At the Northern Virginia Pipe Smokers Society (NVPSS), we focus on nostalgia, when times were simpler and a man relaxed with his trusty pipe after a hard day's work. What is old is now new again. NVPSS cherishes the good times. Whether through solitude of a single smoke of a bowl or through the fraternal acquaintance of fellow men, the pipe is always his trusty companion.
The current brouhaha over smoking has made everyone painfully aware of tobacco's effects on the body, but it has also obscured a more profound reason for smoking's popularity: its relation to the soul. As the heyday of smoking passes into the ash heap of history, it is meet that we reflect on this connection.
The soul, of course, is a complex thing. Long ago Plato suggested that we consider it as divided into three parts-the appetitive, spirited, and rational-that correspond to the three basic kinds of human desires: the desire to satisfy physical appetites, the desire for recognition, and the desire for truth. Once this tripartite division is recalled, tobacco's relation to the soul becomes clear: the three prevalent types of smoking tobacco-cigarettes, cigars, and pipes-correspond to the three parts of the soul.
Cigarettes correspond to the appetitive part of the soul, a fact that explains their association with both food and sex. The connection with the latter is particularly obvious: think of the proverbial postcoital cigarette, or of the ubiquity of cigarettes at singles bars. People with strong physical desires demand instant gratification, and they try to make what they desire as much a part of their own bodies as possible: hunger demands eating, thirst drinking, and lust making the body of one's lover a part of one's own. So too with cigarettes. A cigarette is inhaled: it must be fully and internally consumed in order to give pleasure. And a cigarette, with its quick buzz, is also instant gratification. Even the cigarette's notorious connection to death ties it into appetites: both are indifferent to health in their quest for satisfaction, and both, when they reach addictive levels, become hostile to it.
Cigars, on the other hand, correspond to the spirited part of the soul. This explains their traditional popularity among men seeking honor or reputation-politicians, executives, etc. The reason for this correspondence can be found in the similarity between cigars and ambition. A cigar is visually impressive: with its large size and great billows of smoke, it often leaves a greater impact on the spectator than on the smoker. Further, a cigar is phallic-not with regard to male lust, but to male power. "Testis" in Latin means "witness": the phallic status of the cigar is meant to bear public witness to the smoker's prominence, his virility. The fact that a cigar is not inhaled reflects this external focus.
Ambition also has these traits: it too is more external than internal. Unlike physical desires, which are satisfied simply by consumption, ambition requires the consensus of others. The honor-seeker, for example, has to be honored by as many people as possible in order to be satisfied.
Finally, the pipe corresponds to the rational part of the soul, which explains why we tend to picture wise figures smoking pipes: the Oxford don surrounded by his great books, or Sherlock Holmes, who, in Doyle's original stories, actually smoked other sorts of tobacco as well, yet is almost always portrayed with a pipe. Unlike cigars and cigarettes, a pipe endures. Similarly, the questions of the philosopher far outlast the passing concerns of physical desires on the one hand and human ambitions on the other. Further, while the cigar is entirely masculine, the pipe has both masculine and feminine elements (the stem and the bowl). This corresponds to the philosopher's activity, which is both masculine and feminine: masculine in its pursuit of Lady Truth, feminine in its reception of anything that she discloses. Finally, the effect that the pipe has on others is analogous to the effect of philosophizing: the sweet fragrance of a pipe, like good philosophy, is a blessing to all who are near.
It is fitting that all three kinds of smoking tobacco involve the use of fire, for each relates to the soul's responsiveness to reason, and fire, at least from the days of Prometheus, is especially emblematic of reason. But there are also nonhuman parts to the human soul. The growth of our hair and fingernails, for example, is due to the soul's activity, yet is not responsive to rational instruction.
The use of tobacco that does not involve fire, therefore, somehow corresponds to these nonhuman-or more accurately, subhuman-parts of the soul. Chewing tobacco, for example, is a quintessentially subhuman activity. It is the rumination of bovine men. Or perhaps we should say it is camel-like, for camels not only chew, but spit as well. In either case, the point is clear: chewing tobacco is a sub-rational activity, which is why we usually associate it with men of limited acumen.
Snuff, too, would fall into this category, but with some minor differences. First, because it is not so disgusting, it would not have the same negative connotations as "chew." (Activities can be sub- rational without being bad.) Second, snuff taken through the nose would fall under a different category. Everything else we have seen involves the mouth, and this is only natural, for the mouth was made to receive things into itself. But to sniff something up one's nose . . . this is unnatural.
A question remains, however, about smoking non-tobacco. One candidate immediately comes to mind because it, like tobacco, is a natural leaf. Marijuana is also noteworthy because it is used in the same ways as smoking tobacco.
The key to the difference between the two is how each one affects the smoker. Tobacco-whether in a cigarette, cigar, or a pipe-leads to conversation, loosening the tongue just enough to incline it towards speaking, but not enough to disconnect it from the brain. Marijuana, on the other hand, does not keep this balance, loosening the tongue only to have it reel away from rational thought. It does not truly facilitate conversation, drawing the smoker into himself (not outwards, as does all good conversation) and dumbing-down any speech that is uttered. Thus the appearance of conversation can be created, but it is usually only that-an appearance. Marijuana is therefore a charlatan-weed, an impostor that apes its distant relative tobacco in a shallow and perverse way.
The uses of marijuana are twisted imitations of the uses of tobacco. Joints perversely imitate cigarettes in both their appearance and in their users' claim to be erotic. But while the claim is one thing, the reality is another. Eros requires both a healthy tension and a sense of discrimination in order to be truly human. Marijuana, however, eliminates both. Think of the counterculture of the 1960s, which, in preaching sexual liberation, actually destroyed the human part of our sexuality by robbing sex of any sense of mystery, standards, or fidelity. Where once sex was a magical moment between eternally committed lovers, it was now purely animalistic, something that had no more meaning than any other bodily function. The pot-smoker fancies himself an erotic man, but ends up being an unerotic animal.
Similarly, the hash pipe is a perverse imitation of the tobacco pipe. The pot-smoker often fancies himself an intellectual: he gets high and thinks "deep thoughts" (again bringing the 1960s to mind). But the appearance is one thing, the reality another. Just as the wisdom of the 1960s student turns out to be sophomoric, so too do the deep thoughts of the pot-smoker end up being moronic.
And yes, there is even a marijuana counterpart to the cigar. In the early 1990s the inner cities gave birth to a new practice called "blunting," in which cheap cigars are gutted and stuffed with marijuana. It is fitting that this practice originated in the same place where gangs come from. An inner-city gang seems supremely concerned with honor and courage: its elaborate codes would suggest as much. But seeming is one thing, being another. The gang-member fancies himself honorable, but is in reality a thug. Just as the cigar is the counterpart to the real virtues of honor and courage, the marijuana-blunt is the counterpart to the fake virtues of gang-honor and gang-courage.
As every student of Plato knows, if something has a relation to the soul it has a relation to the city. Thus if our theory is anything more than the smoke it purports to explain, it can be used to analyze political phenomena. For example, in recent years we have witnessed a concerted effort to sterilize our erotic attachments, to sap them of their danger but also of their vigor. The flat, unerotic words we now use for these attachments confirm this. Instead of "lover" and "beloved," we now have "significant other" and, even worse, "partner" (a term which lends to the affairs of the heart all the excitement of filling out a tax form). Given this environment, it is no wonder that our most vigorous moral war waged today is against cigarette-smoking. Nor is it any wonder that this war's only rival in intensity is the one in favor of "safe sex," for condoms sterilize sex not only literally but figuratively as well.
Further, the relation between cigars and spiritedness may explain why cigars are now for the first time gaining a significant number of female disciples. For as women continue to enter the traditionally male world of competition, many are beating men at their own game by using the same tactics of gaining power. And with the tactics have come the symbols.
Most significantly, however, the relative rarity of pipe-smoking in America is a telling sign of its current intellectual crisis. If the pipe epitomizes the intellectual way of life, then is it any surprise that it cannot be found where schools substitute politically correct ideology for real philosophy, or where the intelligentsia, instead of engaging in serious thought, pander to the latest activist fads? Is it any surprise that America's most famous pipe-smoker in the last thirty years has been Hugh Hefner, pajama prophet of the trite philosophy of hedonism? No, the age of the pipe-smoker is as far from us as the day when philosophers will be kings and kings will philosophize, a sad reality to which the thick blue haze of non-pipe smoke is only too ready to attest.
