"Smartphones mean the office is always in our pocket. Smart drugs could mean the office is always in our minds."

Given the recent surge in the popularity of nootropics—non-toxic, non-addictive drugs that enhance learning acquisition, increase the coupling of the brain’s hemispheres, and improve processing—a debate over the murky limits of our neurological optimization has arisen as well.

"Smartphones mean the office is always in our pocket. Smart drugs could mean the office is always in our minds."

Given the recent surge in the popularity of nootropics—non-toxic, non-addictive drugs that enhance learning acquisition, increase the coupling of the brain’s hemispheres, and improve processing—a debate over the murky limits of our neurological optimization has arisen as well.

Your ADHD Meds Might Give You a Life-Threatening Erection 
The FDA issued a warning today that a small number of the 5 percent of young boys who have been diagnosed with ADHD are at risk for priapism, aka: boners that won’t go away. Medications that contain methylphenidate can trap blood in the penises of men, and even more distressingly, young boys, who already suffer from the “terrible affliction" of hyperbonerism, which is funny, except when it’s not.
Priapism, named after Priapus, the Greek fertility god pictured above, is most often caused by scarier and more painful conditions like––prepare to wince––kidney stones, hernias, or twisting of the spermatic cord, which can overshadow the severity of a persistent erection. Priapism on it’s own, however, has to be treated or it can cause fertility problems, and, in the worst of cases,gangrene of the penis, which necessitates amputation.
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Your ADHD Meds Might Give You a Life-Threatening Erection 

The FDA issued a warning today that a small number of the 5 percent of young boys who have been diagnosed with ADHD are at risk for priapism, aka: boners that won’t go away. Medications that contain methylphenidate can trap blood in the penises of men, and even more distressingly, young boys, who already suffer from the “terrible affliction" of hyperbonerism, which is funny, except when it’s not.

Priapism, named after Priapus, the Greek fertility god pictured above, is most often caused by scarier and more painful conditions like––prepare to wince––kidney stones, hernias, or twisting of the spermatic cord, which can overshadow the severity of a persistent erection. Priapism on it’s own, however, has to be treated or it can cause fertility problems, and, in the worst of cases,gangrene of the penis, which necessitates amputation.

