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evolving ecological media culture(s)

Week 7: Theorizing global network society

Marshall McLuhan argued that the world was becoming a “global village.” For the theorists we are examining this week, the world has certainly become global, but it is less a village — which implies a stability and a taken-for-grantedness of “what’s what” and “who’s who” — than it is a tempest or a whirlwind. It is a world of ceaseless flux, flow, and modulation, a world of interconnected networks within which we might not know who we ourselves are, let alone who others are.

There are three required readings for this week (due March 12, with March 4-8 being Spring Break). They are:

1. Jeremy Gilbert’s Anticapitalism and Culture, chapter 5, “Ideas in Action: Rhizomatics, Radical Democracy and the Power of the Multitude.” (This is the longest reading and will require the most time.)

2. Gilles Deleuze’s “Postscript on the Societies of Control” (1990), which can be read here or, as a PDF, here.

3. Alexander Galloway and Eugene Thacker, “Prolegomenon: ‘We’re tired of trees’,” in The Exploit: A Theory of Networks (U. of Minnesota Press, 2007). Read at least pp. 1-6 of this, but feel free to continue with (or at least skim) the rest of the chapter.

Background

Following a brief overview of four key concepts (power, complexity, hegemony, and creativity), chapter 5 from Gilbert presents three sets of thinkers who, in different ways, attempt to understand the possibilities for social change in a globally networked society.

We will spend some time in class going over the similarities and differences between these three sets of authors. To understand all of them, however, it is essential to have a grasp of French philosopher Michel Foucault’s arguments about the immanence of power. In Foucault’s view, power is not something possessed by someone and withheld from others; it is not something by which one person or group controls or dominates another (though this does not mean that domination doesn’t occur). It is not something that transcends or precedes human relations. Rather, power is immanent to relations, dispersed and dynamically produced and shaped in every encounter between two entities. Every relationship is in this sense political — a matter of the exercise of agency, the actualization of capacity, the production of possibility — even if it is not reducible to the political.

French philosophers Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995) and Félix Guattari (1930-1992) were two of the most prominent thinkers to emerge in the wake of the events of ’68 in France. Drawing on radical political theory, psychoanalysis (Guattari was a practising psychologist as well as a deeply involved political activist), and a wide variety of philosophers and scientists (including biologists, ecologists, and complexity theorists), they developed a vocabulary to describe a world that was complex, relational, and always in motion — a vocabulary that is especially well suited to the world of networks (informational, social, global) that have grown immensely over the last four decades.

We’ve read about Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe before — theirs was the second category of “radical democracy” theories, the “agonistic,” examined in the article by Dahlberg and Siapera. And Gilbert provides a good enough background to Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, who have been particularly influential as theorizers of the anti-capitalist globalization movement.

The brief “Postscript” essay by Deleuze is only a small fragment of his thinking, almost an afterthought, but it has been widely read as an account of the shift from what Michel Foucault called the “disciplinary society” of the nineteenth century to the “society of control.”

As with Foucault’s notion of power, so with Deleuze’s notion of control: what he doesn’t mean is that there is someone doing the controlling and someone else (the rest of us) being controlled. Instead, the society of control is one in which social relations have become permeated by coding systems that allow for a kind of internalized and modular control of identity, subjectivity, and selfhood across all the domains of life. These domains — the family, the school, the church, the factory, prison system, et al. — had once been kept relatively separate from each other. Each was a distinct domain within which individuals were confined, trained, and disciplined. Each “molded” us to fit its purposes.

Now those domains have started to melt into each other. We have become (for the most part) willing participants in a single system that is not locatable — precisely because it is everywhere. We supply our passwords and identity numbers to access information, pay for things using credit cards, announce our views and our “likes” to our Facebook friends (and FB’s invisible data collectors) and political pollsters, allow our online movements and purchases to be monitored so that advertisements can be tailored to our interests, and so on and so forth. Instead of being “molded” to fit a pre-existing model — teacher or student, doctor or patient — we are now caught in a state of constant modulation, responding to the ebbs and flows of networks as wide and deep (or shallow) as the stock market, the World Wide Web, the array of educational, political, and healthcare options we can access, and so on. Whether all of this is liberating or insidious is a question for us to consider.