It should also be no surprise in this pipeless age that the ferocious battle over tobacco has missed the real point about its addictive power. Tobacco holds sway over the soul as much as it does the body. The qualities it takes in its various forms make it a near irresistible complement to the particular desire dominant in an individual's soul. How we react to these forms says as much about our attitude toward those desires as it does toward the weed itself.
Copyright (c) 1997 First Things 72 (April 1997): 14-16.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Michael P. Foley is a Ph.D. candidate in theology at Boston College. He is currently completing his dissertation on St. Augustine. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I recently came across an article entitled, "CMU RSO Order of Collegiate Pipe Smokers looks to promote passion" posted in the Central Michigan Life campus paper from November 18, 2009. The article discusses how smoking a pipe is a way to experience the relaxation and collegiate fellowship with other students. Currently I am a Ph.D. student at Capella University and I invite other college students within the Northern Virginia area to contact me in order to start our own Order of Collegiate Pipe Smokers. Below is the article in its entirety:
Smoking tobacco from a pipe is not just a way to get a nicotine fix for Andrew Miller and 13 other students. It is a way to experience the relaxation and fellowship associated with pipe smoking. The Order of Collegiate Pipe Smokers is a registered student organization that enjoys the activity and culture of pipe smoking and tobacco. Its purpose is to educate people about pipe smoking and pipe culture and provide a place for pipe smokers to come together and socialize. Miller, a Utica junior, formed the RSO in mid-September aiming to meet other college students that share his passion for pipe smoking. “One of our goals written out in our constitution is that we want to give people a positive view of smoking and show that there are good people who choose to smoke,” he said. “There are a lot of people that already have a negative view on smoking.” One of the greatest challenges that pipe smokers face as a group are the misconceptions that surround the art of pipe smoking, he said. “For many people, if they were to see someone smoking a pipe, it is very common to assume that it’s (marijuana) or something of that nature,” Miller said. “It’s really tough to have a good first impression on people when they are willing to automatically assume something negative of you.” Competition Other than just enjoying the fellowship of smoking pipe tobacco, the group also partakes in community services and events. “Right now, we’re looking at doing some dog walking for the Humane Society,” Miller said. The group recently competed at a pipe smoking competition at the Shepherd Bar and Grill in Shepherd, where Redford senior Andrew Petrevics placed eight. “Everyone got 3.3 grams of pre-weighed standard pipe tobacco and a total of two matches,” Petrevics said. “We had to light our pipes within one minute and we weren’t allowed to relight after that. Whoever could produce smoke for the longest time was the winner.” Cedar junior Fred Lawerence has been pipe smoking for three years and could not pass up the opportunity to join the RSO. He said he enjoys all aspects of smoking pipe tobacco. “For one, it tastes and smells really good,” Lawerence said. “I think the pipes are really cool, and it’s just nice to sit around and smoke pipes with your friends. It invokes conversation and it’s just really nice and relaxing.” Source: CMU RSO Order of Collegiate Pipe Smokers looks to promote passion
This weekend, Americans across the world will be celebrating Memorial Day. It has various meanings to many fellow Red, White, & Blue constituents. Previously known as Decoration Day, this American holiday falls on May 30, 2011 (last Monday in May). This day signifies the ultimate sacrifices that men and women across the various United States military services have endowed. As I believe death is not the end, honoring those before us that have perished in all wars is a necessity.
