Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
April 21, 2005

On Pain, Addiction, and Powerlessness

by lorraine

My name is Lorraine and I am an addict.

These simple words, and a hell of a lot of hard work, have saved my life--hell, given me a life, a life that was lost to me for several years while I struggled with the effects of a debilitating neck injury that caused incessant pain. In part one of this diary, I want to talk about personal addiction. In part ii, I want to talk about the politics of addiction. 

I remember what the pain felt like, because I wrote about it one night, while in its toxic embrace:

On a bad pain day, she felt locked in Spock's Vulcan grip, only for her there was no relief of unconsciousness, just a throbbing at the top of her shoulder that was relentless. But that wasn't the worst of it. The pain leaked forward, down her arms, as if someone had poured molten steel along the nerve paths, down her biceps, through her elbow, and then, like a train at a switching yard, changing path, and following the ulnar nerve along the edge of her arm. Where her wrist met her palm, that knob of bone directly below her pinkie, someone had stationed a big, beefy construction worker with a jackhammer, and he rat-a-tatted his drill so that her hand burned. And finally, at the end of the road, the tips of her pinkie and ring finger, a buzz of electricity constantly arced--as if between two diodes in a mad scientist's laboratory.

The injury was simple, really. A severely ruptured disc in my cervical spine. It was complicated by a pregnancy that made surgery impossible, and so, for months, I lived with crushed nerves in my neck, which eventually led to nerve damage.

The first course of treatment was medication. Here is what the early days of meds were like:

Different pain medications had different effects and she sought to match pain intensity to analgesic, and then to titrate the dose, so that the buzzing yellow of her pain could become a gentle green, changed by the soporific blue of the narcotic capsules. On days that weren't too bad, she took tylenol with codeine-- 30 to 60 mg as she needed it. Codeine's effects were like that of a doily on an old coffee table--it covered the stain but couldn't remove it. When she took codeine, she was smoke wafting through her house. On days that were slightly worse, she turned to Vicodin. She secretly admitted to herself that Vicodin could become a vice if she let it. Stronger than codeine, one of the lovely side-effects was the euphoria that accompanied it. The sense of well being that made the world a vivid, inviting, invigorating place where she had visions of herself as victor of the world--a Valkyrie swooping down from the heavens. But Vicodin was a selfish master, needing her flesh more and more. It was the one she rationed to protect herself from addiction. The final option, which she did not like to take except on those occasions when pain had brought her to her knees, was morphine. Morphine replaced the blood in her veins with pudding, making her heart beat sluggishly against her ribs, suffusing her with an unpleasant heat and rendering her helpless. It frequently made her throw up, so she only took it when there was no alternative to pain. Pain had held her in its toxic embrace for three years now. It was a cruel lover, but battered and hurting, she had no place to go. She was pain's prisoner on some days, but occasionally, on rare mornings, she awoke to find herself pain-free and she reveled in those days like a kid at a carnival--eager to do everything at once before all the prizes had been given away on the midway.

What followed was labor and delivery, major spinal surgery, more pain, more drugs, acupuncture, chiropractics, hypnotism, more epidural steroid injections, counseling, applied kinesiology, more drugs, surgery to implant a dorsal column stimulator, and more drugs. By the time I realized that I was in trouble (okay. strike that. By the time I accepted that I was in trouble) I was on Fentanyl patches and was taking enough supplemental OxyIR and Vicodin to supply an opium den.

I went into detox. On February 19, 2001, I emerged for the first time in several years, drug-free. Should have been gravy from there, right? Nope. Ask any addict or alcoholic. Recovery is damn hard work.

I started hanging out with other people who were trying to stay clean and sober. I started intensive therapy. I got a divorce. I made a new life for myself.

My pain was real. But my pain was exacerbated by the fact that my life was out of control. I took drugs to kill the pain in my body, but a fair portion of that physical pain was caused by the pain in my life. By my unmanageable feelings. By my sense of worthlessness. By my inability to connect to the things that were really important. By my feelings of inadequacy. But mostly, my life was ruled by fear. Fear of everything, that despite my big mouth, turned me into a person who was deathly afraid to stand up for herself. Afraid she would get hurt. And this is my segue into American politics. If you're still reading, I thank you for your patience.

Part II
The politics of addiction.
Hello. My name is America, and I am sitting in this meeting because my friend Lorraine suggested I should come.

I'm not sure really when my addiction began. I look back over the past two-hundred odd years of my history and I see all sorts of psychic wounds. I had a tyrannical father, and I rebelled against him. Took up arms against him, and drove him out. I thought that would take care of my problems, but I wasn't done hurting myself. Even when I had the chance, I chose to cut myself off from parts of my body--Africans, women, those without property--told myself that those parts of me were less important, and that I didn't need to pay attention to the discomfort those parts of me caused.

Since then, those parts of me keep getting hurt, but I don't want to go back to that original wound and deal with it. That would require feeling some things that I'd prefer not to feel. I'm in pain now, but I've developed a whole host of ways of dealing with my pain. I know some of you think that qualifies as addiction. But I'm not ready to admit I have a problem yet.

I've got ways of dealing with my pain, however. They're called distractions. There's war, which is always good for taking my mind off whatever's bothering me. If I focus my attention on getting control over other people's lands and cultures, I don't have to think about the unmanageablility of my own culture. I've got plenty of women and poor people and racism, but I don't to focus on that right now. That would hurt.

If I can't shoot someone, maybe I can buy something. I like to spend money. Buying things makes me think I can be happy. I'll go out and buy a new gas-guzzling car that lets me sit high up on the road, or I'll buy the newest gadget or the newest pair of shoes from Nike. I know people suffer who make those products, but I don't want to think about those things. That would make me uncomfortable.

I'm not very comfortable with my sexuality, either. Too many feelings attached to that, too. But if I tell homosexuals and women how to conduct their private lives, then maybe I can exert some control over this stuff that makes me feel bad. I think about my body and it makes me feel icky. But if I make someone else feel icky about their body, perhaps they'll shut up. And I won't have to deal.

I'm really not comfortable with what's happening to the color of my skin, either. It used to be pale white, but now, it's starting to darken up; parts of me are speaking a language I can't understand. Makes me feel out of control. I think I'll tell everyone they have to keep to their own kind. Speak English, damnit. I can't stand feeling uncomfortable.

The hallmark of addiction is an inability to deal with one's feelings. I could go on and on about why I think we're a nation of addicts. I think we need a major intervention, but I'm not sure we've hit bottom yet. The only problem I have is that until we collectively hit bottom, some of us are going to wind up falling a hell of a lot farther than others.

Posted by Jérôme à Paris on April 21, 2005 at 18:18 UTC | Permalink

Comments

This was posted on dKos earlier on Thursday, but I thought that it could be of interest to the barflies that do not go over there or missed it.

