The freedom of the bootlicker’s choice

Filed under:poetry — posted by Schizostroller on October 31, 2018 @ 8:30 am

You can do what you like
As long as
You do what you are told,
And try to fit in.
And if you don’t…
It’s your own fault
You’re not free.

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The poisoned charist

Filed under:poetry — posted by Schizostroller on October 23, 2018 @ 2:45 pm

The tyranny of conscience
stems form
the failure of the charist to heal themselves.
And therein lies a contradiction.
The preservation of which is is a spiritual plateau
Where everything is true
And nothing is permitted
An aporic koan
Based on contradictions in Entäusserung

In zen
There is a koan
A double bind
Where the master holds a stick over his student’s head.
He says
“If you move I will hit you.
If you don’t move I will also hit you.”
The enlightened student refuses his master this right
And moves the stick away and stands up.

One should be able to stand up
And say, “I do not need healing”

The tyrant refuses to move the stick.
The poisoned charist.
The original sin.

In such a situation.
There is no alternative
But to fight.
All other roads
Are shut off.

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The distance between metaphor and it

Filed under:Random notes — posted by Schizostroller on @ 2:01 pm

The frog lept from lily pad to lily pad, he saw a big one ahead and jumped on it. But it was a fata morgana and he ended up in the water, and had to decide which of the multiple possible lily pads it represented to swim to, each with it’s own potential danger lurking beneath.

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‘Sin your way to heaven and get slaughtered: A byzantine general problem of the self’ (part sixteen)

Filed under:Sin your Way to Heaven and get Slaughtered — posted by Schizostroller on October 21, 2018 @ 10:11 am

