by Sara Collin
In the introduction to Anna Alexanders new book, High Culture:
Reflections on Addiction and Modernity, Jacques Derrida writes, There
are no drugs in nature. There may be natural poisons and indeed
naturally lethal poisons, but they are not, as such, drugs.
High Culture looks at the place of addiction in modern art, literature,
philosophy, and psychology, and includes chapters on gambling and media
addiction. Alexander, who edited the book, said in an interview that it
is meant to unsettle and disturb complacently accepted terms
with regard to drug addiction.
We need to understand what we mean by addiction and to be more
forgiving of the addict. To treat addicts as citizens would be a start,
because now the addict and the citizen seem to be irreconcilable terms.
One of Alexanders own essays on addiction is called Freuds
Pharmacy: Cocaine and the Corporeal Unconscious. Alex-ander is one
of few researchers to have exposed Freuds research work on cocaine,
as well as his own regular use of the drug, and wrote her masters
thesis on Freud and psychoanalysis.
She hasnt yet turned her smoking manuscript into a book. Although
she has published excerpts, she wanted to publish High Culture
first to give a certain legitimacy to drugs in literature, to the
kinds of pains and pleasures that come with drugs, to the conflicts that
surround drugs and the struggles with the withdrawal process.