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From The New Yorker, a 15-year-old article answering my question yesterday about the cultural influence of speed drugs like Adderall:

HIGH STYLE

Writing under the influence.
By John Lanchester

January 6, 2003 Issue

… Where are the bodies of work that have come to us as a result of this explosive expansion of the pharmacopoeia, this unprecedented transformation of possibilities for tinkering with the mind’s chemistry? Have drugs helped anyone to write anything that would have seemed surprising and new to the Prophet Ezekiel or William Blake?

Consider the following passage, from Jean-Paul Sartre’s 1960 existentialist blockbuster “The Critique of Dialectical Reason”:

But it should be noted that this regulatory totalisation realises my immanence in the group in the quasi-transcendence of the totalising third party; for the latter, as the creator of objectives or organiser of means, stands in a tense and contradictory relation of transcendence-immanence, so that my integration, though real in the here and now which define me, remains somewhere incomplete, in the here and now which characterise the regulatory third party. …

… When he wrote the “Critique,” Sartre, a lifelong caffeine fiend and serious drinker, was also frying his brains on corydrane, a form of amphetamine mixed with, of all things, aspirin. The philosopher was using corydrane on a daily basis, first to cut through the fug of the barbiturates he was taking to help him sleep—and he was having trouble sleeping not least because of all the corydrane he was putting away—but also to keep him at his desk, churning out the “Critique.” …

Sartre was therefore a recognizable type of speed freak, the type dedicated to obsessive, unfinishable, and, to the neutral observer, pointless toil—the sort who, several hours after taking the drug, can usually be found sitting on the floor, grinding his teeth and alphabetizing his CDs by the name of the sound engineer.
Sartre is probably a bad advertisement for the effect of amphetamines as an aid to composition, but he is by no means the only example of a writer who used speed to help him work. For sheer quantity, Boon notes, it is hard to beat [sci-fi author of The Man in the High Castle] Philip K. Dick … who from 1963 to 1964, under the influence of the methamphetamine Semoxydrine, wrote “eleven science fiction novels, along with a number of essays, short stories, and plot treatments in an amphetamine-fuelled frenzy that accompanied or precipitated the end of one of his marriages.” (That “accompanied or precipitated” nicely captures how little fun it must have been to be Mrs. Dick.)

If Philip K. Dick does not entirely convince on grounds of literary merit—and the books in question aren’t quite his best material—then how about Graham Greene, who was pounding Benzedrine when he wrote his 1939 travel book about Mexico, “The Lawless Roads,” and the novel that came out of his Mexican travels, “The Power and the Glory”? (The paranoid and menacing atmosphere of that superb novel, which describes a whiskey priest being hunted by Communist revolutionaries, surely owes something to Greene’s pill-chugging.)

I read a half dozen Graham Greene novels in high school, and started reading “The Power and the Glory” about 15 years ago. Although I didn’t finish it, it appeared to be tremendous, living up to its ambitious name.

Auden, pre-speed

Perhaps the finest writer ever to use speed systematically, however, was W. H. Auden. He swallowed Benzedrine every morning for twenty years, from 1938 onward, balancing its effect with the barbiturate Seconal when he wanted to sleep. (He also kept a glass of vodka by the bed, to swig if he woke up during the night.) He took a pragmatic attitude toward amphetamines, regarding them as a “labor-saving device” in the “mental kitchen,” with the important proviso that “these mechanisms are very crude, liable to injure the cook, and constantly breaking down.”

Auden, post-speed

Auden seems to have been the only unquestionably major writer to use drugs in quite this way, as a direct source of energy for his work. He represents the apotheosis of a utilitarian approach to drugs; and it is therefore logical, if he was going to take drugs, that he would gravitate toward speed, which is the utilitarian drug par excellence. By comparison, alcohol is a very bad working drug for writers. It is more or less impossible to write when drunk, which is just as well, given how much and how many writers drink; imagine the amount of booze they would put away if it actually helped.

Drugs appear to have turned Auden into The Human Shar-Pei, I joke, while pouring out what’s left of my third cup of coffee.

 
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  1. J.Ross says: • Website

    I’ll try to find it but in For Your Own Good (which is not so much a defense of tobacco as an indictment of the Public Health hoax to sneak in totalitarianism) Jacob Sullum quotes Christopher Hitchens to the effect that tobacco makes you wittier and an incomparably better writer.

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    • Replies: @Lurker
    Presumably it's the nicotine that does the work.
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  2. J.Ross says: • Website

    This is not the passage I had in mind but it’s relevant:

    Kiernan’s sweetest note is struck when he contemplates the wondrous effect of tobacco on the creative juices. Having reviewed the emancipating influence of a good smoke on the writing capacities of Virginia Woolf, Christopher Isherwood, George Orwell and Compton Mackenzie, he poses the large question whether ‘with abstainers multiplying, we may soon have to ask whether literature is going to become impossible – or has already begun to be impossible.’ It’s increasingly obvious, as one reviews new books fallen dead-born from the modem, that the meretricious blink of the word-processor has replaced, for many ‘writers’, the steady glow of the cigarette-end and the honest reflection of the cut-glass decanter. You used to be able to tell, with some authors, when the stimulant had kicked in. Kingsley Amis could gauge the intake of Paul Scott page by page – a stroke of magnificent intuition which is confirmed by the Spurting biography, incidentally; and the same holds with writers like Koestler and Orwell, depending on whether or not they had a proper supply of shag.

    This is not relevant but it’s irresistable:

    Pierre Salinger – or Pierre Schlesinger as I always want to call him – once told me that he was telephoned by President Kennedy and asked to calculate how many Cuban cigars there were in all of Washington. He replied that he didn’t know, but could discover how many cigar stores there were. ‘Well, go to all of them, Pierre, and buy every Havana they’ve got.’ The mystified underling completed his task, and only learned its meaning later that night, when Kennedy announced an embargo on Cuban cigars for everybody else.

    Both from here:

    https://www.lrb.co.uk/v14/n05/christopher-hitchens/booze-and-fags

    Read More
    • Replies: @Bill B.

    Kingsley Amis could gauge the intake of Paul Scott page by page – a stroke of magnificent intuition which is confirmed by the Spurting biography...
     
    It would be very typical of Hitchens to misremember some factoid for his own purposes. In Amis's memoirs, IIRC, he noted in fact that you tell when Paul "Raj Quartet' Scott had been drinking because the quality of prose sharply deteriorated.

    It is an interesting point about Sartre using meth because his novels, written fairly early in his career, are extremely finely written. His later prose ... not so much. I once read somewhere that Sartre used to read 500 books a year. That figures.

    I was once friendly with a DEA agent in Asia who said when he was in the army he noticed a distinct intellectual deterioration in his comrades who were, over time, heavy speed users.

    Not quite the same thing but about a decade ago an amiable, easy going neighbour in Thailand became a heavy user of chrystal meth and more or less destroying his life. I once saw him literally rolling on the ground apparently trying to bite the concrete street. He now has a nasty, viscious personality and looks 20 years older.

    It has to be said that he has been able to stop himself falling completely into the abyss - he has avoided trouble with the local police and still holds down a job as some kind of programmer.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  3. Off Topic
    With the attack on Bannon, it looks a lot like Jared and Ivanka have convinced Trump to throw his base, including the Alt-Right, under the bus.

    Read More
    • Replies: @JerryC
    What is Trump supposed to do when Bannon basically endorses the Russia Collusion narrative?
    , @James Braxton
    More like Bannon has thrown his base under the bus.
    , @J.Ross
    If that's the case then there will ugliness -- and eventual reunion, because who the hell else does he have?
    But what I understand Bannon to have claimed is that debunked nonsense "charges" from months ago (the Fusion GPS meeting with "Russians" who happened to work for Fusion GPS) were legitimate. Even the Democrats had backed off the meeting story because the Trump personnel did nothing wrong and the wider story leads right back to the "insurance policy." The best I can guess is that Bannon was angry and spoke wthout thinking.
    , @Intelligent Dasein
    I somewhat disagree.

    I have never liked Bannon and I think Trump's press release today was pretty much a pitch-perfect description of the man: an unstable, marginal figure with talent only for self-promotion. I would not want anyone to think that Bannon represents me or the Alt-Right.

