Pitchfork writers can be smug. I think they get paid extra for smug word-count. Case in point…
The result of his hallucinogenic journey to the mountains was a 1945 collection of writing called The Peyote Dance, which today reads uncomfortably as a dated account of a European engaging in some drug tourism. It is as snooze-inducing as listening to someone you don’t like very much telling you about their experience with doing edibles on study abroad.
This is writer Sophie F. Kemp writing for Pitchfork on the Soundwalk Collective / Patti Smith album The Peyote Dance. The album is inspired by a collection of writings by Antonin Artaud published under the same name in 1945. These writings recall Artaud’s time in Mexico where he gave a series of lectures at the University of Mexico and of greater importance here, studied and lived with the Tarahumaran people where he took part in peyote rituals in the hopes of curing his opioid addiction.
Artaud struggled throughout his life with mental illness and addiction. He kicked his heroin habit, cold turkey, en-route to the Sierra Tarahumara tied to a horse.
Now, I don’t doubt Sophie Kemp and I take her at her word. Which is the problem. Equating Artaud’s trip to Mexico and his time with the Rarámuri people with someone you don’t like very much telling you about their experience with doing edibles on study abroad is to place yourself well above the content and context of the original work while completely dismissing the work at hand. To be fair, I’ve seen people try to kick edibles and it’s not a pretty sight. Sometimes it takes, like, two Xanax.
But I get it. I really do. When a writer has nothing to add to a work, and it’s a paying gig, you may as well be smug. On the Internet, there is no worst case scenario for vapid.
For people who prefer to listen with ears unburdened by careerism, the Soundwalk Collective / Patti Smith album The Peyote Dance may very well open some doors you may have otherwise missed.