Intoxication once had a purpose. It was a way to reset, to scramble, to introduce random-ish variables into how we responded to our weorld.
Intoxication has long been reduced to a reaction, to frustration at the fact that we are stuck. Have no way out.
As with so much else – everything? – that once was part of life, a way to re-invigorate life, intoxication has been reduced to a toxic simulacra. A placeholder. Worse than that, an erode-er of vitality. What was once a re-invigorating way back into life is now a hell to be stuck in. Where it once provided a way back into life it is now a prison, holding its victims un-dead.
Sacred purpose. Considering intoxication brings to mind the question of purpose. Intoxication is but an extreme example of the distinction between action with purpose and rootless activity. Intoxication once held a place in life ensured by the assurance that it was an act of purpose. That it had a sacred purpose. Today it is a senseless pursuit of escape.
Intoxication’s role; its purpose and meaning, in particular and the entire concept of sacred purpose; suffers from the same erosion and displacement of purpose and meaning that has alienated us from life to the point where we pursue death, mega-death, and mass-extinction. Bouncing off a realization that hierarchy has failed us, lacking the ready-made beliefs in narrow definitions of meaning and purpose, we have reacted by taking the immature stance that if no one can tell us what it means or what it’s good for then it doesn’t mean anything and we might as well…. Get drunk?
This is another way that our binds police us, herding those who do not willingly stay in the fold to take themselves out into this other holding pen, a fruitless intoxication without meaning or purpose other than to escape.
To be clear, intoxication is not just a fancy term for drinking alcohol. There are many, many other ways to disrupt our everyday, to be intoxicated. Many involve the ingestion of something; but not all. Looking at intoxication’s place, especially from within the extreme impoverishment of imagination we have fallen into, it is important to keep a broad sense of what it means. This broader view is one part of what it will take to break out of this trap.
In-toxic-ation: to introduce what is toxic, the act of doing so; but not with the intention to poison. Along the pattern of healing that seeks health by introducing small quantities of what is bad for us in the hopes that this will strengthen us, intoxication is intended as a form of healing. We’ve lost that subtlety in our Wars on Everything!™.
…what Weller (Francis Weller, The Wild Edge of Sorrow) calls “a state of derangement.” This is not a state of psychosis or emotional breakdown, but rather “…a state that is beyond our normal way of perceiving and experiencing ourselves and the world.” This requires a letting go, and “Derangement is necessary because our current emotional ‘arrangement’ is not working…This carefully ‘arranged’ relationship with life denies us the freedom to receive the support we require from our community in a time of loss.” (86)
This seems related to the question of intoxication. Brings in the hard, dark edge – not the creepy, sordid edge of intoxication as toxic simulacra, the sorrow compounding misery of our current relationship with intoxication and derangement of any sort.
We fear derangement as we chase after its shadow.
This fear is specific. We fear our own grief. Fear that once unstoppered it will be endless, consume us. Chasing this shadow we ensure this is what we get.
How can we break this bind? It holds intoxication, derangement of any kind, and the underlying Debt of Grief that they revolve around. It keeps us from feeling….