White Teeth and Their Discontents

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Note: Originally published in issue four of Biopsy magazine.

A methamphetamine addict is an unusual creature, even among other drug addicts. According to the most common findings, they are utterly devoid of sense altogether. Common customs of living such as eating, sleeping, manners and communication are foreign to the user of this drug. They live to use it, and when they use it, they live to lose control, often deteriorating into a series of repetitive, unusual actions, like a grotesque caricature of Tourette syndrome — often giving them the label of “tweeker.” If these be the traits of the common tweeker, I can’t recall ever having seen one at any point in my life. Though that people continuously insist that they do, indeed, exist and offer documented prove to that effect, then perhaps there is sufficient cause to believe that hope in general is alive somewhere in America and for humanity.

I don’t doubt that most if not all users of meth are driven by some kind of suffering, whether stemming from use of the drug itself or from circumstances leading up to their using it, but suffering is what tends to make the most sufficient heroes, and in my view the average methamphetamine addict has been made heroic several times over.

Perhaps the most notable trait of the tweeker is what’s commonly known as “meth mouth.” Its penchants for teeth grinding, dry mouth, increased sugar consumption, and overall disregard for routine oral hygiene renders their mouth a veritable wasteland, a corroding mess of inflamed red, faded white and blotchy brown and black. To most nonusers meth mouth is the clearest indication that one has succumbed to being irredeemable as a person, as a living thing altogether. It is the biggest offense a meth user can display to the average person, and hence the biggest threat.

It is traditional by this point that the presentation of one’s teeth is a quick and efficient way to judge one’s character. But because a method is quick and efficient doesn’t mean it’s correct. In this case, however, it is more than that — it is destructive. The value derived from the quality of one’s dental care is a high one and serves humanity well assuming humanity has masochistic and/or self-loathing tendencies.

To many, a white or even slightly off-white set of teeth indicates to onlookers that he or she who possesses that set is trustworthy, successful and imbued with some form of strength. Assertions such as these, of course, are on human terms and hence bear no likeness to terms of earth itself. Indeed, by contrast someone with well-cared-for teeth on earth’s terms is laughably unprepared for what it has in store for him or her. The human standard for proper oral health is roughly 80 percent presentation and 20 percent durableness. The natural standard on the other hand is the human standard inverted.

Humans have had a hand in many travesties in its lifespan, but the snowball for its avalanche should be identified as the advent of dental care, not just vanity procedures like bleaching, but brushing and flossing. Though the idea may well have been put forth with the best and perhaps even most practical intentions, there is no avoiding the immense cost of putting into place and making it the norm the world over. Teeth have a practical purpose. All animals must eat in order to live, why that is, metaphysically speaking, I have no idea, but man and animals must eat, and they must use their teeth for the food to be put to the best possible use. Depending upon what one ate, for the most part, the teeth would be affected somehow, often they would gradually deteriorate, some more gradually than others. To humans this seemed an error and so they corrected it. But anyone who adheres to the theories of Spencer and Darwin on evolution knows, or at least should know, that this is far from the case.

Even in man’s so-called advanced state, something as simple as survival remains ever present in the back of the specie’s collective mind. Achieving survival is rather simple. All one needs is a high evolutionary standing that allows one to withstand nature’s elemental fury. The state of one’s teeth in a pre-dental care era was one sure way to determine one’s place. If a man or woman could manage to find and consume food and have a passably strong set of teeth, they were more reliable than most for the continuation of the species. Yes, they may well have been crooked, odorous, and jaundiced, but that they remained almost entirely in one place meal after meal is a show of in-born strength. Some possess strength while others do not, and to participate in and make rituals out of brushing and flossing teeth is to perpetuate the Grand Delusion that the distinctions between strength and weakness are trivial to human survival. In moments of utter peril everyone can save everybody else, and failure to do so is a deliberate act of murder rather than a deliberate deduction of reason.

The danger in thinking such things should be apparent to any thinking person, particularly those people who tout the rigors of the evolutionary theories of Spencer and Darwin. Those ignorant of the danger, however, should look to the two best examples of stances against the Delusion: Mao Zedong and meth addicts. Mao did not brush his teeth and strength in not doing so (“Does a tiger brush his teeth?” he would justify), channeling it to rule China for more than two decades. Granted his teeth suffered from his smoking habits and other excesses and his strength often met lethal ends, but such are the flaws of “character” rather than strength. Nobler in pursuing evolutionary reality is the meth user. In permitting his teeth to rot, he has accepted and embraced his low standing in the hierarchy of animal life. The gallant display of his weakness, his inability to survive is an engagement with the purest truth but also a confrontation to all nonusers. I am denied by humanity, the addict admits, but I am accepted by the earth.

“What? Who cares?” –Me

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