Here’s a video that makes Deleuze’s argument a bit more explicit. We will watch part of it in class, but feel free to watch it all.

Finally, the Galloway/Thacker reading provides something of an update and a geopolitical take on the kind of network thinking that the others have outlined, implicitly or explicitly.

Our main task in class will be to tease out what Deleuze & Guattari, Laclau & Mouffe, Hardt & Negri, and Galloway & Thacker think we can do to change anything — and to change everything — for the better, in the society they describe and critique.

Is all action creative, as Deleuze & Guattari sometimes imply? In a society of control, can any action be truly creative? What kinds of processes of articulation (Laclau & Mouffe) can effect socio-environmental change today? What do we make of Hardt and Negri’s “multitude”? Who is the multitude and who isn’t it? In the context of Galloway’s and Thacker’s reflection on American unilateralism and the global network society, how well does Hardt & Negri’s term “Empire” capture the state of the world in 2013?

Finally, if the networks we live within are, as Galloway & Thacker claim, beyond our capacity to control or even comprehend, then how can we do anything to shift those networks in a desirable direction?

 

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  1. Week 13: Politics in global network society

March 2, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , ,

12 Comments »

  1. This week’s Gilbert reading deals with the intersections of power, complexity, hegemony, and creativity in the context of their effects on culture and politics. Each of the three teams of authors has different notions of the nature of these forces, and Gilbert does solid work outlining their positions on each.

    I was particularly interested in Deleuze & Guattari’s writing is concerned heavily with the hegemonic influence of modern psychology in controlling the developed world’s general definitions of “normal” and “abnormal”. Notably, the pair views the creative force as the lowest common denominator among humans, and sees the complex striations of power differentials as the limiting factor in the flow of creativity. Just as a crowded, jumbled cityscape is more difficult to drive through than a one-road farm town, a complex society featuring class inequality, major bureaucratic limitations, and most importantly, authoritative mandates on what is and is not considered socially acceptable will be less likely to offer democratic freedom due to the forces of control imposed upon those not wishing to be considered “abnormal”, “deviant”, or otherwise. They even go as far as using schizophrenia as “a condition of radical, uncontrolled creativity which is defined as pathological by a culture which can only sustain itself by limiting and containing creativity at every level of experience” (142).

    (A tangent: I am curious what the class’ reaction to this notion is; in my opinion, a disconnect between the personal perspective and the physical reality should not be romanticized as some super-creative force, especially when it can increase the likelihood of personal injury…imagine a schizophrenic with delusions of persecution running into oncoming traffic as he flees his perceived captors).

    Laclau & Mouffe take a different attitude toward creativity and power. Contrary to Deleuze & Guattari’s views of creativity as positive, productive, valuable because of the process it encourages as well as the products it generates, Laclau & Mouffe see creativity as a force seeking to fill a never-ending void defined by lack. Laclau especially espouses this force with political energy: as Gilbert summarizes, “A demand is always for something that one lacks, and a demand is made upon something which bight be able to fulfill it” (160). The articulation of demands between communities and individuals joined through their identification with one another then manifests itself as a political will, which will challenge the existing hegemony/paradigm to fulfill those identified lacks; the outcomes of these struggles will set the stakes for how power is distributed. This view has been seen as problematic at times because it fails to acknowledge the possibility of creativity for its own sake instead of relegating it as a tool for gaining that which is missing.

    The third pair, Hardt and Negri, recognize that power is not, in fact, concentrated at any point, but is instead distributed in a network congruous with those that it affects and those that manipulate it. Like in many great empires, they note, nodes of control are not centralized, but distributed like the great rhizomatic structures whose analogy is heavily focused upon in the reading. Their connection of creativity and power is very Marxist, like Deleuze & Guattari: they also believe that “it is the irreducibly collective creativity of humans and their machines which produces the world we inhabit” (165). This collective, known to the writers as the Multitude, is diametrically opposed in the modern world to those in power, who seek to commodify and code the products of the Multitude’s creativity.

    To tackle one of the posed questions above, whether creative action is possible in a society of control, I am linking to a short clip about a North Korean propaganda artist-turned satirist named Song Byeok.

