Much will probably be written in the coming days about addiction, and about how much more Hoffman could have done if only he had kept the poison out of his life—and that is true, to an extent. He was only forty-six when he died. But the brute, ugly fact might also be that the poison was his elixir. It could be that Hoffman belonged that small group of artists who have an arrangement with their demons. It is the stuff of myth and folklore: the Faustian bargain, Balzac’s “The Wild Ass’s Skin,” “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” In these half-allegories, the price of remarkable creative vitality is a wasting away of mortality. Or, to put it another way: without the need to flee from pain by transfiguring it, you would not have the energy to endure the suffering, the solitude, and the uncertainty that are part and parcel of artistic expression.