A Writer’s Addiction

September 18, 2017 Literature , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , OTHER

Davidson Luna photo

 

By

Jon Vreeland

 

Where is the writer with hands that have pruned from the perpetual clutch of their poisoned drink? Or the red-eyed literary monster who tortures their neighbor through paper thin walls with ear piercing clicks and clacks at every waking minute of their chic and miserable life, pounding their recently rescued and beat-up typing machine with a dirty needle dangling from their veinless arms and neck? Where is the poet, the unbathed Romeo romancing the whore with the glass dick planted firmly in her scabby mouth, hiding in their top floor room at their favorite Motel 6, the police rapping, rapping at their tweaker door?

Actually, there’s a great example!

Only seven people attended Edgar Allan Poe’s funeral. One attendee, Henry Herring, claimed, “I didn’t have anything to do with him when he was alive, and I don’t want to have anything to do with him after his death.” Another fellow writer, Rufus Wilmot Griswold, not only wrote a derisive obituary for Poe under a pseudonym, but used Poe’s death to publish his own memoir of Poe: just an opium addicted drunk, a womanizer, a hack who took his own morbid experiences and converted them into stories and poems. (Like that’s a bad thing?).

Edgar Allan Poe was far too interesting for his own adversary to pass up when producing his own literature. Poe was a real writer, a man who wrote with his goddamn cat on his shoulders while he smoked opium and drank absinthe. Griswold’s memoir aimed to smut Poe’s name and legacy, but only helped boost him to fame. His literature’s been revered ever since his death in 1849, for their philosophical attributes in the world of mental discrepancy, a veracity that shines like the breasts of albinos.

Lord Byron, another great poet of the 1800’s, had sex with 250 men and women in one year: he could not write without promiscuous intercourse. Ayn Rand used benzedrine when writing Fountainhead. Jack Kerouac and London died young from alcohol abuse, along with Truman Capote, Raymond Carver, etc, etc. The mad, drunk, beautiful poets (like Charles Bukowski), the writers and poets on probation or parole that nobody wants around until their demise, the, “we’ll love you when you’re dead asshole” kind of writer, has been accepted for quite some time now, and are very much around.

But writers like Poe, Byron, Hunter S. Thompson, or anyone who carries a briefcase filled with drugs in a stolen Cadillac, and waves a gun through the sandy wind of Death Valley, don’t stand a chance in a world with pretty little happy pills that balance our natural chemicals, murder the chromosomes that, if untreated, bring vivid honesty to unfathomable levels, and then creates art and books like Infinite Jest and Catcher in the Rye.

These pills are a wonder to the world, but the writer’s most formidable foe.

 

Writers can’t be hopped up on 300 milligrams of sanity every morning. How could Sylvia Plath have written The Bell Jar on 20 milligrams of Lexapro? Or how could William Burroughs write Junky, without New York cretins slivering under his doorstep, pushing the finest East Coast Smack of the Beat Generation, into his scaly limbs?

Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald brought rain to Paris in the 1920’s, took cover in a red leather booth at La Closerie des Lilas on Boulevard du Montparnasse and drank with immortals like Pablo Picasso. Observed the meaning of love, life, death, with gallons of booze and schizophrenic dames, practically drank the blood of the bull while fighting with the courage of a self-medicated man, a satisfaction that helped them function better than ever in a world that requires copious amounts of alcohol, heroin, cocaine, trips to the psychiatric ward and/or prison yard, a free vacation from responsibility.

They fought with tormented souls, the right amount of alcohol that grants a state of valor all humans dream of, knowing that too much booze, marinated with the perfect amount of luck, can be the recipe for genius, abhorrent insight, but philosophy’s only the drunk or optimistic can depict. Too much drugs and booze is suicide, misery, death, but the writers who continue their unconventional path, despite the obvious consequences, the writers who are too much to deal with while alive, work with a painful but natural emotion that some feel necessary to change, and without therapy or soul searching, but with Zoloft, Lexapro, Prozac, a cozy evolution to a new and improved self; the reason our bookstores are filled with contemporary sane writers.

Bukowski was arrested over twenty times for public intoxication. Allen Ginsberg for lewd behavior. Norman Mailer punched Gore Vidal in the face and stabbed one of his wives. William Burroughs shot his wife. Hemingway shot himself. Plath fell asleep in an oven. Woolf, the bottom of a lake.

All tortured. All self-medicated. All legends. All dead.

And the list of authors goes on and on, amid the list of contemporary goodie-goods, and of course the antidepressants, the ultimate tamer of our literary stew.

 

 

 

 

Jon Vreeland

Jon Vreeland is a writer of prose, poetry, plays, essays and journalistic articles. His memoir “The Taste of Cigarettes: the memoir of a heroin addict” will publish May 22, 2018 on Vine Leaves Press, Australia. Vreeland lives in Santa Barbara and is married to artist Alycia Vreeland. He has two daughters, Mayzee and Scarlett. Vreeland has not touched heroin in almost 4 years. You can read more of Vreeland’s work on his website.

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