The Journal of
Cognitive Liberties

This article is from Vol. 2, Issue No. 2 pages 35-37
© 2001 CENTER FOR COGNITIVE LIBERTY AND ETHICS
All rights reserved worldwide.  ISSN: 1527-3946
 

 

 

 

Diary of a Text Addict

Richard Glen Boire

I am a text addict. Oh, how much I love to run my eyes across lines of black inked letters, suckling on their meaning, letting free their ideas, completely lost in their timeless world. I canít stop. I read constantly, often with a half-dozen books, magazine articles and journal articles coursing through my mind at once. On the couch I may be reading a book, but in the bathroom itís magazines and journals. During any moment of waiting, I grab whatever is nearby and read. My eyes are always focused close, and moving left to right in phrase steps followed by smooth returns at the end of each line. My lips donít move. I am not a tyro.

I do not stop even when I am eating. I have learned to hold open a book with my teacup strategically placed. If not a book while eating, then a photocopied journal article; a nice choice because they lay flat. In my sight right now I can count five books laying open or parted with paper at the point of my departure. This is not to mention the several magazines folded open on the coffee table. Or the shelves of books begun, but not finished because another book hooked me, and then another.

Text is more powerful, far more powerful than opium (which I have tried, largely because I read inspiring books by Baudelaire, Cocteau, Burroughs, De Quincy, and several contemporary writers). Nothing works with me like text. Small point, medium leading, thin pages. I cannot afford my habit, so I buy my books used, often at library book sales. The other addicts are there, and they are despicable. Not simply because they are set to snap up the book I want, but also because we are an ugly group: either thin and pastry-dough pale, or obese, smelly, unkempt and out-of-style. Clutching empty sacks and boxes into which we pack the books we feverishly grab. Text addicts all, but yet no one intervenes to stop our down-word spiral.

Every text is an escape into a utopia of the mind. I inject my drug directly, as do all text addicts. Words pass from the page into the mind, a speed-of-light infusion straight into the cerebellum. The blood-brain barrier is completely bypassed, completely evaded. The effect is instantaneous. A little just makes me want more, and more.

I have been a text addict since the age of two. Bedtime stories were my gateway drug, my first pusher, Dr. Seuss. But then it seemed so innocent, so harmless, and so enjoyable. Indeed, my own parents encouraged my habit and, as I grew older, schoolteachers endorsed my proclivity, allowing me to sit on the edge of the playground and read, while my classmates bounced balls and swung from bars. But, in those days and at that age, it really was more wholesome.

I was never told that I would go blind. I had, of course, noticed that my eyes were often bloodshot, but I became accustomed to the feeling of pressure that is the natural and inescapable result of hours of uninterrupted reading. Often I would rise in the morning and begin my daily habit without leaving my bed. My nightstand is never empty of books. Countless days I have read from sun-up to sun-down, and then continued by artificial light into the dark hours of night, when my eyes would finally mutiny.

In my first year of graduate school, however, I noticed that my eyes were actually giving out, degraded from intense and incessant reading. But even this did not stop me. I acquired contacts and glasses. I continued my habit, even increasing my daily doses of text as I devoured assigned readings, and then went on to read everything else that caught my attention. How much there is to read! Imagine a heroin addict who can obtain an endless supply of the drug. Would a heroin addict stop when their drug began to destroy their eyesight? Well, would they?

I cannot escape my addiction. I will not even sit in a natural setting without reading a book. This weekend I hiked to a beautiful waterfall and sat riverside in a sunny shady spot. But, did I repose in contemplation, or mediate on the moving water, the echoing noise, or the passage of time as written into the hillside by erosion? No. I read a book!

To write these words is to manufacture, in my own crude way, the elixir itself. No different from compounding a new chemical creation designed to interact with the mind, to bind to this or that receptive neuron. Here, with my own fingers I create a psychoactive drug, just as spiritual, just as potent, as those made by chemists, or extracted from plants. Better even: a drug that never runs out, and that can be shared by many at once, over both space and time. One that can be easily stored, and precisely dosed. One that can be consumed neat, without a monoamine oxidase inhibitor, or any paraphernalia at all other than natural or artificial light.

At this very instant my drug is coursing through your brain. Have you closed the window shades and secured the doors?

 

 

 

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