In this iconoclastic gem of a book, Klein manages to provide a wonderful tool to those of us readers who resonate with his wonderful voicing of one giant "in your face" to the new and stultifying "Nanny State". This statement summarizes the message of "Cigarettes are Sublime" !
Usually we who chafe at "Big Brother" telling us how to treat our bodies, resort to arguments like: "Well, I want to have the right to smoke on my balcony at work 'dammit'!" Such protest can sound a bit like an adolescent stamping one's foot. Klein however, in this so well-spun book, with its rich historical analysis spanning many cultures, gives us a unique and powerful tool to use, in voicing our protest.
"Cigarettes are Sublime" manages to capture what is the CULTURALLY EMBEDDED power, and perhaps (if you agree with Klein) what is in fact the VALUE, as means of self-expression, of smoking, as a social symbol and act. As the Editorial reviews note, "vices" in general (drinking, playing poker, smoking, eating gloriously at sumptuous tables with friends) are all very powerful "games" or "props" in that very underappreciated arena of how we humans "play" with each other in private life--what mischief we toy with, what message we project to others about our "attitude"; to death, to sex, to an embrace vs rejection of the message (broadcast daily in ominous bulletins from our media),that our bodies are entities vulnerable and besieged by a barrage of "risks" that we must always vigilantly guard against, at any cost, including sacrifice of our bodies as instruments of pleasure and work. In this light, the puff on a cig is not JUST recklessness, but in fact, can give that same royal pleasure that one gets in reveling on one's roof to catch rays, as others , anxiously monitoring the daily published "cancer index" of the sun, huddle indoors.
Seen from this very often ignored angle of pleasure and play and social intercourse, cigarettes--as are so many of our personal habits and messages to others in our myriad relationships--are a sublime pleasure in the playground of life, the very thing that those who cry for quantity of life, ignoring quality of the play, indeed need heed, if life is what they wish to "celebrate".