Posted by: Jérôme | Apr 22 2005 5:47 utc | 1

A great Buddhist saying stipulates that Meditation is not what you think. Wishful thinking happens when you refuse to see how painful things are.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Apr 22 2005 7:09 utc | 2

if i may speak freely, "America", you are an imposter living in denial and you will never be able to achieve happiness and peace if you can't even diagnose, acknowledge and address your own addictions & inherent character flaws. the real land mass you claim to represent does not suffer from this charade. it bears the all-too-real scars of your ongoing binge. "America", you lie to excuse yourself from responsibility. before you came here seeking profit. yes, those w/ the "pale white" skin you claim as your heritage came to this land in search of wealth, seeking only the freedom to get rich. i know that you like to fool yourself and others by holding up a torch of enlightenment, but your actions speak for themselves. the tyrannical father you cite was scorned because, in your intemperance and greed, you did not take kindly to being told that you could not continue to enslave the african and carribean men, women & children you counted among your possessions, or the restraint imposed on land theft beyond the appalachians. when you gained your independence, what were the first two things you did, America? do you recall?

although your tracks have been embedded into the face of this land for centuries now, it is only your one-track-mindedness of economic relationships that you pay attention to. you have taken great pride in your economy over the years, and propagandized it quite well around the planet, but has it perhaps ever occured to you that boasting of an economic foundation of maximized self profit and concomitant exploitation demonstrates both a conceited arrogance and dangerous disregard for the very act of living? you mangle language & ideas to delude yourself and dictate over others. you are a brute. your history can be read by following the trail of blood smeared across the hemisphere, and now beyond. you're also a bully, not a hero. farcical victories over the likes of grenada & panama are not demonstrative of a great power. coerced trade "agreements" are not demonstrative of a great power.

look at yourself, America. you're a mess.

Posted by: b real | Apr 22 2005 15:44 utc | 3

I think America is in need of a serious intervention. It's tumbling out of control toward a very low bottom, and I'm scared to death of what that bottom is going to look like. It's hard to stay out of the way of the drunken parent when you can't move out of the house.

Posted by: lorraine | Apr 22 2005 15:59 utc | 4

Umm, I've been trying to think of some way to contribute to the discourse here, but this post scares me too much to think straight yet.

Posted by: citizen | Apr 22 2005 16:04 utc | 5

Well, hell, as long as we Murcans are guilt-tripping over our evil past, let's not forget the destruction of the First Peoples who lived here.

Now, will someone point out to me a human-inhabited continent on this planet that _doesn't_ have a history of genocide and power abuses? Empires rise and empires fall.

The depressing part for me is that this Fall is looking like it will be of geologic scale, with climatic changes and mass extinctions. Goodnight, little earth.

"How instructive is a star.
It can teach us from afar
Just how small each other are."

Piet Hein

Posted by: catlady | Apr 22 2005 16:40 utc | 6

I agree with catlady.

The current enlightened thinking about addiction is that it is a diagnosable treatable disease. If the way to treat disease was to go around berating and punishing the addicted, no-one would overcome their addiction. Furthermore it is very difficult to become sober when the rest of the world is still imbibing. Indeed, focusing exclusively on the most notorious alcoholic/addict in the family is a great way to ignore one's own problems with the same disease.

Posted by: gylangirl | Apr 22 2005 18:30 utc | 7

that was satire, right?

Posted by: b real | Apr 22 2005 18:34 utc | 8

Addiction is treatable. But the addict has to agree to be treated; all the time in the world in rehab for someone who doesn't want to be there is a waste of time.
And the idea that everyone else is going it, too, gets us nowhere.
I refuse to enable the power-drunken.

Posted by: lorraine | Apr 22 2005 18:57 utc | 9

i believe this to be a crucial discussion

one of the writing workshops i do every week is in a unité de addictions & is one of the most important of its kind in france. i have worked there for over eight years & i have witnessed what it means in concrete terms - the reality of a society that produces & reproduces addictions

i work with drug users, alcaholics but mostly with women with anorexa/bulimia & who have attempted suicide many, many times.

today of the eight women i worked with today - one whose mother was murdered by her father who also violated her, all the others were the victims of incest - i would say 80% of these women have experienced incest. by the time they arrive at the unit they are sol close to death - they are skeletal - & the odor of putrefaction is very present. not so paradoxically nearly all of them are gifted with intelligence or beauty or both - they are blessed with a sensitivity to life that i try to transform from being victims into realising that the same energy is capable of creating great beauty & also profound reason

their sickness is not determinant. it is not the reference to me. their energy & their hypersensitivity is.

as b real & lorraine have clearly indicated - these patients are mirroring exactly the way the society is ordered - in terms of consumption, in terms of imbalane & in terms of lies masquerading as holy truths

there is a beautiful citation of fassbinder who sd " if you cannot tell the truth - the least you can do is not lie"

kate strom quotes yeats here often - that the "centre cannot hold" & it is displayed with these patients. the family as an institution has been dynamited not by modernity but by the fact that society both infantilises & deresponsibilise people. it makes public & civic life a mockery. it turns what is natural, mysterious & perhaps spiritual into something horrific

i return to the countries which have been borne in genocide & who continue to be informed by a genocidal politic, the countries that have tried mechanically & with great predetermination to exterminate others, countries which kill the citizens of other countries - lmillions of them in vietnam & indonesia for example as if their lives are worth nothing. they are complicit in the massacres that take place almost daily all over the globe.

my mother once sd & perhaps i have quoted it here before that " to go to bed & not like who you are is a completely different proposition from going to bed & not knowing who you are" - she described the latter as a dangerous condition. & it is all the more dangerous when that same pathology can be applied to nations

& it can

what i see is that nations behave pathologically - what perhaps i misname a national character - but i absolutely believe that america behaves as it dose this century because it tried to kill a living culture in its inception as the australians also did. you cannot commit crimes of that nature & remain untouched. the sins are carried on. on & on. the effect of slavery in american life remains current

the murder of european jewry & gypsies by the german nation can never ever be forgotten. nations who willingly particiate in that massacre & unfortunately there were many - cannot remain untouched

it cannot remain untouched because the problem was never treated. on the contrary many of the lesson taught by the nazis were soon applied by the americans, by the french & the british

it has never been treated - this pwerful need of cultures to demolish & destroy others by any means necessary. it has in our time beeen replicated by mass culture which has ripped the guts out of public life everywhere turning everything from health to sport into something sordid - into something which can turn a profit

the society that hails the individual is in fact the society that does its best to destroy them as individuals. to turn them all into infants - infants that have been termianlly violated

it is no accident that the rands, the strausses, the arendts all that right wing poverty of language has iconised the individual as lived by themselves. the elite as individuals. it was hollow & rotten when they first spoke. it is no accident that some had their philosophical roots in nazi germany. it is not so strange that the ayn rands & the phillip johnson of this world worshipped & were fascinated by fascism because they saw the political & physical means to create their 'individuality. & that constitutes a sickness. because the elements that a phillip johnson was attracted to in fascism was directly connected to germans with the help of poles or ukrainians in the physical liquidation of a people. a people who have a name, a face & a destiny