Sentence structure varies in length from the very brief of commands such as “Go!” to the very long. Most sentences on average contain around 20 words. From this it has been estimated that there are a possible 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 possible sentences in the English language. There are some sequences of words that aren’t sentences. These words are considers unacceptable, one can argue that this is because there are prescriptive and descriptive rules about how sentence structure works. These rules are known as syntax, grammatical rules that determine the sequence of words that constitute a sentence. Some would say that grammatical acceptability is related to meaning. However nonsense writing such as that of Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky would disprove this. The acceptability of sentence structure lies more in phrase structure. Behind this phrase structure lie the sentence’s underlying structure (or ‘deep structure’), which provides the starting point for semantic meaning, e.g., who does what to whom. However one can move around the element’s structure, perhaps for stylistic reasons, or to draw attention to one element rather than another, this is the surface structure (or s-structure). This is the structure of the sentence expressed in speech. A sentence’s underlying structure cannot be observed directly, instead it is inferred from various patterns in the surface structure. When an element of a sentence vacates a position to move somewhere else, it doesn’t depart cleanly. Instead it leaves a trace behind. The trace isn’t expressed out loud, but is evident in the speech pattern. These traces thus allow us to document that elements have been moved around and from where they have been moved. This then establishes that different types of sentence, such as questions, are not formed by running through the appropriate phrase structure rules, but by moving elements around in a tree structure in accord with the movement rules.
This relates to sentence formation, but how do we comprehend the sentences we read or hear? How do we parse sentences? We know that subjects use phrase structure to interpret the sentence in the first place. But how do we figure out the phrase structure? It seems listeners and readers use phrase endings to do so. But how do they identify such phrase endings in more complicated sentences? Parsing a sentence turns out to be a complex process due to the variety of sentence forms and also due to ambiguity. Temporary ambiguity can occur within a sentence, where the first part of sentence is ambiguous but the second part clears things up. It seems we use a variety of different strategies to parse sentences. For example as a matter of convenience, we assume sentences for the most part are active, rather than passive (at least in English) and listen out for them, although this can cause issues parsing when passive sentences are encountered. Other factors involved in parsing are function words and the various morphemes that signal syntactic role. There is also minimal attachment, this means that throughout a sentence the listener or reader looks out for the simplest phrase structure that will accommodate all the words heard or read so far. Parsing is also guided by semantic factors, not just syntax. With regards words for which there are multiple referents for the same word, then people tend to assume its most frequent meaning.
So we now have a combination of syntax and parsing, and we bring these to bear in parsing language, but how do these factors combine? The interactionist view is that all one’s knowledge comes to bear on a sentence simultaneously. Then there is the modular account, where one uses different sources of information at different points whilst parsing the sentence. One might first try to analyse the syntax without consideration of semantic elements, only bringing these elements to bear once the syntax has been understood. Although the interactionist model seems a best fit when it is observed that moment-by-moment, word-by-word parsing is influenced by semantics when trying to untangle syntax. But the picture is different when we look at word identification. When an ambiguous word is used, there is a delay, so initially in parsing word identification is quite open, but as the latter parts of a sentence come into play, the reader or listener make their selection and the ambiguity is shut down to one possible interpretation.
Although we have looked at the complexity of interpreting language, this description still understates things, firstly there are pronouns. Pronouns without specific referents can be very ambiguous. The sketch with the Knights Who Say Ni in the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail who are ultimately defeated by an overuse of the word ‘it’ is a case in point. Then, especially with regards spoken word there is prosody, the rise and fall of intonation and the pattern of pauses, the rhythm and pitch cues of speech, which plays an important part in speech perception. It can reveal the mood of the speaker, it can, through effect, direct the listener’s attention to a specific focus or theme in the sentence. It can also render unambiguous a sentence that would otherwise be confusing.
And after examining this we have not dealt with how language is produced. How does one turn ideas, intentions and queries into actual sentences? How does language come from thought? This was partially covered by Vygotsky. Likewise after parsing a sentence how does one particular sentence integrate with earlier or subsequent sentences? With regards this we have looked at Wittgenstein, although there is also the issue knowledge of pragmatics, that is how language is ordinarily used. However this proceeds into on the one hand literature, the other politics, communicative ethics and rhetoric. We however want, for the moment to venture backwards to the unconscious and back to our discussion of Deleuze and machines. First though it is useful to refresh are discussion of Vygotsky and inner thought. For the psychotic and voice hearers, at least those distressed, there are clearly issues of ambiguity in the voices heard. Is this as Vygotsky argues the issue of predicates? We have seen that in a sentence of at least two parts it is the first part of a sentence that is ambiguous, but if inner thought is based on predicates, do we only hear one part. Take the statement ‘she passed’. Is that someone dying? Missing a turning in a journey? Passing an exam? Passing a ball in a game of football? But it is ‘heard’ so we have the phoneme issue in spoken word, so there is (like in the game Charades) a ‘sounds like’ element, so is the statement ‘she parsed’ instead? Perhaps we have a further clue when the statement is revealed as a longer one: ‘She passed the sentence’. Perhaps it was a mishearing after all and it is ‘she parsed the sentence’, someone (‘she’ bearing in mind ‘who’ is still ambiguous) has understood a sentence. But maybe not perhaps the referent is a judge and the judge has passed sentence on a criminal? As has already been implied this is before the issue of ‘referents’ with regards pronouns is taken into account. At we have yet to question the possibility of metaphor as argued by Freudian psychoanalytic theory. However, from this issue with sentence parsing in voice hearing, I would like to remind, for the third time, of Vygotsky’s statement that “while in external speech thought is embodied in words, in inner speech words die as they bring forth thought” and that “a thought may be compared to a cloud shedding a shower of words” and in the next article we will return to Deleuze and Gauttari and the machinic unconscious, that the chains thought in the unconscious are called ‘signifying chains’ (chaines signifiantes) because they are made up of signs, but these signs themselves are not signifying. The code resembles not so much language as jargon, an open-ended, polyvocal formation.”

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On the occult art of entertaining a thought

Filed under:poetry — posted by Schizostroller on October 20, 2018 @ 6:16 pm

If you believe
I believe in this stuff
You are more credulous
Than I am

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‘Sin your way to heaven and get slaughtered: A byzantine general problem of the self’ (part fifteen)

Filed under:Sin your Way to Heaven and get Slaughtered — posted by Schizostroller on October 19, 2018 @ 9:02 pm

