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

Filed under:A Field Guide to the Lost Art of Unrecovery — posted by Schizostroller on July 31, 2018 @ 7:06 am

Unrecovery Reprise
But then let us read about anti-language as well as psychoanalytic interpretations of word salads, as they CAN be broken down and made sense of, think of the purpose of the vernacular, of Cockney Rhyming slang, the Polari of Carry On films, or the slang in Hip hop after reading Henry Louis Gates Junior’s Signifying Monkey, then skat like a jazz singer, read Lefebvre’s Production of Space and think of the spatial archaeology of one’s own knowledge base and learn to surf the signifiers of the linguistic architecture. Think of whether we can ever elude control? Think of the deliberate obfuscation of Deleuze and Guattari. Think Sokal and postmodern nonsense , but then think of Lewis Carroll and the Jabberwocky. Mathemes were never supposed to be mathematical.

Apophenic low theory narrative example #2

“A different Carroll, Peter Carroll, set up the Illuminates of Thanateros and like Dion Fortune and her book on psychic protection, the early learning path is to write a banishing ritual. To join the order one sends off one’s banishing ritual to be examined. But only a fool sends off their best ritual. However, before he committed suicide Ian Curtis of Joy Division wrote a song ‘She’s Lost Control’ but what do we do in the Society of Control as described by Gilles Deleuze once all are secrets are gone. Or as George Clinton sung in the early Doo Wop group The Parliaments, ‘All your goodies are gone’ the very thing that happened to Prince Gronniosaw of the Kingdom of Zaara, like Caliban, gave up his gold chains to the white merchant in exchange for that talking book, the Bible. When you’ve given it away like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, managed as they are by Louise Mensch’s partner, she of the Starbucks fallacy, the white slave trader’s wife. You rewrite history, again and again and again and again. You write beyond the pleasure principle. As the Chosen Brothers sing on a Rhythm and Sound Burial Mix riddim, ‘Making History’. The secret technology of the Voodoo Ray, not microwave ray guns and tin foil hat specious put downs (forgetting that conspiracy theories on the Illuminati stem from pro-Monarchist supporters of the sovereign will, French versions of either Hobbes or Filmer). Or as the Scots say it’s Oor Mad History cognisant of the Dialectic of the Enlightenment.
Apophenia can be a skill to be mastered, an embodied one at that. Yes, the artist does it more economically productively, or at least the commercial ones, but then we have the autonomist’s refusal of work, what is a greater refusal of work than the schizophrenic refusing to do the abusive Master Signifier’s logical work and stop making sense. This is where mental health recovery can be a form of biopolitics. It isn’t that we don’t want psychotics to feel more joy… We do! We do! It is just that the normalisation game is a game of capture in the name of observance and abeyance to a hegemony. There is a legitimation crisis after any economic crisis, with austerity the logic behind the cuts wasn’t just at the level of economics but ideology too. But the artist needs to ask whether and where art is complicit in capitalist exploitation, and how we may never achieve an ideal economics, in the way that the S&M Dominatrix’ ‘edging’ will never achieve the full Deleuze and Guattari schizophrenic. The arc will never reach the inside of the circumference. One needs to know the feeling of rolling the car on the bend to recognise that feeling when you reach a limit. JG Ballard’s Crash. Rather than the psychogeographer’s derive, the rice burner’s drifting, throughout all seven Fast and Furious franchises, Mad Max: Fury Road like the Gulf War never happened, flaming guitars, poetry and all. And then! Let us make that edging sensation an art of life. Subspace as China Mieville’s Immer, waking dream with ice cream scream. Like the Brethren of the Free Spirit sinning their way to heaven and getting slaughtered every weekend in the crap towns of Britain. Towns so crap that the jealous sub-dwellers of the urban psychic undertow (that fuels Britain more than anyone, even in mental health services, cares to admit) demanded more volumes be produced so that their towns could be included in the glorious roster of crap as well, returning the gift. A punk Gnostic refusal of the top-down nature of the symbolic law in everyday life. ASBOs, CTOs and a fuck you too. The Common Knowledge imaginary sneaking potshots via vacuole wormholes at the Master Signifier. We have no Bibliothèque here, we burn our idols like they burned the Alexandrian library; Goths, Vandals and other signifier surfing no-mads of the edgelands of the Bardo. In the film Finding Nemo, the fish get caught up in a dragnet, the shoal of cod seem to have what Nietzsche called a herd mentality, voting for their own austerity. They manage to escape this time as Nemo learnt that they need to keep on swimming down, just as Daedalus taught Theseus how to find the minotaur, and encouraging the cod with this information Nemo uses the critical mass of the cod collective to break the trawler’s net and escape. Knossos itself is often acknowledged as being the labyrinth, the city itself, rather than the unconscious seething somewhere below this first city. Daedalus gave two bits of advice to Theseus before he left Athens: One don’t do anything anybody tells you to do. Two, to find the minotaur keep going down. Of course, Theseus needed the narrative thread of Ariadne to return. But it was Dionysius, the mad god of the Eleusinian Mysteries, running the show as the Ring Master, in his mother, Demeter, goddess of the abundant harvest, the cornucopia, the horn of plenty’s name (“Your mum!”) who ultimately settled down with Ariadne after the depressive Theseus abandoned her when he got home to found the great and historic Athenian demos.”


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

Filed under:A Field Guide to the Lost Art of Unrecovery — posted by Schizostroller on July 30, 2018 @ 5:28 pm

Apophenic low theory narrative example #1
“With regards the arc and the circle, in that the arc never quite reaches the circle (kind of like ‘edging’ in the S&M sub/dom world), I would say a schizophrenic line of flight is more a tangent off of the surface of the Body without Organs. When I get a voice insertion, or the obverse a dystonic emotion (what is the difference? That is more than a rhetorical question) my mind is disturbed and my inclination is to babble, psychobabble, toss a word-salad as Laing called it. To signify. To think, rant, rap, filibuster my way out of the situation, where as a solution to Sartre’s Huis Clos the audience of the singer in the song ‘Exit’ (that was first aired on Sesame Street, Episode 666) is to leave the room until finally the singer is left alone. But it as if I am cornered, chased, as if I am dealing with a case of entrapment. Hounded by leading questions, found guilty until proven innocent like Kafka’s Josef K. Haunted by memories or ‘voices that are real’? I pringle. As the poet said “Once you pop you can’t stop!”
Do I really want to break on through to the other side? Open the doors to perception? Leave Kafka’s cathedral by a side door? Or have I been violated by a punitive system that then terrorises me like a tyrannical, artificial group of Bernean Schlemiels asking for forgiveness, velociraptures, evangelist accelerationists, whilst simultaneously demanding that the guilt be mine, their bigotry demanded by them to be an aspect of my own identity, an ideal alienated self, that I must take in as my own in order to be forgiven a judgement that was prejudiced and erroneous in the first place. My existence, my form of life, seemingly the cause of their legitimation crisis, a Homo Sacer, that is more likely related to difficulties with a relation to a discursive reality principle. And never question that cognitive dissonance! Beethoven’s 9th has disrupted an answer that cannot be questioned. The moment you do that it proves you are wrong. The granny in Little Britain hitting the piano as she leaves the room, but at least she worked hard for it! When it is my responsibility, it is obviously my responsibility; when it is their responsibility it still seems to end up being my responsibility.
A mind choked by well-poisoning ivy climbing the wall of my Negative K. Is the answer to accept that it is I who has some irrevocable sin that I must live in ever-present existential angst until I, having been deprived a healthy bios, become no more than ‘zöe’, to die awaiting someone else’s belief in an after-life that I do not believe exists, brought up as I was an atheist, a minoritarian narrative in a Capitalism that has failed to do a genealogy of morals with regards its own Protestant Ethic? Is this an individual phenomenon? A family phenomenon? A social phenomenon? An economic phenomenon? A local phenomenon? A regional one? A national one? A global one? Trump has been elected! Democracy has left the building. The authoritarians are refusing to leave, as to do so would be to take responsibility in a group dynamic and thus be vulnerable to the same scapegoating themselves, Rene Girard’s scapegoat, the subject of an Asch experiment,. My friends and allies the nomads still pop their heads back in the door to see if I am still singing, but then those who choose to leave can always leave. My filibuster is ongoing, it is my every day, waking thought.”

