The genius of addiction

I think Russell Brand is some sort of sexually inspired comic genius, and that My Booky Wook is a brilliantly written bit of navel-adoration. He was on NPR’s Fresh Air a few weeks ago, and it was replayed last night. It’s worth listening to the whole thing — the man tosses off epigrams and witticisms like no one’s business, and it is only after the torrent of words has gone by that you realise that what you thought was a half-conceived aside turns out to be a shard of devastating insight.

Like the moment when he remarks, after being caught out in a bit of a fib, that “I’m an unreliable observer of my own life.”

Or this extended riff on the meaning of heroin, which takes the kernel from Trainspotting’s famous “Choose Life” voiceover and makes a PhD thesis out of it:

Opium diminishes the significance of all else. If you’ve got heroin nothing else really matters. Everything comes in second.

I’ve often thought opiate addiction is the materialization of the abstract idea of need. Most of us have an idea that we’re missing something from out lives; for some of us it is God, for others it’s a new pair of shoes, or the success of a football team that we follow, or the craving for the embrace of an absent lover. But with heroin, once you’re addicted to it, those needs, that hole that I feel is in all of us doesn’t feel nameless, some unknowable entity, but the clearly material, definable, accessible drug that it heroin.