Friday, 22 February 2013

Tobacco and Illusions

My fellow complex arrangement of stardust (you, reader), as I put down my ever receding friend, my C10H14N2 inhaler, my lovely glowing cigarette, and take the troubling love to think, I cannot still refrain from complex emotions. The wonder experienced from the process which this poison (nicotine is quite toxic - more than arsenic - 60 mg for a 70kg adult is lethal) of pleasure enters my bronchioles, alveoli, blood, brain; triggering a whitewash of dopamine to ensure my brief contentedness and to encourage more and more more more! The terrifying image in my mind of the tissue of my lungs literally blackening, and the surface area so necessary for the intake of oxygen slowly decreasing. Not to mention the increasing chance of a mutation in the tissue, commonly called, well, cancer. Also though, slight welling emotions as I remember some of the great smokers; Christopher Hitchens “There have been moments of reverie, wreathed in smoke and alone with a book, and moments of conversation, perfumed with ashtrays and cocktails and decent company, which I would not have exchanged for a year of ordinary existence.”, Oscar Wilde “A cigarette is the perfect type of perfect pleasure. It is exquisite, and it leaves one unsatisfied. What more can one want?”.  Though, ofcourse, I recognise this as sentiment. My bias is personal, and I am not immune to it though I would never inflict it on others. Besides, to you it is probably just meaningless babble, unless ofcourse these roots of influence are as unwilling to be doused in pesticide and torn from your skull as mine seem. Not that I have tried.  The constant and, I would add, necessary task of outgrowing illusions, or, such as free will, at least acknowledging them is lifelong and brings much pain aswell as enlightened doubt and engrossing curiosity and fascination. So I frustrate myself enough to know the research, the dangers and the inevitabilities of my very much ‘T-minus’ habit. And as I write that very statement I cannot help think of an anecdote involving Stephen Fry and Tom Stoppard at a dinner party where an American woman in disbelief of Stoppard’s rigorous habit of inhaling and chewing simultaneously, felt enough to say, “And you’re so intelligent!”, “Excuse me?”, “Knowing those things are going to kill you,” she said, “still you do it.” To which he replied, “How differently I might behave, if immortality were an option.” I think that that particular sentiment seems particularly fluent while my lungs are at this moment filled. I can’t write without an ashplant, I cannot read for very long without one either. Nor does scotch taste as good, conversation sound as interesting. Though much, I have read, is the same with all addiction and it is not always a pleasure to be always tied to a substance. I do not oppose any laws eradicating smoking in enclosed spaces, where the effect is mutual but the habit not. Nor, I think, would I recommend a life seen through smoke screens. This poison has been the love of my life, and I do not say that without at least a tinge of sincerity, myself and this tobacco plant, two distant cousins now tied in matrimony, products of evolution finding an accidental company, once again join forces, to clear thought, read read read! and the only fight I have ever known; the struggle with the illusory. My mind has bonded my secular nature and love for argument, literature, science and the curious with this very mortal compulsion and to light one, it has been, does tend to light the other.

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