Deleuze and Guattari suggest that the understanding of the machinic unconscious can be traced back to Lacan. However they argue this unconscious is a multiplicity “but how very strange thisw domain seems, simply because it’s a multiplicity – a multiplicity so complex that we can scarcely speak of one chain or even one code of desire. The chains are called ‘signifying chains’ (chaines signifiantes) because they are made up of signs, but these signs themselves are not signifying. The code resembles not so much language as jargon, an open-ended, polyvocal formation.” (p.38). In this sense we can see we are looking at that part of thought beyond inner speech identified by Vygotsky where thought breaks up “But while in external speech thought is embodied in words, in inner speech words die as they bring forth thought” or “A thought may be compared to a cloud shedding a shower of words.”
I think it is appropriate for the moment to look at language from a cognitive perspective, and then look at some of the cognitive underpinnings of language use, specifically ‘connectionism’. Generally, in cognitive theory, sentences are considered to be comprised of ‘morphemes’, these are the smallest language units that carry meaning, these can be roughly split up into content morphemes and function morphemes. In the sentence “The umpires talked to the players”, the content morphemes would be ‘the’, ‘umpire’, ‘talk’, ‘to’ , ‘the’ and ‘play’, whilst the function morphemes would be ‘s’, ‘ed’, ‘er’ and ‘s’. In spoken language morphemes are conveyed by sounds called ‘phonemes’. Speech production is categorised via places of articulation and manner of production, that are affected by airflow and the movement, shape and physical characteristics of the mouth and vocal chords (think Watson’s theory of inner speech as sub-vocalisation). With voice hearing specifically though, we might think perhaps, especially with regards acousmatic voice hearing especially (i.e. voices heard through the ‘sound’ of distant, muffled speech) that speech perception and language parsing is important. One might think less so with regards ‘inner voice hearing’ although with regards Freud’s phrase ‘he is suffering from memories’ and that we have memories of things said and described we might at least entertain that such perception is still relevant, whilst also trying to hold at the same time Vygotsky’s arguments of inner speech, and Deleuze and Guattari’s polyvocal formations. “Features of speech production also correspond to what listeners hear when they are listening to speech. Thus phonemes that differ only in one production feature sound similar to each other; phonemes that differ in multiple features sound more distinct. This is reflected in the pattern of errors subjects make, when they try to understand speech in a noisy environment. Subjects misperceptions are usually off by just one feature, so that [p] is confused with [b] (a difference only in voicing), [p] with [t] (a difference only in place of articulation), and so on… This makes it seem like the perception of speech may be a straightforward matter: A small number of features is sufficient to characterise any particular speech sound. All the perceiver needs to do, therefore is detect these features and, with this done, the speech sounds are identified… As it turns out, though, speech perception is far more complicated than this.” (p.351). One of the problems is that “within [a] stream of speech there are no markers to indicate where one phoneme ends and the next begins. Likewise, there are often no gaps, or signals of any sort, to indicate the boundaries between successive syllables or successive words. Thus, as a first step prior to phoneme identification, you need to “slice” this stream into the appropriate segments – a step known as speech segmentation.” Reisberg points out that common sense suggests to us that we are usually convinced that there are pauses between words that mark word boundaries for us, but, he argues, this is an illusion and that we often ‘hear’ pauses that aren’t there. An example is when we measure the speech stream captured by a recording device on sequencing software, or when we listen to a foreign language we don’t know so are unable to put the word boundaries in ourselves, so as a consequence we hear a continuous, uninterrupted flow of sound. Another problem is coarticulation which refers to the fact that in speech we do not utter one phoneme at a time, they overlap. So as you are uttering the ‘s’ in soup your mouth is already saying the next vowel and so on to the next phoneme. “These complications – the need for segmentation in a continuous speech stream; the variations caused by coarticulation; and the variations form speaker to speaker or form occasion to occasion – render speech perception surprisingly complex.” (p.353). So how do we manage it? Well, we are generally able to supplement what we hear with expectations (conventions) and knowledge, our Lebensweld, and this guides our interpretation. This can also lead to ‘restoration effects’ where subjects hear ‘speech’ sounds that are not presented. However, generally, inferences are used to fill in gaps, as are redundancies (such as the predictability of certain conventions with regards phonemes in the English language).
However these are not the only means we have for deciphering speech, there is also categorical perception, this is the trendency to hear speech sounds ‘merely’ as members of a category e.g. the category of [z] sounds or the category of [p] sounds. But Reisberg continues “more precisely, we are quite adept ay hearing differences between categories, but we are relatively insensitive to variations within the category” (p.354), so we are better at distinguishing [p] from [b] but not so much amongst differing [p]s, Reisberg argues that “of course ,this insensitivity is precisely what we want, since it allows us to separate the wheat from the chaff: We easily detect what category a sound belongs in, but we are virtually oblivious to the inconsequential (and potentially distracting) background variations.” (p.354). But what about more complicated sounds? English speakers use 40 phonemes, but these can be combined and recombined to create tens of thousands of different morphemes, which can then themselves be combined to form even more words. These combinations though are not random. There are patterns to these combinations, some common, some rarer. The average person knows from around 45,000 to over 100,000 different words. For each of these words the speaker must know the meaning that corresponds to the words’ sound, that is our knowledge of words must be able to tie together the phonological representation with the semantic representation. With regards the idea of concepts that Vygotsky refers to, where at age 12 the average person moves from complex thinking to conceptual thinking, there is a connection between semantic knowledge and conceptual knowledge. Some concepts are harder than others to express in words, other concepts take many words to express. Even so there are many words that express single concepts and generally speaking on can only understand a word’s meaning if one understands the relevant concepts attached to it. Some argue that to understand a word one needs to know its definition, others that one must understand the prototype for the concept named by the word. Generally though words are used to name objects or events in the world around us. What a word refers to is called the referent. Saussure says that with the word H-O-R-S-E, where the concept of horse is what is signified, the referent is what ‘kicks you’. Thus the referent always means the actual thing in the real world, to which a word or a concept points. With regards the reference to Deleuze above the signifier is the pointing finger, the word, the sound-image whilst the signified is the concept, the meaning, the thing indicated by the signifier. The thing signified is created in the perceiver and is internal to them. Whilst we share concepts, we do so via signifiers. the signifier creates the signified in terms of the meaning it triggers for us. The meaning of a sign needs both the signifier and the signified as created by an interpreter. A signifier without a signified is noise. A signified without a signifier is impossible. Take for example The Prime Minister of the UK. The reference to any particular living person changes, but the meaning itself, the position within government and its relation to the governance of a nation state has more stability. With regards the meaning of the signified being created in the perceiver, the meaning of the term Prime Minister of the UK will be different for a Labour supporter than for a Conservative voter; for an anarchist than for staunch supporter of representative democracy. However the concept referred to by the signifier, that a particular person is the head of the government at a particular time remains more stable and allows the Conservative and the Labour supporter to know that they are referring ot the same position, as much as possible.
In addition to referent we may find that two or more phrases refer to the same objects in the world but mean different things. This case of ‘same reference, different meaning’ means there must be more to meaning than reference. This is called the ‘sense’ of a word. For example ‘creature with a heart’ and ‘creature with kidneys’ can refer to the same type of living organism.
The next article we will look at the psychological reality of linguistic rules before returning to the underpinning thoughts, and then we will take another look at what Deleuze and Guattari are trying to say.

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‘Sin your way to heaven and get slaughtered: A byzantine general problem of the self’ (part fourteen)

Filed under:Sin your Way to Heaven and get Slaughtered — posted by Schizostroller on October 17, 2018 @ 8:00 am

To sum up with regards Vygotsky and inner speech, “Inner speech is not the interior aspect of exterior speech – it is a function in itself. It still remains speech, i.e. thought connected with words. But while in external speech thought is embodied in words, in inner speech words die as they bring forth thought. Inner speech is to a large extent thinking in pure meanings. It is a dynamic, shifting, unstable thing, fluttering between word and thought, the two more or less stable, more or less firmly delineated components of verbal thought. Its true nature and place can be understood only after examining the next plane of verbal thought, the one still more inward than inner speech.” (p.249). It is for this reason I have spent some time examining Vygotsky, as I would like to look further at the unconscious and its relation to voice hearing. We have looked at Freud and anxiety, Gombrich and projection, and we have looked at Reisberg and cognition’s relation to language, we have looked at Jaynes’ consciousness of consciousness. But what is it being projected? And what, if anything, is reflected back? For that reason I want to look at Deleuze and machines, if only as a stepping stone to Marx on machines in the Grundrisse. But for a moment let us carry on with Vygotsky. “That plane [the one still more inward] is thought itself. As we have said, every thought creates a connection, fulfils a function, solves a problem. The flow of thought is not accompanied by a simultaneous unfolding of speech. The two processes are not identical, and there is no rigid correspondence between the units of thought and speech” (p.249). He points out that “thought has its own structure and the transition from it to speech is no easy matter.” (p.250). Vygotsky continues “every sentence that we say in real life has some kind of subtext, a thought hidden behind it… thought unlike speech, does not consist of separate units… a speaker often takes several minutes to disclose one thought. In his mind the whole thought is present at once, but in speech it has to be developed successively. A thought may be compared to a cloud shedding a shower of words. Precisely because thought does not have its automatic counterpart in words, the transition from thought to word leads through meaning. In our speech there is always the hidden thought, the subtext.” (p.251). With regards the pursuit of the question, not only what gets projected, but also what gets reflected, in voice hearing it is useful to note that Vygotsky brings up a character from an Uspensky novel who finds himself unable to express himself in front of an authority figure: “experience teaches us that thought does not express itself in words, but rather realises itself in them. Sometimes such realisation cannot be accomplished, as in the case of Uspensky’s character. We must ask, does this character know what he is going to think about? Yes, but he does it as one who wants to remember something but is unable to. Does he start thinking? Yes, but again he does it as one who is absorbed in remembering. Does he succeed in turning his thought into a process? No. The problem is that thought is mediated by signs externally, but it is also mediated internally, this time by word meanings. Direct communication between minds is impossible, not only physically but psychologically. Communication can be achieved only in a roundabout way. Thought must first pass through meanings and only then through words.” (p.251-252).
However Vygotsky follows this with the argument that “thought is not the superior authority in this process. Thought is not begotten by thought; it is engendered by motivation, i.e., by our desires and needs, our interests and emotions. Behind every thought there is an affective-volitional tendency which holds the answer to the last ‘why’ in the analysis of thinking. A true and full understanding of another’s thought is possible only when we understand its affective-volitional basis… to understand another’s speech, it is not sufficient to understand his words – we must understand his thought. But even that is not enough – we must also know its motivation. No psychological analysis of an utterance is complete until that plain is reached.” (p. 252-253). He concludes “Only a historical theory of inner speech can deal with this immense and complex problem. The relation between thought and word is a living process; thought is born through words. A word devoid of thought is a dead thing… But thought that fails to realise itself in words also remains a ‘Stygian shadow’. Hegel considered word as Being animated by thought. This Being is absolutely essential for our thinking.” (p.255). Vygotsky ends saying that as the basic characteristic of words is a generalised reflection of reality then “this aspect of the word brings us to the threshold of a wider and deeper subject, i.e., the problem of the relation between word and consciousness. If perceptive consciousness and intellectual consciousness reflect reality differently, then we have two different forms of consciousness. Thought and speech turn out to be the key to the nature of consciousness… If language is as old as consciousness itself, and if language is a practical-consciousness-for-others and consequently, consciousness-for-myself, then not only one particular thought but all consciousness is connected to the development of the word. The word is a thing in our consciousness, as Ludwig Feuerbach put it, that is absolutely impossible for one person, but that becomes a reality for two. The word is a direct expression of the historical nature of human consciousness.” (p.256).
With regards this historical nature of human conscious, as a contemporary analysis of voice hearing and psychosis, then we have to deal with the existence in this ‘external world of signs’ of machines, at least since the advent of the Industrial Revolution and their relation to the development of capitalism, and this capitalism’s relation to consciousness-for-myself and its relation to the formation of subjectivity.
In the book Anti-Oedipus, Deleuze and Guattari discuss their understanding of ‘machines’, they claim that “a machine may be defined as a system of interruptions or breaks (coupures). These breaks should in no way be considered as a separation from reality; rather, they operate along lines that vary according to whatever aspect of them we are considering. Every machine in the first place, is related to a continual material flow (hyle) that it cuts into.” (p.36). This theory of machines is related to Melanie Klein’s theory of partial objects, but is a more cybernetic variation, so it focuses on the flow between the connections, and the role of those connections in starting or stopping the flow of material (hyle) such as water in a hydraulic system, or say sense data in the body. This is related to the ‘body without organs’ (“eyes closed tight, nostrils pinched shut, ears stopped up” (p.37-38)) which with regards the child relates to a regression to the womb, although as such is still a ‘machine’ as foetuses are connected up to the flow of the mother’s body via the placenta. However with regards hyle such as ‘sense data’ we start getting an idea of their attempt to describe the workings of the unconscious and its relation to physiological flows, connections and disconnections. “Far from being the opposite of continuity, the break or interruption conditions this continuity: it presupposes or defines what it cuts into as an ideal continuity. This is because… every machine is a machine of a machine. The machine produces an interruption of the flow insofar as it is connected to another machine that supposedly produces this flow. And doubtless this second machine in turn is really an interruption or break, too. But it is such only in relationship to a third machine that ideally – that is to say, relatively – produces a continuous, infinite flux… In a word, every machine functions as a break in the flow in relation to the machine to which it is connected, but at the same time is also a flow itself, or the production of a flow, in relation to the machine connected to it. That is why, at the limit point of all the transverse or transfinite connections, the partial object and the continuous flux, the interruption and the connection, fuse into one: everywhere there are breaks-flows out of which desire wells up, thereby constituting its productivity and continually grafting the process of production onto the product.” (p.36-37).
As implied in the title, this series of articles are leading up to a coding problem known as the Byzantine General Problem, this coding problem is a problem of message transmission, or communication, we will get to that in a few more articles, but in the meantime here is Deleuze and Guattari on this issue, “every machine has a sort of code built into it, stored up inside of it. The code is inseparable not only from the way in which it is recorded and transmitted to each of the different regions of the body, but also from the way in which the relations of each of the regions with all the others are recorded. An organ may have connections that associate it with several different flows; it may waver between several functions, and even take on the regime of another organ… All sorts of functional questions thus arise: what flow to break? Where to interrupt it? How and by what means? What place should be left for other producers or antiproducers?… The data, the bits of information recorded, and their transmission form a grid of disjunctions of a type that differs from the previous connections. We owe to Jacques Lacan the discovery of this fertile domain of a code of the unconscious, incorporating the entire chain – or several chains – of meaning.” (p.38).