Insufficient Exegesis

In the sense that Wittgenstein uses his ‘beetles’ to explain the difficulty of labelling emotions then the ‘psychobabble’ of the ‘schizophrenic’ that RD Laing describes as a ‘word salad’, is akin, if one wishes to think of such a Batesonian ecology of mind and take the etymological roots of the word ‘akin’ literally here, and say ‘to escaping the unpleasure of the family’ – there is the possibility of a word play with these roots and use the neologism ‘akith’ here but one would have to be able to show a vital relationship, I hope to open up the possibility of doing so with Agamben’s idea of Homo Sacer and the schizophrenic on welfare under ‘permanent austerity’ . A perspective useful to interpret word salads is to see them as waking dreams closer to sleeping dreams as understood in Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams where the line of flight stems from escaping the unconscious censoring apparatus. Freud argued that the Superego was silent and the Id noisy. So the survival instinct, the Superego, Thanatos, can be thought of as closer to the fight or flight directed, earlier evolved, silent parts of the brain and the Id, Eros, as closer to the noisier, emotional, later developed, mammalian limbic system and beyond through the emotions relation to cognition – speech and other expressive forms of communication – from which we then arrive at the text and other mediated forms, including technology and architecture. We can think of Deleuze and Guattari’s ideas of assemblages and deterritorialisation here , along with Daniel Dennett’s decentred consciousness , although to do that one returns to the issue of qualia, and this does revolve around embodiment and the BwO.
The idea that being delusional is something wholly problematic in itself seems suspect to me, in the ’70s in the UK the Mental Patients Union released a pamphlet with a fish on the hook on the cover . It symbolised mental illness as the ‘struggle to get off the hook of some fisherman’. Think of the illocutionary manipulative language of say converting evangelist Christians or some salesperson using NLP to nail their commissions; think of those courses for misogynist men on how to ‘pull more women’ – ‘pickup culture’ (eg Roosh V); and then imagine the schizophrenic’s memories that, like the emotions of a veteran suffering PTSD from one too many firefights, flees those feelings associated with trigger words or trigger experiences, whether personal, social or even architectural. Lines of flight deterritorialising rather than the circling aphasic returns of a masochist returning to their abusive partner, being told they are responsible for the other’s feelings, for the other’s needs, partially knowing it to be untrue but the pain of parting seems unbearable, a pain that seems to have no bodily source or explanation, yet it’s just not right, not conscionable, but ‘what is the right bodily feeling to have?’ Then think of the language of the sexually repressed family trying to create new capitalist work subjectivities in-house, the language, say of ‘choice’ brought home from work, and then applied to their own children, the difference between the disciplinarian societies of Foucault or the Laingian authoritarian nexus and the internalised subjectivities of the control societies of Deleuze .
Figures suggest that 65% of people diagnosed with psychosis have a history of CSA or CPA (child sexual or physical abuse) and along with the evidence of trauma there is also the evidence of attachment theory but also those with mental health issues will be affected by the inability and lack of support families have in dealing with such trauma, there are no (or rather very few) guidelines, at least not in common knowledge, but rather than blaming them (esp. when clearly not the perpetrators) it is important to look at the communication involved, not just the support but the language involved and the relation to the elective affinities the people supporting have to certain unhelpful ideologies, including say consumerism that stems from the need to maximise sales as part of advertising in everyday media and its application to the self and work ethics, again for example Deleuze’s Society of Control . The history of the National Schizophrenic Fellowship and its relation to the charge of ‘mother blaming’ towards attachment theory and anti-psychiatry, that now can be understood as the neglect of families, the pressures on mothers from a social point of view and the denial of their struggles by the ideology of the day. Where the charge ‘don’t blame the mother’ can be better understood as a statement of ‘don’t blame the system that leaves mothers or families in that position in the first place’. We want to be able to do this without ignoring the importance of significant others in a child’s emotional development and the place trauma and communicative nexi both have on the development and later adult life.


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

Filed under:A Field Guide to the Lost Art of 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.”


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

Filed under:A Field Guide to the Lost Art of Unrecovery — posted by Schizostroller on July 28, 2018 @ 8:23 am

The standpoint

In an ImROC newsletter Professor Geoffrey Shepherd stated that a consensus was required for the word ‘recovery’. He also referred to Lewis Carroll in order to explain his argument, Humpty Dumpty’s discussion on ‘words’ with Alice in Through The Looking Glass:

“When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less. But the question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things. “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master— that’s all. ”

Shepherd is, in using this quote, referring to what the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan called a Master Signifier, he wants it to serve for all the discursive signified of ‘recovery’, (and we can only assume by implication that he hopes ImROC will supply it). But what if rather than needing a Master Signifier, recovery has up to now been a black box to support a particular paradigm in a certain competition amongst social movements or paradigms (as Nick Crossley describes such competition ). Gregory Bateson describes a Black Box as something that is an explanatory principle that scientists decide to stop at . In this case recovery has been a convenient truth, a convenient signifier, for several competing paradigms. The word itself amongst these paradigms has a history that goes back to Tuke and Pinel, it didn’t start with the disagreement over the possibilities of recovery from Dementia Praecox between Kraeplin and Bleuler. However, what if, like in the 1980 film ‘Airplane!’, when someone says, ‘the shit is going to hit the fan’, the trope sort of plays itself out. The plane crashes this time, due to some combination of a return of the trauma model, neuroscience and austerity, and one doesn’t have to invoke Trostky’s definition of a crisis of capital to know that under austerity this black box now needs unpacking after the crash. rather than being turned into a hegemonic Master Signifier that whitewashes the class issues and economic effects of austerity out.
Shepherd, later in the same newsletter, discusses Anti-Recovery . I want to be clear here ‘unrecovery’ is something quite different to anti-recovery. ImROC will never be able to supply unrecovery as a commodified recovery techne, as it is born (as Henry Louis Gates Jr shows in his discussion of the history of Black-American Literature, and its relation to the history of slave narratives ) of the speech of Chakravorty Spivak’s subaltern , of the vernacular, of the struggle of the precariat, the working class, marginalised identities, it is a pedagogy of the oppressed , of the wretched of the earth … of the mad. However, I must briefly address Shepherd’s criticism of anti-recovery and then move on. Shepherd argues that [A reduction in services] was done initially to address the profligacy and corruption of international bankers. More recently, this rationale has been dropped and government has made it clear that it is simply part of a longer-term policy to reduce public expenditure (and by implication to increase expenditure on private providers) .” Which seems shocking. In fact to confuse a deliberate neo-conservative but radical rewrite of economic policy that shook up the previous Keynesian complacency (in the face of increasing inequality cf. Thomas Piketty ), that attempted to blame a deficit (that given the bank bail-out was reasonably moderate and furthermore was being paid off by the Labour government prior to the crisis) on overspending in services and suggest for the first time, since at least WWII if not earlier, that getting the private sector to pick up the slack instead in a recession when market confidence was low whilst cutting services was a good idea, when said private domestic sector in such a market would have to rely on risk-taking by said financial sector (that was to blame) was instead “to address the profligacy and corruption of international bankers” is an economic illiteracy bordering on Liam Byrne’s handwritten satirical joke “There’s no money left”. In fact by 2013 Wren-Lewis points out, a Financial Times survey had found that less than 20% of economists still thought that austerity was necessary , and 4 years later in 2017 the same paper, the Financial Times , showed that the UK was the only Western economy that had increased its GDP whilst simultaneously lowering levels of the average wage, nearly all the other countries had, with less austere policies increased both their GDP and average wage, yet Shepherd claims that UK austerity policies were to “address the profligacy and corruption of international bankers’ rather than lower the average wage to make the country competitive? Something Jeremy Hunt had suggested at a Tory party conference in 2015, competitive on wages with the USA, India and China no less . And this happening at a time when there was a media attack on the welfare state and arguments about ‘benefit dependency’.
Shepherd goes on to state that “[his] own suspicion is that those who criticise supporting recovery as opening the way for service reductions are actually expressing
their broader – and very correct – concerns about the policies of austerity and their effects on public services… but it is important not to get the two mixed up. It is like blaming shortages of school or hospital places on EU immigration.” I would argue that this is a false analogy. What he labels as ‘anti-recovery’ is closer to an attempt to acknowledge that, since the imposition of tighter cost-aware policies under austerity, the type and form of recovery techniques have narrowed as a direct consequence of these policies. That as a paradigm the ‘competitive success’ gauged towards ‘private business’ (as he states himself) and therefore the concurrent requisite profit maximisation has left us with more coercive recovery practices than we had 15 years ago when the contemporary paradigm of recovery that he supports started to make inroads against the bio-medical model. It is closer to acknowledging that part of the much-mooted self-reflective practice of recovery practitioners should (but has failed to) include a critique of the forces (both economic and policy – having government advisory contracts doesn’t help here) that have changed the meaning of recovery that he is alluding to, so in this sense it is a left-wing critique of class relations to the means of production and its effect on the knowledge base quite the opposite of right wing immigration-baiting in order to mask these effects. So, unfortunately, when he quotes Lewis Carroll in his opening paragraph and calls for a master signifier; a master signifier that is tied up (as language always is) in the contemporary economic hegemony which thus has a hand in dictating that master meaning of recovery such a discursive meaning (and bear in mind Lacan said reality was discursive ) requires the very criticism Shepherd bemoans in the newsletter without such criticism austerity would therefore define recovery even more.


