Tom Robbins Makes Our Vices O.K.

28Sep12

“To the princess, it was an enigma why anyone would smoke, yet the answer seems simple enough when we station ourselves at that profound interface of nature and culture formed when people take something from the natural world and incorporate it into their bodies. Three of the four elements are shared by all creatures, but fire was a gift to humans alone. Smoking cigarettes is an intimate as we can become with fire without immediate excruciation. Every smoker is an embodiment of Prometheus, stealing fire from the gods and bringing it on back home. We smoke to capture the power of the sun, to pacify Hell, to identify with the primordial spark, to feed on the marrow of the volcano. It’s not the tobacco we’re after but the fire. When we smoke, we are performing a version of the fire dance, a ritual as ancient as lightning. Does that mean that chain smokers are religious fanatics? You must admit there’s a similarity. The lung of the smoker is a naked virgin thrown as a sacrifice into the godfire.”—Tom Robbins, Still Life with Woodpecker

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One Response to “Tom Robbins Makes Our Vices O.K.”

  1. Excellent excerpt! I’m all for keeping self-criticism in check and to taking “yourself” with a grain of salt.

    However, I do feel there are 101 ways to glamorize, justify, and perpetuate our vices, especially for us “arty” types. Hell, I’ll admit I’ve written story after story about how wonderful vice can be. Now I’m not saying that I’ve rid myself of all my indulgences, or shun those who overindulge, but I do wonder why we maintain this persistent, cliché connection between writers and glamorized self-destruction?

    Here is a simple fact: I irrationally thought if I quit smoking it would affect my writing. It didn’t.


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