    But with that being said, Trump threw the Alt-Right under the bus way back when he launched the cruise missiles at Syria, and it's been all downhill ever since. It seems rather doubtful now in retrospect whether Trump ever had any sympathies with the Alt-Right, which is probably as Greek to him as the nuclear triad.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  4. Auden went to Iceland; he wrote about it. I don’t know if he was on drugs.

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  5. Bill P says:

    Speed’s great for focusing on the task at hand, but not so good at helping people relax and come up with good ideas. That’s what the booze is for.

    Speed’s actually a pretty awesome high. Cocaine is just goofy and adolescent in comparison. But man oh man, what it does to your brain after you’ve been running on it for too long. I remember watching this one guy mainline about 100mg of the stuff. The physiological impact of the hit was visible in seconds — his pupils dilated and his breathing rate and muscle tone increased immediately as well. The effect is pretty dramatic.

    I knew people who worked at Microsoft and used it to code for up to 24 hours at a stretch. It really can boost productivity, but only up to a point. After a while, you get diminishing returns. It really only provides about 24 hours of genuinely productive alertness, after which a state very closely resembling psychosis gradually sets in, becoming full-blown about 48 hours after the first dose. After this point, paranoia, hallucinations and a disturbed state of mind prevail.

    Hitler evidently used a lot of speed. You’ve got to wonder whether some of his more extreme decisions came after a couple sleepless nights courtesy of methamphetamine pills.

    As for writers, I don’t see how speed could help for more than a little while. Best to stick with coffee and nicotine in the mornings and some booze before bedtime for a longer career.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anonymous
    Intense cardio works wonders. Cardio, caffeine, and low-calorie diet is the best combo.
    , @Simon Tugmutton

    After this point, paranoia, hallucinations and a disturbed state of mind prevail.
     
    Thanks! You just explained Windows 8 to me.
    , @SunBakedSuburb
    Booze is a hammer. Weed is a much better potion for the conjuring of ideas.
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  6. Lurker says:
    @J.Ross
    I'll try to find it but in For Your Own Good (which is not so much a defense of tobacco as an indictment of the Public Health hoax to sneak in totalitarianism) Jacob Sullum quotes Christopher Hitchens to the effect that tobacco makes you wittier and an incomparably better writer.

    Presumably it’s the nicotine that does the work.

    Read More
    • Replies: @ThreeCranes
    To really get high on tobacco/nicotine, try snuff! Yeowwww! Straight into the brain. Not chew, snuff. It's really finely ground, a powder that you line up along the back of your index finger and inhale into your nose.

    Back in college I drank beer with a Swiss guy who turned me onto snuff. You just gotta be careful you don't swallow it as it works its way up your nasal passages 'cause it'll make you sick to your stomach. That's why those English guys in The Scarlet Pimpernel were always pulling a hanky out of their cuffs and blowing their noses. Disgusting but intense.

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  7. B36 says:

    “By comparison, alcohol is a very bad working drug for writers….” Well, maybe, but Churchill won the Nobel Prize in Literature and was a prolific drinker. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/food-and-drink/drinks/the-day-i-tried-to-match-churchill-drink-for-drink/

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anonymous
    Another example of a great drunk writer is, of course, Hemingway. His "Moveable Feast" is one, long writing slog in his favorite Parisian bar.
    , @syonredux

    “By comparison, alcohol is a very bad working drug for writers….” Well, maybe, but Churchill won the Nobel Prize in Literature and was a prolific drinker. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/food-and-drink/drinks/the-day-i-tried-to-match-churchill-drink-for-drink/
     
    Churchill's Nobel was not exactly awarded on strictly aesthetic grounds. Of course, in terms of literary Nobel Laureates, that hardly makes him unique....

    As for writing under the influence of alcohol, it seems to be a question of dosage. I once read something (by Gregory Benford?) where he commented on being just drunk enough for the words to flow, but not so drunk as to impair the critical faculties. Needless to say, it's a delicate balance, one that cannot be sustained for very long.

    And most of the famous literary drunks (cf the American interwar trio, Hemingway, Faulkner, and Fitzgerald) have done their best work during periods of sobriety.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  8. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Bill P
    Speed's great for focusing on the task at hand, but not so good at helping people relax and come up with good ideas. That's what the booze is for.

    Speed's actually a pretty awesome high. Cocaine is just goofy and adolescent in comparison. But man oh man, what it does to your brain after you've been running on it for too long. I remember watching this one guy mainline about 100mg of the stuff. The physiological impact of the hit was visible in seconds -- his pupils dilated and his breathing rate and muscle tone increased immediately as well. The effect is pretty dramatic.

    I knew people who worked at Microsoft and used it to code for up to 24 hours at a stretch. It really can boost productivity, but only up to a point. After a while, you get diminishing returns. It really only provides about 24 hours of genuinely productive alertness, after which a state very closely resembling psychosis gradually sets in, becoming full-blown about 48 hours after the first dose. After this point, paranoia, hallucinations and a disturbed state of mind prevail.

    Hitler evidently used a lot of speed. You've got to wonder whether some of his more extreme decisions came after a couple sleepless nights courtesy of methamphetamine pills.

    As for writers, I don't see how speed could help for more than a little while. Best to stick with coffee and nicotine in the mornings and some booze before bedtime for a longer career.

    Intense cardio works wonders. Cardio, caffeine, and low-calorie diet is the best combo.

    Read More
    • Replies: @ThreeCranes
    "Intense cardio works wonders." True that.

    And above all, knock off the sugar. Sugar is for kids. No adult has any need for or reason to ingest sugar in any form. Try doing without. Your life will change. You will be astounded at your composure, patience and ability to work hard. And you will lose weight immediately.
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  9. Dan Hayes says:

    Steve,

    Let me remind your readers about your previous discussion of Andrew Sullivan attributing his career comeback to a performing-enhancing drug: prescription testoterone.

    Read More
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  10. my third cup of coffee

    holllyshshit whoosse freakeenning ROCKKIN RIHTG NOW !!!!!

    Read More
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  11. JerryC says:
    @greysquirrell
    Off Topic
    With the attack on Bannon, it looks a lot like Jared and Ivanka have convinced Trump to throw his base, including the Alt-Right, under the bus.

    What is Trump supposed to do when Bannon basically endorses the Russia Collusion narrative?

    Read More
    • Replies: @J.Ross
    ... and where does that put Bannon?
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  12. @greysquirrell
    Off Topic
    With the attack on Bannon, it looks a lot like Jared and Ivanka have convinced Trump to throw his base, including the Alt-Right, under the bus.

    More like Bannon has thrown his base under the bus.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  13. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @B36
    "By comparison, alcohol is a very bad working drug for writers...." Well, maybe, but Churchill won the Nobel Prize in Literature and was a prolific drinker. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/food-and-drink/drinks/the-day-i-tried-to-match-churchill-drink-for-drink/

    Another example of a great drunk writer is, of course, Hemingway. His “Moveable Feast” is one, long writing slog in his favorite Parisian bar.

    Read More
    • Replies: @stillCARealist
    No. Hemingway is a great example of why a writer shouldn't drink (so much). He writes about drunks contemplating suicide.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  14. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    my third cup of coffee

    You didn’t type up this post from the can, did you?

    Read More
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  15. J.Ross says: • Website
    @greysquirrell
    Off Topic
    With the attack on Bannon, it looks a lot like Jared and Ivanka have convinced Trump to throw his base, including the Alt-Right, under the bus.

    If that’s the case then there will ugliness — and eventual reunion, because who the hell else does he have?
    But what I understand Bannon to have claimed is that debunked nonsense “charges” from months ago (the Fusion GPS meeting with “Russians” who happened to work for Fusion GPS) were legitimate. Even the Democrats had backed off the meeting story because the Trump personnel did nothing wrong and the wider story leads right back to the “insurance policy.” The best I can guess is that Bannon was angry and spoke wthout thinking.

    Read More
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  16. The Power and the Glory is a great book. It isn’t that long. I would recommend giving it another read.

    Speaking of book recommendations, I recently finished reading The Bonfire of the Vanities. An amazing work, and I have you to thank for first bringing it to my attention.

