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.
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