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.”