& instead of treating that sickness it was elaborated. elaboratedin such a way that the truth of the matter was at first concealed, then treated, then distanced & finally arriving at positions - where the persons in the west can think nothing of the mass murder in the balkans or rwanda or the congo or the sudan etc etc

when patients arrive at the hospital - they arrive with a hypersensitivity to those questions. because the society will not take responsibility - these people do - at the symbolic level & at the physical level

vaslav nijinsky sd of himself - "my madness is my love for humankind" - & that much is clear to me that the people who arrive in these clinics arrive with a potential to love that has been degraded by a society that degrades everything it touches

& this degradation is pathological. i will not stop speaking here of what is happening in the cities of iraq because to forget - even for a moment - the horror - is itself pathological

you cannot do as western societies have done & destroy all that is sacred & turning human beings into meat. you cannot do that & say it is nothing. it is everything

b real & anna missed are correct to return again & again to your indians - these people who posessed potentially - the cure to your sicknesses as the aboriginals also hold that same secret for the australians. but you cannot hear them - you are frightened to hear them because their truths are elemental & because they prove the shallowness of our many enterprises

war is the most obscene of these pathological enterprises but there are others that seed their destruction with equal power. the absence of real education, health care that is a mockery of that name, housing possibilities that are so counterweighed against the poor & marginalised - that the existence of gated communities only highlights the basic pornography of that question

deanander is correct again & again to locate the pathological problems with the environment & recently the post on beekeeeping was a salutary exercise in humility because our pathology has turned to arrogance & we throw the dice with increasing recklessness

& yes the centre - the actual centre of a great deal of this pathological behaviour is the united states & we are all infected by it. absolutism whether it is osama or political is not an antidote

the return to a healthy pathology demands a return to the community - for an understanding & an application of civic life & for people, for individuals to take responsibility for themselves & for those communities

we have been impoverished as human beings but like the greeks we can say 'oxi' - no, no no

the only realy way to treat addictions is to attack the society that creates them

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 22 2005 20:40 utc | 10

Attacking the 'addicted' society only reinforces that society's impression that change and change-agents are a threat and reinforces that society's defensive systems resulting in even more violence. There must be a more efficient way of getting through to the addicted society.

Posted by: gylangirl | Apr 22 2005 21:06 utc | 11

I myself have found, remembereringgiap, that the only real way to treat my own addiction is to join a community of fellow addicts intent upon living with this common addiction in healthy ways.

Posted by: alabama | Apr 22 2005 21:06 utc | 12

alabama

when i work with these people - one thing is absolutely clear - that they will reneter the world & that world will not have changed. provisionally it is capable of hurting them more but it seems essential to me that there must be no fabricating of a 'better world'. they must understand and take a commitment to living in this world

creation, it seems to be is a very complex but basic tool for a person to understand both their own mystery & the mystery of the world they live in

i cannot separate engagement from that process but i do not demand it from them - for me engagement & perhaps as sad as it seems - marxism & psychoanalysis - have given me concrete means to understand the pathological. & i needed those tools both for my own survival & i imagaine for the heart of my work

because i was so deeply implicated & effected by the vietnam war - there followed for me after the fall of saigon - a period of my life where i was completely self destructive because i could not bear to watch what happened in chile in grenada etc - it was so painful for me that i wanted to turn my dialectical self into a dynamite one

because i so deeply believed that we were capable of being better, of being exemplary & yet the lived reality was the opposite. destruction seemed to determine the way both individuals & communities moved - that i embraced that destruction & it was almost total. fortunately - i was 'saved' one early morning by the fact that this self destruction is boring - is infinitely more boring than living a troubled life. that through the troubled life - you could attain truths - they could not constitute absolutes - but they were & are in their way truths. & perhaps because as a poet who worked in many countries i was deeply conscious of my responsibility to those publics & that i had no right to play with my frailties as if they were something to be toyed with. if you like i took kurtz's dictum at its face value - "that to make a friend of horror & moral terror or they are enemies, enemies to be feared". i know that tht has the poetential to sound comic here but for me it was a practical question because my life was & is even now surrounded by forms of violence that are at times barely livable

i work 8-10 seances a week in situations that are volatile & that are often highly violent & where i witness negligence on a scale i can hardly believe possible.

& it is one of the first thing i say to these people thet you cannot afford to be negligent in a society that is so professionally negligent

creating, for me, works as a method against negligence

& i demand of all the people i work with the redemptive & i mean this very seriouslly indeed, the redemptive power of reading & reading widely & reading more than you can cope with - to read without limits

i have been rereading spinoza & the beauty of the act of reading gives power, it embraces mystery & it humanises the conflict in the human heart

reading provides a physical context - to what one is living in that moment & in the continuity of moments

sometimes that means reading things i do not personally like - & yes i suppose i read my enemies - my limit would be the memoirs of either kissinger or allbright & perhaps wilbur smith or tom clancy & certainly friederich biegbeder/michal houelbeq. these isolate themselves as being unreadable even i imagine by their authors

but i will read a maurice dantec & many hundreds of pages of him & i deeply loathe him, his work & what he calls his ideas but it helps me understand the i & the world that that i is lived in

in my work i try to integrate all these thing into a day to day life - hopefully helping people understand their own mystery through intimité & distance. that there exists a sacred relationship between themselves & their images, symbols, histories & legends that belong to them. their symbolic order which can only be reached by struggling through the burlesque of the death instinct into one that celebrates live, even a troubled one

i know perhaps alabama that you were being a little cruel with me but i thought i would take the opportunity to elucidate - i hope it says something

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 22 2005 21:49 utc | 13

It is eazy to trash someones work as shallow, but remember that w/ science and science models it takes about ten years to really start catching on....

WHEN SOCIETY BECOMES AN ADDICT
From the book's introduction: "Our society is deteriorating at an alarming rate. As we watch the news and read the newspapers, we are increasingly made aware of corruption in high places, financial collapse, and a lack of morality in settings ranging from preschools to meat packing plans. Our planet is being destroyed by acid rain and pollution. Hunger and wars rage over the planet.

"As a society, we are responding not with action but with a widespread malaise. The market for antidepressants has never been better. Apathy and depression have become synonymous with adjustment. Rather than looking for ways to change, to save ourselves, we are becoming more conservative, more complacent, more defensive of the status quo.

"Those few individuals who notice and draw attention to these growing problems are met with massive denial. When they run for public office, they are not elected. When they confront us with what they know, they are ignored, dismissed, or discredited."

or

The Addictive Organization: Why We Overwork, Cover Up, Pick Up the Pieces, Please the Boss, and Perpetuate Sick Organizations

--Even though there is a plethora of books about organizations and corporate life and millions of dollars each year are spent on consultants and packages designed to "fix up" what is wrong with organizations, corporations continue to search desperately for models that will reverse a slipping economy and enliven a poorly producing work force. Individuals look forward to weekends so that they can recover from their "crazy-making" experienes at work only to find that they must face the same dynamics on Monday. Often, persons who come from dysfunctional families find their organizations repeating the same patterns they learned in their families. Even though these patterns feel familiar, they do not feel healthy. Though consulting packages seem to alleviate some problems for a few days or a week, those same problems reemerge with even greater force and tenacity. Even after our favorite committees have had workshops on communications skills, breakdowns in communication, dishonesty, isolation, anger, and withdrawals continue. What is going on? What are we missing?


Posted by: Uncle $cam | Apr 22 2005 22:46 utc | 14

Also see: Recovery: it’s not just for “addicts” anymore.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Apr 22 2005 22:55 utc | 15

No, remembereringgiap, I was not being cruel, merely informative--or at least trying to be. Let me put it this way: people with a given addiction can speak with others so addicted as they cannot speak with anyone else (or so, at least, I've found in my own particular case). Amongst my fellow addicts, we refer to people not so addicted as "earth people" (in the context of this exchange, I would see you as an "earth person"). How to relate to "earth people" is of course a priority, but not the most urgent one confronting the addict (it's more urgent to relate to the addiction itself, by recognizing that this is exactly what you are--addicted). I can easily see that this may sound a little obscure, and I wouldn't even try to describe it if I weren't moved to do so by the closing sentence of your post at 4:40 PM.

Posted by: alabama | Apr 22 2005 23:16 utc | 16

alabama
my friend, sometimes i am cruel with me. each time we meet here i am touched even when we enter into furious debate. i am glad that neither of us is addicted to consensus & i think that is what i try to prepare people for - is that they have to live in world that iconsensually infantile or extremely hostile

in my crude way i try to teach tenderness & it is not so strange that i find source for that work in the tender heart of althusser

i have lived violently but i have also punished myelf unnecessarily & when i work with people - even political refugees who punish themselves for their own condition. i try to take that away - to hgelp them understand that their path is their path but there is a common humanity that is capable of understanding difference while maintaining a sense of self that is perhaps closer to geography than to anatomy

i teach them what i feel you do - earnestly - search out meanings & meanings within meanings - i think it is possible & healthy to do so without becoming labrynthine

in all my time here i have excluded one person & that is after thousand of people, really thousands & he was a killer who had killed three people - who had a form of press book - & here i am not exaggerating - he had articles from the press & he had coroners photographs & i was revolted in a way i have never been in this work & i have worked in jails with people who have also committed terrible crimes but in his case - i said no - i cannot teach creation to a person who has so gratuitously taken life & seemed to glorify in it. at the time it deeply shocked me & i am pretty unshockable - but this work is so important - that my inability to offer help to this man risked to stop the whole machinery of my work

& then i swa it as an exaggeration of those people with whom i work & create who hang on to their addictions because that is their definition - a crazy degraded form of definition in a degraded social world. yes - it is at time also there cry for help but we are living in a time where so many cry for help & it is important i think to honour those who fight especially those who know they cannot win

& there is a point in addiction where the addict & the society to use my much used phrase exist in a happy mutual infantilism. where there is no movement

there are days my friend alabama where there is nothing i would like to do more than smoke an opium pipe which is still possible in parts of france - i crave that 'peace' sometimes in the face of this whole mess we are living through. i think i have learnt to be still. i have also learnt to be steel. but there are times when a narcotic would be a wonderful world too because it is important for me to say that the narcotic itself is not guilty - it is a plant a chemical a word an ideology - it is nothing more

no it is the society that has been & is corrupted internally at the symbolic level. when i worked with aboriginal people i witnessed how deeply disassociated we are from our symbolic order. we have perverted it. demeaned it. degraded it. & these people even in great pain or chaos posess that order & it is apparent even at first contact. they are not perfect nor are they meant to be. as in indian tradition - the maya - that gameplayer - is also in these people. but there closeness to that order cannot be doubted. & even if we exterminate the last of them - that order will still exist to shame us

& there lies the kernel for me - a source for a great many addictions is shame. profound shame. recognition that we are closer to barbarism than to civilisation. & often the addicted are those who are closest & more connected to that sense of shame

in each creation there is a wonderful moment & it is always a mixture of shame & pride. shame of what we have been & pride of what we are really capapble of. sometimes creation & often in the act of lovemaking that essential wonderment takes root. then it falls away. i try through creation to create & recreate that moment for myself & for the public

i am always thankful of our contact, alabama

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 23 2005 0:07 utc | 17

remembereringgiap, I profit from the excellent things you bring to this particular bar, and believe you do heroic things in your workplace. But as for that pipe of opium:...since it's not my sense that you're an addict, or even "at risk" (as we say) of becoming one, I think a pipe of opium, for you, might well be an appropriate form of recreation at the end of a long, hard work-week. For you, remembereringgiap, but not for the addict! For him, the pipe is merely a step that separates him from his airplane in mid-air. How not to take that step is an oddly particular task. It can only be met by finding the relief that comes from sharing the fact of one's craving with others who crave the same drug, and who wish not to deal with their craving by taking the drug they crave. Encouragement from the non-addict doesn't bring this relief. This is strange, remembereringgiap, but entirely true.

Posted by: alabama | Apr 23 2005 2:31 utc | 18

RGiap -
But in addition to the emotional trauma, you must treat the biochemical/neurochemical disaster that the body has become. Our political & economic order has been wrecked by the reactionaries since 1980 & science hideously corrupted, but the one area that has brought great riches in that interval is Neurochemistry.

(Let me say at the outset, that I do not pretend to address Lorraine's situation where addiction grew from physical necessity. I'm only addressing alcohol/drug addiction that grows from emotional pain, or unique personal biochemistry.)

The reason that some people can drink/use drugs w/out becoming abusers and others not is related to their biochemistry. (I never had a substance abuse problem, but became acquainted w/this brilliant definitive work because of a food allergy I was born w/that was subsequently ignored by my parents. I was born a "celiac" baby - inability to digest milk or gluten. It caused a neurochemical mess that was cleaned up via the knowledge created in the process of solving the drug/alcohol addiction problem.)

The reason this work is not widely known - I know this will be a Great Shock to fellow Barflies - is 'cuz it was done by a woman of great determination & creativity but No Status and, of course, it generates Zero Profits for the Pirates.`

Anyway, to treat addiction you need a complex plan of emotional support, therapy...PLUS a specific nutritional program PLUS nutraceuticals - vitamins, mineral, & oh so importantly Neurotransmitters - to get the biochemistry of the brain & body working properly again.

the Bible is "7 Weeks to Sobriety", by Joan Matthews Larson. Her adolescent son committed suicide after conventional alcohol/drug detox. She knew it wasn't an emotional problem in his case. This is what drove her to unravel the problem, despite having no degrees to her name - perhaps a B.A., don't know about that. She went to school yrs. later & for her dissertation she did a follow-up study to track the long-term sobriety of her clients. Unlike traditional methods -AA, Betty Ford, etc.- which a recent Rand Study found that 4 yrs. after quitting 93% of drinkers had resumed alcohol, her method yielded 75-80% people still sober and feeling wonderful after 4-5 yrs. (Cleary and not surprisingly, the other ~20% had severe emotional problems.)

It's a very complex individual program - it was for me & my problem was dietary - w/blood tests, a physical, etc. (not expensive stuff) to identify yr. deficiencies & then stematically remedying them w/correct diet & supplements. You cannot believe how much better you feel than you ever could using drugs etc.

Here's a link to her center in Minneapolis to get you started.Health Recovery Center

Neurochemistry & nutrition are of surpassing importance in understanding our functioning. Turns out many people develop diabetes 'cuz their adrenals burn out from decades of stress, work, exhaustion so they start eating too much sugar for quick energy rather than getting an adrenal supplement to rebuild them. That's one of the first things they gave me. Plus the diet & raw materials my brain needed to manufacture it's own serotonin, etc., etc. (Prozac is shit; the object is giving your body the food it needs to produce the chemicals we need to feel well.)

Maybe another time, I'll post on what's been discovered about biochemical anomalies & criminal behavior that she discusses in a subsequent book. It's not all emotional...and the crudities of Big Pharma only help in the case of an inherent defect that renders the body incapable of normal processing.

Posted by: jj | Apr 23 2005 3:27 utc | 19

alabama

no, i understood when i wrote that - that while it wa not flippant - it wwas careless; the closest i get to opium pipe is a ling well made cafe - though i did mean to say that i find it difficult to demonise plants for example - or even chemicals


what is a little easier to be critical is the pharmaceuticals which are ineptly prescripted & are in the case of many young people, completely innapropriate

what needs listening, talk, aide, refinement iss not treated carefully with chemicals which immediately create their own problems & unnecessary conflicts

for example, people with phobias were often treated with major anti depressants which were completely inappropriate & sometimes created their own pathology

i think that many many young people need to be listened to - need to be talked with instead of immediate treatment of chemicals

since the inception of litjium carbonate - i have long heard of the sophistication & precision of chemicals. i witness no such sophistication. nor do i see the oft mentioned precision

worse, the poore you are - the more likely there will be misdiagnosis, rushed diagnosis & the inappropriate use of chemicals

i hunger for this world, to listen, to be more tendre, to use a caresse instead of a frappe but that world is far away - it is not even close

for all the darkness it is necessary to articulate here & in my work i am more & more convinced at a practical level of the natural beauty & wonderment of this world

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 23 2005 12:26 utc | 20

& on this night which precedes my birthday - i ahve been given a dvd of toni negri - a writer who writes extremely well on the points we have been discussing

i don't know what is available by negri in english but in french there are a number of extremely valuable text that go far deeper & with great clarity - than his work with hardt -'empire' - which is itself a valuable book

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 23 2005 19:25 utc | 21

Rgiap: "i hunger for this world, to listen, to be more tendre, to use a caresse instead of a frappe but that world is far away - it is not even close"

I think it is as close as one's breath. We can become that world through our intention and practice and example within our communities.

Posted by: gylangirl | Apr 23 2005 21:11 utc | 22

unfortunately i do not think that the pathologies that most societies have entered into can be changed gently even though my day to day work is based on that premise

unfortunately i feel that violence has to be done in the way that fanon spoke of the cleansing nature of violence & i know it from the way i have lived my life that it has needed to pass through moments of extreme violence that one feels are almost impossible to survive & in this life which i celebrate this day there have been many moments of that violence

the very fact of the survival of a person like me workiong within the societies i do is an act of violence if i can look at it with some distance

i have said that as a poet & as a cultural worker i do not posess a name - so for example remembereringgiap is as good as any - that i am geography i am constitutent of the experiences lived that are not soley dependant on self & that is itself a violence

the pain of living a life i have lived where i have like mayakovsky "tampled on the throat of my verse" is the level of renouncement - which is not credible to many within cultural circles & sometimes even to myself

but i believe that what i do in france is a higher way of writing poetry & i deeply believe in the restorative & transformative possibilities of the kind of mass work that i do. but on a day to day level - it is violent. it is a real violence that is also formed of symbolic violences. for example i posess more intimité with the people i work with & for than with individuals outside of that work. & the more work i do i cannot see individuals outside of that framework. we are all in trouble just some of us do not know it

i have sd once here that i was borne with a fanatic heart & i would accept that as a criticism but for me i also consider as a virtue & at least as the means that has allowed me to live as long as i have. beautiful, broken & blessed

& i have to say in the darkest moments of my existence that the works primarily of marx but also of many others told me that i was not alone - that there were as negri says so beautifully & accurately - multitudes

but even with knowledge it requires great violence - that is it is necessary to live amongst contraires - to live absolutely the contradictions - & that also is a violence - how to synthesise in this body a hegel & a spinoza, how to love with althusser & a habermas - how to bnreathe between a negri & a poulantzas. they are not just different fields of theory - they are the blood that runs through these veins

& the work that i do tells me that the situation is getting closer & closer to combat. that far from there being an amelioration - there appears to me to be contradictions antagonistic & non antagonistic - that can only be reconciled in violence

let me contextualise it a little the poetry of william blake & the paintings o franciso goya are a violence to their art, to the world & to themselves - they are the violence même. they are not kind & gentle movements but are cataclysmic ruptures of traditions & lives

& that is what i feel that we need to articulate. primo, we are already in a state of continual violence - made pornographic by mass communication, secundo the vast majority of people live in forms of disassociation that cannot be treated by medicaments or theory but can only be treated by violence as frantz fanon enunciates clearly & it has to be said melancholically

i think there are rare persons who celebrate violence - i am not one of them but i cannot see how it is anything but inevitable in our circumstances. one can hide behind one's addictions or one's expertise but it will only forestall that terrible time by moments

so i imagine that is what i mean by attacking the society to attack the addiction. the attack must be against capital as slothrop suggest but it is idealism not see that there exists national pathologies that need to be dealt with

france has to continually relive its histories whether it is the edit of nantes, the revolution, the commun, the occupation the war in algeria - it is constantly being lived & relived almost permanantly - they will not go away - they are a constant presence & perhaps it accounts for the cleansing melancholy of its people but it is a reality - one metro ride can attest to that fact on any day of the week & i love this france more than i love my own life

to live & construct a civic life for myself a others as i constantly do in my work is a constant & violent affront to a violent society & addictions as i have said are just a reflection of that violence. whether from passion or shame

the war against the arab people - for that is what it actually is is a reflection of the pathologies of power - whether they are american in nature or whether they represent an aspect of islam that islam does not know itself.

society to society people are running to lies & to absolutes; they are running towards anything that will hold back the terror which is just beyond the gate - the riots in lis angeles proved without question that even within the belly of the beast the thrid wolrd within it was capable of tearing it down or at least creating insurrections of need or of desperation & the situation for those people today is much worse than it was in 1992 as it is in the quartiers of france & the idonvilles of italy. that great desert of england is full of large cities that do not function - & function they do on the last dregs of keysian economics - take that away & the 'troubles' would be everywhere

we are closer to that moment than at any time in recent history. the societies are very sick indeed & the tweedledum tweedledee od politics is no longer a harmless burlesque but a violent & indecent joke at our expense

i hate power. there is not enough tenderness in my body to pardon. i see wht that society does to people - day to day night to night. they destroy dreams & destinies. they corrupt all that that should cleanse

power only understand violence. it is the only thing power has ever understood

on a personal level to say no to an addiction is a violent act but it is also a cleansing one because it brings in the multitude to the singular

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 23 2005 23:46 utc | 23

It's interesting to see how many people blindly accept the "addiction is a disease" model without neccessarily considering the consequences of that acceptance.
Although the disease model is useful in the early stages of an addicts 'recovery' as it enables them to accept that it was themselves who led this mad life and did these crazy bad things without being so overwhelmed with guilt and/or remorse that they 'relapse' or otherwise self harm, in the long run the initial freedom granted by the disease model becomes a millstone. How many relapsed addicts cry "the disease beat me" or "that third step is a bitch" as they seek to externalise their problem. This wouldn't matter so much if these people were the exception rather than the rule, but the sad fact is that less than 10% of people who enter disease-based abstinence programs are still healthy and "clean" five years later.
The other issue the disease model creates is the division of the community into addicts and non-addicts. Many addicts original problems stem from believing themselves to be somehow different from the rest of humanity. Giap is correct when he says that addicts must learn to live in the outside world. Teaching people how to survive long term in a community of addicts does them no favors as such a community is like a chain, only as strong as its weakest link and although it's true as Bill and Ben or whatever their names were, wives said that by sponsoring others B&B had stayed sober; for many, seeing others around them succumb to the disease provides them with the external impetus they need to follow suit.
Similarly pointing at a nation and calling it infected with a disease not only implies that there is some cure but also that is somehow 'diferent'.
Amerika's behaviour is no diferent that the behaviour of any of the myriad of empires in the past.
I believe a more realistic approach is to see the sum total of a nation's efforts (it's will if you like) as the result of a set of behaviours that all of it's inhabitants engage in to a greater or lesser extent depending on a myriad of factors learned and inherent. When a nation's will is viewed in this way reducing the harm that will is doing is a manageable task.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Apr 24 2005 0:32 utc | 24

From where I sit, Debs is dead, and on the basis of your post at 8:32 PM, you'd defintely qualify as an "earth person"--as indeed seven-eighths of the world's population is said to do. And if this ratio is even approximately sound, then the describing of addiction as a "disease" is less the basis of a "division," I should suppose, than the drawing of a nuance of some kind--a minor nuance, finally, since it doesn't it exempt anyone from doing the best possible thing. Such, I take it, is Nietzsche's argument in The Genealogy of Morality--arguably our most trenchant account of the "disease model" (opposing the concepts of "Illness and health" to those of "good and evil").

Posted by: alabama | Apr 24 2005 1:15 utc | 25

i speak of america's capacity to infect simply because no other empire has so much power concentrated in one point as the united states

it is uniquely endowed & is completely premeditative in its infection of other cultures, other lives, other destinies

if we accept the best possible world presented by toni negri for example that we are passing through a sort of benjaminian passage from closure to openness & the empire is using all its methods to block that openness & war is a very old method of blocking progress

i deeply want to be as optimistic as negri - to see what he sees as inevitable - but i witness on a daily level the damage that imperial power, that capital reproduces with ever inventive means even if every movement it makes has a prehistory.

it is like in the last five years we have relived all the bad politics of the last one hundred years at a breathtaking pace

for me the nation state - whether it is france portugal or zimbabwe is dead & the pathologies associated with that nation state cling to us like so much old clothes & old habits

it was beckett who called - habit the great deadener - & i want to live - even if it is troubled, intensely troubled. i do not want to see these days & nights through any fog of any kind

i want to die standing up

but this terrible mist through which we live can only be ripped asunder by the pure violence of change or as the old anarchists sd in the 19th century - "the seeds of the new will be borne in the flames of the old". for me it has become a form of a fundamental truth

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 24 2005 1:29 utc | 26

Faced with the need to communicate with family members from Red states, Russell Mokiber and Robert Weissman have a suggestion for an intervention for America. Like Gylan Girl and RGiap they recommend an intervention on the micro level and have hopes for its effectiveness on a macro level.

I also recommend reading another of their articles "A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action." for those who need a way to convey to others how important it is to become engaged in the political process not just observe and critique it.

Posted by: conchita | Apr 24 2005 3:02 utc | 27

One can feel very sorry for the author of the piece. I do.

Generalising submissiveness (addiction) is useless.

Being an addict is in itself a construct withing a particular society. Americans are no more addicts than others in the West. The Swiss probably smoke more, the Dutch dope more, the Germans drink more, and the French hold the record for psychotropic meds. (off the cuff..) (I realise the definition of addiction used in the discussion is sometimes very broad - I see that as a problem)

The problems are political, not personal. Or anyway they should first be framed in terms of politics. What Lorraine needed was more sensible health care managed by responsible doctors. Not people trying to sell her things or setting about medicating her to hell.

As far as personal analogies go, victimology seems more apt than addiction:

Some identify with the agressor/dominator (e.g. Patty Hearst) which is perfectly rational - a good survival strategy traditionally adopted by abducted girls, soon to be wives, and prisoners who have a rage to survive tucked away somewhere, for example. Ends justify means, Saddam WAS evil, and did have WMD. History will show and tell, might makes right. Forward march. Win. Nevertheless, most humans draw a line. They will not kill or torture - those actions have to be both institutionalised (army indoctrination) and kept secret in part.

Other victims will stay silent, duck under the radar, hope for scraps from the table, relative invisibility. They will concentrate on the mundane, keep their mouths shut and take it one day at the time, obey. Hedge their bets, wait it out. Some, if presented with a very clear opportunity to act with little danger attached, will rise up, but even in that case many will not.

Some may be able to flee. Physically, or just mentally.

That is what victims do.

A very few will try to outwit, domineer or eliminate their adversary. With no holds barred.

What one sees in the US is: some in a collective Stockholm syndrome, with others locked into a double bind (Daddy does it for your own good so you may complain - just a little.)

(elsewhere too, not specific to US if very evident there)

One can meld the two, naturally: the victim-as-addict, or the addict who is a victim...

P.S. I have a relative for runs two clinics for alcoholics in France along non-conventional schemas. Their success rate is the same as that reported by jj above, 80% or more long-term. Treatment is reimbursed by the Securité Sociale. (e-mail me for more if interest.)

Belated happy birthday to RGiap.

Posted by: Blackie | Apr 24 2005 10:03 utc | 28

I'm still reading way upthread but I raced down here to wish you a happy birthday r'giap and to thank you for what you add to the Moon.

Posted by: beq | Apr 24 2005 14:53 utc | 29

merci beq & blackie for your thoughts on this day that i thought would never arrive. there has been so much violence in my life - that mere survival i regard as a blessing. & in fact my life is so much more rich than just surviving

it is important at an instinctual level - that can regard the trees through the window at the hospital & tell thos patients that i find lief not only worth enduring - but living. & i mean it. i think even twenty years ago it would have been difficult for me to say that & believe it & it is paradoxical in the sense that i am surrounded in this work by people who have been effectively destroyed & that society has given up on

i'll give one example - at a foyer in a town which is a port not far from nantes - in the conditions, the physical conditions that are closer to hugo & dickens than they are to the 21st century - where the persons are in such dereliction that the space physically is surrounded by death, decay & neglect. the people who work there do their best but it is not enough. in many instances the workers at such places are very sceptical of cultural workers but immediately in this work we met sufficient success & our mere implacability in front of the problems makes us unattackable. in one moemnt i had an older man who had been an adjutant in the the foreign legion. his first words to me were - "do you know why i am margianl - it is because i am the son of a soldat boche' & he statrted to recount his ordianry but extraordinary tale of - having his beret thrown in the mud - the demonisation - the puure poverty of the moemnts after the war - & his story was reach in detail & in implication. he had joined the foreign legion to escape or perhaps to meet his origins because there were many german soldiers in that legion immediately after the war. i asked him to write - all his 'voyages' - indochina, algeria, chad centralfrica, lebanon etc & at the same time to write a journal of his day to day life & with only a bit of pushing on my part he created a hallucinatory text where the past present & the future were intermingled in such a way that it would compete with any modernist method - & it pulsed with the truth. this man was broken - it would seem beyond repair with a profound & perhaps terminal problem of alcahol. i did not promise a better world - i listened & i commented & i admired which was a real admiration - i never never flatter people in my work - it does them no service & i truly believe that these people are as capable of producing excellence as any other intellectual worker

when he left the foyer & was places in a studio 25 kilometres from it - he would ride a bike to the atelier which must have been a herculean effort & the real person within him emerged but a person connected to all he had done - he created something magnificent outside of himself & he created something within himself that he could live with

i do not believe in terminal addictions - i know that all that has happened can be confronted - whether it is torture, rape, poverty, misery, vanity or any of a whole series of pathologial triggers

but i will go back & say again that it is the society that is pathological because it will not do the work of memory, of rememberance or of renconciliation. it is a loveless machine that ejects films by ridley scott in the same way it carries out its wars. it is thoughtless, venal & brutal. that is why i have difficulty inb believing in conspiracies & especially so in the last 20 years - i watch at the historical level - stupidity & repetitions of that stupidity

the reality of that stupidity though is death, of decay & neglect

alabama, it is impertinet for me to ask more specifics in relation to your 'addiction' but i know that 'addictive behaviour' has very specific pathologies & i would be interested how you concieve of your own pathology as seperate to that of society

& this is not to blame society - well at least not in that fashion - i believe that the sickness of societies are inherent in their inception - that once what little of the democratic state existed has been destroyed in the last two decades created within it - its proper & distinct pathologies

to go back to my old demon - murdoch creates behaviour which he then punishes. his is a series of classis seductions & repulsions. the culture of murdoch says it celebrates the individual yet every aspect of difference is demonised. if it is not within a system, a heirarchical system of stars & competitions - that individuality is not only worthless - he would imply that it is a crime. murdoch himself can be directly connected to the degradation in the three countries where he is dominant, american australia & britain - where he has bellittled & physcially liquidated civic duty but when a crisis arrives like the war in iraq - he is the first to cry for civi behaviour - for responnsibility. it is a cruel & very harmful burlesque he perpetrates

their misanthropy is very real. when they speak whether it is a le pen or a delay - they cannot hide their vicious face - their absolute contempt of the multitude is written on their faces. no rhetoric can hide it. their sexuality waakens only in catastrophe & carnage & the mercenaries of the blackwater security company die in their dozens as the children of these types of leaders. as they say in their self promotion - go, go go, go - but where do they go - they go to their own deaths which history has already foretold or it leads to the deaths of innocent others - they rarely meet the enemy until they arrive at their deaths

it is why i insist here on calling it pornographic because it is sinister in its construction - it is the perversion of instinct & the destruction of feeling

all that culture has to reconstitute in collaboration with the multitude

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 24 2005 16:24 utc | 30

When using, or even merely craving, remembereringgiap, my only reality is my drug of choice. All persons and projects are organized around the finding and using of the drug, or the urge to find and use. And of course my ways of treating any of other illnesses--including the common cold--are subordinated to need for the drug. People not so organized are completely baffled by this obsession, and by the way I can let it destroy my involvements with the world around me (professional, political, personal, recreational). They might themselves take a pass at the drug, and feeling no high, or no subsequent craving for it, will rightly wonder what the fuss is all about. You can imagine the ways in which this obsession must obstruct the basic occasions for community and communication in my life. For example, I wouldn't be exchanging posts with you on this site in those circumstances. I wouldn't have the desire to do so.

Posted by: alabama | Apr 24 2005 17:30 utc | 31

alabama

i have covered the waterfront - see no greater compulsion other than to wondement. it is clear you are a substantial scholar - & substantial scholarship by necessity confronts us with our own wonderment as well as our own frailty because in the deepest scholarship exists the deepest doubts. & these are healthy & rich for the person & for the scholarship

the natural beauty of scholarshiop is the necessary humility otherwise nothing gets transformed & that humility is constrained also by a necessary a'arrogance' - that is to say in scholarship as well as culture - the person must be convinced they have something to share - to communicate

what i am trying to say crudely - in all addictions there is absolutism - as you say - it becomes the centre - the periphery completely dissapears. whether it is heroin, alcahol or power. & i have known the three in one way or another but they were never as attractive or as involving as life itself. & i insist that a great deal of my life has been troubled - before all the publics i work with i never, never hide that fact

it is certainly not to say i am a better man - on the contrary on this my anniversary i still feel the real work is yet to be done but i am not shamed by anything i have done. i do not regret a moment of it

perhaps i have not made as much use of time as i could have - & i am conscious of that - in culture as in scholarship - there is the proving period - which in essence is so much nonsense because the tests & competitions are meaningless to the person & to the scholarship

i was trying to think of an example where scholarship also enter the pathological melodrama - & it happens more than iwould like in biographies - - i am thinking of the brecht biography by the american devotee who became one of brechts destroyers claiming that from go to whoah it was the women in his life who wrote everything & brecht was in fact the first postmodern - warhol before warhol - just desiring something & it would be written. it is a scandalous biography & it is very very difficult to tell whether there is any truth in the biographers claims - but one can feel that the writer was addicted to brecht, to being brecht that to become himself he destroyed brecht & it happens again & again in biographies.

but scholarship, even the darkest leads us to light. of that i am convinced. so as a scholar what is it that tempts you away from a wonderment that should arrive for you naturally. what is it with substances that can embrace you in a way that scholarship cannot. your scholarship is your family as much as your real children i imagine - they are blood & flesh

these are honest questions & honest attempts to understand & not to denote this or that path except the one i have articulated earlier. that of violence

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 24 2005 17:59 utc | 32

Hello. My name is America ...

Excuseme, who did you say you are? America? Doesn´t your name tag says United States of America? So you are the US - okay, now we can start to understand....

Posted by: The Bigger Part of America | Apr 24 2005 19:02 utc | 33

well, remembereringgiap, I don't find that scholarship really pertains to the problem. I've never been able to study my way out of it. Again, your questions are of the kind that non-addicts tend to ask....My own experience with falling in love, for example--perhaps a more common experience than addiction to a substance--is not very different from what I've tried to describe: I've experienced it "addictlvely," if you will. There's a recent book in French, L'amour est une drogue douce....en général, by Michel Reynaud (Laffont, 2004), that explores this very distinction. For me, falling in love is anything but a drogue douce, and it's not even my drug of choice!

Posted by: alabama | Apr 24 2005 20:12 utc | 34

from st augustine to tonei negri scholarship is connected - in my mind with wonderment. heroin in its way for a very brief moment tries to still that moment of wonderment but rooted as it is is fantasy & not in the bodies magic chemistry -it becomes a wonderment connected only to the cervical cortex

in creating scholarshio there are so many moents of wonder of being pulled apart as you were when you were a child & yes as you point out in many ways the 'falling in' love replicates that moment in a certain measure but i feel it is more connected to what tim buckley sang in 'make it right -again' - within falling in love there is a kind of utopian instinct that wants to believe that all that is worong can be corrected. it can't

heroin & alcahol & even less their derivatives & little cousins are conscious & deliberate steps. no one enter into it innocently in the same way you do not drive a ducati without already assuming greater possibilities of broken bodies & death than is normal. they are deliberate steps in a dance

truly, there is something deeply boring about using anything to mediate what this life is - it was never a moral stance - well yes - when i was a maoist perhaps - but it was so puritan that it was peurile - it was far from exemplary - it was fear of the mind being altered - of the diualectic being deranged

i understood very early & i began writing for a public very early that there was an organic derangement taking place when creating. simply put - in tthe writing there was a kind of grandeur i did not posess as a person & i was aware of that very young - it was me but not me - i understood it to be the world - the world as experienced & the more i created & the more i performed publically the distance between the person & the creation was phenomenal. often i felt i was watching the performance with the public. i did not know what i would do. i was in it. my connection with indian & aboriginal culture is linked with that i think - of being inside it - & of appelations marking time & space

so when i used heroin for example - it seemed a sordid sister of what i was already experiencing & because it was so commodified & coded - whatyever truth it might have been able to reveal was deadened, quickly. it never consuled me - i consumed it. perhaps i have no pituitry glands. it was like a very formidibale sleeping pill. wheras alcahol was a confrontation with being the 'observor' of my proper performance - i imagined alcahol would bring me closer to it or to catastrophe - that would invite revelation. it needs to be sd too that as a younger man i was frightened by the violence of my work - it was & remains consuming but in that moment i think i drank to accelerate that moment so that the explosion would come & the definition - thus the absolmute would arrive. obviouslly it never did

& one fine day it stopped. a long long time ago i sd no - i want to live all this without the recourse to any form of mediation - chemical or otherwise

you could say as an althusserian - twenty years ago i became a negrian in my perspective because i was drawn to the multitude in a much different way than i was as a maoist cadre

& that movement within the multitude is where i have remained, unmediated

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 24 2005 22:36 utc | 35

regiap 12:24,

to go back to my old demon - murdoch creates behaviour which he then punishes. his is a series of classis seductions & repulsions. the culture of murdoch says it celebrates the individual yet every aspect of difference is demonised. if it is not within a system, a heirarchical system of stars & competitions - that individuality is not only worthless - he would imply that it is a crime. murdoch himself can be directly connected to the degradation in the three countries where he is dominant, american australia & britain - where he has bellittled & physcially liquidated civic duty but when a crisis arrives like the war in iraq - he is the first to cry for civi behaviour - for responnsibility. it is a cruel & very harmful burlesque he perpetrates
.............
it is why i insist here on calling it pornographic because it is sinister in its construction - it is the perversion of instinct & the destruction of feeling
.............
While I don't technically don't know alot about addiction, I am intirigued by your characterization here of the current media/ popular culture as being pornographic. I think what you say about the false celebration of individuality, that if that individuality is not within a heirarchical structure (of stars and competitions) it is worthless, even criminal -- is very true. It is , as it were, a system that creates a psychological inadequacy within the individual that can only be relieved through the consumption of some object or service, that is then reinforced by the constant re-cycling of television "talent" and promotion on the talk show/game show circut. It woud seem that this constitutes a deliberate attempt to instill a "need" that can never be adequatly fullfilled, while at the same time nuturing the "compulsion" to keep trying. The net effect as you allude, is to define the "individual" through these means, while at the same time diminishing the "individual" in real terms -- thinking for themselves within their own experience and social milue. Weather this constitutes an addiction in some pristine sense, I dont know, but clearly a" psychological" addiction is being perpetuated that now seeks comprehension well beond the commercial.
So whats really interesting to me here is how the notion of "individuality" should apply to both such intrusions and to, in a larger political sense, to socialism -- and how this (re?)definition of the individual should be seen as the ancedote to the erosion of both individual potential in the service of the greater social good. And it is pornographic that the thugs that now seek to recast the cultural presuppositions are to also, apply the most severe constraints upon the individual: theology and political repression. So the perveyers of freedom and democracy can only offer more control and less choice to whats left of the individual, and thus society.

Posted by: anna missed | Apr 25 2005 10:29 utc | 36

anna missed

there is of course, the magnificent text by che guevara "socialism & man" -there is also a wonderful text by oscar wilde with the same or similar title

much of toni negri's work since his examination of spinoza are a reflection on this very point

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 25 2005 18:24 utc | 37

& to be absolutely catholic, callinocos critique of negri available ici ;

http://www.isj1text.ble.org.uk/pubs/isj92/callinicos.htm

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 25 2005 19:39 utc | 38

"The vast amount of suffering and death endured by civilians as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq has, for the most part, been carefully kept out of the consciousness of the average American. I can't think of anything the Bush administration would like to talk about less. You can't put a positive spin on dead children.

As for the press, it has better things to cover than the suffering of civilians in war. The aversion to this topic is at the opposite extreme from the ecstatic journalistic embrace of the death of one pope and the election of another, and the media's manic obsession with the comings and goings of Martha, Jacko, et al.

There's been hardly any media interest in the unrelieved agony of tens of thousands of innocent civilians in Iraq. It's an ugly subject, and the idea has taken hold that Americans need to be protected from stories or images of the war that might be disturbing. As a nation we can wage war, but we don't want the public to be too upset by it.

So the public doesn't even hear about the American bombs that fall mistakenly on the homes of innocent civilians, wiping out entire families. We hear very little about the frequent instances of jittery soldiers opening fire indiscriminately, killing and wounding men, women and children who were never a threat in the first place. We don't hear much about the many children who, for one reason or another, are shot, burned or blown to eternity by our forces in the name of peace and freedom.

Out of sight, out of mind."

bob herbert new york times

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 25 2005 20:39 utc | 39

nice overview of "autonomous marxism." Convinces me reading Empire may be a useless detour.

I'll read Rosdolsky instead (after Diamond, after Strauss, after...)

Posted by: slothrop | Apr 25 2005 20:42 utc | 40

slothrop

i don't know what work you do but i presume teaching - then you must not be doctrinaire - a reading - a full reading of toni negri is as necessary to understand today as other works

me i don't mind mix & match. i work & exist under contradictory influences & i try to use all that can be used & to this degree i find negri important - his 'job, la force de l'esclave' is a central text whatever callinicos says

if i was you i would read macheray, negri & balibar at the same time while listening to van morrison's ' when the poetic champions compose'

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 25 2005 21:27 utc | 41

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