Whither Weed?

Weed cover

Another abandoned Weed cover design

Weed is a catchy little name but, despite the genesis of the story (see last post) the story is not about dope. No, really.

There was a moment when the writing was done and I was thinking about putting it out there in the big wide world that I had an attack of cynicism in which I thought the name with its puffy associations might be a good marketing gimmick. I slap myself on the wrist for the thought.

Weed is named Weed because that’s the name it needs. It is not for or about pot heads— stoner stuff is just boring. I am bothered that I might be seen to be championing drugs. I am happy to champion drugs, but will do so on another occasion in another way. Possibly the easy associations with the name might put off certain people from reading the thing.

The story is about so much else that is far dearer to me than puff.

Back in the day, a weed was a person who was considered physically weak and who probably had poor social skills (probably as a result of being considered by others to be physically weak — how we love the Aryan!). These days, a weed might be called a nerd. A weed is actually a person who merely has different interests and priorities to the socially fragile and intellectually impaired cool kids and jockstrap brigade. There is no need for the weed-nerd to be like everyone else and it is very often the nerdy kids who go on to create cool stuff like spaceships and the internet. In the garden, a weed is something that does not fit in, that gardeners will pull up and throw away. A weed hasn’t been planted, chosen or cultivated — it is outside the control regime so bin it. However, weeds are tenacious things. You can’t get rid of them: they just grow back and multiply and if you take your eye off them for a minute they take over the whole garden. Weeds are an image of resistance. And then there is the kind of weed that you can smoke, which has its own associations of resistance to order (both mental and social).

Weed (the story) from its inception was more of a gesture or an impulse than a deliberate or reasoned thought. It came to be a free-ranging satire of this environment of manufactured pleasures, mass-produced satisfactions, pre-fabricated jobs, assigned lifestyles, and prescribed thoughts and emotions.

It has always seemed to me that getting on, getting ahead, in this environment requires a massive act of self-abnegation, one that neither Robert D Weed nor I are capable of or willing to make. To survive or progress in this made world, you have to adapt your entire identity. It’s not so much a case of playing the part as being the part. You have to give up your self. And it scares and repels me. We are trained into obedience and banality by school, colleges, the media, our employers (and eventually our own fears of exclusion). So, one of the big themes of Weed is identity. And being is another. I could now go into Marxian notions of species being but we’ll be here till the cows come home if I do. Anyway, the darn thing is a silly little comedic two-fingers at the world, so who wants to hear about Big Ideas?

So there you go. It’s not about pot. I’m off to tend the grow lamps.

Music: Craig Padilla and Zero Ohms

Mood: I wouldn’t mind one, thanks.

Reading: Natsuo Kirino’s Grotesque — READ IT IF YOU HAVEN’T!

About chrispagefiction

Author of the novels Another Perfect Day in ****ing Paradise, Sanctioned, Weed, King of the Undies World, The Underpants Tree, and the story collection Un-Tall Tales. Editor, freelance writer, occasional cartoonist, graphic designer, and all that stuff. At heart he is a London person, but the rest of his body is in long-term exile in Osaka, Japan.
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