Jun 2008

The title

Apologies for neglecting this place, but the past few weeks have been pretty hectic. Right now I’ve got a bit of time to myself, though, so I figured I’d pop in and blow some of the web dust off the page lest it settle too deep and I start slipping into the “taking a break” section of that small handful of blogrolls discerning enough to carry me.

I do have a whole bunch of incomplete blogposts from the past couple of weeks. But I can’t seem to properly finish a thought at the moment. I suspect that’s got something to do with being neck-deep in research. Everything seems to return to the same topic.

So my observations on the Lisbon referendum campaign ended up being an analysis of the unconscious drives at work within the collective psyche of the electorate. My short piece about our New Glorious Leader, Brian (I’m not just ‘an Irish Gordon Brown’) Cowen began by explaining why actually, he’s not just an Irish Gordon Brown, and ended up examining the unconscious drives within the capitalist collective psyche. And my oil prices / peak oil / fuel protests piece? Well, let’s just acknowledge that there’s a pattern emerging and the phrases “unconscious drives” and “collective psyche” made an appearance. I also ended up explaining my belief that if you were to actually sit down and design a system to drive a culture completely psychotic, then you’d have a hard job coming up with something better than a free market in natural resources.

All of which may well be fascinating, but it’s also very dense stuff at the moment. Blog posts that require extensive glossaries are probably to be avoided. It’s all still percolating you see, and hasn’t yet really coalesced into something easy to communicate. All being well, for me the next couple of months will essentially be devoted to that very process.

Reading a lot of Gregory Bateson really changes the way you think about… well, everything. And that’s not hyperbole. It’s just how it is. And it’s worth pointing out that he’s not shy about making it clear that his intention is just that. On top of that, it’s long been recognised that reading a lot of Freud will seriously affect the way you think about… again, pretty much everything.

So there’s probably a certain inevitability in the fact that while researching a paper that hovers somewhere between a Freudian reading of Bateson and a Batesonian reading of Freud, there’s a tendency to view every issue through a psychodynamic prism.* Which is probably a very good thing from the point of view of writing the paper, but is less good when it comes to blog posts. It’s also a bit hit-and-miss when it comes to everyday human interaction… I’m trying to curtail the constant tendency to punctuate conversations with: “hmmmm, that’s a lot like Bion’s idea of the emotional storm created by interpersonal awareness really… I must write that down… … … … sorry, what were you saying?” That, and looking at people as though they’re mad because they don’t know who Isabel Menzies Lyth is**. Really need to cut that out.

What’s that, you say? The title? Well, my thesis supervisor stressed the importance of getting it down to ten words, but in the end I just couldn’t compress / focus it any further than twelve. So without futher ado… “Free Markets as Collective Pleasure Principle: Psychodynamics of an Ecology of Mind”.

What do you think? Sound academic enough? Personally I think it sounds academic as fuck.

It’s certainly a densely packed dozen words. Start unpacking them, and before you know where you are, there’s fourteen thousand of the buggers lying around looking to be put into some kind of meaningful pattern. It’s a dirty job………

Aaanyways, if you’re in the vicinity of the Trinity Postgrad Reading Room over the summer, pop in and say hello. You know where I’ll be.

* Psychodynamic Prism. A forthcoming 8 CD retrospective from ‘Yes’.

** For those mad folk among you, she wrote Containing Anxiety in Institutions (a collection of papers that’s been very influential on my thinking) and is recognised for carrying out the first psychoanalytic studies of large institutions. If I’m honest? No, I hadn’t heard of her prior to this year. Turns out there’s lots of people who’ve done remarkable; really remarkable; work who I’ve never even heard of. Always worth bearing that in mind.

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