META-NOMAD

Avoiding the Global Lobotomy

Is this you:

You feel like you have a 2” thick shell of gunk surrounding your entire body which inhibits your ability to truly contact reality?

You’ve had a light-brain-fog for basically as long as you can remember?

You find it difficult to remember what you had for lunch yesterday, let alone a week ago?

You increasingly can’t keep up with what’s going on and everything is moving in an abstract blur?

Your concentration levels have dropped to the standard of a child and you flip between activities, books, tabs, games and songs for no discernible reason?

You desire various items, objects, visuals and stimuli but have no reasoning or history for said desire?

Your emotions and feelings are becoming increasingly dampened, you wonder if you’re a sociopath or narcissist?

Are you ‘mentally’ tired but can find no reason as to why?

Don’t worry, you’re not going mad, but I do have some bad news for you, you might have been lobotomized. Not literally of course, but abstractly. But then, in practice, what’s the difference? Before I begin, I’d like to state that I don’t mean to use the term ‘lobotomy’ in any irrational or flippant way, it was a horrid procedure, and its after effects were both drastic and sad. (See: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest). But if we take a look at the history of the lobotomy, what it does and what the intended outcome of it was, we might just find that lobotomization has been deterritorialized into an institutionally controlled abstraction.

What’s a lobotomy then:

Lobotomy: a surgical operation involving incision into the prefrontal lobe of the brain, formerly used to treat mental illness.

This isn’t all that helpful, and if there ever was a ‘Foucauldian statement’, this is it. The entire premise of this statement rests on the last past, ‘to treat mental illness’ Those of you who paid attention to my Free Floating Power essay will realise that what this statement allows is for power to fall into the hands of those who define mental illness. Supposedly, the ‘lobotomy has become a disparaged procedure, a byword for medical barbarism and an exemplary instance of the medical trampling of patients’ rights’, except, the procedure still exists, but entirely as a virtual process which – abstractly – slowly ticks away at the very same areas which a lobotomy attacks head-on. A lobotomy, or ‘prefrontal lobotomy’ would traditionally require surgery to the frontal cortex, containing the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for internal, purposeful mental action, commonly called reasoning or prefrontal synthesis.

So, what we have here is a procedure which is used on ‘mentally ill’ people whose psychic life was overly complex, emotional or distraught. In fact, ‘British psychiatrist Maurice Partridge, who conducted a follow-up study of 300 patients, said that the treatment achieved its effects by “reducing the complexity of psychic life”.’ ‘Reducing the complexity of psychic life’, hell, that sounds like modernity to me. Or at least, that sounds like what modernity wants to do you, or even, unconsciously is doing to you whether you know it or not. How is it doing this then? How is this slow-form of abstract lobotomy being performed? Limit-compression, dopamine-reward-systems, Overton-window-compression, time-compression and normalcy compression. Note, I use the word compression because something that’s compressed eventually springs back with serious force. The more you compress something, the harder it will spring back up and the more energy is needed to keep it down. Anyway, let’s look at the ways it’s performing this lobotomy one-by-one:

Dopamine-Reward-Systems – We quite literally get anxiety attacks when we’ve misplaced our phones, thus, we have cultivated a maternal relationship with our smartphones and social media, they are in charge of us. An average of 2600 taps per-day, phantom-vibration syndrome, reduction in sleep quality, worsening eyesight and on and on, all because we’re locked into a dopamine based social reward system. Dopamine is a chemical in our brain which plays the main role in motivating behaviour, it gets released when we eat tasty food, have sex, masturbate, exercise, and most importantly, engage in successful social interactions. Now, defining successful social interactions used to be difficult, but the sphere of social interaction has since been immanentized onto the metric of likes, retweets, hearts etc, wherein a greater number of positive likes equates to a more successful social interaction, and thus, when we get a like we get a little hit of dopamine. Many might say, ‘Well why’s this worse that eating a tasty sandwich, we get dopamine from doing that too?!’ Yes, we do, but we also don’t do that literally thousands of times per day. We begin to feel good from getting all these likes so we keep doing it, we keep posting things to get more likes, eventually, we succumb to the mechanism itself and instead of posting stuff we find interesting, or stuff we genuinely want to post, we post that which we believe will get us a greater quantity of likes. Social media virtue signalling then, is quite literally the same process/function as masturbation, but then again, so is political, philosophical and all forms of mimetic posting.