Because I am a disabled veteran, this United States federal holiday has a meaning that I hold near and true to my heart. From my prior service in the United States Army as an Expert Infantryman (E.I.B., 1997) under the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, from my father's time being in the Army during the Vietnam era, and previous to that with my grandfather being a veteran of World War II, I exercise my own ritual of remembrance. As I listen to Bob Dylan's signature song entitled Blowin' in the Wind (1963) and puff away on my pipe in deep contemplative thought, I am truly thankful that my heart still beats and my blood still runs deep in my veins. "Yes, how many times must the cannon balls fly, Before they're forever banned?" A question raised in 1963 in which still has no apparent answer. So I urge you as you smoke a bowl of your finest tobacco within your most trusted pipe, contemplate this question and discover your own answer. Whether you have served this great country known around the world as the Land of Freedom, or if your father, brothers, or relatives have before you, never forget their sacrifice. The United States of America is still a great country and stands for strength, honor, and improving the quality of life. As an intellectual and civilized society, we have developed the path of conversations leading to understanding, compromise, and negotiations, regardless of what language is our primary communication tool. Being an American means we all come from a variety of backgrounds, whether Italian, German, Irish, or Asian. Being an American means we have different religions such as Roman Catholic, Christian, Pagan, or Buddhist. But, the most important part of all, is to remember we are all Americans. Remember this during your Memorial Day ritual, light your pipe, and let this moment shed some light on thee, instead of letting it blow in the wind. With this being said, if we all strived to understand what makes us similar as human beings instead of what makes us different, we would have less violence and possibly no need for war. America: United We Stand, Divided We Fall.
Tomorrow is not only Friday, April 29th 2011, it is also the day in which the world will be watching Britain's Prince William and his girlfriend Kate Middleton engage vows in an elaborate ceremony of wedlock. As I catch a glimpse of this attractive couple on the Telly (T.V.), I contemplate the rich history within Britain's Royal Family and the various periods of English history involving tobacco. Here is a snapshot of the last 100 years focused on the Royal family and the Royal Tobacco plant:
• 1901 - ENGLAND: End of an Age: Queen Victoria dies. Edward VII, the tobacco-hating queen's son and successor, gathers friends together in a large drawing room at Buckingham Palace. He enters the room with a lit cigar in his hand and announces, "Gentlemen, you may smoke." • 1901 - By royal warrant, Philip Morris & Co., Ltd., is appointed tobacconist for King Edward VII. • 1902 - British American Tobacco (BAT) company formed headquartered in London, United Kingdom. • 1908 - ENGLAND LEGISLATION: 1908 Children Act prohibits the sales of tobacco to under 16 -- based on the belief that smoking stunts children's growth. • 1910 - King George V ascends the throne. • 1911 - Tobacco growing is allowed in England for the first time in more than 250 years. • 1911 - The American Tobacco Company sold its share of the BAT company. • 1913 - Prince Albert tobacco uses Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Indians in its ads. • 1917 - World War I, the House of Windsor comes into being, when the name is adopted as the British Royal Family's official name by a proclamation of King George V. • 1930 - Cigar prices fall so low most hand-rolling cigar businesses fail. • 1933 - Philip Morris resuscitates and revitalizes its Philip Morris as a tony, but only premium-priced ("Now only 15 cents") "English Blend" brand. • 1936 - George V dies and is succeeded by his son Edward VIII. • 1936 - Edward VIII is in love with a divorced American woman, Wallis Simpson (divorced twice) would not be acceptable as Queen. • 1940 - General Douglas McArthur makes the corncob pipe his trademark by posing with it on dramatic occasions such as his wading ashore during the invasion and reconquest of the Philippines. • 1942 - British researcher L.M. Johnston successfully substituted nicotine injections for smoking Johnston discusses aspects of addiction including tolerance, craving and withdrawal symptoms. He concludes: Clearly the essence of tobacco smoking is the tobacco and not the smoking. Satisfaction can be obtained from chewing it, from snuff taking, and from the administration of nicotine. The experiment is reported in the British medical journal Lancet. • 1946 - Newsweek runs a story by Dr Wm D Stroud, professor of cardiology at the UPenn Graduate School of Medicine, "Smoke, Drink, and Get Well." • 1947 - George VI's first-born Princess Elizabeth marries Philip Mountbatten, who becomes Duke of Edinburgh. • 1952 - Princess Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip, set