Sunday, February 10, 2008

~ green rapture: the king of imaginary drugs

‘Lindsay’s attention was sharpened to a cutting edge by a drug known …. as Green Rapture … without volition, his eyes glazed over. a long moment passed in which he was silent, empty, thinking nothing at all … at last, blinking, he came back to himself. He reached reflexively into his jacket pocket and produced an enamelled inhaler. Two long whiffs of Green Rapture brought interest back into the world ..

Green Rapture washed gently over Lindsay, a tingling wave of curiosity. Green Rapture was the ultimate anti-boredom drug, the biochemical basis of wonder boiled down to its complex essence. with enough gr a man could find a wealth of interest in his own hands. Lindsay smiled with unfeigned delight.

‘Marvellous,’ he said.

From Schismatrix by Bruce Sterling


There have been many outlandish substances described in books and film - but if I was given the chance to actually consume one, it would be Green Rapture.

Bug powder? I can take it or leave it.

Melange? Vurt feathers? Polydichloric euthimal? Mandrapordeum? Hellflower? Omegendorph? Drencrom? Nuke? Can-D? Certainly, they sound intriguing …

But I want Green Rapture.

Curiosity is the air that I breathe. If I lose it, as I often do - in the grey days after using heroin or too much alcohol, or after some catastrophe - I feel worthless, an ineffectual husk. Indeed, my level of interest in things is a good indicator of my health overall. When I suffer depression, nothing is worth investigation; if I read, I read to escape not to learn. When I’m sprightly, then the world gets fascinating.

Early in the nineties I began to hear the first whispers of Prozac. I crossed my fingers. Could they really have developed a drug that did nothing else but make you happy? I bought a hardback copy of Kramer’s ‘Listening to Prozac’ and read it cover to cover. I nodded with approval at the cries of outrage from the CCHR [Citizens Commission for Human Rights]: if the Scientologists were so worried, then it was a good sign. They consider effective psychiatric drugs [and psychiatrists] a threat to their bottom line and will do anything in their power to malign them.

Thoroughly inculcated by Roche’s pre-publicity, I organised a medical appointment. I recall Lynne’s amused expression as I assumed a mantle of deep depression before entering the doctor’s room, where I was to obtain the precious script for a drug which at that time required special authorisation.

Ten days later, the effects kicked in. I woke on the grey couch in my office and the world was glistening with wonder. It was much like a trip, but without the paranoia, or any heavy physical effects that might leave you with a hangover. A subtle, clarifying filter had been placed over the world.

In this state, I wandered out of my office, on to the street and down to river where Moomba was in full flight. I must have spent hours there, exhilarated by the colour and the noise, fascinated by faces, trees, and scintillating metallic balloons.

Oddly, the only actual image I recall is that of a man putting something in a rubbish bin …

But with each day the effect faded, until I felt normal. Better, but normal. I could never achieve that same state again with Prozac or its cousins. I use Zoloft at the moment, and every so often, upon waking, I feel an echo of that fantastic morning.

I hadn’t found my Green Rapture, and I doubt I ever will. I’ll have to rely on natural means to generate the curiosity I need.

I worry about my wife, though. So often, she complains of being unmotivated, of not being interested in anything, of jealousy at how obsessed I get by things. Generally, she seems to prefer physical over mental pleasures - and the more easily come by the better. I worry that if she cannot develop a life of the mind – beyond the phantasmagorical world of her fantasies – then she’ll never be able to fully exploit her tremendous talents as an artist. Certainly, she is more intuitive than cerebral with her work; it comes from the heart and soul rather than the mind – but the heart and soul have interests too. And if she’s interested in nothing, then how will she even get brush to paper?

Depression has a lot to do with it; but depression can work both ways. It can lead to the loss of engagement, but when it’s resolved and things seem normal, then realising you have no abiding interests in life can lead you straight back into the black room.

She needs Green Rapture as much as I crave it. Curiosity is an elemental human quality; it led us to become what we are. Lose it and you lose an element of your soul.

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