Tuesday, February 20, 2007
The Bed I Made For Myself
Yesterday, a small matter depressed me so much that for an instant, I craved a hit of cocaine.I don't use drugs anymore – I don't even drink – but years ago, I consumed just about everything. It isn't unusual among my peers, especially in art.When I first had a little success, a friend joked that to be a really serious artist I needed a beret and a drug or alcohol dependency. At least, I think it was a joke. I never bought into the myth of drugs enabling creativity. Drugs provoke specific, transitory reactions in the mind and body which give the illusion of an expanded consciousness. The trouble is, their effect is corrosive. They undermine our ability to recognise, let alone exercise, deeper levels of imagination and intellect.Lots of famous artists have been alcoholics or drug addicts – too many even for an abbreviated list. Somehow, their self-abuse, emotional anguish and early deaths are romanticised so much that they become inextricable from their work. I never understood this. Maybe it's tied into the myth of creativity having more to do with magic and chaos than mortal dedication. Then again, every artist I knew – me included – had some story they told themselves in order to live (to paraphrase Joan Didion). Mine was that I needed drugs to stay awake, that I could work more hours than I could without them. The truth? It was all bullshit. I just liked the buzz.I've been straight for a long time now. I barely recognise the young, fucked-up woman I was so often back then. I'm hoping that, one day, nobody else will either.