    (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20500030)

    Byeok’s gradual loss of faith in his country’s restrictive ways drove the creative force that led to his artwork. Despite only being manifested once he was outside of North Korea, the formative spark of that creativity were generating inside the system of control that his country had implemented. To me, this shows that creativity is not only the irreducible unit of man’s shared existence, but that it exists in the minds of even the most rigorously controlled; thinking about it more, it seems that systems of control can ultimately only promote more secretive, more creative methods of creativity that can be hidden from view or that slip through loopholes. A less extreme example would be a student at a school with a strict dress code: the rigidity of the dress code will likely push the student to find subtle, inventive ways of individualizing his or her appearance.

    Comment by Zachary Zimmerman | March 10, 2013 | Reply

    • Although professor Ivakhiv said, “with Deleuze’s notion of control: what he doesn’t mean is that there is someone doing the controlling and someone else (the rest of us) being controlled,” I feel that although this may not be directly true. Through our discussion I find it clear that society has headed towards a more Orwellian state than I previously thought about. We are so entrenched in our societal roles and as others have noted, so dependent on such a large network of people that we cannot escape or simply live on our own without incredible difficulty both socially and physically. In this way, we are being controlled and manipulated, albeit not by one direct entity but clearly by an oligarchy of industry and bureaucracy.

      Hardt and Negri claim that this power is not centralized, but I find that hard to believe. Increasingly upper tiers of society only gain capital, while the poor become poorer and the lower classes expand. This increased stratification of classes only contributes to the problem, assigning roles to each class and creating social and physical blockades towards moving up or down in the system.

      Ultimately, the ideas of power, centralization and imminence are becoming more relevant by the day in our globalized society. Today, no action is singular. Every movement has an impact upon not only your community, but your country and even the world. This inter-connectivity does have its benefits, but it also serves a strangling web that hinders individual movement and sovereignty.

      Comment by Max | March 12, 2013 | Reply

  2. Reading Gilbert’s summary’s about these diverse thinkers was enlightening to say the least.

    I also feel that Deleuze & Guattari’s ideas here are very interesting. The idea of modern psychoanalysis being a tool of critique towards individuals that do not seem to fit the “mold,” of society is self-evident to me. With a highly connected world of gadgets and cities we are constantly comparing ourselves to others. When someone feels like an outcast, maybe they go to a shrink. This shrink can have immense influence on an insecure individual and may push ideas of “normality” so hard that one can start living a so called normal lifestyle even when it may feel wrong or forced. This is fueled by the drive to fit in with a society that is remarkably developed.

    Zach- I agree that this idea that links schizophrenia and creativity should not be romanticized as it can indeed have dangerous implications, on both a physical and mental level. With this being said, I do not see it necessary to link the damage-prone tenancies of a schizophrenic to their creative, or nontraditional, way of thinking. If you ask me they are two very different qualities and one should not discredit the other.

    The topic of desire is associated with the concept of lacking according to Deleuze & Guattari’s understanding of psychoanalysis. I agree with these two words being somewhat synonymous, but do not see why it would be viewed negatively.

    Lacking (definition): The state of being without or not having enough of something.

    I desire fortune, I lack money….I desire love because I lack companionship. My point is that lacking something is what fosters a home for desire. If one was to simply lack things in his/her life and not desire the alternative I would question how they originally came upon this feeling of lack at all. It is amongst realizing the alternative of a situation that one sees what they, or the opponent, is lacking.

    Comment by Adam Johnson | March 11, 2013 | Reply

  3. Like others, I was also particularly interested in Deleuze and the theory of control and outcast. Foucault theorizes these major institutions as being controlled inclosures which makes sense to me in the way we view the world. I believe that these enclosures help to enforce inequity through increasing bureaucracy in our lives. As young children we learn that there are areas where we play, areas we work and areas we have compassion and friendship. These areas are never really tied together and thus leave us feeling alienating and incomplete as Marx would note. Our identities are tied to places rather than society in general. We specialize in one field or another and basically leave alone the other areas of human knowledge. While these means that more knowledge is being produced, it is seriously inefficient. It also vastly increases the amount of work we all do and the amount of other people we need to have even a basic existence. Because none of us grow our own food, teach our children or medicate ourselves we are increasingly tied to bureaucratic systems which are often out of our control. I think truly radical thinking required a systematic view of how these institutions tie together and how they affect our lives. If we want to live in unified communities it seems that the main source of power in society today is the control element of policing and imprisonment which as class structures become deeper are engrained in the majority of the institutions of our lives. I believe the control mechanisms are becoming increasingly apparent as more than 2 million people are locked behind bars and the police are increasingly becoming an occupying. This seems to be the logical conclusion of an increasingly bureaucratic system to enforce class barriers.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/06/aclu-police-militarization-swat_n_2813334.html