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

Filed under:A Field Guide to the Lost Art of Unrecovery — posted by Schizostroller on July 27, 2018 @ 7:49 pm

Groundwork for an apophenic presentation

“That’s the best thing,” he thought, “I’d better try a different approach. This is what I’ll do – I’ll just be an outside observer, and nothing more. I’m an onlooker, an outsider, that’s all I’ll say. And whatever happens it won’t be me who’s to blame. That’s it. That’s how it will be now.”
And our hero did indeed do that as he had decided and went back the more readily for having, thanks to a happy thought, become an outsider.
“It’s the best thing. You’re not responsible for anything, and you’ll see what you should.”

This article looks at unrecovery. Unrecovery is a general idea thought up in online discussions amongst the Recovery In The Bin (RitB) collective, a mental health activist group that was formed in response to concerns about mental health policy governance under first the coalition government in the UK from 2010-2015, and then under the Conservative government from 2015 to the present. Part of the claim of RitB is that the economic policy of austerity makes it harder to recover, and this is a direct consequence of the cost cutting, the narrowing of services available and the concurrent increase in NHS and outsourced private companies involved in recovery being required to reach outcome measures for auditing purposes as a response to austerity policy that as a consequence result in a move from guideline based best practice to more narrowly defined protocol to reach these outcomes that narrow the type of service ‘purchased’ or supplied by the NHS, whether it be CBT, Mindfulness, WRAP groups, peer services (that has also lost service users the parity of pay (argued for by Perkins and Repper ) due to the wage suppression that is part and parcel of service competition for contracts as well as the stagnation of wages that comes with austerity). We do not deny that people can and have recovered. The focus is on the social and economic factors that have affected not only the individual’s personal ability to recover through individual effort, but the social, economic and class factors that makes such recovery easier or harder, whilst identifying, in these times of austerity, a greater emphasis on individual effort thus creating a more punitive milieu for those struggling, especially when combined with the cuts to services that have previously supported these supposedly individual efforts. Many in RitB fully acknowledge that such pressures can exacerbate mental health issues. An acknowledgment that finds itself in opposition to the professed belief in bootstraps recovery that is analogous to the belief justifying Conservative benefit cuts that are premised on the idea that these cuts ‘help’ people on these benefits ‘into work’. As part of this ideology we have the belief in ‘benefit dependency’. An idea that is promoted both in the media and public service workplace despite situations in regions where the benefit Universal Credit is being piloted meaning that low paid workers for the DWP (who are also on Universal credit but in full time work) are being asked to push certain policies, including sanctions, that are premised on this idea that benefits create dependency.
Many of the other members of the collective have already been discussing these arguments in length at conferences around the country and in articles over the last 3 years that RitB has been organising. I would like instead to focus on the practice of unrecovery, or at least an argument for a possible perspective of what it is, or could be. Part of this argument is premised on the idea that nobody WANTS to be ill. The idea that ‘recovery is a choice’ is a contradiction. Everybody is always already, every day, working to recovery. Recovering in a sense is a necessity, an aspect of self-preservation therefore it is not a choice. Being ill is crap. When people remain ill for long periods then there really is something wrong. But that something wrong has causes that might, and often does, include the social, structural, communicative, linguistic, ideological and economic factors, not just some individual psychological-behavioural or genetic/biological issue, or for that matter merely a failure to address past trauma. As such, much like ‘unbirthdays’ in Alice In Wonderland, every day that is not conforming to a Tory normalising agenda is an ‘unrecovery’ day. To put the idea that recovery is not just a ‘personal journey’ but a social and political journey back on the agenda in a world of austerity-driven recovery outcome measures, we now have ‘unrecovery’. Happy unrecovery day to you


A Field Guide to Getting the Lost Art of Unrecovery – Introduction

Filed under:A Field Guide to the Lost Art of Unrecovery — posted by Schizostroller on July 26, 2018 @ 1:50 pm

A Field Guide to Getting the Lost Art of Unrecovery


This chapter is an attempt to write a navigation of the linguistic terrain that a subject defined as psychotic, by a mode of diagnosis used by the state as sovereign, may find him/herself in, from an academic-participant perspective. As such it will be first written apophenically (as a ‘psychotic’, writing in a stream of consciousness like Virginia Woolf or James Joyce, or speaking for and of oneself in a Freudian clinic) and then in the sense that Ernest Hemmingway, supposedly commenting on his own writing style, claimed that he “wrote when drunk, edited whilst sober”, having written, I shall then edit the text down and try to untangle, in to academically digestible parts, such an experience (following on from an attempt to do so in an article I wrote for Asylum magazine in 2012 ) but rather than try to analyse the narrative in a purely Freudian or analytical, sense, I shall try to explain it with reference modern social theory. Gregory Bateson argues that induction is all very well, it is deduction based on a knowledge of applicable theories that improves a scientific argument . This social theory shall be the frame to my Jackson Pollock’s logorrhoea, in Heideggerian terms, it unveils the enframing, Das Gestell, of the writing and in doing so I look for possible ways that an emancipatory practice can be thought, spoken or written into being, the limits of language and the possibilities of an embodied manumission that does not rest on alienated selves, at least not ideal selves, and their relationship to the Other, one that does not take the form of an unquestioning, uncritical, radical acceptance of the status quo. Thus, there is a morphogenetic non-Aristotlean (or non-Platonic) practice involved here.
In making the apophenic narrative more digestible I shall be using ideas of agency and space, language and thought. Within the realm of these ideas of agency I shall be exploring the possibilities of action for the psychotic i.e. ideas known in contemporary language as ‘choice’ – their possibilities, limits and the ideological use of the term. It shall be implied that as a narrative arc of a UK based psychotic, the chapter’s locus will be one that is takes place within the architecture of the UK NHS and welfare system, and the relation to it in everyday life that is often a part of the ‘psychotic’ experience. I shall also be exploring the quadratic relation between NHS, market, work and alternative possibilities available to the autonomous subject looking at some current ideas of subjectivation: I will be employing the theorists Erving Goffman, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari and Henri Lefebvre to look at the space of this terrain. Goffman for the dramaturgical relation, Foucault for the forms of governance involved, Deleuze for the multiplicities involved in these relations, Guattari for the transversality, and Lefebvre to look at the spatial aspects of this agency and terrain. I shall also be looking at the ideological forms that are formed in this contested terrain, for this endeavour I will be using Max Weber, Jürgen Habermas, Axel Honneth, Nick Crossley, as well as a Sigmund Freud, Wilfrid Bion, Ronald Laing and Jacques Lacan and again Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. I will be reflecting on constructs (or phantasms) using ideas such as Ronald Laing’s authoritarian nexus and Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of assemblages.
With reference to ideas of the body, whilst navigating this terrain, I will also be referring to the cognitive work of neuroscientists such as Antonio Damasio and Daniel Freeman, the work on memory of Charles Fernyhough, as well as contemporary theories of embodiment, and from here I shall attempt a criticism of the relation of such a body to the NHS system via its use of applied techniques such as CBT, DBT, Recovery Stars and other audited outcome measure based tools referring to the proliferation and homogenisation of such tools within the NHS under neoliberalism. And finally, to avoid a nihilist critique I will look at possibilities of creating future action and practices that lead to more autonomous and self-determining ways of living.
The title refers both to the term ‘unrecovery’ developed by the mental health activist collective Recovery In The Bin and to a book by the author Rebecca Solnit called ‘The Field Guide to Getting Lost ’, with a hint towards Michel Foucault’s conception of Life as Art . As this proposal uses a variety of critical and reflective theoretical positions, this chapter will be a preliminary sketch for further detailed studies.