Overton-window-compression – The Overton window is the range of policies, discussion and thought which is acceptable to the mainstream population at a given time, it’s also known as the ‘window of discourse’. It is the range within which acceptability is given, anything outside the Overton window is generally deemed odd, weird, hateful, spiteful, silly, radical, or, not-normal. Now, as we can see from the previous section on dopamine-reward-systems, what social media and quantifiable discourse is doing is mentally limiting what we can say and do, not by way of oppression, but by way or ostracization, alienation and peer-pressure. If you don’t post X, Y or Z which are deemed the things to be posting right now, due to their greater dopamine feedback response, then what you’re posting must be weird or horrible. The Overton window then begins to be compressed into a tighter and tighter spectrum of acceptability, not due to any lack of original thought, but due to the majority of its actors, agents and big-players adhering to the compression itself, for if they venture outside the Overton window they risk losing it all, fame, status, popularity, wealth, all of these ride on remaining inside the window and therefor contributing to the positive feedback of acceptable-thought compression. What you’re thinking isn’t mad or weird, it just isn’t acceptable within limits which are constantly finding their way into you via malicious pathways.

Normalcy-compression – This largely thought and mental-based compression of the Overton window begins to infect corporal and material reality by way of self-panopticonic policing, that is, people begin to constantly check both themselves and others for any traits of weirdness or non-normality. They don’t do this consciously, because most people are largely unconscious, if not – for all practical purposes – asleep. What Deleuze and Guattari call ‘the little fascist in all of us’ begins to police and cross-reference everyone’s behaviours with the compressed mode of normalcy given in a single present. Thus, normalcy, normality and what is considered to be normal is a perpetual process of tightening wherein the end-game is roughly 3 or 4 seemingly different thought loops which lead back to precisely the same reality, one wherein you are born, you go to work, you consume, you produce and you die, and you do not question whether or not you want to do this, whether you like to do this, or whether you even thought about any of this in the first place.

Limit-compression – Limit-compression then is relatively simple, from all these forms and modes of compression combined and built up, we end up in a reality where everything is continually compressed for the sake of adhering to an increasingly tightening mode of normality.  The project of atomization is the great illusory emancipatory freedom layered over an ever-constraining normality, atomization allows only for greater normality to be imposed on an individual level, away from families, groups and communes which will potentially have a sturdy and stable enough leader to disrupt the process of modernity.

Time-compression – The final bastion of modernity, the one it really doesn’t want you to break. Time-compression is all the previous modes of compression combined into an absolute chimaera of control. Control via time-compression. Time becomes constrained to the point where one is not ‘living in the present’ in a Buddhist or Taoist sense, but merely existing at the whim of the latest dopamine feedback response, whatever spontaneous social-media based or dopamine-inducing masturbation session the user succumbs to that day is their nano-present; we are at the whims of a cybernetic master whose taken control of our most basic brain functions and is slowly performing a lobotomy by inducing various degrees of compression, limitation and constraint, degrees which we accept, agree with and eventually, promote.

Do you remember Greta Thunberg?

Do you remember Brexit?

Do you remember Jordan Peterson?

Do you remember the Las Vegas Shootings?

Do you remember James Mason?

Do you remember Climate Panic?

Do you remember the Coronavirus?

Do you remember Emma Gonzalez?

Do you remember Jacob Rees Mogg?

Do you remember Theresa May?

Do you remember the 5G debacle?

If you’ve forgotten most of these, then the George Floyd event is another entry into a long line of various media events which arise in spontaneity and disintegrate as quickly as they arose, awaiting the next morsel of spectacle to come along and possess your pathetic attention span. This will seem undoubtedly harsh to some, but in much the same manner that saying the very same thing within various other media events would have also seemed harsh and cynical, it’s not. It’s not for the very fact that this entire ‘timeline’ of spectacle events are simply empty happenings which momentarily infect your thought leaving you no time to analyse your being until the next comes in and slams your mentality to the floor.

When I state that we are being globally lobotomized I quite literally mean it, if a successful lobotomy is to induce a ‘decreased complexity of psychic life’ then this is more than a success, this is a triumph! There’s nothing complex about meandering to a single news event whilst waiting for the next one to come along and fill your head. Complexity is found within deep-time, within analysis of the past, within variation, correlation, correspondence, fragmentation and most of all, process. There is no complexity to be found in a watertight present.

So, how can you avoid all this? Well, it’s quite simply and it’s most likely the same advice which is promoted anywhere this sort of this is written about, but I’ll throw in a few actions you can take to get your brain out of this sordid gutter.

Begin to use your phone as little as possible, and most especially don’t use your phone at meal times.

Begin going on walks (preferably in the countryside) without your phone, it will force you to revert to another way of being.

Continually check your thoughts, actions, purchases and posts. Do I actually like this? Do I actually believe this? What do I actually think? Basically, start to fucking think.

If you keep up a routine, start your day with a short meditation or contemplation on a question or idea that is bothering you. I prefer discursive meditation as outlined by John Michael Greer here.

Read old books, preferably books published before the 1900s, it really alters your psyche to realise how different things were just 100 or so years ago.

Read a book on a failed revolution or religion or a dead civilization, understand that things die and decay, and that things are reborn again.

Read The Shallows by Nicholas Carr for a deeper understanding of the way in which internet addiction is effecting you.

Go outside, seriously go outside. Look around, it’s great out there.

Limit screen usage where possible, or, if you have to live with a screen in your life keep a smaller reminder of nature nearby – I have a peace lily on my desk.

Take some time out everyday to think through your thoughts, think about what’s yours and what isn’t, level/stabilize yourself and realise you are still you and what’s going on is outside of you, even though it tries extremely hard to prove otherwise.

 

You’re not going mad, you’re just holding onto the last remnants of individuality you have within the belly of a malicious machine, plant them in the right places and you might wake up entirely.


Translations:

Russian: https://howtorecover.me/kak-izbezhat-globalnoy-lobotomii


I will still be blogging at this site, but for more content which is weekly, please support me on Patreon:

Become a Patron!

24 thoughts on “Avoiding the Global Lobotomy

  1. Every time I read this blog I feel better knowing that there are people out there who share my views, but also sad that you’re actually able to live by these principles while I’m totally failing.

    During this lockdown I set myself the goal of getting through a pile of books (all written before 1900, incidentally). It’s been months now and I’ve read a grand total of three. As you can guess, I just HAD to keep up with corona news, the riots, and the rest of the topical issues. Everybody around me is having the same conversations daily, all desperate to voice their opinions about the NHS, the government, the infection rates, etc. that we’ve all heard a million times. And I’m foolish enough to listen. It’s got to the point where I’m justifying wasting my time like this by pretending these are important events and I MUST keep up-to-date. Can’t be living under a rock right?

    But of course this is just mental gymnastics – retrospectively you know you gained nothing from it all. If you really cared about the issue, you’d wait and find some in-depth analysis, not check Twitter 400 times a day. Even knowing all this, and being intimately aware of the points you’ve made in this post, I still do it. The drug analogy isn’t even an analogy any more because this phenomenon is indistinguishable from drug addiction.

    There is one point that slightly complicates matter. Some of the most stimulating content, conversations, and analyses I’ve read recently have all been on current events. There are tons of blogs (like this one) which shed an insightful light on what’s going on around us, by applying expertise, concepts, principles etc. from different disciplines and fields. I mean it’s great reading classics and science and 18th century philosophy and everything but the purpose (to a large extent) is application, and what better praxis is there than working on modern problems? This is why I come to the internet – to find this sort of content. I guess the difficulty is treading through mountains of garbage.

    1. Hey Susie,

      It’s tough, your best course of action is to set yourself certain hours per-day to look at news stuff, and then allot time for everything you’d like to accomplish, it doesn’t have to be too rigourous, but just enough guidelines to allow you to understand how you’re using your time whilst you’re within it. Also, think back on the hours upon hours of news you’ve watched on these riots, corona, politics etc. and think about how much you actually recall, was it worth it? DId you learn anything? – These are questions I try ask myself routinely, as a way of understanding what it is I should actually be directing my efforts towards.