    Comment by Emily Reynolds | March 11, 2013 | Reply

  4. In discussing mental illness, I think an important quote about the anti-psychiatrists was their opinion that “psychiatric treatment caused mental illness more than it cured it, by defining a range of emotional states and behavior as pathological which had no need to be so defined, and by refusing to recognise the social causes of those illnesses which did clearly cause great distress to those suffering from them.” Certainly schizophrenia is real, and I agree with Zach that we should not romanticize something like hallucinations as creativity that is only being held back by society. At the same time, we need to acknowledge the social definition and causes of these illnesses which can sometimes perpetuate them. I think an example may be in today’s rampant diagnosis of ADD – there is some evidence that it is incredibly overdiagnosed, and perhaps caused more by our boring, force-feeding method of education, as well as expectations of continual focused attention on something little kids could care less about, than by an innate problem in children who are given ADD medicines.

    I think it’s important not to try and oversimplify societal conditions and apply the labels like “society of control”, or total restrictions on creativity, because this is not only disempowering but fails to recognize our great individual and collective power to mold our own lives even in the face of bureaucratic and technocratic obstacles to our freedom. It reminds me of the argument for the naive nostalgia for a “golden age” of freedom, which may have never existed.

    An important component for me of Laclau and Mouffe’s argument was about articulation: a synonym for connecting, in a physical sense. They said the basic operation of politics is articulation, or connection, of terms (ideas/concepts/images/signs) to each other in highly unpredictable sequences or chains. I agree with them that this is a basic component of politics – connecting your ideas about how the world should be to other people’s existing ideas and beliefs – creating a bridge between these people in order to further a goal.

    Comment by Diego Irizarry | March 11, 2013 | Reply

    • “The individual presented himself in the therapy room of the nineteenth century, and during the twentieth the patient suffering breakdown is the world itself…. The new symptoms are fragmentation, specialization, expertise, depression, inflation, loss of energy, jargoneze, and violence. Our buildings are anorexic, our business paranoid, our technology manic (Dallas Robert Sardello).” – Brief moments of Sardello: Founder of the School of Spiritual Psychology and author of Facing the World with Soul. However extreme this point may seem, I feel the points Sardello brings up in this brief quote regarding the personal, universal idiosyncrasies of people and our things is executed through a similar lens as authors discussed in this week’s blog. A stance of: this is happening, disease is a reflection, and metaphorically speaking, as pertinent or not to your life you feel relatable, there is a real starting point to what and how things should and can be thought about, discussed, and positively changed. The boxes that are massively produced to put ourselves in does not necessarily fit the overwhelmingly wonderful motions to which each box intertwines with the other, not to mention the necessary discussions on why they are separated and how this is affecting the progress all crave in this increasingly progressive, regressive technologic world we live.

      Response to someone talking about connecting ideas to existing ideas in order to make change for a different approach to the topic:
      The main ideas we’ve been existing off of don’t seem to be working that well for the majority so it seems for most that connecting too much to them would lead to insanity. Which, as a term, is defined by doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. There are many ideas to connect to besides the most obvious. What exists is a narrow discourse as to how to connect instead of connecting existent discourses to each other. I think we can do better…Whether it’s because we’re looking for our mother and father in Freudian slips or not.

