[Just unearthed this old letter to The Wire which I wrote after the death of John Balance. It was never published, but I feel like putting it up here anyway.]
My enjoyment of Chris Bohn’s account of John Balance’s funeral (The Masthead, The Wire 251) was marred by the rank theorising with which the piece concluded. I read with disbelief Bohn’s comment that “Balance’s commitment to such exacting creative methods inevitably took its toll.” Balance was a sick man, an alcoholic, and the alcohol coursing through his body was not a life force but a death force. It ill behoves The Wire to imply that there is something creatively important about the alcoholism of Balance and other artists that sets them apart from the great mass of people suffering from this addiction. The suggestion that Balance drank in order to “experiment with [his] own and [his] audience’s senses” is as gratuitous as it is offensive to the thousands who, in their daily struggles with alcoholism, don’t have the benefit of cutting-edge magazine editors giving them the respectability conferred by the notion that it is all heroically being done in the name of Art.