The Infernal Grove Study Group
DRUGS, FREEDOM AND THE TYRANNY OF REPRESENTATION
Friday Nov. 5, 5:00-6:30pm EST
Reading: excerpts from Maggie Nelson’s On Freedom (2021) (pdf)
Video: The Infernal Grove
Reading the text and watching the video are not required for participation in the discussion.
The study group brings into dialogue a group of artists from across the continent who have lived experience with substance-use, and who represent a range of current relationships to sobriety and its alternatives. They will discuss Maggie Nelson’s On Freedom. The book is an interrogation of the concept of freedom and the way it is deployed in philosophical, literary and political discourses. We will read a section of Chapter 3 Drug Fugue she describes the frame put around drug use and addiction by ideas of freedom and confinement.
In recovery programs, perhaps by necessity and certainly by design, there is a push to accept received wisdom. But for addict-intellectuals, it’s hard to forfeit critical thinking to recovery. In addiction, connection to the intellectual can become tenuous. It’s easy to lose the relationships and identities that support rigorous critical thinking. Recovery can mean recovering those relationships and identities.
This first session of the Study Group explores the notion of drug-taking as an adaptive strategy in a world stripped of ritual and connection to land.
The Infernal Grove Project exposes the disproportionate effects of public trauma (including the COVID pandemic) on drug users, especially addicts of color. It’s become an organizing principle in our thinking about this work: we need to show the connections between addiction and the socioeconomic forces that create and exploit it.
The Infernal Grove Project takes place mostly on stolen Mi’kmaq and Onondaga land.
The festival hosting this version, Rendezvous with Madness, is located on the traditional territory of many nations, including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples and is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.
To those who have allowed us to stay, we humbly extend gratitude and honour.