Every artist is a cannibal,
Every poet is a thief,
All kill their inspiration
and sing about the grief
Ben Sixsmith has an interesting essay at The American Conservative, noting the relationship between drug abuse and artistic inspiration in the past, and finding not much of such happening with opioids today:
one of the interesting things about the opioid crisis is how little it has influenced Western culture. Where are the films and books about opioid misuse? One has the feeling that it is not quite romantic enough to have tempted the imaginations of modern artists. LSD encouraged optimistic idealism, and heroin had a kind of outlaw glamor. Opioids ease pain rather than spreading love and peace, and are more associated with dropouts and disabled people than dissidents and dreamers.
It is in music that opioids have been most influential, even if there have still been fewer aesthetically enticing acts than in previous drug-fueled generations. From the Beatles to the Happy Mondays, bands produced joyous and dreamy music under the effects of psychoactive drugs. Punk and grunge were darker—associated with the grim rituals and consequences of heroin addiction—but they had a furious anti-establishment ethic. Opioids have inspired music that is dumb, anxious, and miserable.
I suspect that while indeed those most affected – poor rural folk – are less likely than middle and upper class folks to go into the arts, I think the method of delivery of modern day opioids is a factor in terms of the lack of glamour surrounding them.
I mean, they’re either pills or patches. Thus, none of the dangerous glamour associated with ruining one’s nasal passages by snorting a powder up one’s nose, or damaging one’s skin and blood vessels through sticking needles in; none of the dark romance of such substances; nor the visual impact of burning something and observing smoke in a dimly lit room, etc.
Nope; just plain old pills that one swallows like vitamins, or a patch that delivers the drug in an invisible, slow fashion, untasted, unsmelled.
Surely, the fact that modern day opioids just tend to numb, combined with their boring delivery methods, makes them absolutely uninspiring to write good songs / poetry about, for the most part; nor do they inspire reflectivity…
Of course, products of our educational system today may just not be quite as capable of creative self-expression as those of yesteryear…