    Read More
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  17. syonredux says:
    @B36
    "By comparison, alcohol is a very bad working drug for writers...." Well, maybe, but Churchill won the Nobel Prize in Literature and was a prolific drinker. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/food-and-drink/drinks/the-day-i-tried-to-match-churchill-drink-for-drink/

    “By comparison, alcohol is a very bad working drug for writers….” Well, maybe, but Churchill won the Nobel Prize in Literature and was a prolific drinker. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/food-and-drink/drinks/the-day-i-tried-to-match-churchill-drink-for-drink/

    Churchill’s Nobel was not exactly awarded on strictly aesthetic grounds. Of course, in terms of literary Nobel Laureates, that hardly makes him unique….

    As for writing under the influence of alcohol, it seems to be a question of dosage. I once read something (by Gregory Benford?) where he commented on being just drunk enough for the words to flow, but not so drunk as to impair the critical faculties. Needless to say, it’s a delicate balance, one that cannot be sustained for very long.

    And most of the famous literary drunks (cf the American interwar trio, Hemingway, Faulkner, and Fitzgerald) have done their best work during periods of sobriety.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Bill P
    People don't get it about hard-drinking writers. You don't "work" when you're drunk. What you do is drink after you work, and it helps you come up with the ideas for the next day.

    The tricky part is making sure you don't drink so much that you don't remember what you thought of the previous evening. You've got to strike a balance,
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  18. Bill B. says:
    @J.Ross
    This is not the passage I had in mind but it's relevant:

    Kiernan’s sweetest note is struck when he contemplates the wondrous effect of tobacco on the creative juices. Having reviewed the emancipating influence of a good smoke on the writing capacities of Virginia Woolf, Christopher Isherwood, George Orwell and Compton Mackenzie, he poses the large question whether ‘with abstainers multiplying, we may soon have to ask whether literature is going to become impossible – or has already begun to be impossible.’ It’s increasingly obvious, as one reviews new books fallen dead-born from the modem, that the meretricious blink of the word-processor has replaced, for many ‘writers’, the steady glow of the cigarette-end and the honest reflection of the cut-glass decanter. You used to be able to tell, with some authors, when the stimulant had kicked in. Kingsley Amis could gauge the intake of Paul Scott page by page – a stroke of magnificent intuition which is confirmed by the Spurting biography, incidentally; and the same holds with writers like Koestler and Orwell, depending on whether or not they had a proper supply of shag.
     
    This is not relevant but it's irresistable:

    Pierre Salinger – or Pierre Schlesinger as I always want to call him – once told me that he was telephoned by President Kennedy and asked to calculate how many Cuban cigars there were in all of Washington. He replied that he didn’t know, but could discover how many cigar stores there were. ‘Well, go to all of them, Pierre, and buy every Havana they’ve got.’ The mystified underling completed his task, and only learned its meaning later that night, when Kennedy announced an embargo on Cuban cigars for everybody else.
     
    Both from here:
    https://www.lrb.co.uk/v14/n05/christopher-hitchens/booze-and-fags

    Kingsley Amis could gauge the intake of Paul Scott page by page – a stroke of magnificent intuition which is confirmed by the Spurting biography…

    It would be very typical of Hitchens to misremember some factoid for his own purposes. In Amis’s memoirs, IIRC, he noted in fact that you tell when Paul “Raj Quartet’ Scott had been drinking because the quality of prose sharply deteriorated.

    It is an interesting point about Sartre using meth because his novels, written fairly early in his career, are extremely finely written. His later prose … not so much. I once read somewhere that Sartre used to read 500 books a year. That figures.

    I was once friendly with a DEA agent in Asia who said when he was in the army he noticed a distinct intellectual deterioration in his comrades who were, over time, heavy speed users.

    Not quite the same thing but about a decade ago an amiable, easy going neighbour in Thailand became a heavy user of chrystal meth and more or less destroying his life. I once saw him literally rolling on the ground apparently trying to bite the concrete street. He now has a nasty, viscious personality and looks 20 years older.

    It has to be said that he has been able to stop himself falling completely into the abyss – he has avoided trouble with the local police and still holds down a job as some kind of programmer.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Bill B.
    PS

    If we are talking of writing under the influence I wonder if Hitchens himself is not someone whose very heavy and habitual consumption of alcohol is not a warning against writers drinking.

    He drank heavily at lunchtime so he must have written "drunk" even if others admired his seeming capacity to drink hugely without apparent effect.

    There are large elements in his prose style - relentless, cold, unfair, I would also say essentially humourless - that would fit a man trying not to be "drunk" or nursing a hangover. I found his autobiography strangely unreadable; as if written by a computer. Or I am overthinking this; was he just an old Trot?
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  19. Bill B. says:
    @Bill B.

    Kingsley Amis could gauge the intake of Paul Scott page by page – a stroke of magnificent intuition which is confirmed by the Spurting biography...
     
    It would be very typical of Hitchens to misremember some factoid for his own purposes. In Amis's memoirs, IIRC, he noted in fact that you tell when Paul "Raj Quartet' Scott had been drinking because the quality of prose sharply deteriorated.

    It is an interesting point about Sartre using meth because his novels, written fairly early in his career, are extremely finely written. His later prose ... not so much. I once read somewhere that Sartre used to read 500 books a year. That figures.

    I was once friendly with a DEA agent in Asia who said when he was in the army he noticed a distinct intellectual deterioration in his comrades who were, over time, heavy speed users.

    Not quite the same thing but about a decade ago an amiable, easy going neighbour in Thailand became a heavy user of chrystal meth and more or less destroying his life. I once saw him literally rolling on the ground apparently trying to bite the concrete street. He now has a nasty, viscious personality and looks 20 years older.

    It has to be said that he has been able to stop himself falling completely into the abyss - he has avoided trouble with the local police and still holds down a job as some kind of programmer.

    PS

    If we are talking of writing under the influence I wonder if Hitchens himself is not someone whose very heavy and habitual consumption of alcohol is not a warning against writers drinking.

    He drank heavily at lunchtime so he must have written “drunk” even if others admired his seeming capacity to drink hugely without apparent effect.

    There are large elements in his prose style – relentless, cold, unfair, I would also say essentially humourless – that would fit a man trying not to be “drunk” or nursing a hangover. I found his autobiography strangely unreadable; as if written by a computer. Or I am overthinking this; was he just an old Trot?

    Read More
    • Replies: @stillCARealist
    Is CH's autobiography worth reading? I confess that I don't like books filled with foul language and depravity. But it would be nice to know what the life of a famous drunken bitter atheist is like. Wait, I think I just answered my own question.
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  20. Syon, yes, I remember how witty and insightful and urbane I was in my drinking days. And then my wife would say…” You were such an asshole last night. Stop drinking.” Tough to find that level between a little drunk and drunk.

    Read More
    • Replies: @ScarletNumber
    The problem is that the person you are relying on to tell you to stop drinking has been drinking.
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  21. Bill P says:
    @syonredux

    “By comparison, alcohol is a very bad working drug for writers….” Well, maybe, but Churchill won the Nobel Prize in Literature and was a prolific drinker. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/food-and-drink/drinks/the-day-i-tried-to-match-churchill-drink-for-drink/
     
    Churchill's Nobel was not exactly awarded on strictly aesthetic grounds. Of course, in terms of literary Nobel Laureates, that hardly makes him unique....

    As for writing under the influence of alcohol, it seems to be a question of dosage. I once read something (by Gregory Benford?) where he commented on being just drunk enough for the words to flow, but not so drunk as to impair the critical faculties. Needless to say, it's a delicate balance, one that cannot be sustained for very long.

    And most of the famous literary drunks (cf the American interwar trio, Hemingway, Faulkner, and Fitzgerald) have done their best work during periods of sobriety.

    People don’t get it about hard-drinking writers. You don’t “work” when you’re drunk. What you do is drink after you work, and it helps you come up with the ideas for the next day.

    The tricky part is making sure you don’t drink so much that you don’t remember what you thought of the previous evening. You’ve got to strike a balance,

    Read More
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  22. @greysquirrell
    Off Topic
    With the attack on Bannon, it looks a lot like Jared and Ivanka have convinced Trump to throw his base, including the Alt-Right, under the bus.

    I somewhat disagree.

