Ramsey Scott - these epistolary essays, personal narratives, meditations on avant-garde writers, and unorthodox forays into the “narco-imaginary” attend to the residue of transient impressions that remain, long after the delirium of creative activity subsides
Ramsey Scott, The Narco-Imaginary: Essays Under the Influence, Ugly Duckling Presse, 2016.
Written according to its own dictum, “language is the universal inebriant,” these epistolary essays, personal narratives, meditations on avant-garde writers, and unorthodox forays into the “narco-imaginary”—the habits and conventions surrounding literary and cultural representations of drug use—attend to the residue of transient impressions that remain, long after the delirium of creative activity subsides.
With this stellar book, Ramsey Scott catapults into my canon of favorite literary visionaries. He performs political lament in compressed, exquisitely composed sentences, their gnomic austerity buoyed by humor, cynicism, critical edge, and spiky disclosures—his tone smartly poised on the borderline between the raw and the cooked, the elegiac and the confrontational. His heady syntax will thrill any reader hungry for gorgeous complication. Sonorous, libidinous, eloquent, and charmingly digressive, Scott’s the real deal.—Wayne Koestenbaum
In the hermetic and self-policed state that poetics and what passes for “literary criticism” now exist, Ramsey Scott’s lapidary and incendiary prose is more than welcome. While possessed with the necessary wit and clarity of a master satirist, Scott also plumbs the emotional depths of the real with fierce intelligence and lacerating detail. From his brilliant piece on Gilbert Sorrentino depicting the “deeply disturbing reality otherwise known as America, a cadaver whose cancerous organs continue to demand collective denial and repression,” to “Vultures Are Writers By Nature,” a redemptive meditation on childhood during the Reagan years, The Narco-Imaginary signals the arrival of an important new voice.—Ammiel Alcalay
Dear Sergeant Pepper,
For a long time now I’ve been convinced that drugs construct a link to history’s underside. LSD conjures the Sixties; prewar Vienna reclines in cocaine’s powdered foothills. On the cover of the album that bears your name, Edgar Allen Poe, Sonny Liston, Sigmund Freud. I write to you because this album forms, along with co-op peanut butter and carob chips, patterns my dreams make into quilts and fold over childhood’s pillows. I’m writing to you because half-baked concepts define my labor; my pallid inspiration can’t access completion. Experts consider your Lonely Hearts Club Band an unfinished concept album. Visionary excess never completes its projects, but its leavings provide ample room for inebriations others title entertainment. Do the Sixties as a decade match this pattern? All I know today dissolves in water, fits into my medicine cabinet, contours deformities in bone and muscle. The mannequins on your album cover remind me that all knowledge is orthopedic.
Thanks anyway for your well-boiled optimism,
Ramsey Scott teaches at Brooklyn College, CUNY. His essays, poems, and fiction have appeared in various print and online publications, including the Southwest Review, the Seneca Review, The Massachusetts Review, Shampoo, Tarpaulin Sky, Confrontation, and Mirage #4/Period(ical). The Narco-Imaginary (Essays Under the Influence) is his first book.