Hearing Voices, EVP, Field Recording (some notes)

Filed under:Acousmatic voice hearing — posted by Schizostroller on July 1, 2018 @ 1:46 pm

“Proust’s great familiarity with the problem of the aura requires no emphasis. Nevertheless, it is notable that he alludes to it at times in terms which comprehend its theory: ‘Some people who are fond of secrets flatter themselves that objects retain something of the gaze that has rested on them.’ (The ability, it would seem, of returning the gaze.) ‘They believe that monuments and pictures present themselves only beneath the delicate veil which centuries of love and reverence on the part of so many admirers have woven about them. This chimera,’ Proust concludes evasively, ‘would change into truth if they related it to the only reality that is valid for the individual, namely the world of his emotions.’”

In a dingy rented house in Nottingham, around 1995, I started to hear voices. Although they would later be all-encompassing I originally started hearing them in music, in the rhythms of the bass, the drums and melodies of records and CDs that I listened to. Although at one point early on I got to the stage where I found myself standing on one leg with arms outstretched following the instructions of the voices I heard in a song, the ridiculousness of the situation consequently meant that it was one of the few times I ever followed instructions from voices. The other two times I followed instructions I found myself in pubs in strange parts of the city supposedly to meet on a date. The date never turned up, and I concluded these voices didn’t necessarily have my interests at heart. Although I later would use the ability to hear and dialogue with voices through sound as a call and response technique whilst improvising on my bass guitar that would later lead to an interest in the practice of free improvisation as a model for bottom up ways of musical self-expression (David Borgo’s book Sync or Swarm is a good starting point here) and as a practice of everyday life, for a long time I stopped communicating with my voices, I saw them as a nuisance and I followed the medical model taking medication and trying to ignore them.

In a materialist interpretation of the mind as a material aspect of the body (that is as opposed to a dualism inherited from Descartes where mind and body are separate), an embodied understanding of mind, hearing voices can be seen as a projection of one’s emotions onto the Other that returns and reflects the projected feelings symbolically as language, I discussed this partially in a previous article for Asylum [insert title and issue], where I tried to work out ways of turning this experience into everyday practice. Although I personally hold this view of voices, that they are linguistic projections of unmet needs reflected back from the void (think the wish fulfilment discussed by Freud in the Interpretation of Dreams , but in waking conscious, a continuation on from the existential detachment experienced in the film Waking Life, such that the Id and Super Ego take a roll in more direct communication with the aware Ego, where rather than a response to the day before, the response is to the Ego’s waking thoughts, emotions and other bodily needs, whilst otherwise the voices can be seen as much the same as dreams) when processing trauma as a self defence mechanism that does not always work effectively I find myself experiencing the voices as real. In the Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche spoke of the role of the chorus in the Ancient Greek Tragedies, he argued that the traditional view of Greek tragedy views tragedy as arising out of the tragic chorus and was “to begin with, nothing but chorus” and then much like the Greek Gods of Julian Jaynes’ Bicameral Mind , who Jaynes saw as existing as real entities for the Greeks a (view that famously helped Patsy Hague and got Marius Romme to start listening to what voice hearers said about their voices) so Nietzsche speaks of a theory of a certain Schlegel that suggested that the chorus might be synonymous with the audience, the ‘ideal spectator’:

“We had supposed all along that the spectator, whoever he might be, would always have to remain conscious of the fact that he had before him a work of art, not empiric reality, whereas the tragic chorus of the Greek is constrained to view the characters enacted on the stage as veritably existing. The chorus of the Oceanides think that they behold the actual Titan Prometheus, and believe themselves every bit as real as the god. Are we seriously to assume that the highest and purest type of spectator is he who, like the Oceanides, regards the god as physically present and real? That it is characteristic of the ideal spectator to rush on stage and deliver the god from his fetters? We had put our faith in an artistic audience, believing that the more intelligent the individual spectator was, the more capable he was of viewing the work of art as art; and now Schlegel’s theory suggests to us that the perfect spectator viewed the world of the stage not at all as art but as reality.”

One is here reminded of Wilfred Bion’s assertion that the psychotic sees words as things in themselves [fill out more], and whilst a whole psychoanalytic tradition from Freud via Bion and Klein to Lacan has held this view somewhat closely, if we look at this interpretation through the eyes of contemporary dialogic therapeutic attempts to work with voice hearers, we can move to an interpretation of voices as whole psychological constructs that appear as things-in-themselves as opposed to words-as-things, and we find ourselves nearer this understanding of the chorus in Schlegel or Jaynes’ Bicameral Mind that can then have therapeutic benefit. As Ron Coleman’s group therapy buddy said to him, ‘the voices are real’.
As it happens Nietzsche rejects Schlegel’s interpretation for Schiller’s “where the chorus is seen as a living wall which tragedy draws about itself in order to achieve insulation from the actual world, to preserve its ideal ground and its poetic freedom.” Similarly, and to keep us in the realm of dealing with for want of a definition psychologically extreme states, variously called psychosis, schizophrenia, voice hearing etc, Bion argues that:

“For personalities that seem to be incapable of true dreaming, the border-line psychotic and psychotic parts of the personality, the theory of consciousness as the sense organ of psychic quality is not satisfactory… the weakness of this theory of consciousness is manifest in the situation for which I have proposed the theory of alpha function, by proliferating alpha-elements, is producing the contact barrier, an entity that separates elements so that those on one side are, and form, the conscious and on the other side are, and form, the unconscious” .

One can argue that the alpha function for Bion, within the personality, represents a similar barrier to the chorus in Schiller’s interpretation of Greek tragedy. For Schiller “the Greek chorus of satyrs, the chorus of primitive tragedy, moved on ideal ground, a ground raised high above the common path of mortals.” Nietzsche continues: “the satyr, as the Dionysiac chorist, dwells in a reality sanctioned by myth and ritual. That tragedy should begin with him, that the Dionysiac wisdom of tragedy should speak through him, is as puzzling a phenomenon as, more generally, the origin of tragedy from the chorus.” He then goes on to say:

“I believe the cultured Greek felt himself absorbed into the satyr chorus, and in the next development of Greek tragedy state and society, in fact all that separated man from man, gave way before an overwhelming sense of unity which led back into the heart of nature. The metaphysical solace (with which, I wish to say at once, all true tragedy sends us away) that, despite every phenomenal change, life is at bottom indestructibly joyful and powerful, was expressed most concretely in the chorus of satyrs, nature beings who dwell behind all civilization and preserve their identity through every change of generations and historical movement.
With this chorus the profound Greek, so uniquely susceptible to the subtlest and deepest suffering, who had penetrated the destructive agencies of both nature and history, solaced himself. Though he had been in danger of craving a Buddhistic denial of the will, he was saved by art and though art life reclaimed him.”