    I have never liked Bannon and I think Trump’s press release today was pretty much a pitch-perfect description of the man: an unstable, marginal figure with talent only for self-promotion. I would not want anyone to think that Bannon represents me or the Alt-Right.

    But with that being said, Trump threw the Alt-Right under the bus way back when he launched the cruise missiles at Syria, and it’s been all downhill ever since. It seems rather doubtful now in retrospect whether Trump ever had any sympathies with the Alt-Right, which is probably as Greek to him as the nuclear triad.

    Read More
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  23. Hubbub says:

    OT:

    Since the Exorcist movie of the 1970s, almost every movie and TV episodic series – whether drama, sci-fi, biography, western, crime, even comedy, etc – seems to have the obligatory upchuck moment – some weak-bellied character has to vomit, puke, spew, or projectile a stream or glob of obviously fake vomit – often uncalled for. It’s become laughable, if I must say so.

    My Question: Why? Can someone here among the minions of Steve give me a logical, hell, illogical, reason why?

    Read More
    • Replies: @J.Ross
    Degradation of audience and so wider population. Cf the normalization of scat and flatus in entertainment. Ever hear somebody describe some awful real-life scene, like a child in a traffic accident, as something that took part of your soul? Now imagine deliberately, programmatically, and constantly showing images of stuff like that to a group of people you just happen to hate. Imagine tricking a high-school rival into watching a play you wrote, in which a character your rival is sure to identify as his father, is repeatedly and contemptuously mutilated by huge machines. But it's "okay" because it's a fantasy dream sequence or something.
    That's what your TV and most movies are. It's a post-it note from Hollywood saying, "be sad today, okay?" And "normal" people respond to that by nodding, "okay."
    >oh but man up, sticks and stones
    Like a drug, it doesn't work consistently across the population, but do you think they would do it if it wasn't mostly working most of the time? So you can reframe your way out of any insult, does it follow that you should be insulted constantly, when you're trying to relax?
    , @Melendwyr
    Fashion. First people violate unspoken prohibitions of acts people have strong reactions to (such as disgust towards watching regurgitation) because doing so is provocative. Then they do so because they don't want to be perceived as trying to re-institute the prohibition. Then they do so because everyone else does it and they don't want to be perceived as other than normal. Then the prohibition is re-established, and the cycle repeats.

    Lots of fashion is like that. People dress provocatively to get attention, but the more common any style is, the less attention it gets. Eventually reversing the style works, but a certain amount of time has to pass first, enough for the previous prohibition to have completely decayed.

    It's fashionable to be a revolutionary, never to be a reactionary. The new must become the old before the previously old can be new again.
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  24. J.Ross says: • Website
    @JerryC
    What is Trump supposed to do when Bannon basically endorses the Russia Collusion narrative?

    … and where does that put Bannon?

    Read More
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  25. If amphetamines and opiates were legal for OTC purchase, I would certainly take both of them in moderation. I know that my quality of life would be much improved. These are what I would call the “good” drugs, i.e. they are very effective at bringing about desirable states of mind and body. They are also cleanly and quickly metabolized, are easy to isolate in chemical purity, and could be mass produced very inexpensively.

    I find it quite disappointing that these beneficial substances are still tightly restricted while there is a full court press on to legalize medical and recreational marijuana, a nasty drug in which I see no redeeming features whatsoever.

    Read More
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  26. If I remember correctly, Samuel Coleridge was an opium user and he was surely a fine poet. Kubla Kahn was supposedly written as a result of an opium dream.

    Read More
    • Replies: @syonredux

    If I remember correctly, Samuel Coleridge was an opium user and he was surely a fine poet. Kubla Kahn was supposedly written as a result of an opium dream.
     
    On the other hand, Coleridge's opium addiction did not exactly do much for him in terms of poetic production......
    , @Bill B.

    Kubla Kahn was supposedly written as a result of an opium dream.
     
    Er yes ... but he forgot half the poem after someone interrupted him!


    (Hunter S. Thompson once quoted the opening to the poem to show how lame Nixon's mind was (or something):

    In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
    A stately pleasure-dome decree:
    Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
    Through caverns measureless to man
    Down to a sunless sea.

    Unfortunately for me it backfired by making Hunter's own prose look tired and complacent, which it was at that stage.)
    , @anonitron1
    Coleridge was a downer-addled junkie burnout. If he were born two centuries later we'd be watching him on TMZ blowing chunks on his shoes on his way in and out of rehab.
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  27. syonredux says:
    @jim sweeney
    If I remember correctly, Samuel Coleridge was an opium user and he was surely a fine poet. Kubla Kahn was supposedly written as a result of an opium dream.

    If I remember correctly, Samuel Coleridge was an opium user and he was surely a fine poet. Kubla Kahn was supposedly written as a result of an opium dream.

    On the other hand, Coleridge’s opium addiction did not exactly do much for him in terms of poetic production……

    Read More
    • Replies: @David
    Scott calls out Coleridge for poor production in Ivanhoe:

    To borrow lines from a contemporary poet, who has written but too little:

    “The knights are dust,
    And their good swords are rust,
    Their souls are with the saints, we trust.”
     
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  28. sb says:

    As somone once said of Auden ” if his face is that wrinkled what must his scrotum be like ? :

    Read More
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  29. Bill B. says:
    @jim sweeney
    If I remember correctly, Samuel Coleridge was an opium user and he was surely a fine poet. Kubla Kahn was supposedly written as a result of an opium dream.

    Kubla Kahn was supposedly written as a result of an opium dream.

    Er yes … but he forgot half the poem after someone interrupted him!

    (Hunter S. Thompson once quoted the opening to the poem to show how lame Nixon’s mind was (or something):

    In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
    A stately pleasure-dome decree:
    Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
    Through caverns measureless to man
    Down to a sunless sea.

    Unfortunately for me it backfired by making Hunter’s own prose look tired and complacent, which it was at that stage.)

    Read More
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  30. grapesoda says:

    **{: .break one} ** But it should be noted that this regulatory totalisation realises my immanence in the group in the quasi-transcendence of the totalising third party; for the latter, as the creator of objectives or organiser of means, stands in a tense and contradictory relation of transcendence-immanence, so that my integration, though real in the here and now which define me, remains somewhere incomplete, in the here and now which characterise the regulatory third party. …

    Ha ha, he was totally high when he wrote that. I’m glad I never read any of Sartre’s philosophical tomes. In retrospect, that would have been a waste of time.

    The best stimulants are 1) tea made from fresh coca leaves and 2) failing that, yerba mate/guarana. Modafinil and Selegiline make you feel like a robot. Adderall is OK but again, you can feel how artificial it is. I liked Dexedrine but it’s not something I would want to do regularly.

    Plant-based stimulants won’t make you look old like that guy in the picture. In fact, they actually contain many beneficial minerals and phytochemicals. I have never done, or wanted to do crank. It sounds kind of scary.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Clyde
    Do you rate guarana over strong black coffee? I drink guarana from time to time. They seem to have the same amount of caffeine.
    , @Pericles
    That Sartre quote reminds me of the endless forced babble of postmodernists like Derrida and the rest. Perhaps they too indulged? Need I ask?

    Postmodernism then a decade or so later waved goodbye with the grand rehab novel of David Foster Wallace, subsequently followed by the noose.
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  31. Cortes says:
    Read More
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  32. Michelle says:

    A friend of mine 30 years or more ago, after we attended a Rolling Stones concert wherein Mick Jagger performed in a pair of unflattering stretchy pants, coined the name “Old horse balls”, for Mick. It has ever stuck with me.

    Read More
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  33. how little fun it must have been to be Mrs. Dick.)

    Bwah ha ha ha ha!

    Read More
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  34. @jim sweeney
    If I remember correctly, Samuel Coleridge was an opium user and he was surely a fine poet. Kubla Kahn was supposedly written as a result of an opium dream.

    Coleridge was a downer-addled junkie burnout. If he were born two centuries later we’d be watching him on TMZ blowing chunks on his shoes on his way in and out of rehab.

