The Excusable Vice

The Excusable Vice
Courtesy Photo

Courtesy Photo

There is an undeniable and indelible connection between the artistic endeavors of the world and use of illicit substances. Of any field, it seems excusable, even expected, for artists to be users. There are many that take it too far, rock stars choking on their own vomit, Charlie Sheens of the world checking in and out, in and out, in and out of rehab. But, even more, there is a staunch connection between drug usage and the beauty of art.

I am a pot smoker. I use it primarily medicinally, as opposed to a cocktail of five different drugs, many of which are highly addictive, but that’s beside the point. I would use it without the medicinal need because it slows my mind down long enough to think straight, to form the words I need. My mind is always going so fast that THC’s effect on me is more akin to a child on ritalin; calmed and serene, not all “Whoa man, I am so fucking high right now!” It helps my process.

“My process.”

Are those words, so constantly used by the arts community, the truth or an excuse? I think the honest truth is a little bit of both. To create something beautiful, whether they be words, music, visual art; whatever the medium, it requires some kind of pain.

Ask any writer why they write, and I’d wager that a good 80 percent of the time they can relate a dark tale, full of their painful truths. Art is pain. Look at Van Gogh, one of the most famous examples of ‘art as pain,’ someone whose pain was so complete that nothing could take it away, nothing but shooting himself in the fields he so frequently painted.

I wonder what Van Gogh’s life would have been like with drugs. He was crazy, yes, but most artists are to some degree. Drugs could have helped ease the madness that plagued him. Pure conjecture, I know, but one is allowed to imagine.

I have expressed my pain on these pages for years now. My regular readers know the darkest recesses of my mind, the things that make my heart ache. I’m not a drunk. I don’t have to have alcohol or even marijuana to function as a person. It makes it significantly easier to do that which I love, to create.

It’s something that is impossible to explain to people who are more logically inclined.

“You don’t need that,” they say. They’re right, I don’t need it.

“Why do you drink or smoke before you write?” They’ll ask.

And I really don’t have an answer. Because it’s easier to unlock the prose inside my extremely noisy brain when it slows down. Because I like the history and the connection between art and drug use. Because I truly believe that sobriety is a waste of life, and I mean the ‘xXx’ “STRAIGHT-EDGE BRO” kind of sober, not people who choose not to drink but don’t have some moral outrage involved at those who do.

I don’t have an answer for the intrinsic connection inherent in drug use and art. I have philosophical wonderings, which if we’re honest, is all any artist will have to say on the subject.

Categories: Commentary