As I have said at times of extreme stress I experience the voices as real, in the Asylum article Signifier SurfingI tried to use the idea of going with this in a poetic form, as a signifying [psychotic] monkey as a form of lived defensive practice, in this book I want to look at moving on from this and incorporating psychotic experiences as an artistic practice of everyday life, specifically moving on from mental distress through living as an art-form as opposed to any particularly normative interpretation of recovery, but perhaps with less hostility to Buddhism than Nietzsche, and to do so I will start by making a comparison between mindfulness techniques and the art of field recordings. But first to set up the purpose of examining field recording as a practice let’s look at the way this human capacity for projective identification manifests itself. As I said I often hear voices in music, not just in music, I also here them in everyday sounds; the swish of a car wheel in the rain; or the hum of a refrigerator; or even my own guts –an unsettling experience for all whether one hears voices or not most successfully artistically expressed by John Cage with his famous piece 4’ 33”. I would like to compare this experience with Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) where practitioners have the belief that they are communicating with the dead via electronic devices such as tapes. The writer Konstantins Raudive is most well-known for his explorations in this regard, the voices are heard in static, often tape noise or hiss, or in other cases the static between clear signals from short wave radio. These voices that are heard can be interpreted as emanating from people believed to be communicating with the hearer through these media, often they are thought to be the dead, or sometimes (other) telepaths. It has been used artistically by the German musician Felix Kubin and the French sound artist Jacques Brodier with his machine the Filter of Reality. A good example from film is the radio transmissions in Jean Cocteau’s ‘Orphée where in a form of what is called in psychiatry and psychology ideas of reference, the protagonist [check name] wonders whether these repetitive codes he hears in the radio are meant just for him. Jo Banks in his book Rorschach Audio argues that EVP too is a projection onto an Other, in this case noise, that returns. This experience has a long history, in an article ‘The Esoteric Origins of the Phonograph’ the psychonaut Erik Davis quotes Ludwig Van Beethoven “I am electrical by nature…” says Beethoven “Music is the electrical soil in which the spirit lives, thinks and invents.” Davis calls this ‘the electromagnetic imaginary’ it is “the mythic, animistic and just plain weird cultural dimensions of electricity and electromagnetism, those cosmic forces which carry an imaginative load as powerful for us as air, earth, water and fire were for the ancients.” It is here in what Freud called the uncanny that the barrier between the conscious and the unconscious becomes noise, and so conversely in noise we sometimes penetrate that veil and hear the other side. Davis quotes Marshall Mcluhan speaking of one of the first forms of electrical transmission, the telegraph: “whereas all previous technology (save speech itself) had in effect, extended some part of our bodies, electricity may be said to have outered the central nervous system itself…[and] to put one’s nerves outside is to initiate a situation –if not a concept – of dread.” This is also an apt description of the extreme paranoid state, one need only think of Judge Schreber’s conception of nerves. If we then take from this Lacan’s understanding of the symbolic, Bion’s alpha-function and Schiller’s chorus, we can see the chorus taking the place of the symbolic forbidding a crossing of the barrier created by the alpha-function, as our bodies are outered through technology, so voices of the dead return to us. As Davis remarks “because the self is partly a product of its communications, new media technologies remould the boundaries of being. As they do so, the shadows, doppelgängers and dark intuitions that haunt human identity begin to leak outside the self as well – and some of them take up residence in the emerging virtual spaces suggested by the new technologies.”
In 1877, Thomas Edison invented the phonograph and although he was a scientist and an engineer he was also a spiritualist inspired by that movement of table knockers started by the Fox sisters (even though before their death they would admit to having faked their séances, the movement had already gained too much momentum to be stalled by such an admission). Edison even later attempted to create a radio device capable of capturing the voices of the dead. Such endeavours would be continued by researchers in to what would come to be known as Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) by researchers such as Konstantin Raudive who would move from the phonograph and radio hiss to electromagnetic tape.
Davis argues that “by siphoning a bit of the ‘soul’ into an externalised device, such technologies triggered the ancient dread of the doppelgänger, that psychic simulacrum of the self that moves through the world of its own eerie accord.” The experience of the ‘uncanny’. Davis continues by relating the scientist Thomas Watson describing listening to unearthly late night transmissions in Alexander Graham Bell’s laboratory when he would listen to the snaps, crackles, pops and ‘ghostly grinding noises’ that could be heard on a telephone circuit “My theory at this time was that the currents causing these sounds came from explosions on the sun or that they were signals from another planet. They were mystic enough to suggest the latter explanation but I never detected any regularity in them that might indicate they were intelligent signals“ . Davis then cites the philosopher Avital Ronell “Science acquires its staying power from a sustained struggle to keep down the demons of the supernatural with whose visions, however, it competes.” Davis recounts that on 24 August 1924, when Mars passed unusually close to the Earth, military and civilian transmitters voluntarily shut down in order that the airwaves be left open in order to hear any transmissions from Martians, instead of a message though, radio hackers were treated to a symphony of freak signals. Davis states:

“These popular passions may seem corny in retrospect, but that is because the sublime and visionary edge of technology is always changing, opening up new virtualities that then become integrated into business as usual. For aeons, the hardwired side of human perceptions has been limited to our own unique sensory apparatus, an apparatus that partly determines the apparent nature of the world. New technologies of perception unfold the sublimity and threat, worlds which challenge us to reconfigure the limits of ourselves and to shape the meaning of the new spaces we find ourselves in.”

Davis invokes Marshall McLuhan who suggested that electronic technologies were bringing forth an ‘acoustic space’ in the place of the earlier ‘visual space’ that had dominated western thought for many centuries with its linear, logical and sequential explanation of the world. Electronic media eroded this objective grid of facts “dissolving it into a psychic, social and perceptual environment that resembles the kind of space we hear: multi-dimensional, resonant, invisibly tactile, ‘a total and simultaneous field of relations’” .
Davis does point out that McLuhan’s use of ‘acoustic space’ as an analogy for a psycho-social process did not require the activation of the hearing mechanism of the inner ear. However, in his book on voice hearing, ‘Muses, Madmen and Prophets’ , Daniel B. Smith does examine the auditory process that occurs in hearing the spoken word. He imagines a wife telling her husband that she wants a divorce. Whilst we spend much of our time when discussing hearing voices, discussing the act of hearing, Smith starts with the act of speaking:

“The first step she takes is to release her breath from the inflated lobes of her lungs into the branched tubing of her respiratory system. The main channel in this system is the trachea. It is approximately eight inches long, rigid and segmented like the hose of a shower nozzle. Its purpose, in this case, is to serve as the conduit for the breath toward the first obstacle necessary for the production of speech: the vocal cords. Vocal cords… are thin, muscular flaps, reminiscent of labia, that block the top of the trachea like the lid of a truck’s horn. When one wants to breathe, these flaps are loose. When one wants to speak, they form a barrier by pressing together, sealing off the throat from the breath. Its progression stanched, the breath accumulates behind the vocal cords. The pressure builds. Before long, the pressure becomes so great that the vocal cords can no longer maintain their seal, and they release – not all at once but fluidly, periodically, the way the length of an earthworm ripples as it moves across the soil. With speech this event never occurs in isolation. As the breath makes its dash upward, the pressure below the vocal cords decreases rapidly, and the cords, their strength regained, seal together again. More breath creates more pressure, which again builds. Another breaking point is reached, the cords again release, the pressure drops, the cords seal, and so on in a rapid, alternating dance of advance and retreat.
“By this process between flesh and breath is created the basic mechanical component of sound: the movement of an object. All sound – a voice, a G-minor chord on a banjo, the hum of a refrigerator – is made because of the movement of an object. When an object moves, it causes an alteration in air pressure, a pulsing of molecules. A sound that exists because of a uniform and constant alteration in air pressure, as in the ringing produced by a tuning fork, is called a pure tone. With the complicated apparatus of the human vocal system, such a pure sound is impossible to create; it would elude even the practiced control of a trained singer. Speech, however does not require purity; speech requires a variety capable of expressing content, and therefore, in addition to the vocal cords, the respiratory system is outfitted with a series of muscles… whose purpose in speech production is to manipulate the flow of breath as it passes through the body.”

This explanation is a pretty benign one, as Tristam Adams in his blog Notes From The Vomitorium suggests there are different takes as to the simplicity of the process of the vocal apparatus, the vocal tract:

“Firstly air is inhaled, upon exhalation, the vocal cords within the larynx are activated and vibrate, imbuing the exhaled air with sound. This sound then resonates and echoes through the remaining parts of the body that fall under the name ‘the vocal tract’. The tongue, palate, teeth, lips, nasal cavities all fall under the territory of the vocal tract. It is quite peculiar how so many different body parts are involved in the production of voice as Cavarero notes positively: “lips, mouth, palate, tongue, teeth, (…) larynx, nasal cavities, lungs, diaphragm – come together for acoustic purposes.”” (Cavarero, 2005, p.65) and Chion, negatively: “it paradoxically appears that the human body does not have a specific organ for phonation” (Chion, 1999, p.127). The voice is a result of many parts and yet reducible to none; neither the sum of each part, or the remainder after all parts. The very corporeal violence of speech is uncovered precisely at the moment when one contemplates each parts involvement and what role it serves within the body. The concept is simple; every body part that contributes to speech has a better, more vital, more important role to do, because, as Tomatis notes “we were given a digestive apparatus and a respiratory apparatus, but no specific oral-language apparatus.” (Tomatis, 1996, p.59).”

Nick Land invoking Professor Barker, goes further, in his palate-tectonics he sees the whole apparatus as a site of physical trauma:

“Due to erect posture the head has been twisted around, shattering vertebra-perceptual linearity and setting up the phylogenetic preconditions for the face. This right-angled pneumatic-oral arrangement produces the vocal apparatus as a crash-site, in which thoracic impulses collide with the roof of the mouth. The bipedal head becomes a virtual speech-impediment, a sub-cranial pneumatic pile-up, discharged as linguo-gestural development and cephalization take-off. Burroughs suggests that the proto-human ape was dragged through its body to expire upon its tongue. It’s a twin-axial system, howls and clicks, reciprocally articulated as a vowel-consonant phonetic palette, rigidly intersegmented to repress staccato-hiss continuous variation and its attendant becomings-animal. That’s why stammerings, stutterings, vocal tics, extralingual phonetics, and electro-digital voice synthesis are so laden with biopolitical intensity – they threaten to bypass the anthropostructural head-smash that establishes our identity with logos, escaping in the direction of numbers.”