out on a tour of Africa and Asia in place of her ailing father King George VI (who dies before spring). • 1953 - Queen Elizabeth is crowned at Westminster Abbey in the first televised coronation service. • 1960 - The queen gives birth to her third child, Andrew. Her eldest son, Charles, was born in 1948 and Anne in 1950. The queen has her last child, Edward in 1964. • 1973 - The queen's only daughter, Princess Anne, marries Captain Mark Phillips. They divorce in 1992. • 1976 - The British Tobacco Company and American Tobacco Company were reorganized under a new holding company, B.A.T. Industries. • 1977 - The queen marks her Silver Jubilee with a tour of Commonwealth countries and lavish celebrations in Britain. • 1981 - Prince Charles marries Lady Diana Spencer in a glittering ceremony. They divorce in 1996. • 1982 - Prince William, is born to Charles and Diana. Prince Harry is born two years later. • 1986 - Andrew marries publishing executive Sarah Ferguson, dubbed "Fergie" by the tabloid press. • 1992 - Queen Elizabeth's 40th year on the throne, which is marked by marital upsets, a fire and public dissent. Andrew and Sarah separate. Anne divorces Mark Phillips. Windsor Castle is badly damaged by fire. The queen agrees to pay income tax. • 1996 - Charles and Diana are divorced. • 1997 - Diana and her millionaire companion Dodi Al Fayed are killed when their car crashes while being chased through Paris by photographers on motorcycles. • 1999 - BAT merged with Rothman's International, with a factory in Burma. • 2002 - The queen marks the 50th anniversary of her accession. Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother dies at Windsor Castle aged 101. • 2003 - The British Government made an "exceptional request" for Rothman's to sell its share after being criticized from Human Rights Groups. • 2005 - Charles announces he will marry his long-time lover Camilla Parker Bowles in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. • 2007 - The queen arrives in the U.S. to mark the 400th anniversary, on May 14, 1607, of Virginia Company explorers landing on Jamestown Island to establish the Virginia English colony on the banks of the James River. In 1614, the first shipment of Virginia tobacco was sold in London. • 2010 - The queen cancels a planned Christmas party at Buckingham Palace after deciding it would be inappropriate to celebrate as Britons feel the pinch from the economic crisis. • 2011 - Britain and Ireland announce that the queen is to travel to Ireland in 2011, the first official visit by a British monarch since before the Irish state gained independence from Britain in 1921. • April 29, 2011 - Prince William, the queen's grandson and Kate Middleton are to marry in Westminster Abbey.
As you watch the Royal Wedding tomorrow, do so smoking a bowl of your favorite English Tobacco Blend and admire the rich history that has gone and went, and the rich history occurring at that very moment.
Sources: Timeline - 100 years of Britain's Royal Family written by David Cutler (Reuters.com)
Tobacco Timeline - The Twentieth Century 1900-1949 (Tobacco.org)
Greetings my fellow Pipe Smoking Noblemen! Today, on Saturday March 26, 2011, lights will go out across the world for the climate change campaign called "Earth Hour." During this one-hour time period, I invite you to join Northern Virginia Pipe Smoker's Society (NVPSS) in a virtual campaign to reflect on times and lives that have perished. Although the Earth Hour movement is focused on raising awareness about climate change and the influx of carbon pollution, others will take a moment of silence to reflect on the recent earthquake and tsunami events. NVPSS will all light their pipes and pay homage to those that have had great loss and others that are no longer with us on this extraordinary planet. Whether standing by the Empire State building in New York or the Eiffel Tower in Paris, when the lights go out, light up your pipe and take part in this world wide effort. NVPSS extends the invite to pipe smokers around the world!
Earth Hour Aims For Hope In Darkened World
Lights will go out around the world on March 26, 2011 as hundreds of millions of people are expected to take part in the Earth Hour climate change campaign, which will also mark Japan's tragic quake and tsunami.
From across the Pacific, to Australia, Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas, iconic landmarks such as the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, New York's Empire State building and the Eiffel Tower in Paris will go dark.
"Earth Hour is like a New Year's Eve," Earth Hour co-founder and executive director Andy Ridley told AFP from the group's Sydney office.
"It's meant to be a celebration -- it's a bit different this year because of the Japan stuff -- but it's meant to be about hope and the future."
Ridley said in Sydney and other cities, some Earth Hour events would hold a minute's silence to mark the devastating 9.0-magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami in Japan this month that left more than 25,000 people dead or missing.
