2023 | Marker & Digital
I miss cigarettes a great deal. Partially because I was addicted to them and partly because of their inherent magical qualities. For one: you’re carrying around a small controlled fire at the end of your fingertips which, even though it’s been manicured into consistency by the R&D billions of dollars, has a power all its own.
As a symbol of industry (it is a product of the Industrial Revolution) the cigarette has been stripped of its natural and cultural qualities and is reduced to a simple transaction or delivery method. But even being as essentialized in their practicality as they are they still retain the power of their material. Setting aside even the altered states that ritual, smoke, and nicotine can each provide.
Besides the contemplative and mystical sense that, as I watch the smoke rise from my fingers and out of my lungs to take my thoughts and wishes to the spirit world above–the inseparable notion that all ritualized smoke carries, they also render the process of respiration visible.
The world has to touch you on the inside, continuously, in order for you to experience it. This engagement is not voluntary. You have to breathe, your body needs this process of exchange and while smoke damages this process it’s also a doping agent you can add to it to actually make it visible. A critical cycle of the body, part of the deal you have to make to have a body, is usually forgotten. Possibly because on one hand it’s automatic and on the other: it’s clear.
The longest you can disengage from the process of respiration is however long you can hold your breath. Your body is forced, by its function, to engage with the constituents of the air around you. And you, by decision, can illustrate the process.
I quit in 2014.