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Arthur Meiselman

The biggest mistake I ever made was to quit smoking cigarettes and, even worse, exotic Brazilian Valencia cigarillos. For those of you who never acquired this addiction, move on. You’ll never understand it. To you, it is a health catastrophe—it stinks and pollutes. All true! To tobacco junkies and recovering addicts, it is a delusional demon that provides both cerebral music and the companionship of a physical rhythm that no drug, no food, no other physical activity, not even sex can provide. Not better, just unique. Not more fulfilling, just intimate, private, and sensually self-defining. Smoking Marijuana is not smoking at all--it is inhaling a drug that alters your state of consciousness (or for many stoners their lack of consciousness). Smoking tobacco is smoking… it is the physical act that is sensually self-defining. It is an experience of art.

To you who live in the clean world, the smell, the taste, the health threat of tobacco is the Congo’s echo crying: “the horror!” It is enough to drive you to exterminate every trace of smoke and everyone who blows it into the air. To us, the addicts, who also hear Conrad’s song, “the horror” is the dream. It isn’t the nicotine, which we now know is one of the most addictive substances one can ingest. If it were, we could simply chew the gum or lick the patch and live with you… smiling, secretly smiling. No, it’s not just the drug… it’s the physicality in the hands and fingers, between the lips, up the nose and above all, the waft of smoke that drifts and changes light, changes taste, changes smell, and is intricately woven into a thousand movements, thoughts, events. It is an experience of art.

Tobacco, the cigar, the cigarillo, the cigarette… discovered and developed by men for men and for a long time, forbidden to women. Forbidden by the patriarchal dominance that has enwrapped human civilization since Day One. And one of Patriarchy’s primary tools in its smothering embrace is capitalism, which has entrenched a basic motivating drive into human behavior: profit, the accumulation of wealth by the few at the decimating expense of the many. Also from Day One. 

Today’s “awakening” is only beginning to scratch the surface as it reveals the layers of human patriarchal history (its only true history). It reveals men smothering women and other men and other species, including we addicts.

For all human genders, nothing... not cocaine or opium or guns or fundamentalism or unsafe sex or global warming or child pornography or foreigners or aliens or skin color or obesity or old age or alcohol... will ever approach the growing terror that smoking cigarettes is the demon and tobacco is the Anti-Christ. That's right, the horror, the antichrist. In the soon-to-come future, smoking will not only be totally banned, it will be bannered as an ultimate crime against the state, against humanity, against gods and goddesses everywhere. Punishible by death, smoking will be totally eradicated and every flake of tobacco with it. No longer a dream, no longer an experience of art.

Until then… don't inhale.

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Arthur Meiselman is a writer and the founding Editor of Scene4. He is the author of Medea Noir. For more of his commentary and articles, check the Archives.

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November 2018

Volume 19 Issue 6

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