This however is the apparatus that creates the sounds we hear when we learn to understand what sounds the language that we are born into, the words that point to signifiers that establish meaning in our minds sound like. And whether or not we hear voices in static, in our own heads, in music, if they are acousmatic, they appear alien to us, disembodied, not of the I, from an Other, this apparatus is the source of the words we learn to recognise when we hear them.

But once the breath has left the vocal tract, it is not the end of the communication. As Smith continues:

“After the wife’s breath passes the vocal cords, it makes its way through this muscular assembly line, all the while being shaped into the words she has decided to speak. After passing her lips – the last of the muscles – it shoots into the room like steam from a teakettle. Breath collides with air, completing the first of two alchemic steps on the way to speech: the transformation of breath into molecular movement. The air molecules in front of her mouth compress and open in pulses tuned to her words. These pulses travel forward and outward like an inflating balloon, moving toward their target.
At this point in the process, the voice becomes hard to define. Is the converted breath, hovering in the air between speaker and listener, yet a voice? Is it audible? Is it enough to state that at this point the voice has taken leave of the wife’s possession? She is no longer its owner or master. She has pushed it out into the world. It is independent.”

In the clinical treatment of voice hearing, one form of therapy is controversially to ask the voice hearer to listen to their voices and try and dialogue with them. The important thing is meaningful dialogue. Some of those working with voices such as Marius Romme and Dirk Corstens who use these treatments think of voices as constructs, there are others who work in a similar way who think of them similarly as metaphors, for example Trevor Eyles. A construct stems from the person’s life experience, voice hearing is often associated with trauma, but there are other stressors too, so such a construct will represent this but often metaphorically. When someone hears voices, a construct can be found that relates to certain feelings and experiences. I would argue that this construct comes as much from the person’s lifeworld as mere experience. However dialogic forms of therapy work on a dialogue with these constructs to untie the knots that have created them. This involves trying to understand what experience is relevant, and sometimes this involves understanding these voices as metaphors for such experiences. So this means shifting through some background noise, the chaos of our unconscious. For me with regards the artistic life then an embodied relation to this chaos that allows for improvisation, a form of action that is based in autonomous action, as opposed to top down forms of discipline, gives us a greater chance of navigating this maelstrom. However anyone who has ever improvised in a group setting, whether in music, comedy or acting, will know that the art requires the ability to be aware of and to listen to others. There’s a sense where a good hearing voices group will operate on these principles too. The mythical experience is often portrayed in the form of Ulysses sailing past the islands of the Sirens tied to the mast, with the ears of the oarsmen of his boat sealed with wax so that they cannot hear. For Adorno and Horkheimer in their book ‘The Dialectic of the Enlightenment’, the Ulysses figure represented the creation of the individual, the entrepreneurial subject. This chimes in many ways with Julian Jaynes citing of Homer as a distinctive disjunction in the evolution of the bicameral mind. Musically this figure is represented by the conductor and his orchestra. For those of us who cannot be entrepreneurs, who do not own capital, we are left with our ability to improvise. But I don’t want to deal with the full implications of improvisation in this article. I would like to focus just on hearing and listening.
In his critique of EVP, Jo Banks uses the theories of EH Gombrich. Ernst Gombrich was an art historian who would go on to write a seminal book on art theory called Art and Illusion: in it he argues that the process of creating art works on a process of trial and error, a feedback loop that affects the artist’s style, and the disparity between what the artist actually paints and what they are trying to paint. But before he wrote it he worked for the BBC Monitoring Service at Evesham monitoring the air waves for intelligence during the Second World War. He had escaped Nazi Germany in 1936 and was in a good position to work here. The work involved listening for the voices of enemy broadcasts amongst the static of radio. From his art theory he was very aware of the problems of projecting onto objects, and so he wrote a memo for the other staff with regards how to distinguish between fact and projected fiction. Would such techniques be useful in unravelling the experience of voice hearing?
The field recordist Jez Riley French, records quiet sounds. He records quiet sounds in the field to play back as music and sound art. For him there is an active element to listening. Quiet sounds he says “The idea of ‘quiet’ in nature is a good example – in reality even the most still places are sonic chaos, often in frequency ranges not available to our naked ears. For myself I find listening with devices that allow us to hear those sounds actually heightens one’s ability to hear stillness when listening without them.” For Rufus May, the idea of dialogue with the voices goes hand in hand with mindfulness, letting the mind still. Without this still mind, it is harder to listen to the constructs.
Would such techniques be useful in voice hearing?

What if we combined them?

Order of sounds Bonnet – Beyond Sound chapter

Mladen dolar on Freud’s voices – Lalangue


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

Filed under:Sin your Way to Heaven and get Slaughtered — posted by Schizostroller on June 6, 2018 @ 12:45 pm

To illustrate elusion Laing uses Sartre’s example of the waiter in a café, who Sartre charges with playing at being a waiter. He is both ‘a waiter’, it is his job, but he has to play a social role, there are certain accepted behaviours expected of a waiter, and he tries to emulate them in order to do his job. According to Laing, “there is the sense in which no man can ever be entirely what he is. However, the man who is actually impersonating himself assuming a role, is assuming a relationship to himself which is a very ambiguous one, in that he is both pushing himself into what he is doing, and at the same time not doing what he is doing.” (p.28). The sociologist who examined this dramaturgical game most famously is Erving Goffman in his book the Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. In this book Goffman argues that the best way to understand human action is by seeing people as actors on a ‘social stage’ who actively create an impression of themselves for the benefit of an audience and, in the sense that we are discussing similarities between elusion and the creation of the idealich, ultimately themselves. When we act in the social world, we put on a ‘front’ in order to project a certain image of ourselves (call this part of our ‘social identity’ if you like) – we create a front by manipulating the setting in which we perform (e.g. our living room), our appearance (e.g. our clothes) and our manner (our emotional demeanour). In these social settings we are called upon to put on various fronts depending on the social stage on which we find ourselves and the teams of actors with whom we are performing – the work-place or the school are typical examples of social stages which require us to put on a front. On these social stages we take on roles, in relation to other team-members and carefully manage the impressions we express in order to ‘fit in’ to society and achieve our own personal agendas. Managing the impressions we portray in everyday life involves projecting an ‘idealised image’ of ourselves, which involves concealing a number of aspects of our performance – such as the effort which goes into putting on a front, and typically hiding any personal profit we will gain from a performance or interaction. Unfortunately because audiences are constantly on the look-out for the signs we give off (so that they can ‘know who we are’) ‘performers can stop giving expressions, but they cannot stop giving them off’. This means that we must be constantly on our guard to practice ‘expressive control’ when on the social stage. There are plenty of things that can go wrong with our performance which might betray the fact that we are not really the person who our act suggests that we are – we might lose bodily control or make mistakes with our clothing, or as is often the case in mental health lose our sense of controlled emotional expression.
In the documentary the Pervert’s Guide to Cinema, Slavoj Zizek takes the architecture of the scene in house in Psycho and applies it to psychoanalysis. The basement is the id, where his mother’s body is, the ground floor is the ego, and the upstairs, first floor, where he hears, or even ‘becomes’, his mother, is the superego. In the example we are setting here in our portrayal of idealich and eleusion, this is the relation of self to self, this is its dimension. Vertical. In the Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Goffman also architecturally describes the stage, as acting out social roles is quite demanding, in addition to the front-stage aspect of our lives, we also have back-stage areas where we can drop our front and be more relaxed, closer to our ‘real selves’ (true/real ego), and where we can prepare for when we again need to go back front of stage and act in the world. In this sense the back stage is our unconscious and the background feelings we have, and the front of stage is our ego. This dimension is the relation of self to others, and is horizontal. Or transversal as Felix Guattari would argue in the Three Ecologies.

