But Montaigne detested drink taken to excess, and it may have been this antipathy that led him to question the desirability of even those ecstasies of genius which were akin to drunkenness. He did not intend to get drunk; he eventually made it plain that he had no desire to be philosophically or theologically drunk either. For his taste, such fuerurs came too close to folie.
— M.A. Screech, Montaigne and Melancholy: The Wisdom of the Essays
When I was eighteen, I got hold of a cheap case of Robert Pirsig, which all the cooler, older kids in philosophy class had been talking about. I guzzled both his books down as fast as I could, and promptly puked up my first attempt at an essay — something noble savage-y contrasting the sacred circle of American Indian mythology to the hierarchical ladder of success in our culture. Yes, it smelled as bad as you can imagine. Over the next few years, I was double-fisting hard metaphysical liquors like Hegel, Heidegger, and abstruse arguments over God’s existence, and chasing them with shots of modern Russian poets. It all seemed deeply profound at the time, but I’d always wake up the next day with no memory of what I’d imbibed the day before. Thankfully I outgrew that phase before ending up with cerebral cirrhosis, i.e. tenure in a philosophy department.