Monday, 31 January 2011

It is madness?

'You can never define madness in terms of an external, visible manifestation'

Psychoanalyst Darian Leader on certainty, madness, and what it means to be normal

Video discussion here. (Sorry, won't allow embedding.)

This is interesting and, to an extent, has a certain merit: how does one clearly define the boundaries of sanity and madness? But this is not the way he poses the question; he forgets to mention, just as their is problem defining the exact boundaries of madness, conversely there must be a symmetrical problem with that of sanity. You could say they're not necessarily mutually exclusive “conditions”. In any case, his argument displays a slight of hand, otherwise known as the "slippery-slope argument". That is: because we cannot provide a clear-cut distinction, as there are levels of ambiguity in diagnosis, as well as social factors, there is none to be made. You might say, even the very categorization involves a kind of madness itself. Now, if there is no – even “in principle” – method by which we could solve these ambiguities, then it is unreasonable to demand one as a measure. However, we do have other methods available to us that utilise a combination of diagnostic tools: from behavioural observations, biology, pharmacology, to psychiatry, neurology, and so on. On their own, they may be insufficient, but together they build a patchwork of inter-disciplinary knowledge and experience which is more clinically robust – that's not say it doesn't have its flaws. Of course, this knowledge has not always been used for merely therapeutic purposes, but ones of social oppression - merely because some did not conform to the statistical norm, doesn't mean they're mad. Indeed, there's a tradition of genius which seems could only have existed by going against, challenging, entrenched assumptions and cherished beliefs. Hopefully, as we become more sensitive to the way our views of madness and sanity are formed, we can at least try to avoid sweeping, dehumanising, tendencies. He offers no substantive reason to abandon our attempts to at least draw some boundaries, other than it's difficult. For example, it's difficult to say what art is; not to mention, agree on whether it's good. Does that mean we should abandon the distinction between “art” and “not art”? There are artists whose work challenges those boundaries, but implicit in such attempts, is the idea that there is something that can be “said” about it; there is a debate to be had, otherwise, why bother calling yourself “an artist” or denying that you were one? We accept art exists, while also accepting there is no overarching theory or understanding that encapsulates every putative instance of its manifestation. The relation between madness and art I will leave for another discussion. Or not.

The internet. Where's it @?

The internet: great for an earthquake

Thursday, 27 January 2011

What dreams may come ... and go

As he awoke to the alarm pulse, shaking off the sluggish embryonic remnants of the dream-scape where he had soared beyond the moribund gravitational shackles of the day-dwellers, he began searching the sock draw in the vain pursuit of a matching pair. It was then that he remembered the redundancy. Yet-to-be-signed divorce petition. And eviction notice. Oh wait, no, he was still asleep and this was a nightmare. Sometime after noon he would leave the golf club and pass by the office to pick up his contractually legal bonus cheque at the bailed-out bank where he worked. And he would laugh at this soon-to-be-forgotten silliness. Or may be he was still dreaming? No. He wasn't ... ah, but may be ... look, no, he wasn't.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The magic box

I was reading, in one of the port-side leaning broadsheets, an article bemoaning the current paucity of “working class” comedies on the television. It was the usual hand-wringing clap-trap that harked back to a mythical, pre-HD, golden era where “humanity” was to be found in the salt-of-the-earth, hand-to-mouth, struggles of the down-trodden working man, stay-at-home wife and hand-me-down fashioned - clinging-to-the-kitchen-apron - offspring, resident in some two-up, two-down, urban idyll (“idyll” for those with corrective rose-filter contact lenses (and please feel free to add your own patronising cliché)). Instead, the author suggests, we are inundated with “middle class” obsession-based broadcast programming. I beg to differ. Not the veracity of that latter observation, rather that there is any clear-cut distinction between “working” and “middle classes" in our present day, service-based, economy. Instead, I contend that the social distinction has been squeezed, not only from upward pressures (such as the expansion of education and healthcare), but also from downward pressures (such as corporate homogenisation and aspirational consumerism). The overspill either way falls into a perpetual underclass, crudely characterised by a penchant for sportswear and intergenerational "worklessness", and the moneyed-class - what they used to call the “nouveau-riche” (but that's getting a bit old now) - crudely characterised by hierarchical, fee-paying, social entrenchment and a hold-your-nose, charity-marathon, do-goodery douchebaggery. But back to the “middle class” scheduled oppression of “working class” television: one argument espoused in favour of this “entertainment apartheid” is the disappearance of the “variety show” or “vaudeville” as it's known across the pond. This is clearly nonsense: they're as popular as ever, except they've been re-branded, transmogrified, as 15-minutes-of-fame-Warholised, light entertainment, “talent” shows. In the same manner, the traditional circus and travelling fairs have morphed into "family-fun-day" aquariums, theme parks and wildlife sanctuaries. The “working class” have merely been knock-off-designer-(re)labelled as “middle class” and "social mobility" relegated to the status of bite-sized political catchphrase.