Lacan argues that the eleusion from the real ego to the Ichideal and the attempt to return is the relation of the imaginary to the symbolic. But with regards this structuration of the ego, and the relation of the Ichideal to Goffman’s theory of presentation of self in everyday life I want ot bring up an idea sometimes used in analytic philosophy and game theory, Common Knowledge. Common knowledge is understood as form of knowledge shared amongst a particular group of actors. There is common knowledge of something, that could be an idea, or a belief, or set of facts p amongst the set of actors G in that all the actor members amongst the set G know p, they all know that they know p, they all know that they all know that they know p, and so on ad infinitum. The reference to Goffman here is that this is associated with convention, whether in argumentation, rules of games like chess, or social behaviours. In computing, the Two Generals Problem is a thought experiment meant to illustrate the pitfalls and design challenges of attempting to coordinate an action by communicating over an unreliable link. It is related to the more general Byzantine Generals Problem (particularly with regard to the Transmission Control Protocol where The General Problem shows that TCP can’t guarantee state consistency between endpoints and why. A key concept in epistemic knowledge, this problem highlights the importance of common knowledge. I will be returning to this with regards the Byzantine General Problem, but before that I want to consider Axel Honneth’s theories of Recognition and Disrespect, which requires looking at the concept of alienation, as well as problems of discursivity in the knowledge base which will return us to Lacan’s understanding of the Reality Principle. In looking at common knowledge I want to look at the possibility of the imaginary affecting common Knowledge, especially art’s place in this, returning to Foucault’s portrait of Baudelaire as Modern flaneur and De Certeau’s Practice of everyday life. De Certeau argues in what he calls Reading as Poaching. In this chapter De Certeau contests the idea that consumers are passively guided and moulded by the media-products that are imposed on them. The assumption that the public is a passive recipient of the text is rooted in the Enlightenment’s ideological goal of the necessity of educating and reforming the public. The book was thought of as the perfect instrument to instruct. One can think of the significance of being able to read for the purposes of manumission in Henry Louis Gates Jr’s Signifying Monkey. Today the message of the book is no longer of primary importance. Rather, it is the book as a means to read that garners significance. De Certeau argues that “every reading modifies its object” (p.169). As such De Certeau opposes the image of reading as being a passive matter and states that reading is also a process of creative production, for the reader must actively construct a meaning on the basis of a collection of signs that the text presents. In spite of the normative power and conventions of the literate elite, a common poetics is practiced behind closed doors, if we think here of Goffman’s back-rooms. This is a creative and transgressive reading by means of which the reader deterritorializes him- or herself by traveling through invented, unknown lands that exist between self and image, between text and the reader’s social milieu, between the text that is read and other texts that are brought to the imagination through the reading process, and we can think here of Lacan’s idea of the Ichideal, and Laing’s idea of elusion. The emergence of this sort of reading has come hand in hand with the change from reading aloud to silent reading. Even though in silent reading the bodily activity has been reduced to the mobility of the eye, paying attention to the body as it responds to the practice of common poetics might help us explain the dynamics of this type of reading, and here we can think of Vygotsky’s discussion of the child’s development of inner speech.


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

Filed under:Sin your Way to Heaven and get Slaughtered — posted by Schizostroller on June 5, 2018 @ 5:26 pm

I want to focus on the Idealich and Ichideal for a while as it is one of the central components of this thesis looking at the formation of the subject described at the beginning of this series who projects a sense of self onto the Other. For the moment I want to raise a trope of the Hearing Voices Network that ‘the voices are real’, this particular phrasing was first raised by Ron Coleman in his book Recovery: An alien concept, but a similar phrasing , as has been mentioned, was mentioned by RD Laing (credited to a Dr Isaacs) in the 1961 book Self and Others, in which the phrase is ‘the phantasms are real’, RD Laing then deals with this dialectically and puts the phrase into a more social context, and I will be coming ot this in future articles, but suffice for now to acknowledge the egoistic nature of this Freudian concept is challenged elsewhere, and now to understand the ego’s share of this phenomenon, let us return to the Ichideal and Idealich.
Dr LeClaire states that according to Freud the sense of self has three origins: 1. Primary narcissistic satisfaction, 2. The measure of success, the satisfaction of the desire for omnipotence and 3. The gratification received from love objects. Leclaire isolates one of these for consideration “the development of the ego consists in an estrangement from primary narcissism and gives rise to a vigorous attempt to recover that state. This departure is brought about by means of the displacement of libido on to an ego-ideal imposed from without satisfaction is brought about from fulfilling this ideal. So the ego experiences a kind of estrangement, passing via a middle term, which is the ideal, and returns later to its primitive position.” (p.135-136). O. Mannoni remarks that this would be the structuration of the ego. Leclaire goes onto explain the this ambiguity of Freud suggests that this displacement of the libido onto an ideal can be either a displacement onto an image of the ego, an ideal that is dissimilar to the one that is already there, or it is a displacement onto something going beyond the form of the ego, something quite properly an ideal, a form. O.Mannoni argues that there is a distinction between the structuration of the ego and the development of the person, “because it is truly an ego that structures, but within a being that is developing” (p.137). Lacan concludes that this is quite properly structuration and it is this point that is the joint between the imaginary and symbolic.
It is that this point that I am minded again of Laing’s idea of elusion. Let us return to it again. Laing mentions ‘the complicated elusive relationship to one’s actual position’ in a chapter on ‘pretence and the elusion of experience’, he describes a thought experiment
1. One is sitting in a room
2. One imagines or pretends that the room is not a real room. But is a room that one is cinjuring up by one’s own imagination: (A-> B).
3. Having pretended this point almost to convincing oneself that the room is an imaginary toom, one then starts pretending that the room is a real room and not an imaginary room after all: (B -> A1).
4. One ends up, therefore by pretending that the real room is real, rather than perceiving it as real.
We can see here a relation to Lacan and LeClaire’s discussion of the ‘true/real ego’s’ relation to the ichideal. Where the phrase: “So the ego experiences a kind of estrangement, passing via a middle term, which is the ideal, and returns later to its primitive position”, is a description of an ‘elusive relationship’. Laing writes “In elusion, everything becomes elusive. Its symbols are will-o’-the-wisps, feathers, dust, fluff, straws in the wind – all that is difficult to grasp, grip, hold with one’s hands, pin down, control, handle, manipulate, define, catch. Not only the content of the situation but its qualities and modalities are eluded also. It evades being categorised as real or unreal imagination or phantasy. Beulah, the realm of the moon, under Chinese lanterns, rather than under the naked electric bulb… One finds that person who is entirely given over to a phantasy of something that can be searched for and found. He is only his very own searching. What one has is always not what one wants, and yet it is precisely the elusiveness of this want that one is unable to say what one wants, lacks, has not got, because what one wants (lacks) is precisely what one has not got… what is, what one is, what other people are, facts – this is not what is wanted. Those brute facts that cannot be eluded are repellent if not nauseating, disgusting, and obscene.” (p.30-31). This is Laing describing, what he labels, a hysteric’s relation to the reality principle as opposed to the idealich. This is as elusion is both a relation of self to self, and a relation of self to others.
One finds oneself thinking of Alvin Lucier’s sound-art performance I am sitting in a room. The performance involves Lucier (or the performer) speaking a few lines (“I am sitting in a room…” and so on) into a tape recorder in a room with a particular echoic effect. Thiese lines are repeated and then played back, and recorded again, and played back, over and over, the repetition creates an out of synch effect, and the intensity becomes an overwhelming noise or cacophony.
Laing continues “But if a person’s whole way of life becomes characterised by elusion, he becomes a prisoner in a limbo world, in which illusion ceases to be a dream that comes true, but comes to be the realm in which he dwells, and in which he has become trapped. To be constantly sustained, elusion requires great virtuosity: the dissonances of phantasy-imagination-reality can have great charm if kept implicit, but if too explicit they become cacophony.” (p.31). With regards the psychotic Laing argues that “the main-in-the-street: for instance, that he has a body which has an inside and an outside; that he has begun at his birth and ends biologically speaking at his death; that he occupies a position in space; that he occupies a position in time; that he exists as a continuous being from one place to the next and from one moment to the other. The ordinary person does not reflect upon these basic elements of his being because he takes his way of experiencing himself and others for granted. However the schizoid, and still more the schizophrenic, has a precarious sense of his own person (and other persons) as adequately embodied, as alive, as real, as substantial, and as a continuous being, who is at one place at one time, and at a different place at another time, remaining the ‘same’ throughout, and a sense of himself as an agent of his own actions (instead of a robot, a machine, a thing), and as the agent of his own perceptions (someone else is using his eyes, his ears etc).” (p.35). A state Laing describes as personal disintegration, as ontological insecurity. Laing paraphrases Winnicot when he says a hysteric is trying to get TO a madness. “Madness indeed seems to be sought by some hysterics as a way out of the elusiveness of everything. Madness would be something definite, an arrival, a relief. But although the hysteric may succeed in getting a certificate of insanity, it remains a counterfeit, a fraud which is tragic enough. The counterfeit can engulf the person’s life as much as the ‘real thing’. But ‘real’ madness eludes him as much as ‘real sanity’. Not all who would be can be psychotic.” (p.37).
Baudrillard discusses in Simulacra and Simulation the counterfeit. With regards the counterfeit he discusses money, a counterfeit that was the perfect copy in every way, is understood only in concept as a counterfeit, as it was not produced by the sovereign mint. The question for sanity is what is this sovereign guarantee? That Laing’s hysteric so desperately wants? If it exists at all? Is it the Master Signifier? For the psychotic in Laing’s description it is disintegration in the face of it. I want here for a moment to bring up a book that devoted itself to disintegrating Freud, alongside Marx and Nietzsche, and that is Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus. In it, as with Laing and Winnicot claiming the ‘hysteric’ is trying to get to madness, and that ‘not all who would be can be psychotic’, so Deleuze and Guattari state that “A schizophrenic out for a walk is a better model than a neurotic lying on the analyst’s couch.” (p2).


