Modern analysis and psychiatry sprang from the same cluster of nineteenth-century observational experiments that gave us séances and table rapping as a means to peer into the invisible forces that shape events in our lives: the workings of our consciousness and what, if anything, happens to it after death. There are letters from Freud begging an associate to never mention his own investigations into this field as it could jeopardize psychoanalysis's transition from a paranormal art into a legitimate science. A question of marketability.

Psychoanalysis was better off when it was still hitched to its phantoms. The ghost that haunts our heads, the thing we market to the world that we call the 'self', presupposes a not-self: a not-me, a someone else. A not-self necessarily becomes open to dehumanization. The abjection of the not-self becomes more acute the more the self is reinforced: neurosis on a private level, and warfare on a national one. The self is reinforced through social cohesion, cliques, selfies, and the things that make cool things cool. Religion also fills up this hungry vessel, as does nationalism. Some forms of therapy erroneously seek to solidify that spectre, the 'I', the ego, as if by giving us fake property to defend from marauders, therein we’ll find the meaning that eludes us.

Most of the scientific, psychological, philosophical, contemplative, mystical and religious schools of thought you can think of, throughout history, have pointed out the suffering caused by the dominance of the self/ego. Technology and capital are training us, teaching us, terrible things right now. They've taken a terrible trait and made it our primary interface. Right now most of us are lashed to online ghost ships, designed to extend and be piloted by the self/ego, that are interacting with people on our behalf, even while we sleep. Like the shackled spirit that visited Scrooge, it's encumbered by chains forged endlessly, and inescapably, of every dumb thing we've ever done while trying to cobble together the self we want to show the world. It does help us to stay connected, but it's also made us behave ourselves in very particular ways.


"Before Become Extinct”
Gouache, acrylic and collage on paper

Excerpt from “Picture Yourself in a Burning Building”
by Scott Treleaven forthcoming from Fulgur