      I think this new Atoms for Peace video is relevant – I’ll keep my take on it out:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpVfF4U75B8

      And another of my favorite parts: Gill Scott Heron. Revolution:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGaoXAwl9kw

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eV_astp3BjM

      Although there are many great minds to critique, dreams are still made by whatever is in yours. That’s how capitalism and it’s anti’s got started. Why have we been sticking to the same dream in such a rapidly changing world? There have been many since. We’re all new here, adjusting to the noise, making our own.
      Deleuze & Guattari are coming from a humorous perspective from the viewpoint of, where they see a society of control, everyone now having the ability to be a creative entity more than ever – due to, yes, technological advances! However, this is instating a new age of mediocrity, where those taking their creative endeavors seriously are lost in the grey blobs of mass-produced mediocre work. – Much like the food, education (excluding much of UVM, of course!), quality of other material items, etc. The way I see it, although people have been and will be separated in the various boxes of roleplay and separation of heads, hearts, and their counterparts through previously set-up systems, there also now exists an abundant way to melt these together through the ability for everyone to now blog, post, like, and film this transcendence or problems with lack there of. What is most concerning is the fact that, although people feel comfortable with the “do it yourself” mentality in the realm of art, they do not transcend that to, say, “the day job” – the place where most people spend time. The lack of creativity in the way one approaches their daily life, no matter how talented the person, has been increasing our mode of mediocrity for as long as inside and outside have been separated.
      The talented are outcasts, environmental spirituality is outcast, the genius is outcast, so on and so forth for all those who have shaped the society we know today. The ego of mediocrity has not only made sure the separation of church, state, wall street, and bum street are kept distinct from one another, but even those that are within the community of its segregation to be detached from each other. As for deciding who we’re serving, it’s astounding how many people choose to serve mediocrity instead of the greatness in themselves – whether that be the immense sense of wholeness one feels staring at the ocean to dancing to laughing to putting on a suit to whatever…at the end of the day, who have you been answering to? Another dollar? A system that you feel segregates its people? It’s all a part of you. It makes no sense for people to act for anyone else.

      Comment by Jesse Fox-Ham | March 12, 2013 | Reply

  5. Perhaps I am missing something, but I was confused by Deleuze’s essay. In the second section, “Logic,” I did not find much logic. ” If the most idiotic television game shows are so successful, it’s because they express the corporate situation with great precision.” First of all, what constitutes an idiotic game show? For that matter, what constitutes an intelligent one? Secondly, I do not find it to be the case that people enjoy game shows because they emulate “corporate situation.” It is not possible that people enjoy playing along at home? Who hasn’t found themselves yelling out answers to Jeopardy clues, just for the satisfaction of validating your own knowledge? And further, such a validation isn’t the result of corporate instigated “rivalry.” It is autonomous. I always try for the daily double, even if I’m watching alone.
    Further, I was confused as to his attack of “perpetual training” replacing schools. Surely, these are necessary co-inhabitants of the enclosure of education. Who would want their doctor practicing with treatments and medicines thought state of the art at the turn of the last century?

    I’m also not sure I fully understand the city/farm road analogy. A one-road farm town is easier and faster to navigate, but it seems to have fewer possible places to go. Whereas the city has multitudes of destinations, and as a result of such density, each is not as easily accessible. Is faster and simpler really conducive to more creativity? It seems that more is possible in a city, with more destinations

    Comment by Conor | March 11, 2013 | Reply

  6. A few quick comments on points made above…

    1. On Deleuze & Guattari and desire/lack:

    D & G criticize (Freudian) psychoanalysis for its assumption that people desire what they lack, and so that desire is based in a gap. We can certainly be trained to desire what we lack: e.g., by being repeatedly shown images of people living well, dressing well, looking good, having everything, and in the process by being made to feel that we are lesser than they are – that we too should strive to have those same things. (That’s how much of the advertising industry works, and how the desire for commodities tends to spread across the world. It also has the by-product that when we realize we can’t access those goods, we might get resentful about it.)

    D & G are trying to argue that when desire is based in lack, it deforms us: it turns us into subjects of a system in which we can never get happy. We can only become “good soldiers” in a dysfunctional system; we dream about more, but content ourselves with lives of quiet desperation. On the other hand, when desire is seen as a productive force — as a matter of relational connection, curiosity, exploration, and positivity, then (they would say) it can move mountains.

