Just as when the dirt is removed, the real substance is made manifest; just as when the darkness of the night is dispelled, the objects that were shrouded by the darkness are clearly seen, when ignorance [Maya] is dispelled, truth is realized.
–Vashistha, Yoga Vasiṣṭha
Thought thinks itself. There is no way thought can ever access anything except more thought. The game is up. Even these words are more thought piling up on more thought. The semiocapitalist order is just capitalism equipped with a fundamental recognition that everything we do is thought.
The body does something in accordance with some urge ultimately reducible to the compulsion to survive and procreate and thought transforms this into its own material, calling it hunger. You want to think about the soul or love or what is the right way to live but all you get is thought and not the soul or love or the right way to live.
Consciousness is the cobbled patchwork of kludges equipped to navigate the environment but it has ended up producing thought. It isn’t fear that is the mind killer but thought. The thinking being is a sadomasochist down to its core and all its aspirations are impossibilities it establishes for itself to kill time, to get through the day, to cope.
Revolutionaries extend the issue to the terrain of history: it isn’t enough to get through the day, one has to be the organelle or machinic component of some great vehicle that conquers time or pain or injustice.
These are Big Thoughts and they are more important than the Little Thoughts about what to eat today or where you put your glasses or the even more Ephemeral Thoughts about this woman’s legs or the way a cloud curls and disintegrates at its margins or the fretful disconcerting Vanishing Thought about the cough that won’t go away.
The junkie is a scorned figure because the junkie is a Bad Person (TM) or even worse, at the other side of the Bad Person spectrum, she is a Victim. These are names are Thought Figures for keeping things over there and in there place just this way. There are institutions to refine the Bad Person Thoughts into Specific Thoughts. We can call these Control Thoughts.
The junkie experiences the oblivion of consciousness and the negation of thought. It is not uncommon to hear the junkie talk of invulnerability. She will tell you about escaping things. She will tell you about a life of terror and misery and pain and the crushing weight of boredom that seems to be time’s own voice insistently urging her to take a charge. Throw some Valium on top for good measure to help the body go limp and shut up its endless whining.
Trocci, Cain’s Book: ‘The problem has always been to fuse the fragments of eternity, more precisely, to attain from time to time the absolute serenity of timelessness’.
It isn’t a Model: the junkie provides no image of utopia. Short circuiting the tricks that phenomenality can play on itself the junkie goes direct through materiality to effect her temporary suspension of thinking. She is a Buddha who couldn’t give a fuck about karmic forces and Samsara. She effects her own cycle of Samsara. She dies and is reborn with every hit.
The junkie will never offer herself as a model or a messiah. She does not tell you any lies and you hate her for it. In fact she will warn you solemnly that she is a tragic mistake of the universe. Its easier for you that way.
But the opiates wear off and the brain comes back online and there is the self-talk muttering of cognition and the transformation of the real into its pale and horrible illusion. The nescience of thought is its constitutive and defining feature: it systematically and rigorously knows nothing about anything and won’t shut up about it. The opiate model of enlightenment: chemical silence.
But in the end thought becomes the thought about the opiates. The next hit becomes the anchoring thought that organizes the thinking. The practical ecology of consciousness becomes reducible to the games necessary to secure-prepare-consume the substance. To take in the substance directly through the veins. Thought comes to think its own circumvention and can think of very little else. These are Obsessive Thoughts.
In the literature of addiction the “big book” of Alcoholics Anonymous tells you all about the thoughts thought by a couple of thinkers on the problem of the booze junkie. The problem: how to get her clean living and thinking all the time like everyone is supposed to be? The defenders of sobriety are the defenders of consciousness. They talk about the need for a Spiritual Awakening (TM).
It means this: that the molecules of the alcohol are providers of a spiritual experience of nullity or immersion and dissolution into the nothingness beneath thought which thought cannot bear. It is not nature but the thinking that cannot abide a vacuum. Example: in tinnitus the brain expects to hear a frequency that the ear can no longer detect- the dutiful brain makes it up, fills in the gap, and so the underlying sound of the world becomes a whistle or a scream or the roar of a terrible and mighty ocean.
All junkies have this spiritual experience. You want to talk about Ego-Death or enlightenment or whatever, there it is for you… waiting at the end of a pipe, a needle, a drink. Its no good though. You’ll only be reborn. But that isn’t why the junkie is despised.
She is despised because she has a route to temporarily get out of this awful place. But she doesn’t go via your Thought Systems- your politics or religions or therapies. She has to learn to cope in the way you cope and to have a legitimate experience of nullity.
Ann Kavan, “The Fog”: ‘They reminded me of Japanese dragon-masks and also of the subhuman nightmare mask-faces in some of Esnor’s paintings. These faces grimacing at me through the fog had the same sort of slightly eerie repulsiveness of masks, of walking and talking things, not really alive. They’d have repelled me if they’d been human beings’.
They talk about nullity as Wholeness: as experience of a Higher Power (code: God). The only experience of Wholeness known by humanity is in the womb: in that perfect wet warm darkness before the violence of separation. Or why stop there? The true Wholeness is the Emptiness prior to consciousness’s most meagre flickering. Back before birth. Back in the nullity prior to matter and idea.
We are the ardent dreamers who believe in the dreaming. The lunatic in pleasant madness, the junkie in her thoughtless sleep, the degenerative dementing brain: these are our enemies that we must combat. They are threats to the dreaming that dreams us. Wisps to be washed away. Vapour and error.
Whether addiction is ultimately a high-jacking of neural activation patterns associated with hunger or is its own terrible compulsion is ultimately beside the point to deciding about addiction. Certainly some philosophers seem confused about the question. To say addiction is a result of choice makes no more sense than saying we eat out of choice or that we breathe out of choice. And why not: we suffer the eating addiction, the breathing addiction, the living addiction.
The wheel of samsara is an ultimate lie. I am assured the karmic system is nothing to do with cosmological punishment- no, it offers us opportunities for learning and growth. Writ on the scale of the cosmos samara promises that we can escape, that we have control.
This word control is the obsession of our species. There are impulse control problems. The economy escape our control. Entire societies of control crop up. Metaphysical parasites and mind viruses called Control with a capital “c” appear to haunt us.
The entire philosophical trajectory of Western thought summed up as “learning how to die” is nothing but an attempt to domesticate death and to practice a controlled dying. The indomitable Epictetus opens his lectures by telling us wisdom consists in learning what is and is not under our control. The Old Greek with the hobbled leg had no idea.
The junkie’s escape is incomplete. It is fleeting. It is rife with the risk of AIDs and hepatitis, popped muscle abscesses and violence. There’s your enlightenment for you.
I am not a junkie. I will go to work and I will say “oh it is terrible” and I will offer and coax: “come back to us”. Therapy is the aggressive defence of this sordid and soiled reality. It is the tether and the anchor. In these dark confessions how can I not see that I perpetuate the pain of those I “care” for.
i am an agent of misery
who dreams he is bringing people back from the dead.
all Thought is death. come back to us:
STAY a while longer.
The necromancer never died,
he just got dressed up
in certifications from institutions
devoted to Thought.
and i will envy them
their momentary oblivion.
the eternal recurrence occurs everyday.
that there is an interval
between stimulus and
We are empty beings shovelling more being into ourselves: human existence is substance abuse.
are mere thoughts