      Meta

  2. I’ve been following your writing with great interest for the last few months, notably with your series on Exiting Modernity, which is easily some of the best and most illuminating writing I’ve encountered online in a while.

    Being somewhat familiar with this side of the blogosphere, I think your diagnosis is spot-on. Modernity has proven itself time and time again to be a soul- and humanity-corroding force. I’ve lost count of how many people around me are posting black squares on Instagram and suddenly making long and elaborate virtue-signalling posts on anti-racism. Bear in mind that I live in Southeast Asia, where none of these conditions even remotely apply.

    It’s one thing to exit modernity and be able to dispassionately view the situation, but it does get depressing. Do you have moments where you feel despair at this?

    1. Hey Alex,

      Of course I feel despair, but I also (try) to not let my emotions rule me, they’re a process which I can assess as much as anything else, and you have to ask yourself what it is which is making you react/feel this way? And if it’s modernity that’s making you feel despair, then it still has control of you and you need to sit down and work out why that is, I find journaling the best course of action here. Sit down and keep asking yourself ‘Why do I feel despair?’ and write down your thoughts until you get to some kind of answer or point you can work from.

      Meta

  3. thanks for the post, I really enjoyed. I don’t spend hours looking at the news or jumping on twitter or any other social media sites. I usually focused (maybe a little bit obsessed) on work but, the problem arises when I get socialized with my friends, especially some who mostly follow every shit and talk about what they read or watched. Most of the time, I find myself asking questions like “what??? really? who did that? is it really?” because I have no idea. I don’t get why people spend their time following every news that media serves or influencers publish. anyways, do you have any good advice on how to manage those situations or deal with those friends? because most of the news as you mentioned are too serious but they happen too often and I don’t want to follow all of them. so how not to follow everything and don’t sound like a reckless jerk?

    1. Hey Erdinc,

      Well, friendships don’t rely on something as so fickle as what people like or dislike, they’re far more deeper than that, and hopefully, being your friends, you could simpyl state that you’re not really int o that stuff. It’s ok to not like all this stuff. And spending time trying to understand why people follow the news is basically as bad as following the news. If you’re with your pals and you’d rather be at home reading a book, go do that, it’s ok to do. Just always ask yourself if this is where you want to be and what you want to be doing.

      Meta

  4. Gardening. This should be taught in school. On so many levels, our relationship with the Earth has to be reinforced. We are not made of silicon. We do not eat abstract thoughts.

  5. I find your writting really interesting and inisightful, thank you. Recently I’ve been obsessed by the feeling that the normalcy compression you describe is being amplified by the suffusion of advertising and PR in our culture. The only way we can imagine being socially progressive is by manipulating people into thinking the ‘right’ things. We are surrounded by power which acts in this way, and advertising, which is how we’ve decided to pay for the ways our modern media is delivered to us. We seem unable to think outside of this framework so our solutions are corrupted by it and rendered useless. Our most cherished ideals and beliefs, packaged up and sold back to us by disingenuous actors. To some extent we no longer develop and express our own beliefs, we consume and excrete them. Your role as a conscientious citizen is to disseminate manipulative material to people you have influence over.

  6. I was curious to read more about the discursive meditation you mention outlined by John Michael Greer, but the “here” link seems to lead to the wrong page. Loved the article, some great food for thought.

  7. Pingback: Read this
  8. The incorrect and extremely recent contraction of “every day” into the adjective/noun form “everyday” is a cast iron mark of current or former twitter addiction. It’s a fascinating little “tell”. This is not a criticism.

  9. This is a weird moment. In a way, we’re required to know more things than the older civilisations because of our use of technology; at the same time, technology is made simpler so we don’t need to learn it (remember DOS? Compare it to Mac OS; the simple DOS actually required more thought). So we’re able to “do” more (in a the possibility sense), but not “be” more (im the “choice” sense). For example, we can learn multiple skills, hobbies and become well-read, but we’re still restrained to the worker/enterpreneur logic.

    Dialectics.

    I half-agree with the Overton window analogy: at the same time that there are constraints in political speech, I think we’ve progressed a lot in other areas, for instance, sexuality and health — things that, in certain places, can get you killed, even in today’s time.

    All that is solid melts into air; but air isn’t insubstantial.

    Thanks for the food for thought.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *