Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Student's Newspaper. Volume 31, Number 1. March 3 1968
Junk Is A Way Of Life
Junk Is A Way Of Life
It is as if the Western hip youth has suddenly turned on to a new scene. A scene of light and colour, a scene of beauty and contentment, a scene of horror and danger. Drugs, stuff, gear, shit.
And this new found land, no less than America 400 years ago is going to change things, is going to alter the attitutes of many people and is going to become the symbol as well as the means for a new outlook. New Zealand does not yet have a scene like this, but as dated views on drugs disappear one will form and prejudice will give way to enlightenment.
And even if all drugs do not, many drugs do enlighten. The view that they are always an evil is absolutely wrong. So is the view that man does not need physical aids for enlightenment or even for pleasure. Most mystical illumination has relied on some sort of physical aid, hunger, lack of sleep, yoga positions or chemicals (drugs) which make the mind more receptive. Pleasure too needs physical aids, pleasure is a feeling of unusual contentment; once a full stomach, a girl and alcohol, now a full stomach, a girl and a joint.
If the drugs are not necessary then well and good, but most of us are so that we need help to feel happy or profound especially when we are learning how to achieve these states of mind. The Beatles can now meditate without acid but they needed acid to learn to meditate; many people have only understood the true beauty or meaning of a printing, a piece of music or a landscape when stoned, yet the meaning they saw, stoned, remains with them, sober.
Pot and acid show reality, they clothe the world in beauty and meaning by clarifying the senses, and they give visions whose truth is assured by their profundity.
But (his does not rid us of the problems inherent in drugs and drug-taking. The use of hardstuff, the almost unknown medical effects of the mind benders and the lack of discipline of many young drug-takers are the most important of these problems. William Burroughs once said "funk is a way of life". This is how junk strikes junkies themselves.
It is not like the other stuff, it demands and gets complete dedication from its users, it gives hours of complete ecstasy and days of utter pain and finally it kills. Most would not choose it. but as a way of life it seems to have attractions even if these are romantic. It is the final repudiation of worldliness, far more than is mysticism or the monastery, or junkies are despised and persecuted by the world, not admired and ignored. Most junkies are drawn into this world unawares, they begin by taking the stuff for kicks, but as the new way of life slowly claims them and they are mainlining three times or more a day, they try desperately to retrieve their grip on worldly values and to stop their addiction.
They fail and the misery of old junkies is infinitely greater than their joys.
Junk however has glamour at least to adolescents, in Christchurch about a year ago, a group of 50 teenagers were using coke regularly and in Wellington a short time ago pethedine and morphine (never hard to obtain) were in much supply to teenagers who had never had contact with drugs before. The occassion sniff of snow, as Sherlock Holmes had, may do little harm, cocaine is not very addictive, and none as far as 1 know of the Christchurch teenagers got hooked but if they had the scene would have cracked and ended in misery.
These teenagers were too innocent, even if they thought themselves and talked otherwise and probably too immature to know what they were doing. To take morphine, pethedine, H or O before one's twenty five is lethal in the sense that it could wreck one's life. At twenty-five at least one's adolescent idealism will have gone and life is one's own, as free from outside influence as it will ever be.
The other two problems, the medical effects of pot and acid and irresponsibility in using them are in many ways linked. Acid it is now thought may affect the chromosomes and acid-heads produce deformed children. Of course the data is by no means conclusive yet. We do not know the chances of deformity under any circumstances — be it a trip once ten years before having a child or a trip a day while pregnant. In the long run. however, this side-effect might be an asset. A new priesthood of necessarily continent (or camp?) acid-heads might officiate over a new mystical religion, retaining the use of acid for themselves, and unable to enjoy the more pleasures of the flesh. The thought is uplifting.
Another possible effect of pot and acid is that they could gradually deteriorate the mind. Doctors doing research on this believe that they could cause loss of memory, a general mental confusion and a cut in I.Q. and personality test results. Acid, as is over-well publisised, can also cause pyschoses. But these mental effects can be prevented. Deterioration of the mind is probably a result of excess, just as it is with alcohol.
A medical test can forecast what sort of a trip one is going to have and thus can prevent psychoses. But this means that if one is going to turn on and there is no non-medical reason not to, medical discipline is necessary. The days of moralisers, one hopes, are over, but the discipline here is not dictated by moral laws but by physical ones. The order "Discipline yourself while turning on" is not the same sort of order as "Don't make love before you're married," it is like the order "Have plenty of Vitamin C in your diet". A medical necessity not part of a moral code based on the values of a former age.
After these generalisations a little about the local scene. In New Zealand. Auckland is the biggest drug scene, despite rumours that the local vice squad believes there is a ring in Wellington pushing stuff out all over the Pacific, The same rumour was in Auckland about a year ago, it is probably as much part of the scene as the stuff itself. Auckland is the big New Zealand scene, pot is easy to get there though prices are exorbitant. $5.00 a joint to the uninitiated and acid which does (or did) not enjoy permanent residence anywhere else in the country is always possible to get there.
The hard stuff is usually on a different scene, junkies usually have a regular supplier, and. are very, very cool. Only occasionally can the uninitiated get junk as easily as pot or acid. And unlike pot or acid its price is standard. Speed of course is the easiest of all to obtain. It is very cheap, though in Auckland a nurse was selling it for 10c a bean and getting it. Almost all drugs come into New Zealand with sailors on boats from Britain, the Stales, Australia or the East.
The fuzz are moderately efficient in New Zealand. They rely on shelves, usually former junkies or people with some sort of record, and on a careful surveillance of known places where the drug scene congregates. The cooler a scene is the less chance of being busted obviously, and this is why anyone who is hooked or who has gear regularly makes sure that as few people as possible know where he gets it.
The vice-squad consists of men who have a genuine reforming spirit, in Wellington, Detective Sergeant (Cocky) Thompson is particularly well known for this attitude. They believe that drugs, all drugs are evil, but are prepared to help a teenager who they believe is taking drugs against his better judgement by talking to him and his parents.
However this reforming and sincere altitude is not appreciated by drug-takers. And it is also marred by the highly dramatic outlook the police have of their own position. Many of them think they are true and direct heirs of Elliot Ness.
Students are not prominent on any drug-scenes contrary to the opinion of Truth and the popular press, probably their imagination and outlook would improve if they were. It is high time students here realised the beneficial effects of certain drug experiences, effects which could turn them from completely academically orientated managers to something approaching real, rounded people.