On Huffington Post Canada today, Conrad Black plumbs a profound etymological mystery, namely, how did "shit faced" become slang for "drunk"?
[T]he true author of the phrase for whose origins I was searching emerged in that splendid, endomprphic, oddity of the most obscure days of the '50s, beat and Buddhist Alan Ginsberg, phrase-maker extraordinaire. He it was who screamed out a second story window at Norman Podhoretz, after Podhoretz had dissented from one of Ginsberg's and his friends' wackier political concepts: "We'll get you through your children!"
Ginsberg had resided for some time in England and became acquainted with the expression that someone who was thoroughly drunk was "arse-holed," an unsurprising lower class British comment consistent with that sociocultural echelon's reflexive recourse to the psychological default page of defecation, urination, and flatulence as metaphors for all activities and conditions; toilet humor as language, not even as humour.
The expression meant, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, that someone was so disoriented from drink his head could be in his rectum, with predictable complexional consequences. Ginsberg is credited, not the least of his poetic legacy, though possibly not the greatest either, with the Americanization of the phrase to the usage described.
I apologize to those readers who look forward to a sober, if not, I hope, stiff, treatment of a serious subject in this space.