See also "Sports".

Tuesday, 25 January 2011


I've deposited it in my round-rimmed, liner-lined, basket filing cabinet for actioning by the refuse men. Your custom is valuable to us. Yah-all come back now and see us on the the other side of the rapture.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Silence of the lamb

Somewhere near the mountain top, while the swirling mists lapped the fronds of ferns, they took time-out from their hike.

I'm glad we took this trip Mr. Abraham.

Call me dad.

Dad, at first I was sceptical, but you know what? I think this trip has really brought us closer together.

Me too Isaac, me too.

Call me son.

Son, there's something you should know.

Yes dad?

There's … there's going to be something … something we have to do together … something that you might not understand … and it might get scary for a while, but I'm sure it'll all work out in the end. You trust me don't you?

Sure, dad, as long as we're together – I have faith in you. Now where is that lamb you said we're having for supper? You know? The last thing on our "action list"?

About that. About that.

Friday, 14 January 2011

On digging deeper into that hole

When your spade is turned as it clangs, scrapes and scuffles rock bottom, now is not the time for regrets, rehabilitation and resolution. No. It is the time to reach for that diamond-bit drill.

Thursday, 13 January 2011


My dandruff has returned. I know what you're thinking: but you have such vibrant and electrifyingly vital hair with such “effortless” balance, condition, control and volume – how could this be, pray tell? Well, as you know, I don't subscribe to scrimping when it comes to my mane attraction. Lush locks don't happen by accident. However, what I hadn't anticipated on my recent business trip to LA – and therefore didn't pack for – were the grooming riots. Due to the fuel shortages, refined petroleum based unctions were as rare as stabilised forms of antimatter. The stylist salons and studios burned into the night and, whilst the pyrotechnics may have been hair-raising, the consequent humidity dried out my scalp. Keratin flakes on my shoulders and collar, why do you mock me so?

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Heart of Darkness

He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.

Samuel Johnson

The horror! The horror! as Brando's character, Colonel Kurtz, intoned, in perhaps the definitive exemplar of the horrors-of-war genre film, Apocalypse Now. Superficially, it may appear to be a late acknowledgement of his “having gone native”; however this brief, duplicate locution should properly be viewed, not as an admission of a socio-geographic acclimatisation to the amoral mores of “local savages” per se; but rather the peeling façades of civilisation to reveal a brutish state of being whose potentiality lay resident in all of us, quietly radiating a dark light. Such were my thoughts as I completed my year-end tax returns somewhere near dawn.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

On making excuses and leaving

Whilst it's been enchanting to the point of delirium, I feel the onset of nausea and the ensuing spasmodic abdominal anticipation of emetic discharge; so I have to go now. Cherish always. Ciao.

Friday, 7 January 2011

It's only snuff

What were the eighties like great grandpa?

Shit boy, the money was greener than you ever seen it and the savings were loans and the coke binges were obscene; we backed narco regimes, while Regan wet-dreamed and, when they got out of hand, we slapped them down with state-sponsored guerrillas and burly marines.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Jane, Jane, Jane, that's a game on me

Plain Jane the super brain gone and played a number on you again.


As I drew the curtains on the night's dross parade of stop-start traffic lights and late-hour neon-coded eateries from my from fifteenth floor luxury penthouse corner suit overlooking a street re-branded "something boulevard", I consider my options with respect to relaunching my career as a literary agent. An autobiography, detailing my decent from polite society facilitated by an all-consuming crack habit - punctuated by between fix bridge binges with ludicrously expensive vodka together with the occasional lucid flashback to the horrors and indignities of a moderately wealthy family upbringing (my dad had a small, single propeller plane) - might do the trick. May be a short stint as a male prostitute would be the NYT best-seller / Oprah Book Club clincher?

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Absolutely incongruent

Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.

Immanuel Kant once asked his readers to imagine there was nothing but empty space and a pair of gloves, whereupon one was supposed to determine which was left and which right in relation to that void by some method unknown. But where did he imagine you were expected to imagine this scenario from?