    Read More
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  35. Clyde says:
    @grapesoda

    **{: .break one} ** But it should be noted that this regulatory totalisation realises my immanence in the group in the quasi-transcendence of the totalising third party; for the latter, as the creator of objectives or organiser of means, stands in a tense and contradictory relation of transcendence-immanence, so that my integration, though real in the here and now which define me, remains somewhere incomplete, in the here and now which characterise the regulatory third party. …
     
    Ha ha, he was totally high when he wrote that. I'm glad I never read any of Sartre's philosophical tomes. In retrospect, that would have been a waste of time.

    The best stimulants are 1) tea made from fresh coca leaves and 2) failing that, yerba mate/guarana. Modafinil and Selegiline make you feel like a robot. Adderall is OK but again, you can feel how artificial it is. I liked Dexedrine but it's not something I would want to do regularly.

    Plant-based stimulants won't make you look old like that guy in the picture. In fact, they actually contain many beneficial minerals and phytochemicals. I have never done, or wanted to do crank. It sounds kind of scary.

    Do you rate guarana over strong black coffee? I drink guarana from time to time. They seem to have the same amount of caffeine.

    Read More
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  36. J.Ross says: • Website
    @Hubbub
    OT:

    Since the Exorcist movie of the 1970s, almost every movie and TV episodic series - whether drama, sci-fi, biography, western, crime, even comedy, etc - seems to have the obligatory upchuck moment - some weak-bellied character has to vomit, puke, spew, or projectile a stream or glob of obviously fake vomit - often uncalled for. It's become laughable, if I must say so.

    My Question: Why? Can someone here among the minions of Steve give me a logical, hell, illogical, reason why?

    Degradation of audience and so wider population. Cf the normalization of scat and flatus in entertainment. Ever hear somebody describe some awful real-life scene, like a child in a traffic accident, as something that took part of your soul? Now imagine deliberately, programmatically, and constantly showing images of stuff like that to a group of people you just happen to hate. Imagine tricking a high-school rival into watching a play you wrote, in which a character your rival is sure to identify as his father, is repeatedly and contemptuously mutilated by huge machines. But it’s “okay” because it’s a fantasy dream sequence or something.
    That’s what your TV and most movies are. It’s a post-it note from Hollywood saying, “be sad today, okay?” And “normal” people respond to that by nodding, “okay.”
    >oh but man up, sticks and stones
    Like a drug, it doesn’t work consistently across the population, but do you think they would do it if it wasn’t mostly working most of the time? So you can reframe your way out of any insult, does it follow that you should be insulted constantly, when you’re trying to relax?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Lurker
    Exactly right.

    The purpose of the entertainment business is to promote demoralisation, division, unhappiness, passivity etc etc
    , @Pericles
    There's a similar vein of cheap thriller movies lovingly destroying historical churches and European cultural heritage in slow motion. It's all presented as very sad, of course. Yet also with a hint of lip licking.
    , @stillCARealist
    Yes. well said. I started noticing urination scenes back in the 80's and 90's and thought, "why do I have to watch this?"

    I just finished reading The California Trail by George R. Stewart. The author read all the diaries of people who traveled in the covered wagons across the US in the mid 19th c. Guess what they never mentioned? Personal hygiene and bathroom accommodations. It must have been a royal pain for everybody dealing with the filth and non-existent privacy. But the diaries are silent on the matter. How interesting that they never had to talk about what all humans obviously understand.
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  37. showbizzy says:

    Stephen King has openly admitted that all of his blockbuster books, such as Carrie, The Shining, Misery and The Green Mile were written with him high as a kite on cocaine.

    Dan Harmon, the show runner and occasional writer of “Community,” and that cartoon riffing off Back to the Future admitted his addiction to Jack Daniels and Adderall throughout the series until he was fired for his drug-enhanced bizarre behavior.

    I’m wondering how you add up artistic points for their endeavors. Is taking Adderall the writer’s equivalent to an athlete taking steroids? NBC didn’t seem to care. They rehired him knowing full well he was a self-admitted drug addict. On a show documenting his trip across America in a Winnebago full of his sycophants, his wife complained about him calling her a Cunt.

    Nobody seemed to care.

    Except his wife. They’ve since divorced.

    Read More
    • Replies: @syonredux

    Stephen King has openly admitted that all of his blockbuster books, such as Carrie, The Shining, Misery and The Green Mile were written with him high as a kite on cocaine.
     
    Given the state of King's finances at the time, I rather doubt that he was using cocaine when he wrote Carrie....
    , @anon
    King has stated that he doesn't even remember writing Cujo.

    I had the same thing happen to me in college, when I decided to have a few drinks while writing a paper for one of those humanities classes you had to take. I ended up switching topics mid-paper, drinking a whole bottle of Castillo rum, and not remembering anything I wrote. But I turned it in anyway, and got the highest grade in the class, tied with another guy. So, looking back, I should have either turned to writing horror novels, or drinking while doing my assignments for the classes I actually cared about.

    Needful Things was the first book Stephen King wrote sober, and it's kind of a mess. It was like he had to re-learn how to write, but made the mistake of actually publishing his first attempt at sober writing instead of just putting it away and starting a new one. But, really, he almost might as well have not bothered, since nothing he ever wrote after getting sober has the same bite as those first few, at least that I've seen.
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  38. xin says:

    Hard to believe, but in this Dick Cavett interview which includes Groucho Marx, Truman Capote says he believes it’s impossible for a writer to create while drunk, or on drugs. Later in the interview, Groucho busts Capote’s balls about being gay:

    Read More
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  39. syonredux says:
    @showbizzy
    Stephen King has openly admitted that all of his blockbuster books, such as Carrie, The Shining, Misery and The Green Mile were written with him high as a kite on cocaine.

    Dan Harmon, the show runner and occasional writer of "Community," and that cartoon riffing off Back to the Future admitted his addiction to Jack Daniels and Adderall throughout the series until he was fired for his drug-enhanced bizarre behavior.

    I'm wondering how you add up artistic points for their endeavors. Is taking Adderall the writer's equivalent to an athlete taking steroids? NBC didn't seem to care. They rehired him knowing full well he was a self-admitted drug addict. On a show documenting his trip across America in a Winnebago full of his sycophants, his wife complained about him calling her a Cunt.

    Nobody seemed to care.

    Except his wife. They've since divorced.

    Stephen King has openly admitted that all of his blockbuster books, such as Carrie, The Shining, Misery and The Green Mile were written with him high as a kite on cocaine.

    Given the state of King’s finances at the time, I rather doubt that he was using cocaine when he wrote Carrie….

    Read More
    • Replies: @showbizzy

    Given the state of King’s finances at the time, I rather doubt that he was using cocaine when he wrote Carrie….
     
    I don't think you know much about drug addicts. Try driving down to LA's skid row, and ask those folks how they can afford their daily hit of heroin. Heroin's expensive.

    Summary: Where there's an addict, there's a way.
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  40. @Anonymous
    Intense cardio works wonders. Cardio, caffeine, and low-calorie diet is the best combo.

    “Intense cardio works wonders.” True that.

    And above all, knock off the sugar. Sugar is for kids. No adult has any need for or reason to ingest sugar in any form. Try doing without. Your life will change. You will be astounded at your composure, patience and ability to work hard. And you will lose weight immediately.

    Read More
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  41. gp says:

    Mathematician Paul Erdos ran on amphetamines. I saw him in 1974, and he seemed normal to me, but all that blotter acid impairs the memory.

    Read More
    • Replies: @showbizzy

    but all that blotter acid impairs the memory.
     
    My experience is that it impairs attention, but that would affect memory, of course.

    Steve should have given a nod to micro-dosing. That's been a big thing with Hollywood writer's for a few years now. Between 50-90 micrograms keeps your creative flow going for up to seven hours. It's quite a big thing, that it's aficionado's don't want to go on record about.

    Makes me wonder about audience fav's like "Breaking Bad."

    The show always had a slight mushroomy intensity to it, and that was a hell of a lot of output in a short space of time, that wasn't duplicated. Hallucinogens wears out your brain after a while. Smart people stop doing it eventually. Timothy Leary never gave it up until it was too late, but then again, he wasn't microdosing. He was probably doing the standard '60's dose of around 450 micrograms–or more. The last years of his life, his brain was scrambled eggs.
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  42. @Lurker
    Presumably it's the nicotine that does the work.

