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Culture on drugs

Culture on drugs: Narco-cultural studies of high modernity

Dave Boothroyd
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Culture on drugs
    Book Description:

    Never has a reconsideration of the place of drugs in our culture been more urgent than it is today. Culture on drugs addresses themes such as the nature of consciousness, language and the body, alienation, selfhood, the image and virtuality and the nature/culture dyad and everyday life. It then explores how these are expressed in the work of key figures such as Freud, Benjamin, Sartre, Derrida, Foucault and Deleuze, arguing that the ideas and concepts by which modernity has attained its measure of self-understanding are themselves, in various ways, the products of encounters with drugs and their effects. In each case the reader is directed to the points at which drugs figure in the formulations of ‘high theory’, and it is revealed how such thinking is never itself a drug-free zone. Consequently, there is no ground on which to distinguish ‘culture’ from ‘drug culture’ in the first place. Culture on drugs offers a novel approach and introduction to cultural theory for newcomers to the subject, simultaneously presenting an original thesis concerning the articulation of modern thought by drugs and drug culture.

    eISBN: 978-1-84779-163-4
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-ix)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. x-x)
  4. 1 Deposition: drugs in theory
    (pp. 1-28)

    Culture on Drugscomprises a series of experimental readings of a number of texts by writers whose own diverse inquiries into the condition of modernity have found prominence in the annals of twentieth-century philosophy and cultural theory. This resulting cocktail of chapters I pass on to the reader to take as they wish. Together they offer a series of oblique and partial entries principally to the work of Freud, Benjamin, Sartre, Derrida, Foucault and Deleuze, in each case from the perspective of their encounters with drugs or on the basis of where the theme ofw ‘drugs’ touches upon their writings....

  5. 2 Medusaʹs blood: Derridaʹs recreational pharmacology and the rhetoric of drugs
    (pp. 29-46)

    To remove any possible suspicion at the outset of an interview on drugs, Derrida reassures his reader – who may after all be a member of the Drug Squad – that to speak of drugs is not the same as to be on them or to be on the wrong side of the law on drugs. Just to speak of drugs when not to condemn them is clearly a risky business. On the cultural battlefield of the ‘war on drugs’, to speak of them at all is always to do so between the poles of being for or against them....

  6. 3 Deconstruction and drugs – all mixed up
    (pp. 47-68)

    Shortcircuiting the exasperating detour of communication, or more generally suspending the proactive expenditure of the will’s energy as it works to fuel its own consciousness, is the mark of an urge to a junkylike descent into a silence which few people at some point in their lives wouldn’t admit to craving – if not at some point every day. But drugs and their effects are always a matter of the mix, the concoction or recipe, the purity and the impurities, as well as of the ‘set and setting’, as Timothy Leary and his coterie never tired of saying; and, with...

  7. 4 Freudʹs medicine: from the ʹcocaine papersʹ to ʹIrmaʹs Injectionʹ
    (pp. 69-99)

    Modern living is characterised by fetishistic domestic opulence and narcotised psychotic street life: ‘the filth piles up’, trashiness and trash coincide. This is the element in which psychoanalysis has thrived and continues to thrive as a treatment for the alienating effects of capitalism on the modern subject. She goes on to imagine the role of the psychoanalyst in the quest for psychological survival under such conditions and her role in assisting individuals ‘to preserve a life which neutralises the luxury as well as the horror’. But what is to be made of the characterisation of those who – in the...

  8. 5 Benjaminʹs ʹcurious dialectics of intoxicationʹ
    (pp. 100-126)

    For Benjamin the life of the modern subject – of either gender, I suggest he means – is characterised by volatile states of intoxication. ‘He’ experiences an uncontrollable oscillation between the soporific seductions of what life in the city presents him with and the need to withdraw from the stimulus overload it produces in him. ‘The hunger’ then begins to rage within, driving him to withdraw in the only way he can think to do. He seeks in his privacy, in his private space, an antidote to that intoxication from which he now flees and doses himself with another drug,...

  9. 6 Hallucinating Sartre
    (pp. 127-154)

    The intellectual endeavour of theoretical reflection seems obviously antithetical to intoxications of all kinds. Sobriety and being in control of one’s own thought are naturally bound to one another, whereas intoxications, such as drunkenness, reverie, being high and hallucination, are clearly breaches or disturbances of normal consciousness, clear thought and common sense. Modern philosophy has tended to see itself as a sort of ‘science’ as opposed to an artistic, creative practice licensed to give free reign to the imagination and irrationality. And whereas modern artists and literary writers often have a celebrated history and reputation for indulgence or experimentation with...

  10. 7 Foucault and Deleuze on acid
    (pp. 155-185)

    In an interview in 1984 on the work of Raymond Roussel, which had been the subject of Foucault’s early bookDeath and the Labyrinth(1963), the discussion touches on the subject of Roussel’s use of drugs. Foucault says that ‘the study of the culture of drugs or drugs as culture in the West’ was something that interests him greatly and that he would have liked to have undertaken a study of the drug culture which was ‘so closely tied to the artistic life of the West’ (1987: 182–3). Unfortunately he never did. The idea behind this chapter initially arose...

  11. 8 Cinematic heroin and narcotic modernity
    (pp. 186-205)

    When attempting to think the modernity of ‘culture’, in a particular form, as a whole, or as the relation between form and whole, be this in terms of historical unfolding, the history of ontology, or on the basis of any other critical thinking, then one can begin from anywhere and on the basis of anything. So, as Nietzsche appears to suggest, why not narcotics? Indeed one must always ‘begin’ the study of culture from some specific location, proposition, experience or event. The whole –le Toutin Deleuze – is necessarily approached on the basis of an opening perception of...

  12. References
    (pp. 206-212)
  13. Index
    (pp. 213-219)