I admire addicts. In a world where everybody is waiting for some blind, random disaster or some sudden disease, the addict has the comfort of knowing what will most likely wait for him down the road. He’s taken some control over his ultimate fate, and his addiction keeps the cause of his death from being a total surprise.

I, the unfortunate Doctor Polyakov, who became addicted to morphine in February of this year, warn anyone who may suffer the same fate not to attempt to replace morphine with cocaine. Cocaine is a most foul and insidious poison. Yesterday Anna barely managed to revive me with camphor injections and today I am half dead.

This human need for mysticism – surrender to an unknown truth, union – stands at the helm of all romantic feeling. It is, in essence, the same intimacy known in a mother’s arms; in those who are deprived of the experience, the need freezes and, distorted, it can rent a life. All addiction has as its foundation skewed yearning for the same transcendence. For me, the spell of the material was broken by my brother’s death; after his suicide, all I wanted was the renewal of my connection to the intangible.

There is a yearning that is as spiritual as it is sensual. Even when it degenerates into addiction, there is something salvageable from the original impulse that can only be described as sacred. Something in the person (dare we call it a soul?) wants to be free, and it seeks its freedom any way it can. … There is a drive for transcendence that is implicit in even the most sensual of desires.

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