He has produced a small chillum—a clay pipe—and filled it with the dried leaves of the cannabis plant.
‘No wonder you eat so little,’ I say. ‘It is mental food I require. Those few or many years ago of which I have told you, when I thought that by strengthening my mental powers I might regain my manhood, I went again to the man who had taught me to concentrate, to bend others to my will. But he could do nothing for me. Perhaps he had lost his hypnotic powers in the same way that I had lost my physical powers—a failure of conservation!
‘And yet this weed which grows all about me, has made life tolerable. It has so solaced me that in my fantasies I can experience all those sensual pleasures without my miserable body having to do anything! Surely that’s an achievement—surely that’s victory for mind over matter!’
‘I wouldn’t call it that,’ I say, now ready to refute. ‘If it’s the plant that brings you mental ease, that makes it a victory of matter over mind. Surely the only victory comes when the mind is free.’
‘Perhaps, perhaps. But nothing else human or divine, could help me. I had only one talent, you know. Misuse a gift, and you destroy it. And when I lost mine, I turned my back on the world and all it stood for.’
‘But the world isn’t exclusively a place for the pursuit of sensual pleasure.’
‘No. But I was a sensualist. There was nothing else I could pursue.’