Continue

Tao Lin Talks Taipei 
The interview below was conducted in the wee hours of the morning (from 1 to 4 AM) on the bed of Tao Lin, in his apartment on the east side of Manhattan, with a small party going on in the other corner of the room. Tao and I later tightened a few things up through email. This is the first, definitive interview with the author after finishing his novel, Taipei, which will be released this spring from Vintage.
—-
PART I: ANNE SEXTON
VICE: Were you happier before, during, or after writing Taipei?Tao Lin: I think… after.
After?Yeah.
Why?During… I got into a routine of doing like 80 to 120 milligrams of Adderall and not sleeping for like 36 hours. Then using Xanax or Klonopin and eating, then sleeping for like 12 hours, or not sleeping another night and using more Adderall. Which mostly felt bad, like a constant state of desperation, thinking the novel was incoherent. And I would have days without Adderall, so that it would still work, but it gradually worked less—and on those days I would just eat and use Percocet or whatever I had and be zombielike, then sleep. Wait, did you say you didn’t want drugs in this?
Well, I was saying maybe we won’t mention them since we’ve done that so much already but it doesn’t matter. What were you reading while writing Taipei?I was rereading Fernando Pessoa and Schopenhauer. I had eBooks of different editions of their stuff on my iPhone. I mostly read eBooks off my iPhone. I remember reading Elizabeth Wurtzel’s memoir, More, Now, Again, about her trying to write a book while using a lot of Ritalin and feeling interested because it was like what I was doing. Except she was writing a nonfiction book and rich enough to move to Florida to focus on her book. I was writing an autobiographical novel and borrowing from strangers on Twitter. When she described her worst times, like going into a shopping mall and feeling insane from Ritalin, I was like, “shit, that’s… normal, for me.”
When would you read? Before you wrote?Mostly after. Like when I couldn’t work anymore and wanted to be asleep but my heart would be beating really fast. I remember thinking I was probably going to die of a heart attack… and [long pause] another book I read… it was a biography about… what’s that poet who killed herself?
Sylvia Plath?The other one.
It’s a famous one? I don’t know.Well, I read her biography and it was really depressing. She was committing suicide but not dying, and people were afraid to be genuine with her because anything might cause another suicide attempt. But people were afraid that she might sense them being not genuine… so it was just, like, impossible to be her friend. Then she finally killed herself. Reading was kind of my form of social interaction for like a year. I hung out like once a month, like I’d go to an event with you, but mostly had no IRL interactions.
Can you think of any books that directly affected the writing you did for Taipei?For a while, because I felt like horrible about everything I was writing, whenever I read anything—even things by me, from my other books—I’d be like “that seems good, I should do it like that.” And desperately try to change the tone and prose style of my entire book, while viewing it as an unfixable piece of shit, compared to whatever I’d just read. I remember reading half a sentence of a Gore Vidal novel, like the first five words, and closing the book and feeling convinced that I must rewrite my novel in the tone and style of the five words I had just read… I was in a constant state of desperation about what choices to make in my book, except for like the two hours each day when I was peaking on Adderall. I used ecstasy a few times when I didn’t have Adderall, to get into a mental state where everything didn’t seem horrible.
Why write at all?Well, I’ll talk about this book: why did I write this book. I was just barely making enough money… I don’t remember how. Oh, probably mostly off royalty checks every six months, and writing for Thought Catalog and other places, and selling art. The checks were getting smaller every time, and I think, at some point, Richard Yates and Bed became unavailable on Amazon and currently still are unavailable, except as eBooks, which I think means those books are out-of-print, so not in bookstores. So I was going to need to do something for money. I emailed Bill Clegg, who had reviewed Richard Yates positively for Amazon, and asked if he would be interested in trying to sell 20 pages and an outline of my next novel, and he was, and he did. So I got one-third of a $50,000 advance, and a timeframe, to write my third novel.
You know how certain writers are like, “I have to write. If I didn’t write, I’d die.” Do you feel that? That if you couldn’t write you’d die?No, I never got that. I’ve never gotten the thing like “it’s a voice inside of me” or when writers say they start with an image, then try to figure out what it means, and like the image just “came to them,” so they really want to find out what it means… I’ve never related to that. And I think I view myself as always writing, like nonstop, because I view thinking and talking—because they use language, the same language as writing—as forms of writing.
Do you have another book contract?No.
How much money would it have to be for?Not that much, I don’t think.
Like not as much as you were paid for this one?If someone were offering $50,000 for another novel, I’d do it. I would like that.
—-
PART II: BRET EASTON ELLIS
What movie is most like your book?Shit… what’s a movie where they use drugs a lot but no one dies and there’s no violence, and it’s funny, but everyone is depressed?
I don’t know.Maybe Husbands and Wives with drugs and younger characters. I can’t think of movies where people use a large variety of drugs. It’s usually like… focused on one drug. In movies, I don’t know, it’s like—
—it’s like somebody dies or there’s some kind of fucking moral to it. Bret Easton Ellis tweeted one day something like, “Why can’t somebody write a drug book where they just keep partying instead of going to rehab and getting clean?”
Continue

Tao Lin Talks Taipei 

The interview below was conducted in the wee hours of the morning (from 1 to 4 AM) on the bed of Tao Lin, in his apartment on the east side of Manhattan, with a small party going on in the other corner of the room. Tao and I later tightened a few things up through email. This is the first, definitive interview with the author after finishing his novel, Taipei, which will be released this spring from Vintage.

—-

PART I: ANNE SEXTON

VICE: Were you happier before, during, or after writing Taipei?
Tao Lin: I think… after.

After?
Yeah.

Why?
During… I got into a routine of doing like 80 to 120 milligrams of Adderall and not sleeping for like 36 hours. Then using Xanax or Klonopin and eating, then sleeping for like 12 hours, or not sleeping another night and using more Adderall. Which mostly felt bad, like a constant state of desperation, thinking the novel was incoherent. And I would have days without Adderall, so that it would still work, but it gradually worked less—and on those days I would just eat and use Percocet or whatever I had and be zombielike, then sleep. Wait, did you say you didn’t want drugs in this?

Well, I was saying maybe we won’t mention them since we’ve done that so much already but it doesn’t matter. What were you reading while writing Taipei?
I was rereading Fernando Pessoa and Schopenhauer. I had eBooks of different editions of their stuff on my iPhone. I mostly read eBooks off my iPhone. I remember reading Elizabeth Wurtzel’s memoir, More, Now, Again, about her trying to write a book while using a lot of Ritalin and feeling interested because it was like what I was doing. Except she was writing a nonfiction book and rich enough to move to Florida to focus on her book. I was writing an autobiographical novel and borrowing from strangers on Twitter. When she described her worst times, like going into a shopping mall and feeling insane from Ritalin, I was like, “shit, that’s… normal, for me.”

