Gone were the old romantic notions of wild drug orgies and heavily flavored dreams, but I didn't regret them because the truth was much better.
- Emily Hahn
One of the marvels of opium is its abilty to exalt sensitivity; it transforms the most boorish people into courteous creatures.
- Max Olivier -Lacamp
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I've read another fun book, OPIUM FIEND by Steven Martin. This guy, an American ex-pat in Thailand, began strictly as an academic researcher and collector of opium smoking objects and paraphenalia such as old decoratively carved and inlaid pipes, lamps, etc. When he began that was a virgin territory for Asian art collectors, and he kind of pioneered this field, so that now there's a whole big collector game thing with these objects just as in other areas of Asian art and culture.
But along the way, he began to try out his stuff! At first only occasionally and then more and more to the point that he got totally addicted and couldn't get off it without practically killing himself. A fascinating book.
And it relates in a weird way to my own interests. NOT that I advocate drug use or abuse of any kind, whether legal drugs like the Ritalin plague or the ridiculous travesty of SSRI/anti-depressants, all the way to illegal stuff like meth and heroin, I say it unequivocally: STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM ALL THAT CRAP. Ok? Have I made myself clear on this point? If not stop reading now and don't come near my blog or books ever again.
However, that said, the careful reader will note that in my writings there's a lot of explicit and implicit comparison of certain energy states with drug experiences. Most readers love my Tai Chi book JUICE, but I do run across the occasional malcontent and one such recently accosted me indignantly: "It's like something out of the 60's." He was horrified.
Well... yeah. It is. Look, you just can't deny that people love drug states of all kinds. That's a human fact that applies to every gender, nationality, historical age, culture, religion... it's an across-the-board human thing. We all want to escape or transcend this prison of normal work-a-day consciousness, with it's invariant undertone of insufficiency and alienation. So that's normal.
What I highlight in JUICE is the Tai Chi energy states as the ultimate vehicle of higher consciousness - that delivers such an ineffable high without the triggering jackbooted DEA thugs to kick down your door at 4 AM, that's all. It's such an amazing phenomenon and you can still drive just fine without fear of impairment or DUI charges.
Further, after reading OPIUM FIEND, I kinda realized that Tai Chi is the OPIUM of the martial arts world. Of course in one sense this comparison has a kind of historical grounding, in that Tai Chi matured in the 19th century when the Chiense opium craze was at its height. So there's that pedestriation level of association. But beyond that, as a metaphor, I want to suggest that Tai Chi has a subtle, gentle, other-worldly, archaic flavor that can only be really appreciated by more sensitive, mature, mystical people. Kind of like the artistic associations of classical opium.
So MMA is the crystal meth of martial arts, boxing is booze, Aikido is weed, Shaolin kung fu is acid, and Tai Chi is opium.