Friday, July 04, 2008


I have an Addiction.

I used to quench my appetite mostly at home: but for a long time now, I have been able to satisfy my cravings in full public view, unnoticed by those around me.

I fulfill my desires in restaurants: while watching TV; while surfing the Net; driving my car; at work; at home; in airports; in fact, anywhere at all.

I became Addicted very early in life. Growing up in the 70's was an interesting experience, a time when experimentation with any and all forms of physical, chemical, or mental stimulation was not only accepted, but encouraged. I managed (with the gracious help of the Almighty) to avoid the usual pitfalls - I've never been drunk, or high, in my life - but I got hooked before I knew what 'hooked' was, and by then it was far too late.

Of course, there have been consequences. My Addiction has caused me trouble with my parents, in school, at work, and at home, usually because I should have been doing something else at the time that I was indulging my Habit.

But I refuse to give it up.

I like the way my Habit alters my perceptions. I can lose myself for hours, forgetting all the stuff out there waiting for me, piled up like six weeks' laundry, pungently aromatic with Eau de MustbeDone. I need that escape from this reality to another, to have my mind exploded, rearranged, reconstructed: if deprived, the thirst comes on me like the blood lust on Lestat, and I must feed.

That's not the worst of it, though. Sometimes my Addiction produces nothing so much as a delicious ennui, an aversion to re-entry to real life, a reluctance to stop that ignores sleep, food, and personal hygiene.

Alas, sometimes it produces no feelings or intellectual stimulation at all, but just is, like Decartes' thoughts. Somerset Maugham, who shared my Addiction, said that this last was 'as reprehensible as doping'. Those of you who share my predeliction for Maugham will now know what affliction I bear, on what I am hopelessly hooked.

I am Addicted to Reading. *sighs*

I read any and everything. I read great books, good books, bad books. I read airline magazines. I read restaurant menus, ingredient lists on boxes, signs by the roadside. I can't help myself: the moment my wandering eye collides with a word, it absorbs, digests, and immediately transports itself to the next word, paragraph, page in line. Lather, rinse, repeat.

In this way I have been transported to worlds as diverse as Calvin and Lovecraft, Daily Kos and Frontpagemag, Lewis and Adams.

I have also delved into menu-worlds as disparate as Bennigan's and Mosaic in The Cove, Paradise Island. It was fascinating how they differed - and in what they did not.

I would be very surprised indeed if, in the world of Writers, I didn't have lots of company. After all, it's the love of the written word (truth be told, mostly our own!) that drove us to vomit forth upon an unsuspecting world the outpourings of our souls. Maybe there are those of you out there who haven't recognized your own Addiction yet: you just read everything 'out of habit' or unconsciously.

Admit it: you cannot help yourself, but must read, or shrivel, wither, and freeze.

Of course, I am also Addicted to Writing, but that's a subject for another time.