Thoughts on “Infinite Jest” by David Foster Wallace – Part 8

PotLeaf

The following passage from Infinite Jest was very interesting, especially in light of recent states making marijuana legal and the wider push to legalize it throughout the United States.

Everybody who raised their hand to share concurred on the insidious ways marijuana had ravaged their bodies, minds, and spirits; marijuana destroys slowly but thoroughly was the consensus. Ken Erdedy’s joggling foot knocked over his coffee not once but twice as the NAs took turns concurring on the hideous psychic fallout they’d all endured both in active marijuana-dependency and then in marijuana-detox: the social isolation, anxious lassitude, and the hyperself-consciousness that then reinforced the withdrawal and anxiety – the increasing emotional abstraction, poverty of affect, and then total emotional catalepsy – the obsessive analyzing, finally the paralytic stasis that results from the obsessive analysis of all possible implications of both getting up from the couch and not getting up from the couch – and then the endless symptomatic gauntlet of Withdrawal from delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol: i.e. pot-detox: the loss of appetite, the mania and insomnia, the chronic fatigue and nightmares, the impotence and cessation of menses and lactation, the circadian arrhythmia, the sudden sauna-type sweats and mental confusion and fine-motor tremors, the particularly nasty excess production of saliva – several beginners still holding institutional drool-cups just under their chins – the generalized anxiety and foreboding of dread, and the shame of feeling like neither M.D.s nor the hard-drug NAs themselves showed much empathy or compassion for the ‘addict’ brought down by what was supposed to be nature’s humblest buzz, the benignest Substance around.

(pp. 503 – 504)

I do not want to get into a deep debate about whether marijuana should be legal or not. For me, that is not the issue and not what is important about this passage in the text. For me, what is important is the insidious nature of addiction, and the focus should be on the fact that people can become addicted to anything, provided that thing effectively changes the way one feels and thinks.

Some people fail to recognize the obvious: if you do something on a regular basis and then stop doing whatever it is that you are doing, you will experience a form of withdrawal. If you exercise every day for years and one day stop, it will have a physical and mental effect on you. If you drink soda every day and suddenly stop completely, you will go through withdrawal. If you meditated every day for most of your life and then quit, it would impact you physically, mentally, and spiritually. To think that you can use a drug every day and not suffer withdrawal when you stop is naïve and foolish.

I’ve heard plenty of people argue that marijuana is not addictive. I don’t believe it. Almost everything is addictive. I’m sure we all know people who are addicted to watching certain 24-hour news stations.

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9 Comments

Filed under Literature

9 responses to “Thoughts on “Infinite Jest” by David Foster Wallace – Part 8

  1. I could not agree more, everything is addictive. Likewise, I may watch these shows and get addicted faster than you and similar. There is many factors to it.

    • Hi Oloriel, and thank you for your comment. You are right, certain people tend to have different addictive tendencies, which are probably based upon personality traits, genetic makeup, and other influences. Which is what makes addiction such a personal disease: there is no one treatment, no one cause, every addict is unique, yet they all share similarities.

      • Yes, what is the most common similarity unfortunately, is tin my perspective at least the discrimination against the addiction. I think it is the first thing we need to change in the way we commute with other people. There will always be someone who will take marijuana, cocaine, heroin, chocolate,whatever – and can develop addiction from it – whether it is legal or not; what it is our duty as the world is not to deny them their existence, when they plea that they are addicted.

      • I couldn’t agree more!

  2. But what about DFW’s writing itself, dude?

  3. Pingback: “Infinite Jest” by David Foster Wallace – Part 12: Final Thoughts | Stuff Jeff Reads

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