Interesting documentary on Herbert Marcuse
Archive for March, 2008
I’d like to start this post with a link to a text by Deleuze: Society of Control
This text had me wondering on my own personal experience with schizophrenia, not so much due to Deleuze’s earlier work on schizophrenia, but on Deleuze’s insistence that we have moved from a society of discipline that Foucault observed, that lasted from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries until WWII, to a society of control.
This is particularly interesting for me as I have previously mentioned my PanOptic hallucinations, of being surveilled by my voices, I also mentioned that Kafka’s The Trial had particular resonance for me. So it is interesting that Deleuze in the above work mentions this novel as being caught at a moment in time during the transitions between these two societies.
In Foucault’s Crime and Punishment his description of schools epitomising the role of discipline struck close to the bone for me. Let me explain, I was educated at a certain well to do boarding school, historically constructed from the melding of a school to train governors to India for the East India Trading Company and another for Imperial Service to the darkest corners of the Empire. My move to my social theory Masters from my social development Masters was hastened (although not caused) by a comment by my development tutor musing on whether the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex where I was studying was the new Haileybury. The school was a very traditional school, our dormitaries housed 45 to a room, with just metre high barriers between our sleeping zones allowing the easy gaze of the supervisor on duty down the length of the room. Chapel on sunday, where we were berated by Reverends of our position as the cream of society (Jews and Muslims were excepted from attendance on religious grounds – I just frequently ‘accidentally’ failed to attend). The whole school ate in a single hall, so shaped that one could hear whispers from the opposite end of the hall, whilst the prefects ate on the balcony, surveilling the entire hall, a position not afforded the headmaster. But the description that ultimately got me from Discipline and Punish was that of the toilet doors being sized in such a way that a supervisor, or for that matter anybody, could see over or under to prevent any wrong doing, perverted or otherwise – I learnt to wipe my arse sitting down having been caught cleaning shit from my rear in the upright position once too often. I have destroyed many toilet seats since.
I now wonder whether my later turn to anarchism left me fighting a society of discipline as opposed to the society of control that had been developing outside those hallowed walls that I was unprepared for leaving me in a Kafka-like state. I often wonder whether Lacan was wrong in insisting that the Real Father that leads to foreclosure causing schizophrenia necessarily has to be the biological father, in some ways is there a father in that school that I have been unable to kill in all its surveillence and discipline? That then left me unprepared and unable to fight even more insidious forms of control?
This was written in 1997, yet I have just stumbled across it through an rss feed of a del.icio.us tag, that strange space between surveillance and communicative power that has the Web 2.0 lot all a fluster. Anyway here is Ultra-Red’s call for an ambientinternational:
If you are someone (like me) who spends thousands of pounds on hi fi equipment to (not my reason though) find some mythical authenticity of musical sound, but only listen to pop music…
Are you trying to find the inauthentic authentic? The reality in hyperreality?
(Note: I realise this proposition relies on the belief in the possibility of recreating the authentic through technology. Would I pour scorn on that? Oh, I just did.)
Rates of suicide in poverty stricken areas of rural India are high too, as they are in many other parts of the developing world.
Bertrand Russell the analytic philosopher often enjoyed telling the story of a woman at one of his lectures on solipsism who declared that she was a solipsist too and was surprised there weren’t more of them.
I’m also reminded of Hegel’s concept that we can not truly be self-conscious until we are conscious of another consciousness.
It informs my investigations into communication especially as perhaps due to distorted communication within my family I became susceptible to schizophrenia.
However, when doing a quick google search I on this subject i regularly came across the suggestion that schizophrenia was akin to solipsism. Admittedly only by those not ‘expert’ in mental health, although perhaps experts in their own field (in this particular case philosophy). Which suggests the concept exists in the general ‘lifeworld’, our collective knowledge from which we draw from.
In the literature on schizophrenia I find distorted communication more prevalent, which suggests that although schizophrenia is a form of psychotic communication, especially in forms such as hearing voices, paranoia and thought broadcast, to an other it appears as a form of solipsism as that other would him/herself perceive it without understanding their position in the relation with the schizophrenic (perhaps a solipsism of their own).
I know in my own personal experience of schizophrenia there is a variance here between the two concepts. I hear voices that talk to me, they may well be my imagination, they may well be others. The reason I suffer is the inability to distinguish between the two. If the voices are my imagination then I cannot be conscious of them as a consciousness, therefore it is solipsistic, isn’t it.
Well, this ignores the fact that hearing voices is merely a part of my being. There are other consciouses that I do communicate with, others who I am aware are there. However the distorted communication I have been treated to has driven me to communicate with myself as an Other, or in my case Others, which are representations of those other Others I cannot communicate with. That this communication is with myself, with my imagination, becomes less solipsistic as the self I am communicating with is represented as an Other consciousness, even if psychotically.
In the human need to recognise another consciousness denied I have created them as representations within my imagination.