Wednesday, March 30, 2005

East / West

by Paul Bowles

Cannabis sativa and its derivatives are strictly prohibited in Turkey, and the natural correlative of this prescription is that alcohol, far from being frowned upon as it is in other Moslem lands, is freely drunk; being a government monopoly it can be bought at any cigarette counter. This fact is no mere detail; it is of primary social importance, since the psychologlical effects of the two substances are diametrically opposed to each other. Alcohol blurs the personality by loosening inhibitions. The drinker feels, temporarily at least, a sense of participation. Cannabis abolishes no inhibitions; on the contrary, it reinforces them, pushes the individual further back into the recesses of his own isolated personality, pledging him to contemplation and inaction. It is to be expected that there should be a close relationship between the culture of a given society and the means used by its members to achieve release and euphoria. For Judaism and Christianity the means has always been alcohol; for Islam it has been hashish. The first is dynamic in its effects, the other static. If a nation wishes, however mistakenly, to Westernize itself, first let it give up hashish. The rest will follow, more or less as a matter of course. Conversely, in a Western country, if a whole segment of the population desires, for reasons of protest, to isolate itself in a radical fashion from the society around it, the quickest and surest way is for it to replace alcohol with cannabis.


Blogger fred burgess! said...

This passage came as an insert with a Bonnie Prince Billy record that I recently purchased. I had assumed that Paul Bowles was a fellow-toker of Will Oldham, but it's not so. It turns out that he's a pretty interesting guy -- who may or may not smoke the weed out.

5:05 PM  
Blogger carlBOMB said...

yeah - hes a solid author. the dude spent the bulk of his life traveling. I suggest Let it Come Down - a book about a young American caught up in some shady business deals in Moracco. i think i found out about bowles from dan adlaf.

5:20 AM  

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