The beginning of the paper can be found here
of Berryman's heavy boredom, and what, if anything, can we glean from this about addiction today?
In reviewing the literature concerning addiction I came to wonder what Berryman would have though of being characterized as having a pathological loss of reason, which is how the earliest attempts at understanding habitual drunkenness characterized this state of affairs. This pathology was also understood as a collapse of moral reason.1 In many ways this sentiment remains in place and as a cornerstone of recovery treatment in Alcoholics Anonymous, where those seeking recovery must announce that their best thinking got them to this point.2 The medical model of addiction subsumes personal agency and suggests that there is a pathology but what the causal mechanism is has yet to be determined. Thus, if we accept that addiction is simply a chemical problem we necessarily must accept, then, that the addicted individual is no longer culpable for their behaviors. The mechanistic model, for all of its empirical merits, however, falls short in explaining addiction because addiction, as Davies points out, is a question of both one's physiology and volition, which are mutually exclusive:
Addiction, impossibly, seeks to make these accounts complementary; something they cannot be. The notion invites us to apply a rational/decision making frame-work to our fellow men/women, up to the point where they start to encounterproblems with their drug use, and then to switch to a view of man/woman as machine.3Although the the term addiction ultimately has been abandoned – over the past twenty years – in favor of chemical dependence and substance use disorder – what has remained is the insistence that those using substances of abuse ultimately must subsume themselves to the authority of medical-style interventions.4 While those in neuroscience (particularly neurodegeneration) no longer use the term addiction, the top journal for substance abuse is still called Addiction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse features prominently on their website a section called Addiction Science where those curious can learn the story of why drugs are bad. At the intersection of the Public and the Private is the ongoing development of drug use literature. Like literature, as Avital Ronell points out, whether it's the criminal justice system, the local AA meeting place, those that come under the eyes of the Authorities-That-Be cannot be allowed to go into the public without covering over the wound of non-being, thus the subject becomes interpellated as a re-covering addict. This recovering over of the subject clearly is suggestive of Freud's “Mourning and Melancholia” as this recovering is a covering over of the ways of being that we develop as we apprentice in our drug using careers. We are, in recovery, learning to forget that life prior to the intervention. Clearly also in the formulation of the drug use career or trajectory (apprenticeship-disorder-recovery) is the question of thinking (erfahrung) which leads this paper to discussing Heidegger.
According to Heidegger, Being in the modern era is concealed by the growing purveyance three attitudes: In the recent calls for the “Responsible Use of Cognitive-Enhancing Drugs by the Healthy”5 society at large demonstrates once more its succumbing to the trap Heidegger foresaw has as its goal the concealing of Being itself in boredom.6 According to Heidegger, Being in the modern era is concealed by the growing purveyance three attitudes:
- Calculation – which he calls the basic law of comportment and is the prerogative of the principle of organization.7 Perhaps we can think here of the speaking machine. Sprachmaschine, as we are told, completes the metaphysics of technological Ge-stell (enframing). Self-deception, warns Heidegger, is the inexorable direction of the Sprachmaschine, “the superficial impression is still maintained that the human being is still the master of the language machine. But the truth might well be that the Sprachmaschine puts language into its service and in this way masters the essence of the human being.”8 Isn't, at the heart of addiction the earnest belief that we can control the dose such that, like the Sprachmaschine we maximize the efficiency of its employment without simultaneously destroying ourselves? Central to Heidegger's thinking on the matter is man's relationship to time.
- The second element concealing Being is acceleration – the phrase is “not-being-able-to-bear the stillness of hidden growth; it is necessary to forget quickly.9 Heidegger states it thus, “the geneuine restlessness of the struggle remains hidden. Its place is taken by the restlessness of the always inventive operation, which is driven by the anxiety of boredom.
- The third prevailing attitude is the outbreak of massiveness – not just “the masses” but the rapidly stacking up of the calculable towering over us and so rending us blind to the unique as it is not accessible to “the many.”
- The result of these three is thus the “divesting, publicizing, and vulgarizing of all attunement.”10
Heidegger outlines three forms of boredom: 1) becoming bored by something – as in killing time while waiting for the train, 2) being bored with something and its associated time – a recognition, in his example after the fact, that the events of the evening were in the end boring, and 3) profound boredom – the phrase he uses is es ist einem lanweilig, “It is boring for one.” We experience this profound boredom as indifference, the “It” of “It is boring for one,” is, “the title for whatever is indeterminate, unfamiliar.” This “It” should be familiar as it is who we are, this profound boredom has left us standing there acutely aware of the universe's complete anesthesia to our being as this coming and going. Similar to the first form of boredom, but unlike the second, we are fundamentally incapable of engaging other beings in this state of profound boredom, in fact being itself refuses to be engaged, this telling refusal is the mark of profound boredom. And, just as Berryman's mother (repeatingly) admonishes us all: to confess that we have such boredom is to admit an emptiness.