    To really get high on tobacco/nicotine, try snuff! Yeowwww! Straight into the brain. Not chew, snuff. It’s really finely ground, a powder that you line up along the back of your index finger and inhale into your nose.

    Back in college I drank beer with a Swiss guy who turned me onto snuff. You just gotta be careful you don’t swallow it as it works its way up your nasal passages ’cause it’ll make you sick to your stomach. That’s why those English guys in The Scarlet Pimpernel were always pulling a hanky out of their cuffs and blowing their noses. Disgusting but intense.

    Read More
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  43. showbizzy says:
    @syonredux

    Stephen King has openly admitted that all of his blockbuster books, such as Carrie, The Shining, Misery and The Green Mile were written with him high as a kite on cocaine.
     
    Given the state of King's finances at the time, I rather doubt that he was using cocaine when he wrote Carrie....

    Given the state of King’s finances at the time, I rather doubt that he was using cocaine when he wrote Carrie….

    I don’t think you know much about drug addicts. Try driving down to LA’s skid row, and ask those folks how they can afford their daily hit of heroin. Heroin’s expensive.

    Summary: Where there’s an addict, there’s a way.

    Read More
    • Replies: @syonredux

    Given the state of King’s finances at the time, I rather doubt that he was using cocaine when he wrote Carrie….

    I don’t think you know much about drug addicts. Try driving down to LA’s skid row, and ask those folks how they can afford their daily hit of heroin. Heroin’s expensive.

    Summary: Where there’s an addict, there’s a way.
     
    Eh. I'm inclined to think that he was using something a tad cheaper during the Carrie days.
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  44. Lurker says:
    @J.Ross
    Degradation of audience and so wider population. Cf the normalization of scat and flatus in entertainment. Ever hear somebody describe some awful real-life scene, like a child in a traffic accident, as something that took part of your soul? Now imagine deliberately, programmatically, and constantly showing images of stuff like that to a group of people you just happen to hate. Imagine tricking a high-school rival into watching a play you wrote, in which a character your rival is sure to identify as his father, is repeatedly and contemptuously mutilated by huge machines. But it's "okay" because it's a fantasy dream sequence or something.
    That's what your TV and most movies are. It's a post-it note from Hollywood saying, "be sad today, okay?" And "normal" people respond to that by nodding, "okay."
    >oh but man up, sticks and stones
    Like a drug, it doesn't work consistently across the population, but do you think they would do it if it wasn't mostly working most of the time? So you can reframe your way out of any insult, does it follow that you should be insulted constantly, when you're trying to relax?

    Exactly right.

    The purpose of the entertainment business is to promote demoralisation, division, unhappiness, passivity etc etc

    Read More
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  45. Thirdeye says:

    Parts of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and Sometimes A Great Notion were written on acid. An acid trip is a higher functioning state than being drunk or smoked out.

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  46. anon • Disclaimer says:
    @showbizzy
    Stephen King has openly admitted that all of his blockbuster books, such as Carrie, The Shining, Misery and The Green Mile were written with him high as a kite on cocaine.

    Dan Harmon, the show runner and occasional writer of "Community," and that cartoon riffing off Back to the Future admitted his addiction to Jack Daniels and Adderall throughout the series until he was fired for his drug-enhanced bizarre behavior.

    I'm wondering how you add up artistic points for their endeavors. Is taking Adderall the writer's equivalent to an athlete taking steroids? NBC didn't seem to care. They rehired him knowing full well he was a self-admitted drug addict. On a show documenting his trip across America in a Winnebago full of his sycophants, his wife complained about him calling her a Cunt.

    Nobody seemed to care.

    Except his wife. They've since divorced.

    King has stated that he doesn’t even remember writing Cujo.

    I had the same thing happen to me in college, when I decided to have a few drinks while writing a paper for one of those humanities classes you had to take. I ended up switching topics mid-paper, drinking a whole bottle of Castillo rum, and not remembering anything I wrote. But I turned it in anyway, and got the highest grade in the class, tied with another guy. So, looking back, I should have either turned to writing horror novels, or drinking while doing my assignments for the classes I actually cared about.

    Needful Things was the first book Stephen King wrote sober, and it’s kind of a mess. It was like he had to re-learn how to write, but made the mistake of actually publishing his first attempt at sober writing instead of just putting it away and starting a new one. But, really, he almost might as well have not bothered, since nothing he ever wrote after getting sober has the same bite as those first few, at least that I’ve seen.

    Read More
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  47. cthulhu says:

    When Hunter S. Thompson was trying to finish Hell’s Angels, he supposedly took a lot of speed; part of the result was his meditation on “the edge”, some really atmospheric and spooky writing. From ’67 through maybe ’72, it was hard to beat Thompson’s stuff – unless you were Tom Wolfe, that is.

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  48. showbizzy says:

    Needful Things was the first book Stephen King wrote sober, and it’s kind of a mess. It was like he had to re-learn how to write, but made the mistake of actually publishing his first attempt at sober writing instead of just putting it away and starting a new one.

    Due to the harassment of my friends, I read “the shining” when it was published. Had never read him before. Fun reading until the end, which was a corny train wreck. He just bagged the ending, which was very disappointing. I guess part of it might be because of the problem you had: “Did I write this? Hmmm. Needs an ending. I’m not gonna bust my ass on something I don’t remember doing in the first place. I’ll just close it down agreeably, and that’s the end of that shit.”

    Cujo was the only other one I read, and was fun, as I recall. But “the shining” put a really shitty taste in my mouth that put me off King for good. I don’t like investing time, and having the author tell me to go fuck myself at the very end.

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  49. syonredux says:
    @showbizzy

    Given the state of King’s finances at the time, I rather doubt that he was using cocaine when he wrote Carrie….
     
    I don't think you know much about drug addicts. Try driving down to LA's skid row, and ask those folks how they can afford their daily hit of heroin. Heroin's expensive.

    Summary: Where there's an addict, there's a way.

    Given the state of King’s finances at the time, I rather doubt that he was using cocaine when he wrote Carrie….

    I don’t think you know much about drug addicts. Try driving down to LA’s skid row, and ask those folks how they can afford their daily hit of heroin. Heroin’s expensive.

    Summary: Where there’s an addict, there’s a way.

    Eh. I’m inclined to think that he was using something a tad cheaper during the Carrie days.

    Read More
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  50. showbizzy says:
    @gp
    Mathematician Paul Erdos ran on amphetamines. I saw him in 1974, and he seemed normal to me, but all that blotter acid impairs the memory.

    but all that blotter acid impairs the memory.

    My experience is that it impairs attention, but that would affect memory, of course.

    Steve should have given a nod to micro-dosing. That’s been a big thing with Hollywood writer’s for a few years now. Between 50-90 micrograms keeps your creative flow going for up to seven hours. It’s quite a big thing, that it’s aficionado’s don’t want to go on record about.

    Makes me wonder about audience fav’s like “Breaking Bad.”

    The show always had a slight mushroomy intensity to it, and that was a hell of a lot of output in a short space of time, that wasn’t duplicated. Hallucinogens wears out your brain after a while. Smart people stop doing it eventually. Timothy Leary never gave it up until it was too late, but then again, he wasn’t microdosing. He was probably doing the standard ’60′s dose of around 450 micrograms–or more. The last years of his life, his brain was scrambled eggs.

    Read More
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  51. Daniel H says:

    >>Drugs appear to have turned Auden into The Human Shar-Pei,

    I think that wrinkled, leathery look was due to the cigarettes. You see that a lot in heavy smokers, women as well as men.

    Read More
    • Agree: slumber_j
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  52. bartok says:

    Count Ayn Rand in.

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  53. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Given Steve’s output mental PEDs are not out of the question.

    Nicotine I find is a good nootropic. I think it’s practically the only one with much evidence behind it. I take less than a cigarette’s worth at a time, with lozenges. I use them when I really need to concentrate and maintain extra focus. Basically that amounts to long meetings and driving long distances (at the end, as an emergency). When I go out drinking at bars (which is not often) I might pop 1 every so often.

    Mentally you get the focus without the blinker effect of caffeine that tends to limit your thinking. Caffeine can be just as bad as not having anything, as it tends to make you less likely to do something other than the rut you are in. I don’t like it for exams because if you need to think outside the box you need to relax a little. I think that’s the adrenal aspect of caffeine.

