Bits and Pieces (Ideas)

The Birth and Adolescence of the Asylum

The modern asylum began around 1813, with the “Moral Treatment” of Samuel Tuke and the Quaker reformists. The humanist principles of respect, self-control, kindness and rationality were implemented in an intensive-care setting. Most importantly, illness/madness was a diagnosis to be recovered from. Institutionalization was considered a temporary process to rehabilitate the individual back into society. However, the very success of this social-disease model and allowed the institution to secure incredible funding and provide clean, humane respite environments with intensive and well-trained social support. However, with success came a change in the public perception of who could benefit from such rehabilitation. Now, outcast groups (e.g., the senile, advanced syphilitic patients, mentally retarded, alcoholics, opium addicts, impoverished immigrants, the chronically sick) were warehoused in these asylums—who were forced to shoulder the burden of a new disease model. One that predicated illness not as a temporary lapse into disadvantage but as a quality of the ‘disadvantaged.’ The ill, now cast as irredeemable, did not have social structures of support outside of the institution—which became overly crowded and defunded as their rates of success with cures predictably plummeted. Asylums, once institutions of care slowly transmogrified into slums, warehouses for the disadvantaged.

Reference: Bloom, S. L. (2013). Creating sanctuary: Toward the evolution of sane societies. Routledge.

Problems with the Theory of Microexpressions

  1. Assumes emotions are universal, limited, and categorically discrete
  2. Assumes that facial signaling is indicative of an emotional process
  3. Assumes that social signaling of emotions is always transparent
  4. Assumes that micro-expressions accurately indicate the larger Gestalt
  5. Assumes that emotions are language-independent yet are readily and easily translatable into any and all languages

On Truth and Fiction

Truth and fiction are not opposites. Fiction is an overarching story, or mythos, that gives us meaning and fundamentally structures our sense-making. Truth refers to systematic methods of verification (e.g., generalizability, reliability, agreeability), which confers authority to elements of our perception.

Truth must serve a greater fiction, or it must pass in silence.

Liberty: Liberalism and the Progressive Challenge

If one challenges the definition of liberty not as a maximization of choice but as the equalization of opportunity to exploit a finite resource (e.g., capital, attention, decision-making, power), then classical liberalism cannot meet its principal obligations and the door swings open towards progressivism and other forms of ‘benign paternalism‘.

The Interiority of Sight and Word

Are the narratives in books different and/or diverging from the narratives in visual/cinematic story-telling? Does the page–or spoken word–allow for a certain perspective into the private world of feeling, thought and intention that is less accessible in the visual register? Similarly, does the visual register allow for unique juxtapositions of space and time that would be heretofore difficult to render in the (fairly linear) written wor(l)d? If so, will we see the progression and evolution of stories in the visual medium moving towards climaxes (e.g., surprises, crises) that are formed by the bridging together of pieces of time and/or space (i.e., bringing a wider social, historical, cultural context to bear on the myopic situation)? Will the progression of the written/spoken word stories celebrate new ways of mining psychological complexity within its agents?

Meaning and the Crisis of Time

There is a business that threatens to take over our lives. Could the ‘busy-making’ that we are all increasingly preoccupied with be the conscious generation of scarcity—time-scarcity? If so, what is to be gained from creating a scarcity and hardship? The psychoanalytic frame understands that creating a predictable, contained hardship is a successful way of managing threat-anxiety when faced with an otherwise unpredictable, calamitous hardship. The hardship that lingers in the background is a scarcity of meaning; personal irrelevance. What better way to displace the anxiety of personal irrelevance (i.e., meaning-scarcity) than to allocate anxiety instead to projects, deeds and responsibilities, thus making the pursued commodity time, rather than meaning.

The Prolongation of Time and Self

Will technologies prolong the human body indefinitely? If so, what are the consequences for our sense of self? Will be become, even more so, self-contained islands–empires of regenerating flesh? When the need for offspring becomes reserved to special circumstances–which eventually, casualties will become–what will become of child-rearing? Will that too be institutionalized like other aspects of the life cycle (e.g., birth, death)? What about relationships? Will the regeneration of life stages accompany the regeneration of flesh? Will the idea of attachment, commitment, bonds be circumscribed within an ethos of regeneration?

Waste: A Return Transaction

Commodity waste, according to this article, can be articulated as the boundary between nature and culture. Moving from the latter into the former. Through this transactional framework, we can say that culture is the result of extracting nature for human repossession. Waste is the extraction of human possession for natural repurposing. We know that pollution is the result of excessive human extraction; our extinction will be finalized by complete natural repossession/extraction. Ironically, or perhaps poetically, nature needs to repossess us for us to possess her sustainably, for future generations to come. We are tasked with extracting with fine regards to this transactive economic arrangement. We possess to give back to possess again.

On Dreams

the body’s state in sleep is simultaneously one of closedness and also receptivity to the unknown

how we perceive and story our being-in-the-juncture may crucially inform our position towards the future, towards others, towards things simultaneously within and outside our control

Mimicry as entry into a shared world

what can we learn about the infant’s entry into the shared world of symbols and language when observing them taking their first words in mimicry? does mimicry articulate–for the self and other–an intention to return what is given? to give and to receive? to hold/regard the other in language as one is being held/regarded? is mimicry the prerequisite for a new kind of cooperation; one that extends beyond simply sharing and into the project for establishing and maintaining a joint world with others?

Selfhood and otherhood: More reflections on infancy

On another note, a child of two begins to recognize himself by name! He points to his mirror image and then to himself. Does this third-person referent indicate some awareness of selfhood? I think so. Hypothetically speaking, does the development of first and second person perspectives indicate a folding of self? A multi-dimensionality in which parts are concealed from others, and eventually from present self-awareness (i.e., consciousness)? To what forms of social cooperation are these multidimensional selves fitted and adapted to?

More basically, does the apparent lack of a theory of mind—the transparency of selfhood in infancy indicate less of a developmental lack and more of a developmental fitness? In other words, could the transparency of self (i.e., one’s intentions are clear and accessible to others, regardless of whose body is inhabited) be a way of perceiving/joining with the world of others in a way that houses the self in a dwelling/domicile of trust, kinship—a world where joint intentionality, communication and cooperation are possible??

what is the evolutionary intelligence of the fusion of self-other in infancy–what Mahler called symbiotic stage? an individual affixes herself to a ‘suprasensible’ being who is able to apprehend the beyond-world far better, helps her perceive and react to this world

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