Omnicide II, 259–277


Interlude: Book of the Opium Den (Philosophy of Smoke)


We must enter the faramoosh-khaneh (Persian for ‘house of forgetting’, an alternative name for the tariak-khaneh or shirekesh-khaneh, meaning ‘opium den’), we must rest horizontally across its smooth planks and breathe deeply of its dust, to contemplate a philosophy of willed oblivion. For opium is not a simple business of annihilation, but rather involves processes of temporary transmutation; it conducts a paradox of physical ethereality whereby one learns to become at once smoke, drug, and poison. There is an elegant ritual in play here: the reclined body, the slanted head, the lit pipe and charcoal grills, the careful assortment of objects and implements, the choreography of postures and the channelling of consumptive fumes. All of these make possible the delicate exercise of inhalation and exhalation that allows us to begin devising an ‘atmospheric methodology’ (or perhaps a ‘phenomenology of mood’).…