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The Mussel Memory of the Soft Machine (or Don’t Clam Up, Mr Walrus)

Filed under:poetry — posted by Schizostroller on October 16, 2018 @ 1:38 pm

L’inconscient
de la machine moules
avec le pomme frite
sur l’épaule
en raison de le désir
pour la belle âme

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Ethic effort

Filed under:poetry — posted by Schizostroller on @ 10:41 am

The nine-to-five
theses of the Protestant
work ethic,
nailed to the door
of the church
of striving.
Nine to Five
of Pentacles.

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Cognitive dissonance and the effects of austerity

Filed under:Brief arguments — posted by Schizostroller on October 14, 2018 @ 9:20 am

Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are
presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new
evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is
extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it
is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize,
ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.

Franz Fanon

Sometimes it is as if I am surrounded by a Laingian authoritarian nexus that has such cognitive dissonance about the very real negative effects of austerity on mental health (and in my case the reality of having a child with high Care DLA who needs services that have been cut) that they want me to ‘get lost’, a ‘death wish’. This death wish expects me to do the work of denying my own circumstances, rights, reality so that their precious ideological core beliefs can remain unchallenged by the evidence that I bring about my own reality. Other times it as if it is austerity itself that is the ‘death wish’. Perhaps even the ‘squeezed middle’ are struggling so much that they would rather exploit us at the bottom to maximise their individual utility than deal with how utterly atrocious austerity is.

But then, when I try to ‘get lost’ even by just ‘keeping on keeping on’ they chase after me for not getting lost the way they want me to get lost (for example Procrustean recovery methods combined with Karpman Drama Triangles), and I realise, it austerity, austerity is that bad, but it IS them too.

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace