Re: Drug Gaze

Hi there,

I have been a member of this list quite some time now, although a silent
one, and I have been reading some Foucault, although I'm very far from
being anything like an expert. But I feel as if I must reply to this
because this is when I get really angry....

Dear Lionel,

I am finishing my Ph.D. thesis in cultural studies, I have been
studying, teaching, publishing, speaking at conferences for years, I do
have a social life, I'm a reasonable person (I think, ha ha) etc etc.
And yes, I do smoke pot. I have been smoking pot for years - not just
months. Sometimes it has been a lot of pot. More often it has been
more measured. And quite often I have been smoking a small spliff and
then I have been reading a lot and writing a lot under the influence -
makes me concentrate even more (and, believe me, A LOT of other people,
including a lot of major novelists). Ask a few more people than just
one housemate or a few friends...But, never mind, let me proceed with
the response to your mail:

> Perhaps the culture that places such a high value on aquiring, dealing
> and consuming pot et al is created by the gaze of the underground drug
> traficing profession.

'pot et al': you DO need to make a distinction here, and definitely not
put marijuana together with other drugs, especially chemicals. We're
talking about a herb with euphoric qualities here - and not only these,
it even has therapeutic qualities, it has been used for medicine,
printing, etc., and it has been used as part of certain rituals in
certain religions - I raise my hands here, to be honest, I'm not an
expert, but I have a friend who is doing a Ph.D. in anthropology on the
use of drugs in Native American cultures - I mean 'drugs', you know?
The evil drugs that you so want to wage a war against (without really
knowing what they are about, it seems to me)

> Having lived with a pot and herroin adict / dealer for several months
> I have some first hand "data" to base my opinions.

Not enough data it seems to me my friend, otherwise you would know that
there is not such thing as a 'pot...addict'. Pot is not addictive,
definitely not in a physical/pathological sense - the addiction is in
the mind of those who just can't stop, there's nothing addictive in pot

> The various rituals that the drug community engage in are as profound
> as those found in Freemasonry.

Meaning? Would you like to expand? Yes, it is a very ritualistic
process, but then again, all/most subcultural processes/communities are,
just as much in the case of pot 'unhealthy' communities as New Age
healing 'healthy' communities. The ritualistic element does not
necessarily have to be connected to the fact that all this has to do
with drugs, it has to do also - and maybe most importantly - that this
is a marginalised community that acquries a more coherent sense of
identity through ritual, it could just as well have been a subculture
formed around a musical style or an 'illicit' form of sexuality.

> Drug rituals reinforce the culture that moves drugs from producers to
> consumers.

So which 'culture' is this? Are you talking about mainstream culture or
a subordinate culture that is responsible for drug traffic? You'd be
surprised how much the two overlap in this case, especially if you want
to follow Foucault's theory in this. From my experience, pot has been
having bad influence on people because it has been circulated through
the black market, i.e. is not 'clean' but mixed with other stuff which
can be harmful, if the pressure against cannabis was less strict from
the dominant culture, if people were able to have access to it through
the mainstream culture, they could find it cheaper and clean, and I'm
saying this in order to make you see the extent to which the 'dominant'
culture is largely responsible for any bad effects

> As medical, juducial, racial and male gaze are worthy of research,
> perhaps also drug gaze is worthy of research.

So are drugs staring at us?

> Overlay Foucault's thought on the drug culture and you may well see
> many familar patterns.
> I have no interest in pursuing this - perhaps a phd candidate might
> find it a unique direction and truly add something to the body of
> knowledge.

Then if you are not interested, why are you sending an e-mail with vast
simplifications and overgeneralisations, that even ends up being even
offensive to some people, as I say below to the response to your last
words, which basically is also the reason for this mail of mine.

> Based on the deteriorated minds of my friends who have been smoking
> pot steadily for the past 30 years I believe that there is validity to
> be waging a war against drugs.

The war must be waged against those who don't know how to smoke pot - as
it would be against someone who doesn't know how to drink, have sex, or
even eat chocolate properly, with measure. The very phrase 'war against
drugs' is just as dangerous as the phrase 'war against terror' - it
lumps things together, avoids making distinctions, oversimplifies, and,
in its 'supposed' simplicity, can be applied to anything that 'we' don't
like because 'we' think it's dangerous, anything that doesn't serve
'our' interests, although 'we' don't know what we're talking about.

> Perhaps those who are against any war against drugs are suffering from
> pot induced brain damage or are so blinded by the rituals they are
> immersed in they cannot see for the drug gaze that they reinforce.

What about those who suffer from brain damage without having smoked pot?
And what about those who smoke pot without being part of any 'ritual'?
By smoking pot, you don't necessarily enter a ritualistic community.
Above, you equated the 'drug gaze' - whatever that means - with the
'male, juridicial, medical, etc. gaze', that is you bring together a
'gaze from the underground', from the margins with the gaze of dominant
power structures, which is also very misleading. The war on drugs and
the 'just say no' policy has failed completely and anyone who is
sensible, or has read Foucault for the itnerests of this list, may know
why. My advice is: Go and have a spliff mate! It might restore the
damage in the brain that the 'medical'/'juridicial' etc. gaze, that you
seem to side with totally, has induced on you.


> ;-)
>> From: NICHOLAS.FRENCH@xxxxxxxxxx
>> Reply-To: foucault@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>> To: Andrew Culp <nesurvivor@xxxxxxxxxxx>,
>> foucault@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>> Subject: Re: Re: prisons
>> Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2003 09:45:53 -0600 (MDT)
>> I recall a similar lecture by Angela Davis at Stanford last year.
>> She discussed how Cuba is "better" than the US -- quite disturbing if
>> you ask me.
>> In regards to prisons, I think the solution is simple. The majority
>> of inmates is a result of the "war on drugs", which, mind you, is
>> perpetuated solely by the government to instil fear on the people and
>> to maintain control.
>> There would be no need to build new prisons if the war on drugs was
>> ended. The gov't does not want to lose this control, but until this
>> happens we will see new communities being built not to provide for
>> new families, but for individuals who use natural plants for
>> recreational use.
>> Solution = stop this foolish "war on drugs" ... get gov't out of the
>> business, the business of selling fear!
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