Heyoka’s Workbench


When I state that I had passed coal on a steamship from Behring Sea to British Columbia, and travelled in the steerage from there to San Francisco, it will be understood that I brought nothing back from the Klondike but my scurvy.

(Jack London, »John Barleycorn«)

Jack London survived the gruelling toil as a factory hand, as a coal trimmer and as a porter during the Klondike Gold Rush; he withstood anything the weather gods hurled at him; he overcame illness and injuries. Hardship, for a long time, seems to have been tantamount to life for him. – No wonder London believed that for his strength of mind and body another foe of quite a different type could be no serious match.

I’ve just read Jack London’s »John Barleycorn«, his gripping autobiographical description of a life-long dalliance with alcohol. Almost to the end, London seems to have been genuinely convinced that in this struggle he was the stronger. John Barleycorn just had to show a bit patience …

Watercolour picture showing gold prospectors ascending a snow-covered mountain ridge. And a vignette with an inked portrait of Jack London.