“Now that [Phillip Seymour Hoffman] is gone, much has been said about his failure, about his fall,” writes N.Y. Times columnist David Carr in a recent post. “I don’t really see it that way. He got in the ring with his addiction and battled it for two decades successfully, doing amazing film work for years and doing the hard stuff to keep ambitious theater alive in in New York.
“And then something changed and he used. Everyone is surprised when that happens to someone famous, but it happens routinely everywhere else. Rooms of recovery are full of stories of people with long-term recovery who went back out and some of them, as a matter of mathematics and pharmacology, don’t make it back.
“I have no certainty about what went wrong, but I can tell you from personal experience that what happened was not the plan. I have been alone in that room with my addled thoughts, the drugs, and the needle. Addicts in the grip always have a plan. I will do this, get this out of the way, and then I will resume life among the living, the place where family, friends and colleagues live. He didn’t make it back to that place.”
Yesterday Some Came Running‘s Glenn Kenny posted a Hoffman-related piece called “Heroin and Creativity.” Kenny admits that he once “hoovered up” some horse about 19 or 20 years ago. The sensation that followed led Kenny to think something along the lines of “Wow, this is the greatest thing ever!”
Full disclosure: I too was arrogant and reckless enough to sample the stuff a long time ago, and disciplined or lucky enough not to succumb to any kind of habit. Last night I posted the following on Kenny’s site:
“I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Heroin delivers a wonderfully blissful sense of indifference, yes, but it runs deeper than that. Here is the BEST description of what it feels like to hit up with heroin (i.e., after you get past the throwing-up stage) that anyone has ever conveyed, and I’m including William S. Burroughs in this equation. Here’s what it feels like: You’ve had to take a wicked leak ALL YOUR LIFE, but you never knew it. Heroin coursing through your veins is like taking that proverbial LEAK OF ALL LEAKS. But again, you have to get past the vomiting, which happens the first two or three times.”