Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray.

What's this doing at the Psychoactive Management web site? Wilde's Dorian Gray stayed youthful because a painting of him manifested all the attributes of moral and physical ugliness his degenerate lifestyle would normally have produced in himself. When he stabbed the painting, the painting became as it had been originally created, and those attributes transferred to him. In my Quasi-FAQ, I make an analogy here, with the misdirected attempt some people make to "stab", or destroy, the false and inappropriate stigmatization that has been effected by years of popular "drug abuse" education against "dopers" and other stereotypes, which depict users of contraband as being a degenerate class of humans. One often finds detractors of the perpetrators of that point of view, calling the perpetrators "hypocrites" and other names. Labeling like that is just as likely to impair communication as badly as labeling "dopers" has done. Thus, if that image is stabbed, it will (by my analogy) transfer to those who perpetrated it, causing them distress to such a degree that they will not be able to deal rationally with the problem.

I call this "the Dorian effect" or "the Dorian Gray effect". Perhaps this is an extreme view, but I don't think it is. You can see it operating when two people on either side of a gap, where much labeling has gone on in one direction, are arguing. The labeler frequently is obviously nervous about being called a hypocrite, which in fact is, although perhaps literally true, totally incidental and inappropriate to point out when the two sides have as a goal, understanding each other's point of view.

I recommend instead, a compassionate and methodical disabling, according to plans and accompanied by copious note-taking, of the edifice of stigmatization and stereotyping against young people and others involved with psychoactive contraband. Sure, there are some bad apples among that bunch, but if any consumers of contraband happen to be (otherwise) decent, responsible citizens, are they going to stand up and be counted? Of course not. That "otherwise" makes some raise an eyebrow and think about the stereotyping, while others shrug and dismiss the possibility, assuming "responsible psychoactive contraband consumer" to be an oxymoron.

Here's the ending of The Picture of Dorian Gray.

As he thought of Hetty Merton, he began to wonder if the portrait in the locked room had changed. Surely it was not still so horrible as it had been? Perhaps if his life became pure, he would be able to expel every sign of evil passion from the face. Perhaps the signs of evil had already gone away. He would go and look.

He took the lamp from the table and crept upstairs. As he unbarred the door, a smile of joy flitted across his strangely young-looking face and lingered for a moment about his lips. Yes, he would be good, and the hideous thing that he had hidden away would no longer be a terror to him. He felt as if the load had been lifted from him already.

He went in quietly, locking the door behind him, as was his custom, and dragged the purple hanging from the portrait. A cry of pain and indignation broke from him. He could see no change, save that in the eyes there was a look of cunning and in the mouth the curved wrinkle of the hypocrite.

The thing was still loathsome--more loathsome, if possible, than before--and the scarlet dew that spotted the hand seemed brighter, and more like blood newly spilled. Then he trembled. Had it been merely vanity that had made him do his one good deed? Or the desire for a new sensation, as Lord Henry had hinted, with his mocking laugh?

Or that passion to act a part that sometimes makes us do things finer than we are ourselves? Or, perhaps, all these? And why was the red stain larger than it had been? It seemed to have crept like a horrible disease over the wrinkled fingers. There was blood on the painted feet, as though the thing had dripped--blood even on the hand that had not held the knife. Confess? Did it mean that he was to confess?

To give himself up and be put to death? He laughed. He felt that the idea was monstrous. Besides, even if he did confess, who would believe him? There was no trace of the murdered man anywhere. Everything belonging to him had been destroyed. He himself had burned what had been below-stairs. The world would simply say that he was mad. .....

He was thinking of Hetty Merton. For it was an unjust mirror, this mirror of his soul that he was looking at. Vanity? Curiosity? Hypocrisy? Had there been nothing more in his renunciation than that? There had been something more. At least he thought so. But who could tell? . . . No. There had been nothing more. Through vanity he had spared her. In hypocrisy he had worn the mask of goodness. For curiosity's sake he had tried the denial of self. He recognized that now. But this murder--was it to dog him all his life? Was he always to be burdened by his past? Was he really to confess? Never. There was only one bit of evidence left against him. The picture itself-- that was evidence. He would destroy it. Why had he kept it so long? Once it had given him pleasure to watch it changing and growing old. Of late he had felt no such pleasure. It had kept him awake at night.

When he had been away, he had been filled with terror lest other eyes should look upon it. It had brought melancholy across his passions. Its mere memory had marred many moments of joy. It had been like conscience to him. Yes, it had been conscience. He would destroy it.

He looked round and saw the knife that had stabbed Basil Hallward. He had cleaned it many times, till there was no stain left upon it. It was bright, and glistened. As it had killed the painter, so it would kill the painter's work, and all that that meant.

It would kill the past, and when that was dead, he would be free. It would kill this monstrous soul-life, and without its hideous warnings, he would be at peace. He seized the thing, and stabbed the picture with it.

There was a cry heard, and a crash. The cry was so horrible in its agony that the frightened servants woke and crept out of their rooms. Two gentlemen, who were passing in the square below, stopped and looked up at the great house. . . . .

When they entered, they found hanging upon the wall a splendid portrait of their master as they had last seen him, in all the wonder of his exquisite youth and beauty. Lying on the floor was a dead man, in evening dress, with a knife in his heart. He was withered, wrinkled, and loathsome of visage. It was not till they had examined the rings that they recognized who it was.

Click on picture at top of page to read the story.
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