Define or Be Defined: Dimmocks Photodocumentary
After looking at Jessica Dimmocks photographs, I got the sinking feeling I intruded on experiences that can only be explained as private. Furthermore, I felt sick. I felt sick looking at the “dead folks walking behind the doors of 4 W. 22nd St’, the rabbit hole. Yet, I couldn’t help but wonder, how did they have enough money, space, or veins left to afford the drugs? What choices did the people in the rabbit hole have to make in order to live, or at least get their next hit?
The photos of the madhouse were described as a disturbing insight into the lives of heroin addicts through a chance encounter. I noticed that Heroin rarely functions in a sentence with out being juxtaposed with the word ‘addiction’. People are viewed not as people, but as addicts subservient to the drug. As Dioon (a character Dimmock photographed) said, the typical junkie seems to only have one thing on the mind.
“All I was thinking about was, I wanna get high. I wanna get high. You know, I wanna get high. I guess the junkie life was what I wanted. I had really no other aspirations. I just never tried to do anything. The only thing I really wanted to do was, you know, get loaded, and sit around and do nothing. So that's what I did.”
Now, if I claimed, “ I want a cookie, I really want a cookie.” I would have to make a conscious choice to go and get the cookie. The phrase “I am a cookie addict” would only function to describe my choices. Thomas Szasz hypothesized that the statement 'I am addicted to drugs' is functional, rather than veridical. The idea that addiction is only a psychological illness is totally ridiculous. Rather, It's a matter of choice and available resources. People, generally speaking, will take any intoxicant or any drug that gives them a pleasant effect if it is available to them. Perhaps if I had fruit available to me, I would make the better choice, but sometimes, fruit just does not taste as good or do the trick.
Perhaps the pictures made me sick, but rarely do images of blood soaked needles and flesh make me feel happy. It is hard to understand why an individual would choose that path of life. Hunter S. Thompson, a notorious journalist famous for his drug-ridden novel “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, perhaps explained the gap in perspective best, “I wouldn't recommend sex, drugs or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me”. The lifestyle is attractive to some, while the pictures are clearly repulsive to others. Perhaps the insanity really can’t be understood unless you are on the inside looking out. Dioon later explained, “I'm not stupid. I don't think anyone owes me anything. I know that everything I did I made my own choice about it. And that's what sucks real bad”. People must be held accountable for their actions, true. Yet, it seems that we prefer to stare at the fantastical pictures to create a collective sense of guilt or blame rather than holding responsibility to the individual user. People make the choices, not the drug. Jessica through her naivety seemed to realize that the people “couldn’t be saved”. Perhaps they do not want to, and if they do, they will choose to be.
Szasz, Thomas. The Myth of Addiction. 1960.