It is in this emptiness of profound boredom and the narcosis that is being-on-drugs that I am most intrigued. We revisit Berryman's poem in light of this question, how do we transform being heavy bored into an affirmation of being's possibilities? The profundity of profound boredom is in the revelation of the emptiness of the universe. It is in this manner of thinking that I am tempted to imagine the Heidegger that would reflect on shunyata (ku,空), emptiness. And in my intoxication with this imagining, I recall Fukushima Keido Roshi telling us one evening that LSD-zen is not the same zen that he has cultivated and that he can transmit. Fukushima does not deny that one might experience something profound under the influence of a technology such as LSD, but perhaps he has in (no)mind something similar to Heidegger. The essence of the development and use of technology in the last two centuries has been to achieve given ends in the most efficient manner while expending minimal resources – the principle resource to be spared being time itself. The result of the promotion of technological innovation, as Thiele has stated, “ typically counteract boredom through busy work and preoccupations. In so doing we are passing the time in order to become masters over time. Our attempts to kill time, an attempt to drive boredom away, is actually a driving on of time.17 But any effort to kill time obscures the essence of our being, which is defined as a being-in-time.
1Berringer, Virginia. “Morality and Medical Science: Concepts of Narcotic Addiction in Britain, 1820-1926.” Annals of Science 36, no. 1 (1979): 19.
2Hoffmann, Heath C. “Recovery Careers of People in Alcoholics Anonymous: Moral Careers Revisited.” Contemporary Drug Problems, no. 30 (2003): 37.
3Davies, J. B. (1998). “Pharmacology versus social process: Competing or complementary views on the nature of addiction?” Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 80, 268.
4May, Carl. “Pathology, Identity, and the Social Construction of Alcohol Dependence.” Sociology 35 (2001): 17.
5Henry Greely, Barbara Sahakian, John Harris, Ronald C. Kessler, Michael Gazzaniga, Philip Campbell, Martha J. Farah. “Towards Responsible Use of Cognitive-Enhancing Drugs by the Healthy.” Nature 456 (2008): 702-705.
6Heidegger, Martin. Contributions to Philosophy (From Enowning). Trans. Parvis Emad & Kenneth Maly. Bloomington: Indian University Press. 1999. §76.
8Heidegger, Martin. Aus der Erfahrung des Denkens. Ed. Hermann Heidegger. Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1983. Vol. 13 of Gesamtausgabe. 149. Reference from Charles Bambach. “Heidegger, Technology, and the Homeland.” Germanic Review, vol. 78, September, 2003.
9Heidegger, Martin. Contributions to Philosophy (From Enowning). Trans. Parvis Emad & Kenneth Maly. Bloomington: Indian University Press. 1999. §76.
11Heidegger, Martin. The Fundamental Concepts in Metaphysics: World, Finitude, Solitude. Trans. William McNeill and Nicholas Walker. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. 1995.
12 Kuperus, Gerard. “Attunement, Deprivation and Drive: Heidegger and Animality.” In Phenomenology and the Non-Human Animal, edited by Corrine; Lotz Painter, Christian. New York: Springer, 2007.
13 Thiele, Leslie Paul. “Postmodernity and the Routinization of Novelty: Heidegger on Boredom and Technology.” Polity 29, no. 4 (1997): 505.
14According to personal communications between Joan Stambagh and Eugene Gendlin, Heidegger himself sees the phrase Befindlichkeit in his later work as wohnen (dwelling). http://www.focusing.org/gendlin_befindlichkeit.html#2
15We might start by talking about killing time instead of killing the Buddhas we meet on the road.
16Nietzsche, Friederich The Gay Science with a Prelude in German Rhymes and Appendix of Songs. Ed. Bernard Williams. Trans. Josefine Nauckhof and Adrian Del Caro. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2003. §341.
17Heidegger, Martin. The Fundamental Concepts in Metaphysics: World, Finitude, Solitude. Trans. William McNeill and Nicholas Walker. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. 1995. 95-6 §23.
18Heidegger, Martin. The Fundamental Concepts in Metaphysics: World, Finitude, Solitude. Trans. William McNeill and Nicholas Walker. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. 1995. 143 §31.
19Hammer, Espen. “Being Bored: Heidegger on Patience and Melancholy.” British Journal for the History of Philosophy 12, no. 2 (2004): 286.
20Ross, Andrew Peter. "Rethinking Environmental Responsibility: Heidegger, Profound Boredom, and the Alterity of Nature." Dissertation, Queen's University, 2007. 46.
21Here I'm thinking of that most boring hunk of rock in Rilke's “Archaic Torso of Apollo.” It's just rock, but bursting forth from it is a star and so we are told that in witnessing this we must change our lives. Rilke consummates not just the ancient sculptor's vision of a complete body, but also the entire process of stellar evolution. He comes to know, in the profound boredom of the procession of history – which could careless about this sculpture – that our Being must always be revisited so as to be attuned to being-as-a-whole.
22Winnicott, D.W. “Struggling through the Duldrums.” Deprivation and Delinquency. New York: Rouledge 2000. 150.