Writing on Drugs
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Writing on Drugs (1999) is a book by Sadie Plant. It explores the link between drugs and literature and amongst other things, makes causal connection of the wide availability of opium in 19th century England with the rise of industrialization.
- Barthes’ ‘death of the author’ is oddly implicit in ‘Writing on Drugs’. Sadie Plant is almost totally invisible throughout the text (rather than those she examines.) Her academic style is thick in quotations and references but often lacks cohesion and direction; the result is a bewildering tour of culture through drugs that lacks originality. Nearly the whole book is regurgitation and the manner of its construction, although seemingly thorough, tends to obscure any possible original meaning. 
From the publisher
- Sadie Plant traces the history of drugs and drug use through the work of some notable writers. Rather than exploring drug use as an avenue to spiritual transcendence, Plant focuses on the way that drugs themselves make precise, recognizable interventions in consciousness, in cultural life, in politics. She argues that the use, production, and trafficking of drugs--narcotics, stimulants, and hallucinogens--have shaped some of the era's most fundamental philosophies and provided much of its economic wealth.
- "The reasons for the laws and the motives for the wars, the nature of the pleasures and the trouble drugs can cause, the tangled webs of chemicals, the plants, the brains, machines: ambiguity surrounds them all. Drugs shape the laws and write the very rules they break, they scramble all the codes and raise the stakes of desire and necessity, euphoria and pain, normality, perversion, truth, and artifice again."
- Through examinations of post-Romantic writers on drugs, including Thomas de Quincey and Coleridge on opium, Freud on cocaine, Michaux on mescaline, and Burroughs on them all, Writing on Drugs exposes this most profound and pervasive influence on contemporary culture.
Table of contents
Private Eyes 3
Artificial Paradises 32
White Lines 61
Gray Areas 182
Trade Wars 217
Black Markets 222
Double Agents 251
- Jean Cocteau, Opium, Journal d'une désintoxication
- Drugs in literature
- Sherlock Holmes, Giovanni Morelli, Carlo Ginzburg, Ernst von Fleischl-Marxow