The thrills of college life have begun to evade us in redundancy, and in the same way most college kids crave sex and Freebirds burritos, there are those who crave reaching an intellectual epiphany without the stagnancy of endless debauchery on DP. While perhaps much more fascinating at the time then afterward, the late-night – or late-morning – pot-induced epiphanies don’t quite do the trick when it comes to inspiring that profound, revolutionary thesis or that yet-to-be-written English major manifesto, unless you happen to be Thomas De Quincey reincarnate and use opium instead. So, why not take a page from his book and resurrect opium? Forget the pot; opium has sexy vintage appeal and is more of a trip to write about. Besides, we have it much easier: De Quincey had to live and write in the hellhole that was industrial-era London. We are lucky enough to live on the somewhat enlightened, luxuriously lazy, partly cloudy California coast.
An original thought or experience is that very thing which everyone lacks and few actually seek. The classes we attend – or don’t – often serve more to slaughter the senses than actually stimulate our latent scholarly pursuits. So, what better way to jump-start our perspicacious minds than adopting a psychological addiction to unnatural euphoria through Chinese molasses? From Coleridge’s pleasure dome in “Kubla Khan” to “The Wizard of Oz,” “poison poppies”- and obviously the sweet nectar we call opium harvested from them – can guide us on the path of academic fruition, not to mention stir our very beings, and our little dogs, too.
Perhaps your only experience with opiates accompanied a rather unpleasant dental ordeal, but not to worry. Obtaining opium can prove to be a bit of a hurdle, given the legal restrictions to unusual, strictly pharmaceutical use and tragic lack of opium dens and laudanum-prescribing doctors in Isla Vista. However, opium poppies are popular and attractive garden plants, such as the breadseed poppy (Papaver paeoniflorum), which is commonly sold in catalogues by the packet, and a modest amount of domestic cultivation in private plots is not usually subject to legal controls. If the happy effects of cerebral alteration isn’t reason enough to break out the plow, consider the golden poppy, the state flower of California: Why not salute this very golden poppy and perform part of your civic duties as a proud resident of “the crazy state” – no, not Texas – by growing the equally crazy relative of its horticultural emblem on your very own patio, greenhouse or kitchen counter?
So, remember those brave men who gave their lives in the Opium Wars: Don’t let their lives and efforts come to naught. Honor their sacrifice and chase the dragon – Back Jack it, grab the chillum and Ah-pen-yen, do the Chandoo, take Auntie Emma for a jaunt, do a dance on Dover’s deck, squeeze the trigger of the Dream Gun, puff the Easing Powder, heal with God’s Medicine, float on the Gondola through the canals of Venice (in more ways than one), harvest the Joy Plant in the windowsill, burn the Midnight Oil, skiball on Skee, take the Toxy, play with Toys or make a toast with opium wine. Enjoy yourself, don’t operate any heavy machinery for a while, and don’t worry about the long-term aftereffects of physical suffering and demented state of being: I’m sure you’ve still got that pot stash somewhere.
Kaitlin Lawler is a sophomore English major.