Sunday, June 14, 2009

Drugs as a tool

Dizzy has a post up highlighting how one man used LSD to break a logjam in a huge programming project. It's a brief but interesting article, since it strikes a chord with some of my own experiences.

As some will know, your humble Devil started his career designing posters for a great number of productions at Edinburgh University's Bedlam Theatre (the only student-run theatre—theatre, not production company—in the country) and soon gained a reputation for designing... well, good but weird stuff (my style is inspired by Dave McKean who is, quite frankly, a genius).

When I started designing these posters, I was quite a regular user of cannabis—hey! I was a student. No surprises there. However, I've never really liked being stoned*, so my use decreased and I totally gave it up in about 2000.

The trouble was that I found my art, which involves a lot of photo manipulation and combination (my site's undergoing some restructuring so I can't link at present) suffered. I was concentrating too hard on the exact way that the photos combined, about the lines and the linkages.

This happened particularly on a piece for a show called Beckett; I was utterly unable to pull anything together at all. So, eventually I gave in and had a smoke...

... and suddenly I could see how things should work. I could see the piece that I was trying to make without worrying about the small details. So, drugs can make one productive.

They can, in fact, help one to see the big picture—in my case, literally.

There's no real point to this post: merely an observation from my own life...

* My problem with being stoned, for what it's worth, was always that I could suddenly conceive of things in my head—artwork mainly—that I wanted to do now, but my body was going, "no. You shall not move."


Anonymous said...

(the only student-run theatre—theatre, not production company—in the country

New Theatre at Nottingham Uni say they're the only student-run theatre in England. I don't know which is correct but, unless "the country" you refer to is Scotland (unlikely given your well-publicised loathing for Scotland and the Scots), you have a challenger.

Costello said...

I found alcohol to be similarly useful on the odd occasion during student days. Drinking enough to get a bit merry rather than drunk was a massive help when it come to powering through essays. First time i tried it wasn't really intentional - just trying to get some shit on paper before heading out for the night - and read through it the next day expecting it to be drivel but it turned out to be the best stuff id written up to that point.

gordon-bennett said...

I wonder if this effect is simply (and banally) the consequences of "doing something else for a bit" or "sleeping on it".

I found when doing cryptic crosswords that a clue I couldn't solve on the train into work became blindingly obvious when I picked it up again at lunchtime. Or a seemingly complex programming problem "sorted itself out" if I took a break for a cup of coffee.

Less dangerous than cannabis but maybe as effective.

Frank Davis said...

That was my experience also with cannabis. It's very good at kicking you out of a rut of thought, and send you spiralling elsewhere.

But once your ideas have begun to clarify, and you need to focus, you need tobacco. And maybe a dram or two of whisky.

Angry Exile said...

The Met Police Waterboarding Squad are a bit busy right now but will make you an appointment.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Francis Crick on LSD when he discovered the double helix?

Never tried it myself, having known people who have experienced major brain fuckage on it.

I know what you mean about having too much cannabis, you reach a point when you just don't want to get up. Then it's movie time!

In moderation it can be helpful. Along with a few cans of Guinness to wash it down.

John Demetriou said...

Good, honest, brave article.

Nicely done.



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