When would you read? Before you wrote?
Mostly after. Like when I couldn’t work anymore and wanted to be asleep but my heart would be beating really fast. I remember thinking I was probably going to die of a heart attack… and [long pause] another book I read… it was a biography about… what’s that poet who killed herself?

Sylvia Plath?
The other one.

It’s a famous one? I don’t know.
Well, I read her biography and it was really depressing. She was committing suicide but not dying, and people were afraid to be genuine with her because anything might cause another suicide attempt. But people were afraid that she might sense them being not genuine… so it was just, like, impossible to be her friend. Then she finally killed herself. Reading was kind of my form of social interaction for like a year. I hung out like once a month, like I’d go to an event with you, but mostly had no IRL interactions.

Can you think of any books that directly affected the writing you did for Taipei?
For a while, because I felt like horrible about everything I was writing, whenever I read anything—even things by me, from my other books—I’d be like “that seems good, I should do it like that.” And desperately try to change the tone and prose style of my entire book, while viewing it as an unfixable piece of shit, compared to whatever I’d just read. I remember reading half a sentence of a Gore Vidal novel, like the first five words, and closing the book and feeling convinced that I must rewrite my novel in the tone and style of the five words I had just read… I was in a constant state of desperation about what choices to make in my book, except for like the two hours each day when I was peaking on Adderall. I used ecstasy a few times when I didn’t have Adderall, to get into a mental state where everything didn’t seem horrible.

Why write at all?
Well, I’ll talk about this book: why did I write this book. I was just barely making enough money… I don’t remember how. Oh, probably mostly off royalty checks every six months, and writing for Thought Catalog and other places, and selling art. The checks were getting smaller every time, and I think, at some point, Richard Yates and Bed became unavailable on Amazon and currently still are unavailable, except as eBooks, which I think means those books are out-of-print, so not in bookstores. So I was going to need to do something for money. I emailed Bill Clegg, who had reviewed Richard Yates positively for Amazon, and asked if he would be interested in trying to sell 20 pages and an outline of my next novel, and he was, and he did. So I got one-third of a $50,000 advance, and a timeframe, to write my third novel.

You know how certain writers are like, “I have to write. If I didn’t write, I’d die.” Do you feel that? That if you couldn’t write you’d die?
No, I never got that. I’ve never gotten the thing like “it’s a voice inside of me” or when writers say they start with an image, then try to figure out what it means, and like the image just “came to them,” so they really want to find out what it means… I’ve never related to that. And I think I view myself as always writing, like nonstop, because I view thinking and talking—because they use language, the same language as writing—as forms of writing.

Do you have another book contract?
No.

How much money would it have to be for?
Not that much, I don’t think.

Like not as much as you were paid for this one?
If someone were offering $50,000 for another novel, I’d do it. I would like that.

—-

PART II: BRET EASTON ELLIS

What movie is most like your book?
Shit… what’s a movie where they use drugs a lot but no one dies and there’s no violence, and it’s funny, but everyone is depressed?

I don’t know.
Maybe Husbands and Wives with drugs and younger characters. I can’t think of movies where people use a large variety of drugs. It’s usually like… focused on one drug. In movies, I don’t know, it’s like—

it’s like somebody dies or there’s some kind of fucking moral to it. Bret Easton Ellis tweeted one day something like, “Why can’t somebody write a drug book where they just keep partying instead of going to rehab and getting clean?”