    With nicotine there is a light buzz type effect that makes colors seem a bit more vibrant (not unlike pot in that regard). It makes you more verbally adept I am sure.

    The next day I find that my memory is not as good, I am vague, basically the inverse of the high. Which is ok, provided that the performance is there when I need it and I don’t the next day. Where drug users get into problems is that they don’t realize that drugs are a lot like buying on credit. They don’t give you energy, they just enable borrowing more energy from the future, which must be paid back. Partly you can do that while you sleep, and partly from the next day. If you can use the drug like you might use a credit card (sensibly), they can be good. But for someone who thinks that it’s a free high, just like credit is free money, well, those are the people who should not take drugs or have credit cards.

    The half life for nicotine is 2 hours, whereas for caffeine it is about 5.5 hours. Now you know why smokers always seem to be wanting to go outside and have a cigarette.

    I find that coming down from either caffeine or nicotine can make me short tempered, likely to get angry, sometimes more violent. That’s another reason to limit the use.

    For caffeine, I am highly sensitive to it. A standard cup of coffee is too much for me. I find that drinking decaf as a standard is good, and if I need some increased energy I just put in a third of a teaspoon of real coffee or so in with the decaf.

    Do any of the other stimulants really beat caffeine or nicotine as a mental PED, over the long term?

    A good night’s sleep is a PED in itself. Sometimes if I can’t sleep, a half a tablet of paracetamol with codeine is useful. Again, use sparingly. It’s better than phenergan, which has some nasty sides.

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  54. Whiskey says: • Website

    Writers are often lazy, and will copy anything that gets an audience reaction. They’ll stop using vomit scenes when audiences fail to react or worse get bored. So that’s why its used.

    Most professional, working writers with long careers don’t do much drugs or drinking when writing. Examples include Arthur Conan Doyle, Mark Twain, Agatha Christie, Donald E. Westlake, Stuart Kaminsky, and Rex Stout. All there stuff was meticulously planned, starting from the ending and working backwards for the mystery writers, and most of the fiction stuff. Being working writers as a living, they needed to entertain people and that meant production on a regular schedule with lots of new stuff that was as addictive as possible. Entertainment being the key.

    Look at guys like Rex Stout or Earl Stanley Gardner (creator of Perry Mason). Those guys, forgotten today, made lots of money churning out book after book. It was a business with them, and it seems that the best way to be productive was caffeine, maybe nicotine, and focus.

    I know from writing code, a lot of it, production requires sleep first and foremost. My ability to focus and concentrate lags after about 10 hours max. No matter how much coffee I drink. I know when I was getting my MBA none of my classmates used speed; though plenty used dip and all used coffee extensively. If developers at Microsoft were using speed, that explains a lot about the quality of their code.

    Most of the younger programmers I know use various energy drinks. You could not pay me enough to do that. When possible I try and work out during noon — a good bit of cardio and weight lifting really helps refocus and is highly recommended.

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  55. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Worth looking back on the War Nerd’s take-down of Auden: http://exiledonline.com/w-h-auden-the-worst-famous-poet-of-the-20th-century/

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  56. G Pinfold says:

    It is more or less impossible to write when drunk, which is just as well, given how much and how many writers drink; imagine the amount of booze they would put away if it actually helped.

    …and imagine how much more crap they would have written.

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  57. Anonym says:

    As a sleeping aid, which works better? East or West Coast Straussianism?

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    • Replies: @Bernardo Pizzaro Cortez Del Castro
    East Coast Straussianism works better. Although I can only read West Coast Strassianism after snorting some Ritalin , so I may be wrong.
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  58. Pericles says:
    @grapesoda

    **{: .break one} ** But it should be noted that this regulatory totalisation realises my immanence in the group in the quasi-transcendence of the totalising third party; for the latter, as the creator of objectives or organiser of means, stands in a tense and contradictory relation of transcendence-immanence, so that my integration, though real in the here and now which define me, remains somewhere incomplete, in the here and now which characterise the regulatory third party. …
     
    Ha ha, he was totally high when he wrote that. I'm glad I never read any of Sartre's philosophical tomes. In retrospect, that would have been a waste of time.

    The best stimulants are 1) tea made from fresh coca leaves and 2) failing that, yerba mate/guarana. Modafinil and Selegiline make you feel like a robot. Adderall is OK but again, you can feel how artificial it is. I liked Dexedrine but it's not something I would want to do regularly.

    Plant-based stimulants won't make you look old like that guy in the picture. In fact, they actually contain many beneficial minerals and phytochemicals. I have never done, or wanted to do crank. It sounds kind of scary.

    That Sartre quote reminds me of the endless forced babble of postmodernists like Derrida and the rest. Perhaps they too indulged? Need I ask?

    Postmodernism then a decade or so later waved goodbye with the grand rehab novel of David Foster Wallace, subsequently followed by the noose.

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  59. Pericles says:
    @J.Ross
    Degradation of audience and so wider population. Cf the normalization of scat and flatus in entertainment. Ever hear somebody describe some awful real-life scene, like a child in a traffic accident, as something that took part of your soul? Now imagine deliberately, programmatically, and constantly showing images of stuff like that to a group of people you just happen to hate. Imagine tricking a high-school rival into watching a play you wrote, in which a character your rival is sure to identify as his father, is repeatedly and contemptuously mutilated by huge machines. But it's "okay" because it's a fantasy dream sequence or something.
    That's what your TV and most movies are. It's a post-it note from Hollywood saying, "be sad today, okay?" And "normal" people respond to that by nodding, "okay."
    >oh but man up, sticks and stones
    Like a drug, it doesn't work consistently across the population, but do you think they would do it if it wasn't mostly working most of the time? So you can reframe your way out of any insult, does it follow that you should be insulted constantly, when you're trying to relax?

    There’s a similar vein of cheap thriller movies lovingly destroying historical churches and European cultural heritage in slow motion. It’s all presented as very sad, of course. Yet also with a hint of lip licking.

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    • Replies: @J.Ross
    There's a bit in the new Wonder Woman in which stopping the bad guy requires her to smash her way through a cathedral tower.
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  60. Anonymous • Disclaimer says: • Website

    I attended a W.H.Auden reading in Cambridge in the early 60s. From about the 15th row or so, I came to the sad conclusion that he was drunk out of his gourd.

    He maintained a very high standard of poetry production. At the end, his enthousiasm for neolithic/Roman empire tin mines in Cornwall overran his abilities. Sad!

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  61. @Anonymous
    Another example of a great drunk writer is, of course, Hemingway. His "Moveable Feast" is one, long writing slog in his favorite Parisian bar.

    No. Hemingway is a great example of why a writer shouldn’t drink (so much). He writes about drunks contemplating suicide.

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  62. @Bill B.
    PS

    If we are talking of writing under the influence I wonder if Hitchens himself is not someone whose very heavy and habitual consumption of alcohol is not a warning against writers drinking.

    He drank heavily at lunchtime so he must have written "drunk" even if others admired his seeming capacity to drink hugely without apparent effect.

    There are large elements in his prose style - relentless, cold, unfair, I would also say essentially humourless - that would fit a man trying not to be "drunk" or nursing a hangover. I found his autobiography strangely unreadable; as if written by a computer. Or I am overthinking this; was he just an old Trot?

    Is CH’s autobiography worth reading? I confess that I don’t like books filled with foul language and depravity. But it would be nice to know what the life of a famous drunken bitter atheist is like. Wait, I think I just answered my own question.

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    • Replies: @Bill B.
    I got about a third of the way through CH's autobiography. His mother's elopement and subsequent suicide with a cad is interesting in a morbid way.

    But I was increasingly put off by his polemical style of attacking always from the moral high ground and being loose with the facts. I found myself fact checking as I went along. As I said much as one might admire the mechanics of his writing it lacks something vital.