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

Filed under:Sin your Way to Heaven and get Slaughtered — posted by Schizostroller on June 3, 2018 @ 9:00 pm

There is an interesting point in Book I of Lacan’s seminars discussing ego-ideals and ideal-egos between LeClaire and Lacan in which they bring up paranoiac delusions of being watched, as was discussed in part 6, it is worth going over Lacan’s observations to further illuminate this experience, but first let us distinguish between ego-ideal and ideal-ego.
In a not to dissimilar vein to Attachment theory (although Bowlby denies the existence of the Freudian death instinct) Lacan argues Freud locates what he calls narcissism in the need for support (Anlenung) of the child (His Majesty the aby), as an exchange in this care giving role to the dependent, the parents project their ideals onto the child. Freud isolates ‘the fixation of love’ (Verliebtheit) in four forms of love: 1. What one is oneself, 2. What one was, 3. What one would like to be and 4. The person who was a part of oneself – the caregivers of childhood (amongst others). This is the Narzissmusttypus. There is a reversal where the subject takes its bearings from the woman who feeds and the man who protects. One can argue looking at the less theorietical and more evidence based attachment theory, that we can to an extent degender these roles, but still see them as bearings. And of course any failure as a consequence will also add to what, as was discussed later, tends towards the subject’s relation to the later fully formed Superego. However at this stage we are talking ego development and at this stage Freud’s argument according to LeClaire is that the parents projection of their ideals onto the child dictates the form the narcissism takes, and its relation to the fourfold typology above. One can think of Charles Fernyhough’s book on memory, ‘Pieces of Light’, where he notes that some of our earliest memories when they are in the third person are most likely memories made up of stories told to us throughout our life, and less memories of actual events that develop later, around 3-4 years, where the ‘I’, the ego takes centre stage and those memories are more likely to be first person (although if played with repeatedly such memories can sometimes take a simulation of first person narrative).
With regards the adult ego, they question whether it gets subsumed in object investments. However it seems in Freudian analysis one of the purposes of repression is the ego’s ethical and cultural requirements in that “the same impressions, experiences, impulses and desires that one man indulges or at least works over consciously will be rejected with the utmost indignation ny another, or even stifled before they enter consciousness” (p.132-133) LeClaire then goes on to say that Freud formulates the issue such as “We can say that one man has set up an ideal in himself by which he measures his actual ego, while the other has formed no such ideal. For the ego the formulation of an ideal would be the conditioning factor of repression. This ideal is now the target of the self-love which was enjoyed in childhood by the true [veritable/real – Das wirkliche Ich] ego… Narcissism seems to make its appearance displaced onto this new ideal ego, which finds itself in possession of all the ego’s precious perfections, in the same way as the infantile ego was. As always where the libido is concerned, man has here again shown himself incapable of giving up a satisfaction he once enjoyed… This ideal ego is now the target of the self-love which was enjoyed in childhood by the true[/real] ego… He is not willing to forgo the narcissistic perfection of his childhood and… he seeks to recover it in the form of an ego-ideal.”(p.133).
If we go back to the first article on Gombrich and Paredoilia, we can get a sense of what is projected. But we also have to bear in mind that this is an individual’s relation with the world, what Husserl would call a life-world, as well the reality principle which is the social, economic and discursive organisation of the lifeworld plus aleatory effects that are beyond the individual’s control, somewhat similar to Lacan’s Intrusions of the Real. From this we can see the individual is situated in many overlapping cybernetic dynamics that some theorists call a network, however some of these dynamics are closer to the individual for longer periods, such as family, school, work, including the intense time period of childhood especially up to the age of four and during puberty. This later adult then has this relation to a more worked through ideal-ego that has a history. However these dynamics that haunt the individual through memory and sometimes trauma can stem from dynamics that were authoritarian nexi, and these formations will remain if not worked through.

LeClaire then discusses sublimation sought out of the relations of the formation of the ideal. “Sublimation is a process involving object libido. In contrast, idealisation deals with the object which has been ennobled, elevated and it does so without any modification in its nature. Idealisation is no less possible in the domain of ego libido than that of object libido” (p.134). Freud places the two libidos on the same plane. It is possible for the idealisation of the ego and a failed sublimation to then coexist. This formation of the ego-ideal intensifies the demands on the ego and as a consequence of the ethical and cultural needs of the ego mentioned earlier that have to interact with other egos who may not desire to be the object of sublimation so brings repression to the full. Lacan then points out that one of the libidos is on the plane of the imaginary and the other the symbolic – the law. “the demand of the Ichideal takes up its place within the totality of demands of the law” (p.134) Leclaire adds that “Hence sublimation opens up the expedient of satisfying this demand without repression” And Lacan responds that “That is successful sublimation”

We are left with the relation now of sublimation to psychosis. And from there we can look at how Foucault’s modern man’s life as art is relevant. Leclaire notes the relation of a psychical agency that ‘performs this task of seeing that narcissistic satisfaction from the ego-ideal is ensured and which, with this end in view, constantly watches the actual ego and measures it by that ideal” would ultimately lead to the formulation of the Superego. Here we can refer back to Freud’s comments on subjects who feel they are watched discussed earlier

It is here that I want to reference Bowlby again and recognise that he notes that Freud had a major turning point in his theory where he rejected early abuse and took his argument back to the child’s fantasies. But as Bowlby acknowledges violence and abuse can have major impacts on upbringing. Much of attachment theory is the importance of providing good enough parenting to create a reasonable ego-ideal. Trauma can negatively affect this. There is much research under the auspices of the Hearing Voices specialist institute Intervoice (Marius Romme, Sandra Escher, John Read and others) that links trauma to voice hearing, in some meta-analyses 65% of voice hearers have some kind of CSA or CPA. It is also woth noting that the subject of Freud’s research on psychosis, Schreber, had a father who was an inventor of equipment that was used to physically restrain and discipline children and Schreber’s father used it on his son.

One of Lacan’s students Maud Mannoni in her book the child and his illness, argued that the child developed symptoms threw the language ‘between’ the parents, in their relation, this creates a symbolic law that projects an ideal onto the child, the child learning through the phrases said what is expected of him/her, whether spoken directly to or spoken about the child. We can see here the beginnings of an authoritarian nexus and a cybernetics as described by Bateson and Laing. It is also worth noting that in the gestalt therapy of the Stones used in the Talking With Voices therapy, one of the ‘alters’ or personalities, that closest to the SuperEgo, is known as the Inner Critic, Hal and Sidra Stone argue that this protective alter develops more effectively my watching how others’ are treated and creating precautionary injunctions to prevent the subject getting into similar trouble. We can also understand this as listening to descriptions of character by third party witnesses that are between other rather than to the subject.

We can now imagine the situation post-2010 (or even earlier see my article Return of the Poor Law) where an increase in narratives of scroungers and welfare cheats, ‘skivers and strivers’ repeated in the media in a sustained propaganda attack on the welfare system would affect psychotics and other people with mental health issues who are already paranoid. What affect does this have on the sublimation of the ego-ideal?


previous page · next page

image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace