Heroin: Has It Inspired Great Art, Even As it Took Users Down Down Down?

Photo of Christine F via The Observer.

In Sunday’s The Observer, Andrew Hussey offers a lengthy story about heroin’s role as artistic stimulant.

“I think the relationship between heroin and cities, or cityspace, is very interesting,” Will Self [a former heroin user] says. “It has more to do with spatiality, how the inner world of the user connects with the outside word of reality. And what we’re really talking about is the psychogeography of heroin. William Burroughs knew this when he wrote The Naked Lunch, the great heroin novel set in the Interzone of Tangier, and Lou Reed knew this. The first Velvet Underground album is essentially a day in the life of a heroin addict in New York City, and a map of where he goes and what he sees and what he feels. And the music sounds like heroin, with its drones and impatient feedback and stuttering words. It’s the perfect soundtrack to the junkie life. There is a heroin psychogeography – where to find it, where to buy it, where you can smell it.” He goes on: “The point is that heroin users occupy a certain negative space in the world, in society. Burroughs writes in The Naked Lunch how, strung out in Tangier, he could sit and look at his shoe for eight hours. Heroin users don’t need to do anything or go anywhere: they just are.”

For more of this fascinating article, head to The Observer.


The Velvet Underground, “Heroin”:

The Velvet Underground, “I´m Waiting For The Man”:

– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-

About Michael Goldberg

Michael Goldberg is a distinguished pioneer in the online music space; Newsweek magazine called him an ‘Internet visionary.’ In 1994 he founded Addicted To Noise (ATN), the highly influential music web site. He was a senior vice-president and editor in chief at SonicNet from March 1997 through May 2000. In 1997, Addicted To Noise won Webby awards for best music site in 1998 and 1999, and also won Yahoo Internet Life! awards for three years running as best music site in 1998, 1999 and 2000. Prior to starting Addicted To Noise, Goldberg was an editor and senior writer at Rolling Stone magazine for 10 years. His writing has also appeared in Wired, Esquire, Vibe, Details, Downbeat, NME and numerous other publications. Michael recently completed his first novel, Days of the Crazy-Wild, and is currently writing a second novel.

Leave a Reply