    I may go back to it some time.
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  63. @J.Ross
    Degradation of audience and so wider population. Cf the normalization of scat and flatus in entertainment. Ever hear somebody describe some awful real-life scene, like a child in a traffic accident, as something that took part of your soul? Now imagine deliberately, programmatically, and constantly showing images of stuff like that to a group of people you just happen to hate. Imagine tricking a high-school rival into watching a play you wrote, in which a character your rival is sure to identify as his father, is repeatedly and contemptuously mutilated by huge machines. But it's "okay" because it's a fantasy dream sequence or something.
    That's what your TV and most movies are. It's a post-it note from Hollywood saying, "be sad today, okay?" And "normal" people respond to that by nodding, "okay."
    >oh but man up, sticks and stones
    Like a drug, it doesn't work consistently across the population, but do you think they would do it if it wasn't mostly working most of the time? So you can reframe your way out of any insult, does it follow that you should be insulted constantly, when you're trying to relax?

    Yes. well said. I started noticing urination scenes back in the 80′s and 90′s and thought, “why do I have to watch this?”

    I just finished reading The California Trail by George R. Stewart. The author read all the diaries of people who traveled in the covered wagons across the US in the mid 19th c. Guess what they never mentioned? Personal hygiene and bathroom accommodations. It must have been a royal pain for everybody dealing with the filth and non-existent privacy. But the diaries are silent on the matter. How interesting that they never had to talk about what all humans obviously understand.

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  64. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    “(He also kept a glass of vodka by the bed, to swig if he woke up during the night.)”

    Years ago I read in, I think, the NY Observer some gal reminiscing about apt. sitting for Auden when he was living in NYC. Two things I remember was that apparently he never used the bathtub, which was stacked full of dirty dishes and pans; and his nightstand, which, when cautiously opened by her, revealed a pair of maracas and a jar of Vaseline.

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  65. @Bill P
    Speed's great for focusing on the task at hand, but not so good at helping people relax and come up with good ideas. That's what the booze is for.

    Speed's actually a pretty awesome high. Cocaine is just goofy and adolescent in comparison. But man oh man, what it does to your brain after you've been running on it for too long. I remember watching this one guy mainline about 100mg of the stuff. The physiological impact of the hit was visible in seconds -- his pupils dilated and his breathing rate and muscle tone increased immediately as well. The effect is pretty dramatic.

    I knew people who worked at Microsoft and used it to code for up to 24 hours at a stretch. It really can boost productivity, but only up to a point. After a while, you get diminishing returns. It really only provides about 24 hours of genuinely productive alertness, after which a state very closely resembling psychosis gradually sets in, becoming full-blown about 48 hours after the first dose. After this point, paranoia, hallucinations and a disturbed state of mind prevail.

    Hitler evidently used a lot of speed. You've got to wonder whether some of his more extreme decisions came after a couple sleepless nights courtesy of methamphetamine pills.

    As for writers, I don't see how speed could help for more than a little while. Best to stick with coffee and nicotine in the mornings and some booze before bedtime for a longer career.

    After this point, paranoia, hallucinations and a disturbed state of mind prevail.

    Thanks! You just explained Windows 8 to me.

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  66. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Speaking of Greene, the most famous (and best) movie made from his work, THE THIRD MAN, was also fueled by speed. According to the biography of its director, Carol Reed, he and other craftsmen like the DP were taking Benzadrene throughout the filming, in order to accommodate a shooting schedule that went both day and night.

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  67. @Buffalo Joe
    Syon, yes, I remember how witty and insightful and urbane I was in my drinking days. And then my wife would say..." You were such an asshole last night. Stop drinking." Tough to find that level between a little drunk and drunk.

    The problem is that the person you are relying on to tell you to stop drinking has been drinking.

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    • Replies: @Jim Don Bob

    The problem is that the person you are relying on to tell you to stop drinking has been drinking.
     
    I know that person. Sometimes his judgement is questionable.
    , @Buffalo Joe
    Scarlet, Bingo!
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  68. @Bill P
    Speed's great for focusing on the task at hand, but not so good at helping people relax and come up with good ideas. That's what the booze is for.

    Speed's actually a pretty awesome high. Cocaine is just goofy and adolescent in comparison. But man oh man, what it does to your brain after you've been running on it for too long. I remember watching this one guy mainline about 100mg of the stuff. The physiological impact of the hit was visible in seconds -- his pupils dilated and his breathing rate and muscle tone increased immediately as well. The effect is pretty dramatic.

    I knew people who worked at Microsoft and used it to code for up to 24 hours at a stretch. It really can boost productivity, but only up to a point. After a while, you get diminishing returns. It really only provides about 24 hours of genuinely productive alertness, after which a state very closely resembling psychosis gradually sets in, becoming full-blown about 48 hours after the first dose. After this point, paranoia, hallucinations and a disturbed state of mind prevail.

    Hitler evidently used a lot of speed. You've got to wonder whether some of his more extreme decisions came after a couple sleepless nights courtesy of methamphetamine pills.

    As for writers, I don't see how speed could help for more than a little while. Best to stick with coffee and nicotine in the mornings and some booze before bedtime for a longer career.

    Booze is a hammer. Weed is a much better potion for the conjuring of ideas.

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  69. @ScarletNumber
    The problem is that the person you are relying on to tell you to stop drinking has been drinking.

    The problem is that the person you are relying on to tell you to stop drinking has been drinking.

    I know that person. Sometimes his judgement is questionable.

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  70. David says:
    @syonredux

    If I remember correctly, Samuel Coleridge was an opium user and he was surely a fine poet. Kubla Kahn was supposedly written as a result of an opium dream.
     
    On the other hand, Coleridge's opium addiction did not exactly do much for him in terms of poetic production......

    Scott calls out Coleridge for poor production in Ivanhoe:

    To borrow lines from a contemporary poet, who has written but too little:

    “The knights are dust,
    And their good swords are rust,
    Their souls are with the saints, we trust.”

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  71. Bill B. says:
    @stillCARealist
    Is CH's autobiography worth reading? I confess that I don't like books filled with foul language and depravity. But it would be nice to know what the life of a famous drunken bitter atheist is like. Wait, I think I just answered my own question.

    I got about a third of the way through CH’s autobiography. His mother’s elopement and subsequent suicide with a cad is interesting in a morbid way.

    But I was increasingly put off by his polemical style of attacking always from the moral high ground and being loose with the facts. I found myself fact checking as I went along. As I said much as one might admire the mechanics of his writing it lacks something vital.

    I may go back to it some time.

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  72. Melendwyr says: • Website
    @Hubbub
    OT:

    Since the Exorcist movie of the 1970s, almost every movie and TV episodic series - whether drama, sci-fi, biography, western, crime, even comedy, etc - seems to have the obligatory upchuck moment - some weak-bellied character has to vomit, puke, spew, or projectile a stream or glob of obviously fake vomit - often uncalled for. It's become laughable, if I must say so.

    My Question: Why? Can someone here among the minions of Steve give me a logical, hell, illogical, reason why?

    Fashion. First people violate unspoken prohibitions of acts people have strong reactions to (such as disgust towards watching regurgitation) because doing so is provocative. Then they do so because they don’t want to be perceived as trying to re-institute the prohibition. Then they do so because everyone else does it and they don’t want to be perceived as other than normal. Then the prohibition is re-established, and the cycle repeats.

    Lots of fashion is like that. People dress provocatively to get attention, but the more common any style is, the less attention it gets. Eventually reversing the style works, but a certain amount of time has to pass first, enough for the previous prohibition to have completely decayed.

    It’s fashionable to be a revolutionary, never to be a reactionary. The new must become the old before the previously old can be new again.

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  73. @ScarletNumber
    The problem is that the person you are relying on to tell you to stop drinking has been drinking.

    Scarlet, Bingo!

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  74. J.Ross says: • Website
    @Pericles
    There's a similar vein of cheap thriller movies lovingly destroying historical churches and European cultural heritage in slow motion. It's all presented as very sad, of course. Yet also with a hint of lip licking.

    There’s a bit in the new Wonder Woman in which stopping the bad guy requires her to smash her way through a cathedral tower.

    Read More
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  75. @Anonym
    As a sleeping aid, which works better? East or West Coast Straussianism?

    East Coast Straussianism works better. Although I can only read West Coast Strassianism after snorting some Ritalin , so I may be wrong.

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  76. In his autobiography, Burgess Meredith claims that Orson Welles (who more or less discovered him) took amphetamines “by the handful” in the 1930s. Welles’s eldest daughter has expressed the suspicion that this drug abuse wrecked his metabolism and was partly responsible for his weight gain later.

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