Continue

Cat Marnell’s Amphetamine Logic: Goodbye to All That (the End for Now)
Amphetamine Logic was kind of making me psychotic.
I sat down for lunch with my agent at an overpriced bistro on Park Avenue South.
"So Cat," Byrd Leavell, literary agent extraordinaire, said. "What’s new?"
"Well," I said, surreptitiously picking a peroxide scab off my head. "I guess I’ve finally burned out like everyone wants me to." I was eating on a steak and trying not to gag while I chewed.
"Hmm," said my agent. "Well, what are we going to do—"
"I don’t know, man," I gulped, and my hands started shaking. "Let me just try to explain the situation. I have no money and everyday eat empanadas from the corner that I pay for in laundry quarters. My apartment looks like a fucking personality disorder. You can barely open the door—"
"Uh huh," said Byrd.
"—I mean there are perfume bottle shards in my feet and there’s blood and oatmeal on the floor—"
"Cat," Byrd said. "You can’t live like this anymore."
*****
But couldn’t I? On the way home I thought about all of the things instead of writing that I’d been doing.
I was Rolling Stone's ”Hot Bukowski.” I was the toast of the town. I was puking flowers afterhours; I was letting everybody down. I read a Tatler article: "London’s Seven Loveliest Lesbians." I mocked a skeleton dressed as Kenny Scharf at Gold Bar. There was ethanol, Adderall, night rainbows, Nalaxone. I sat around stoned in Soho House while the concierge charged my iPhone. I stuffed Artforum in my oven and stacked Richardson on the stove. I saw Pointbreak at MOMA; I saw 3 PM Hunger Games in LA at the Grove: “(PG-13) for intense violent thematic material and disturbing images—all involving teens.” I bleached everything I owned and my knuckles burned and scabbed from the bleach.

I snorted dope in DUMBO and I smoked dust on the beach. I preyed on editors during the day and slept with monsters at night. Life’s never dowdy in an Audi scoring pudé up in Washington Heights, is it babes? I drank Diet Coke and had coke sex and sat in Yorkville townhouse basements playing Mario Kart on a grimy old Super Nintendo. We smoked crack until our fingers turned black and watched Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto. I chilled with famous downtown stupor freaks tweaking and listening to Diplo.
“WHY IS EVERYBODY DRESSED LIKE MR. PEANUT?!" I screamed once at Le Baron. I had about 40 pounds of fake hair on.
"Shhh," Same said. "You are dusted." And though I was confused of course I trusted him.
The Boom Boom Room was always full of doom. Our PCP smelled like burnt balloons. I was dressed Boricua heroin chic. Shaun was asking me if I saw Wu Tang at Milk Studios that one weird Fashion Week.
“Wu Tsang?”
"Wu Tang!"
"WU TSANG?!"
"Cat." Shaun said.
"Oh Jesus God, does it fucking matter?” I screamed. “Is this a ‘Big Picture’ problem?” The bathroom line disasters are as disastrous as disasters can be. “Shaun, the little coke girls are STARING AT ME.”
“They are staring at us because we know them,” Shaun said. “You’ve had them over to your house to do drugs at least four times. Invite them over. They’re the little LES… dominatrixes. They have tons of tons of drugs and money and they’re nice.”
"OK," I said, and I walked over and did.
*****
Continue

Cat Marnell’s Amphetamine Logic: Goodbye to All That (the End for Now)

Amphetamine Logic was kind of making me psychotic.

I sat down for lunch with my agent at an overpriced bistro on Park Avenue South.

"So Cat," Byrd Leavell, literary agent extraordinaire, said. "What’s new?"

"Well," I said, surreptitiously picking a peroxide scab off my head. "I guess I’ve finally burned out like everyone wants me to." I was eating on a steak and trying not to gag while I chewed.

"Hmm," said my agent. "Well, what are we going to do—"

"I don’t know, man," I gulped, and my hands started shaking. "Let me just try to explain the situation. I have no money and everyday eat empanadas from the corner that I pay for in laundry quarters. My apartment looks like a fucking personality disorder. You can barely open the door—"

"Uh huh," said Byrd.

"—I mean there are perfume bottle shards in my feet and there’s blood and oatmeal on the floor—"

"Cat," Byrd said. "You can’t live like this anymore."

*****

But couldn’t I? On the way home I thought about all of the things instead of writing that I’d been doing.

I was Rolling Stone's ”Hot Bukowski.” I was the toast of the town. I was puking flowers afterhours; I was letting everybody down. I read a Tatler article: "London’s Seven Loveliest Lesbians." I mocked a skeleton dressed as Kenny Scharf at Gold Bar. There was ethanol, Adderall, night rainbows, Nalaxone. I sat around stoned in Soho House while the concierge charged my iPhone. I stuffed Artforum in my oven and stacked Richardson on the stove. I saw Pointbreak at MOMA; I saw 3 PM Hunger Games in LA at the Grove: “(PG-13) for intense violent thematic material and disturbing images—all involving teens.” I bleached everything I owned and my knuckles burned and scabbed from the bleach.

I snorted dope in DUMBO and I smoked dust on the beach. I preyed on editors during the day and slept with monsters at night. Life’s never dowdy in an Audi scoring pudé up in Washington Heights, is it babes? I drank Diet Coke and had coke sex and sat in Yorkville townhouse basements playing Mario Kart on a grimy old Super Nintendo. We smoked crack until our fingers turned black and watched Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto. I chilled with famous downtown stupor freaks tweaking and listening to Diplo.

WHY IS EVERYBODY DRESSED LIKE MR. PEANUT?!" I screamed once at Le Baron. I had about 40 pounds of fake hair on.

"Shhh," Same said. "You are dusted." And though I was confused of course I trusted him.

The Boom Boom Room was always full of doom. Our PCP smelled like burnt balloons. I was dressed Boricua heroin chic. Shaun was asking me if I saw Wu Tang at Milk Studios that one weird Fashion Week.

Wu Tsang?”

"Wu Tang!"

"WU TSANG?!"

"Cat." Shaun said.

"Oh Jesus God, does it fucking matter?” I screamed. “Is this a ‘Big Picture’ problem?” The bathroom line disasters are as disastrous as disasters can be. “Shaun, the little coke girls are STARING AT ME.”

They are staring at us because we know them,” Shaun said. “You’ve had them over to your house to do drugs at least four times. Invite them over. They’re the little LES… dominatrixes. They have tons of tons of drugs and money and they’re nice.”

"OK," I said, and I walked over and did.

*****

Continue

Boyle’s Brains - Methods of Escaping Eight New Levels of Hell
OUT OF ADDERALL HELLThis new level of Hell involves eating sugary-tasting toilet paper embedded with precious orange dust molecules that are supposed to help your brain work, but more often lead to 40-minute sprees of neurotically editing late replies to emails, with the hope that their impending completions will motivate you to refocus on neurotically editing the document you originally purchased the Adderall to help you write.
Escape Route:Write about being out of Adderall.
WRITING ABOUT BEING OUT OF ADDERALL HELLThis level of Hell is hard to write about because it involves abandoning some kind of self-containment you had about not wanting to write about Adderall. There is something shameful and gimmicky about what you are doing. Now you are writing about writing and drugs. You said you wouldn’t do that. Your boyfriend doesn’t like it when you do that. If you find yourself in these first two new levels of Hell it probably means you lack a drug dealer or a prescription, which probably means you don’t talk to many people, and one of the many people you don’t talk to is a therapist. That is partially true. Your dad is a therapist. Is it OK to ask him for Adderall? Each sentence you write about being out of Adderall prolongs this level of Hell.
Escape Route:Take sexy pictures of your ass in the mirror.
SEXY ASS HELLThe pictures of your ass on your phone look OK, but when uploaded and maximized on your computer look five times worse than your ass on your phone, which means your ass in real life looks at least five times worse than it does on your computer. What were your plans for those pictures, anyway?
Escape Route:Buy a new outfit from that vintage place you’ve been meaning to check out.
Continue

Boyle’s Brains - Methods of Escaping Eight New Levels of Hell

OUT OF ADDERALL HELL
This new level of Hell involves eating sugary-tasting toilet paper embedded with precious orange dust molecules that are supposed to help your brain work, but more often lead to 40-minute sprees of neurotically editing late replies to emails, with the hope that their impending completions will motivate you to refocus on neurotically editing the document you originally purchased the Adderall to help you write.

Escape Route:
Write about being out of Adderall.

WRITING ABOUT BEING OUT OF ADDERALL HELL
This level of Hell is hard to write about because it involves abandoning some kind of self-containment you had about not wanting to write about Adderall. There is something shameful and gimmicky about what you are doing. Now you are writing about writing and drugs. You said you wouldn’t do that. Your boyfriend doesn’t like it when you do that. If you find yourself in these first two new levels of Hell it probably means you lack a drug dealer or a prescription, which probably means you don’t talk to many people, and one of the many people you don’t talk to is a therapist. That is partially true. Your dad is a therapist. Is it OK to ask him for Adderall? Each sentence you write about being out of Adderall prolongs this level of Hell.

Escape Route:
Take sexy pictures of your ass in the mirror.

SEXY ASS HELL
The pictures of your ass on your phone look OK, but when uploaded and maximized on your computer look five times worse than your ass on your phone, which means your ass in real life looks at least five times worse than it does on your computer. What were your plans for those pictures, anyway?

Escape Route:
Buy a new outfit from that vintage place you’ve been meaning to check out.

Continue