the governor, and appropriated it for the purchasing of bread, flour, wheat, or other grain. Some of the council, desirous of giving the House still further embarrassment, advis'd the governor not to accept provision, as not being the thing he had demanded; but he reply'd, "I shall take the money, for I understand very well their meaning; other grain is gunpowder," which he accordingly bought, and they never objected to it.
>It was in allusion to this fact when in our fire company we feared the success of our proposal in favour of the lottery, and I had said to my friend Mr. Syng, one of our members, "If we fail, let us move the purchase of a fire-engine with the money; the Quakers can have no objection to that; and then, if you nominate me and I you as a committee for that purpose, we will buy a great gun, which is certainly a fire-engine. "I see," says, he, "you have improv'd by being so long in the Assembly; your equivocal project would be just a match for their wheat or other grain."
> If any, who through the love of gain engage in business wherein they dwell as among the tombs and touch the bodies of those who are dead, should through the infinite love of God feel the power of the cross of Christ to crucify them to the world, and therein learn humbly to follow the divine Leader, here is the judgment of this world, here the prince of this world is cast out. The water of separation is felt; and though we have been among the slain, and through the desire of gain have touched the dead body of a man, yet in the purifying love of Christ we are washed in the water of separation; we are brought off from that business, from that gain, and from that fellowship which is not agreeable to His holy will. I have felt a renewed confirmation in the time of this voyage, that the Lord, in His infinite love, is calling to His visited children so to give up all outward possessions and means of getting treasures, that His Holy Spirit may have free course in their hearts and direct them in all their proceedings. To feel the substance pointed at in this figure, man must know death as to his own will.
Not as clear, right? Though I wonder if Woolman's writing was transparent even to readers in his own time.
It comes as a black treacley syrup in a jar, which you mix with hot milk.
I'll admit to never having been brave enough to try it; these days you mostly find it in the cooking section of the supermarkets, as it has a following in cake-making.
Disturbingly, I think Camp Coffee might be less frightening than another old UK 'favourite', Mellow Birds:
(which does have caffeine in it, but not much)
For wildly varying values of 'taste'...
Well there are a lot of coffee flavours and a infinity of opinions on them. So this will not be different.
For me there is more to it than the taste of a "good coffee", which I obviously also can't replace. Like coffee, these hot drinks, provide me a comfort, that no hot chocolate or tea can achieve.
I guess I don't have thick black hair and enough liver spots to handle it. :(
Was your coffee black?
I've read articles  which suggest that cycling off caffeine for 7-12 days helps reset the number of adenosine receptors to the baseline.
The best part is the first morning coffee after a long abstinence: you feel wired, motivated and productive like you've never been before.
On a low carb diet, I get GI distress generally after eating lunch, but outside of dieting I haven't noticed any adverse effects related to it. I've been doing this every weekday for over 2 years now.
From nightshift millennials to busy gen-X professionals, from the purpose-oriented to the traditionalists, from the pines of the Nordics to the pampas of South America, the populace of lots of countries is quite caffeinated throughout.