A Field Guide to Getting the Lost Art of Unrecovery (part three)

Filed under:UnRecovery — posted by Schizostroller on July 29, 2018 @ 10:09 am

What is unrecovery?

I would now like to return from this diversion on anti-recovery to the thinking, acting, speaking and/or writing psychotic subject who finds him/her/themself in any disadvantaged, concrete situation during a period of austerity, the basis for unrecovery. The revolution of everyday life is part of my experience of madness, of unrecovery, turning word salads into intentional nonsense (connecting the signified whilst leaping adjacent signifiers) is an escape vector that I use whilst dissociating. Apophenia can become a creative act. This is not a romanticism so much as a pragmatic respect for my own experience, I am not making out it is fun, a lot of the time it is sheer hell, BUT this IS a psychic warrior autodidact skillset masterclass, this is not a replicable recovery technique for a future Capita or ATOS outsourced but state funded privatised CMHT in the neo-conservative wet dream. To govern this technique one would need an Inception team not a Community Mental Health Team. This is an exemplary blueprint for the DIY punk unrecoveristas out there, not to be copied but to ripped up, torn up and detourned again into something else other than is written here. It is about making the most out of being in social circumstances where the probability of enduring multiple episodes is high.

Gone on Lollardy

It is when Henri Lefebvre writes, “Nothing disappears completely however; nor can what subsists be defined solely in terms of traces, memories or relics. In space, what came earlier continues to underpin what follows. The preconditions of social space have their own particular way of enduring and remaining actual within that space. Thus primary nature may persist, albeit in a completely acquired and false way, within ‘second nature’ – witness urban reality ” that I am minded Freud’s unconscious , but also of Antonio Damasio’s criticism of the possibilities of such an unconscious as well as theories of trauma and the body . I am also minded of Henry Louis Gates Jr’s discussion of the Nigerian god Esu , who’s representation filtered its way through the trafficking of slaves into Black American culture, and from there, not just modern contemporary African American literature, but contemporary urban music culture. Richard Bentall notes that one perspective on higher rates of diagnosis amongst the urban black population is the cultural divide between those diagnosing and those diagnosed . However that urban note aside, we have to deal with more than urban space with regards the symbolism of Esu and what it meant for narrative. Esu had two mouths, and whilst it had a spiritual meaning in the god’s native Nigeria, for slaves in America it represented hearing two dissonant voices. It is tempting to talk of dystonic and syntonic experiences here but that is to miss the point. Esu was a trickster and so there is a sense where both voices were dystonic, where the body of the slave was neither and/or both fully his own, his own body speaking, nor and/or his master’s, although the slave was his master’s property in the eyes of the legal system of the time. We can think here of Hegel’s famous Master-Slave dialectic , and to skip the preliminary class, the outshot of this dialectic is that it is the slave that becomes conscious through alienating him/herself into his/her product/labour, the Master fails to get the recognition he is seeking. Marx later uses this dialectic for the purposes of working class consciousness. But to return to Lefebvre and his argument with regards a false presentation of primary nature within ‘second’ nature, which is a basic Marxist argument for mediation, we immediately have presented to us with the psychotic, a person in the centre of a hegemonic space. If we entertain for a moment the arguments of R.D. Laing and Gregory Bateson with regards authoritarian dynamics and the two voices of the double bind, and return to Lefebvre’s point that nothing disappears completely and what comes earlier continues to underpin what follows with regards trauma, we have both a trauma based AND a communicative AND a class based argument behind the experience of psychosis, where a social symbolic language is inscribed on the body of the psychotic, much like Kafka’s machine in the Penal Colony , but one that combines both a Laingian argument AND Bentall’s note that a paranoiac is someone treated as a ‘bad me’ by a ‘poor me’ (whether as internal thoughts driven by memory through trauma or relations with others (singular or groups) who are eluding their own mental health issues (and one can think of the exploitative nature of Milton Friedman’s externalities here , and moreover think of the relation of the German translation of externality to Marx’s writings on alienation )).
In the book Madness Contested , David Pilgrim and Floris Tomasini discuss reasonableness, the ability to pass in society with regards the skills in what Goffmann called the Presentation of Self in Everyday Life . Pilgrim notes that there is a case for ‘collective reasonableness’ and it is here that social movements are formed. But Pilgrim’s like Goffmann’s argument was one of the workplace, one of institutions and accepted language and norms in these areas. These social spaces as Lefebvre observes have their own unconscious undercurrent, and especially in the lumpen-proletariat undercurrents have undertows. When pulled under the waves (the mythology of the electronic band Drexciya, or for that matter Charles Kingsley’s Water Babies) it is handy to know the language of Sooty and Sweep, the Lords of Misrule. We can think of this with respect to Mackenzie Wark’s low theory “I am interested in low theory, which comprise those somewhat rarer moments when, coming out of everyday life, you get a certain milieu that can think itself. It happens when there is a mixing of the classes (another thing higher education doesn’t do). It happens in certain spaces that we used to call bohemia. Low theory is the attempt to think everyday life within practices created in and of and for everyday life, using or misusing high theory to other ends. It happens in collaborative practices that invent their own economies of knowledge.”


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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace