Until Your Time Is Up, 2021.
“Until Your Time Is Up” is a brief essay on the phenomenology of smoking: of loving it and quitting it—the twin affairs of nicotine addiction that are, after all, co-constitutive. In engagement with Richard Klein’s Cigarettes are Sublime, this essay argues that cultural messaging as to smoking’s bodily dangers is ultimately ineffective at impelling habitual smokers to quit, insofar as smoking is from the outset a negative pleasure in which danger is the very foundation of the thrill. Departing from this premise, “Until Your Time Is Up” explores the affective experience of an infatuation defined by hatred (self hatred?), drawing upon cultural metaphor ranging from Terminator 2’s blood red robot-vision to the Victorian association of tuberculosis with literary creativity, pursuing unity in the cigarette’s contradiction of eros and thanatos. The essay seeks, ultimately, to uncover ambivalences in a habit characterized otherwise only by gratifications and catastrophes—equally seductive—in the hope that I might thereby leave it behind.