    2. On D & G and schizophrenia:

    D & G wrote on this topic in the early 1970s, when the anti-psychiatry movement (in which Guattari was involved) was very critical of the conventional treatment of schizophrenics and others with mental illnesses. D & G’s use of schizophrenia as a kind of model was intended not to celebrate that psychological condition, but to argue that it served as a better framework for understanding the psychic effects of contemporary capitalism than did a model based on neurosis. “A schizophrenic out for a walk is a better model than a neurotic lying on the analyst’s couch,” they wrote. This connects with their argument about desire and lack: the neurotic internalizes oppression, accepting the neurosis-inducing structure of power while expressing his or her dissatisfaction through tics and obsessions; the schizophrenic plays it out in the world at large by thoroughly reimagining the relations between him/herself and everyone else.

    After their book Anti-Oedipus came out, they went to some pains to point out that they weren’t advocating schizophrenia itself, and weren’t claiming that schizophrenics should serve as our models. (Their models changed radically in their very next book.)

    3. On the logic of Deleuze’s argument (Conor’s point):

    Here I’ll just caution that while an example or two — like his point about game shows — might be easy to criticize, this doesn’t really get to the logic of the argument as a whole. That argument is about a generalized shift in how people, bodies, and life in general are governed: from a system of disciplinary “enclosure” and “molding” (established in the 18th and 19th centuries) to a system of modulation, interoperable codes, and constant quantitative recalibration of value (by banks and financial institutions, insurance and healthcare “providers,” the stock market, et al., all of which are strengthened as they share data across previously separate domains).

    Deleuze point isn’t to denounce this shift (though he occasionally sounds like he’s doing that), but to understand its implications: who benefits and who pays, how will it affect the possibilities for human subjectivity, collective social change, etc.?

    Avatar of Adrian J Ivakhiv Comment by Adrian J Ivakhiv | March 11, 2013 | Reply

    • In all honesty, I believe that people certainly desire what they lack. The insatiable nature of humanity may have been amplified through capitalism; however, I believe that desire is fundamentally based in our innate biological makeup as competitive species. The video I attached was a really interesting TED talk about inequity between mammals and how it affects their behavior and rationality. ( I would skip to 13:00 to watch the experiment) The video shows two monkeys being fed cucumbers in exchange for a piece of wood. However, one of the monkeys suddenly starts receiving grapes instead of the cucumber (the monkey prefer the grapes to the cucumbers) in exchange for the same piece of wood as before while the other monkey (both can see each other and the human giving the food) is still being fed cucumbers. Almost immediately the monkey being fed cucumbers refuses the cucumbers all together and instead throws the edible food at the researcher. This study showed a monkey acting completely irrationally and dismissing the cucumber because it knew there were better options available.
      As mammals, I believe we strive for “fairness” in our society and social spheres. The constant strive for fairness can create resent for others, due to what we can’t achieve that others can. I do believe that this could create insatiable desires and certain unhappiness. However, I don’t think these desires are created through an outside force (although they can certainly be inflated by outside forces), but instead I think desire for fairness and reciprocity is innate in competitive species.

      http://www.ted.com/talks/frans_de_waal_do_animals_have_morals.html

      Comment by Katie | March 12, 2013 | Reply

      • Katie — I like your comment here (and great video!). But I would ask: does it show that mammals desire what they lack (whatever that is), or does it show that they desire something specific, namely, reciprocation in relations? (If they desired what they lacked, then all monkeys without grapes would desire grapes — and everything else that they don’t have.)

        But I think that if the argument is reworded — that humans (and other social mammals) desire those things that are visibly available to others of their kind, but inaccessible to them — then you’re right. D & G would phrase this positively: it’s not about a lack but about a *possibility*. Reciprocation, fairness, mutuality are all positive possibilities. And when those possibilities are visibly thwarted, resentment ensues.

