Thursday, July 20, 2006

The final moment arrives, when the book is no longer a room full of stacks of clippings, books and ephemera, or a pile of floppies, CDs, DVDs and a memory stick, but a bound set of words, printed onto sheets of matted cellulose with images, each sending a thousand words to the readers' minds, endnotes, indices and everything else which makes up a complete work.
Seven years becomes one moment and then a new phase of the work begins. The stacks of clippings have been collated and put in sleeves, the books and ephemera have been put neatly onto shelves, and the various electronic files are now safe to lose or trash.
Some burdens are now over, but when the binder in London puts the copies into my hands tomorrow morning, neither of us willing to suffer any more delays, other burdens will no doubt take their place. How I envy the casual writer of fiction, able to leave his characters to their fate, able to make or break their lives as he wishes; the ink in his pen is their blood; their loss, his gain.
But for my character, the victory is yet to be won. Seven years of writing has enabled information to come to light and aid the cause, but there is still a war out there. Soldiers march against reason, unwilling to make any effort to break away from the harmful cycles of cotton cultivation and pesticide use, spurred on by zealots who believe the lies about hemp being a danger to society, in turn spurred on by malicious fools who keep the wheels spinning in a selfish direction. Lazy journalists spin rubbish about hemp, paid by the likes of Hearst, dancing to the paymaster's tune, arrogant in their ignorance. The axis of folly, terrorism against the environment, a slaughter of workers in the Third World by the carelessness of many, with leaders so stupid they cannot complete their sentences.
The battle for the book has been won, but the war is not over. Not until we can use hemp for medicine, grow it legally, wear it instead of cotton, write on it instead of on pieces of pulped up old trees, and eat it to our hearts' content.
The title, rather polemic in tone, is appropriate; it is also ironic, for it was first coined by the US government, when hemp was needed for a war.
So I have much to think about tonight, waiting to take delivery of this work, and I can pause to reflect with the bright cover in hand, gaze at the dove with the hemp leaves for wings poised over the title and take pride in the final product, but I will not pause long. I will soon join the ranks, weapon in hand, this kilogram of paper on to which the story of this plant has been recorded.

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