Built for Speed?
Methamphetamine has reclaimed a place in the lexicon of "party" drugs. Hailed by
nocturnal adventurers, condemned by raver idealists, is speed a sleepless dream or
an addictive nightmare?
by Brian Otto
Here at the end of the millennium, the pace of modern life seems fleeting -- a
whirl of minutes, hours and days. In dealing with the changes, humans have equipped
themselves with the tools to move faster, more efficiently. At the same time a
dependence for the marketing, high-speed transportation and pharmacology of this
modern age has evolved. In a race to outdo ourselves, we have moved dangerously
toward the fine line between extinction and evolution. Therefore, the human
capacity to handle the velocity becomes a fragile balance.
Our generation (see Gen X, 20-somethings) could be considered the sleepless
generation. An age of society's children weaned on the ideals of high-speed
communication and accelerated culture has prided itself in mastering many of the
facets of human existence -- doing more, sleeping less. The machines of this age
have in a way enabled us to create a 24-hour lifestyle. We have pushed the limits
of the modern world further -- ATMs, high-speed modems, smart bombs and bullet
trains. However, the limitations of human existence, like sleep, may still provide
the stumbling block for infinite realization. That is, without chemical aid.
In many ways, capitalism fuels the idea. Our society is based upon the mass
consumption of these substances. Cultural ideals, while seemingly benevolent as
"Have a Coke and a smile" have sold the link to chemical substances like caffeine
and nicotine to "the good life." Today, stimulants are the bedrock for consumer
culture. For our generation, this appeal was heightened by raising the stakes in
the '80s on what it meant to have fun.
Late night clubs, high speed music and 24-hour lifestyles brought the specter of
drugs to the fold as a necessity for being able to attain more. Leaps away from the
psychedelics of the '60s, in the '80s these stimulant drugs became tools --
utilitarian devices to gain wealth, intelligence and prestige. Sleep became a
barrier for success. Dreams were the frivolous luxuries of childhood.
Raves, founded equally in the post-conservative underground late-'80s and the
chaotic early-'90s, are part of the pastiche that has consequently become more
dream-like, more unreal and still somehow manageable. The hyperreality of today
goes hand in hand with the drugs being administered.
It's 6 a.m. Around the speaker bins are small packs of animated dancers grinding
their feet into the floor and shaking their hands in front of them. The lookie-loos
and weekend warriors have long since gone home. Absent from their faces are the
smiles of midnight, replaced by the blank, vacant stare of sleepless dreams. They
have a name in the rave community, they are "tweakers." "Tweaking," the common name
for sniffing lines of speed, the drug methamphetamine, (popular for its