The disaster followed a deadly earthquake in New Zealand's Christchurch and massive floods in Australia in January, which devastated thousands of homes and ruined crops and infrastructure.
"It's been a bad start to the year, and I guess it's an opportunity to take a moment and think about that," Ridley said, adding that the campaign had a different focus in every location and not all events would mention Japan's catastrophe.
The Earth Hour movement, which aims to raise awareness about climate change by switching off lights for 60 minutes, hopes to bring people together to think about what they can do to reduce harmful carbon pollution blamed for rising temperatures.
Environmental group WWF International helped initiate Earth Hour in Sydney in 2007, and by 2010 the energy-saving event had grown to engage hundreds of millions of people in 4,616 cities and 128 countries and territories.
"We didn't imagine right at the beginning... it would be on the scale that it is now," said Ridley.
"And the fact that it is so cross-cultural, beyond borders and race and religion," he added, saying the event would never have grown so successfully without social networking sites such as Facebook.
This year organisers are focussing on connecting people online so they can inspire each other to go beyond the hour and make commitments to help the environment in their daily lives.
To do this they have created an online platform connected to the 14 top social media sites around the world, including Facebook and Twitter, which people will be easily able to access from mobile phones.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard this week backed Earth Hour.
"Earth Hour has become a special symbol of the determination of so many people to make a difference," said Gillard, who is facing stiff opposition to her plan to introduce a tax on carbon pollution in Australia.
Ridley said that despite the growth of the event, which organisers said was the largest voluntary action ever witnessed in 2010, the ideals of the global movement had not changed.
"When we first started this we were trying to effectively take the temperature, we were trying to prove or see whether, contrary to some commentators, whether or nor people cared (about climate change)," he said.
"I think there is a massive consensus for action, not just on climate change.
"The idea of this is not to engage in the 'why we can't do anything' debate but absolutely talk about what can be done."
The first lights going off Saturday will be in Fiji and New Zealand's Chatham Islands, before cities and landmarks around the world follow suit.
Other iconic structures due to go dark include the Sydney Opera House, Indonesia's National Monument, London's Eye and Brazil's Christ the Redeemer statue.
On May 1st, Maryland state residents will no longer be able to order their favorite pipe tobaccos from their favorite online retailers. They must buy from a licensed physical store, and be sure to pay the taxes, which, by the way are being proposed for a 500% increase!
A proposed 500 percent excise tax increase on ‘other tobacco products’ could decimate Maryland’s cigar and pipe tobacco businesses, according to the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.
Maryland House Bill 853 and Senate Bill 654 both propose to increase the excise tax rate on tobacco products other than cigarettes from 15 percent to 90 percent with a $3 cap on cigars.
"When will legislators realize that tax increases like this never produce the revenues predicted and always result in negative consequences like lost jobs and businesses?" asked Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR. "In a small state like Maryland, tobacco customers can easily cross to another state or make their purchases online and pay little to no state or local taxes."
According to the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan educational organization founded in 1937, Maryland was the only state to raise every major tax in 2008 in order to fund new spending programs including doubling of its cigarette tax from $1 to $2 per pack. The Foundation said the tax increase served to introduce record levels of bootlegged product into the state, hurt local businesses by sending thousands of the state’s smokers to surrounding states to purchase their tobacco products, and generated only half the revenue increase predicted by tax supporters.
In addition, the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 is funded solely by excise taxes on tobacco products. CHIP raised federal taxes on cigarettes to more than $10 per carton and on roll-your-own tobacco from about $1.10 per pound to $24.78 per pound – a 2,253 percent increase.
"Now the Maryland legislature is considering raising excise taxes yet again on other tobacco products from the current 15 percent of the wholesale price to 90 percent," McCalla said.
McCalla believes the only result that would be sure to take place from such an action is the further destruction of Maryland small businesses, which includes the loss of jobs and state, federal and local tax revenues.
"Premium tobacco products like pipes and cigars are highly sensitive to price increases because they are more a choice than a habit. They are adult products that make ordinary moments special and special moments extraordinary, like a fine wine," he said.
McCalla urged Maryland smokers and nonsmokers alike to tell their state senators and delegates to vote no on tax increases such as these.