        Comment by Adrian | March 12, 2013

  7. The Deleuze essay read like sci-fi at times, even though he, for the most part, was just describing how real, modern capitalism works (I didn’t catch it upon first reading, but he does mention this-that his description of control mechanisms is NOT science fiction). Others have mentioned the shift from a society of discipline to a society of control-at face value, these seemed like the same thing to me. Even his description of the shift seemed like the same thing (control is short term, but also continuous and without limit, discipline is long duration, infinite and discontinuous). He does elaborate, and the differences are made clear upon further inquiry. Adrian clarified it above, so I won’t restate the differences, but I see a disciplining power is a much more tangible, concrete power, whereas a controlling power is much more of a shadow that is hard to pin to any one entity.
    Regarding Diego’s point about ADD diagnoses in modern society, I’ve often wondered about the relatively recent spike in prescription drug usage and mental illness. Is this due to the fact that modern society is causing mental illness in people (i.e smartphones/computers causing kids to be unable to focus, stresses of the modern economy causing anxiety disorders)? Or perhaps inescapable prescription drug advertisements that prompt people to ask their doctors about antidepressants? Is overprescription just another means for pharmaceutical companies to increase capital? Writing this now, I realized this may have been briefly discussed in class a few weeks ago, but it’s still a question I’m interested in-the likely answer is that there are numerous contributing factors that go beyond these simple questions, and it’s caused by all of them. Regardless, it’s linked to capitalism, and has something to do with our society of control.
    And I just want to acknowledge this sentence: “We are taught that corporations have a soul, which is the most terrifying news in the world.”

    Comment by Joe Mullen | March 12, 2013 | Reply

  8. Regarding the D and G take on schizophrenia, I can see what they were trying to get at. I do certainly feel that in many cases therapy sessions and prescription drugs can increase the issues that many people with mental disorders suffer from. When someone is telling you that you need to take a pill everyday or meet with a therapist regularly in order to be “normal” or closer to “normal” then that is very likely to plague their way of thinking more. After viewing a documentary on schizophrenia and paranoia related disorders many of these people either do not realize they are unlike other people with a firm grasp on the generally agreed upon reality or they feel that they are even gifted in a cursed way that allows them to see more and feel more than the average person. While of course this can be beautiful thing especially when explained in that way it obviously can cause serious life-threatening problems, like what was explained earlier. Going off of what Joe was saying, the increase in diagnosing people with mental disorders such as ADD or depression I feel is a direct result of over capitalizing on people and giving them any excuse to prescribe drugs and make money off of their perceived disorder. While I would say that there are certainly a population of people with ADD/ADHD or depression that are helped by taking these pharmaceuticals, judging from people I’ve known growing up and people I know now, it seems a large population who take these drugs unnecessarily or in a way that actually inhibits them in somehow. For instance a friend of mine growing up was prescribed adderall at a very young age and took it throughout elementary, middle, and high school. To this day he swears he was just being a normal, excited child when he was prescribed it and resents his childhood doctor for prescribing the drug in the first place because he felt it inhibited socially and caused restlessness along with a lack of appetite with no significant benefits towards school compared to when he was not taking the medication. Of course I am in no position to advocate for or against these drugs but I do feel stories like these should be heard.

    I do not completely agree with what D and G were saying with their point on desire/lack however. While advertising certainly makes us think that we need things that we don’t just in order to stay current with trends or to be popular or something, I feel that the things that we truly desire and long for are the things that we feel truly disadvantaged by for not possessing them. I suppose the real question that should be asked is how do we know we truly desire something or not and whether or not it is simply a superficial wish. Perhaps in ways a false or planted desire in our minds deform us and take us away from our true selves but there is certainly the true, natural occurring desires that do not do this to us.

    Regarding the points made on power and control, I feel that it is all a matter of perspective. You can look at what the government is doing and say that they are controlling you yet I believe that in this country currently you are not being controlled nearly to the extent that so many people feel they are. People still have freedom of some kind and can make their own decisions to a great extent. Yes of course there are limitations to things and maybe you feel like you are not being heard but I feel the mental freedom one possesses is often overlooked or undermined. People seem to go to the extremes with everything and forget about the most basic and primitive freedoms we all possess. Fortunately here in America we aren’t forced into so much of the terrible things that go on in other countries around the world. I may not like where the country seems like it may be going but I feel we are still so much better off than what could be and still should be grateful for all of the amazing opportunities available to us. I know of course people will criticize me for saying this and say that I am a lucky, privileged white male attending college so of course not everyone has the same opportunities that all of us do but I still feel that there is still much more to offer here for even the underprivileged than many other places around the world.

    Comment by Andrew | March 12, 2013 | Reply


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