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Showing posts from November 8, 2009

Sick of Happiness II

“Not the opium-eater, but the opium, is the true hero of the tale.” – De Quincey, 148 “When addicts desire to give up their drug use and change their lives, they frequently are confused about what they should do instead. This confusion is especially dramatic for those who have been deeply immersed in the world of addiction for long periods of time. They may see themselves as having nowhere to turn, having burned their bridges with family and ordinary friends.” – Peter Biernacki (1990) It is exactly this – the confusion about what to do – that defines the liminal space between one world and another. I have been focusing on the literary addict as a figure who both decodes all too perfectly the flow of commodities in the artificial paradise, and the one whose sickness is made out of happiness. Long before there was any notion of addiction, there was a keen sense that potions can create transformations that were intrinsically irreversible. By no act of will could Odysseus’ men return to t


“So I am a public agent and don't know who I work for, get my instructions from street signs,newspapers and pieces of conversation I snap out of the air the way a vulture will tear entrails from other mouths.” – William Burroughs, Soft Machine Public agent, public rememberer, public confessor, a comedian of all trades in the artificial paradise. Like all comedians, a great weaver of routines. Self conscious routines are the keynote of the artificial paradise – industrially organized, or privately obsessive. The ritual, here, is quietly put to death in somebody’s kennel. All of which takes us to later threads. Still, one can go from De Quincey’s frenzied style, undercutting itself at all turns – which casts up texts concerning the connoisseurs of murder, the company of women in Suspira, the murder of Kant – with Burrough’s great period, from Junkie to Soft Machine, and see a community of spirit, peering through a dilated eye. As we orbiters expect and dread – our training at the in