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<nettime> Taking Pills
brian carroll on 28 Aug 2000 19:46:50 -0000

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<nettime> Taking Pills

 i enjoyed Erik Davis' piece on pill culture. i do not intend
 to breach the dignity of nettime by my first-person ephemera.
 but in this case, i think/feel an obligation to speak/write...

 i have a lot of experience with prescription pills, albeit
 not by my own doing, but ultimately a trap of psychological
 and physical dimensions.

 what i think is missing is the account of the psychiatric
 establishment acting as an arm of the state, to control
 people whom disagree: with religion, with family, with
 laws, with educators, with wars, etc.

 most often, people on pills are portrayed as weak minded
 people by the mainstream press and culture, not 'normal'
 like 'we' should be, that ideal/idyll collective of
 autonomous individuals.

 instead, in the recent news is Nixon's use of anti-
 depressants without a doctor's orders, and of a mother
 of a Kursk submariner who was apparently drugged by a
 (supposed) horse tranquilizer, bringing up in the
 Western media, by way of the drudgereport.com, that in
 the old Soviet union, psychiatric hospitals housed
 thousands of political prisoners, some of whom remain
 drugged and hospitalized today.

 it isn't any different in the USA, it is only sublimated.

 what i think Erik's essay misses is the choice is not
 given to all people, but is made for them, sometimes
 by circumstances beyond their own Control. instead
 Control is decided by state or school or family, etc.

 i once heard it referenced (in that great land of
 propaganda, America) that the Soviet Union controlled
 the body while the US controlled the mind, through
 surveillance systems. in the USSR, the buildings were
 bugged in one way or another. in the US, consciousness
 was and continues to be bugged, by that advertised
 image of the ideal capitalist and nationalist self,
 God fearing, money and nuclear family loving.

 ideals are never reached. this is why they are ideals.
 those whom supposedly come closest, also become those
 whom are most inspected for their fatal weaknesses.
 i have a new hate for Andy Warhol. it goes along with
 thinking about Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, and JFK, all
 pill poppers, whom for some reason i attribute with
 popularization of valium and addiction (and overdose).

 there is a lethal edge to the pills. the psychologist
 and psychiatrist are judge, jury, and, in many cases,

 there are sick people, people whom want to be normal.
 they may be the norm. but there are many whom are not,
 whom have challenged, fought, and been punished for
 not obeying the psycho/social rules of the game. these
 same people are on pills. they don't want to be. they
 often end up in jail, commit suicide, or do innovative
 works for their fellow humans. sometimes all three.

 taking pills is not an unconscious act. it is a
 daily reminder of the mental suppression of ideas
 that challenge the ruling ideology. i write because
 i have been one of the millions of people who have
 not 'fit in' to the cogs of the machine. family,
 religion, education. not to focus on details, but
 an example of a difference between perceiver and
 perceived is, in my opinion, direly needed.

 of highest importance in the global education system
 is conformance. within a "prescribed" set of rules, it
 is okay to expand the frontiers. make too big a leap,
 and you risk undermining the System of Operation. if
 you're lucky, you'll be in a group of other people
 whom think like you do, however unusual. therefore
 you can band together and go forward with the fight.
 if you are alone, you are doomed because you are
 isolated from the group dynamic. you are an imposter,
 a traitor, a madman or madwoman whom threatens the
 established order of things.

 the pseudo-science of psychiatry and psychology
 come in very handy to address such an uncomfortable
 institutional situation. if the alienated person
 fights on, by themselves, they are said to be
 delusional, schizophrenic, bi-polar, paranoid,
 hallucinatory, and irrational.

 their option, give up the fight and conform, or
 continue to fight and face the consequences.
 some sane people have crossed that boundary in
 the fight for ideas, and have been classified
 as crazy and insane and a threat to society.

 institutions want these people locked up. laws prevent
 that, most of the time. but drugs are different,
 whether legal or illegal. they can perform a
 psycho-societal function, wittingly or unwittingly.

 hard and soft illegal drugs, such as pot or acid
 or speed, often have connotations of a type of
 freedom from the order of things, and the System
 of Operation of the state. but these also enact
 a type of societal control by enabling people
 whom might otherwise challenge the economic,
 social, or political system to find solace in
 an escape through altered rules of engagement.
 this can sometimes be unwitting, because there
 is something given up in the illegality of the
 act, that legalized drugs do not mask as easily,
 as they are proscribed by the state, for a
 similar sanctioned escape/engagement.

 it is a psycho-social state of conformance,
 in both cases. both sanctioned, as they both
 perform the same function, one builds prisons
 for the worst offenders, the other, mental
 hospitals. death occurs at both ends of this
 haunted spectrum of non-conformance.

 if only all drug users were political activists.
 maybe they all were, once. maybe they still are,
 under the transparent veil of reality's illusion.
 drugs come in all colors, often depending on
 their dosage size. a movie which captures the
 frenetic trap-door of uppers and downers is
 The Who's Quadrophenia. reds and greens and
 pinks and blues and bi-color and tri-color.

 there are many a legalized Tim Leary-clones
 walking around on the streets, many are now
 homeless, many are zombies in locked wards.
 they are the forgotten ones of a society
 that likes to look away to see its future.

 that is why Deleuze & Guattari seemed so
 promising in their anti-oedipal treatise
 of the schizo-revolutionary: that there is
 a politic in this institutionalization of
 madness. but, it is beyond metaphor, or
 the metaphor has itself become the reality.

 Thomas Szasz has deemed psychiatry a type
 of institutional control. psychiatrists are
 often the state's official pill pushers, but
 today regular MDs give out speculative doses
 to get the process started.

 once having rebelled, fought, and lost, one
 has one of a few primal choices. violence.
 suicide. or psychiatric pills.

 the will to live is what underlies most
 of those whom agree to take pills. for
 many, accepting a label of 'chronicly
 psychotic' has enabled them to pay off
 debts, get subsidized housing, food, and
 money. in return, one takes pills. if
 one stops taking pills, all the benefits
 go away. thus, once one is in the system,
 it is like a type of jail, where the cell
 is defined by the rules of engagement.

 protest on the street, smoke a joint,
 get in a fight: and you not only lose
 everything, you end up in jail, or worse,
 in a mental institution, strapped down
 to a gurney with drugs forcibly injected
 and, if you're really in for it, end up
 in the farthest away ward where patients
 live for the rest of their lives, constantly
 monitored/surveilled by Mental Health staff
 to make sure the patients are submissive
 enough to be Controllable by the state.
 D&G suggested that it is these people,
 metaphorically of course, in the form
 of anti/hero-ines who can expose the cracks
 in the institution of Control by challenging
 the rules of engagement, because the mad
 are the ones whom are still free to express
 the seemingly irrational, and by implicit
 association are considered intellectually
 benign. breaking through the wall between
 worlds, exposing the contradictions.
 the hell of it is in taking the pills,
 especially if you're not crazy, but only
 "Think Different (TM)." there is no way out
 for most, once in the psychiatrists grip.

 wherein psychology proposes to be a
 science, soft as that may be, i think
 Jung's, not Freud's, view of things
 is the most fitting for the psychiatric
 dimension to this question of Control.

 the pill is alchemical and grounded in
 the symbolic. much pre-scription is
 empirical, by institution and individual
 psychiatrist, and mediated by language.
 symptoms guide the craft of transmuting
 one from white to black to yellow to red
 in a marriage of the new and old self.

 taking pills. all pills are different,
 for all people, except that which is
 the overriding effect, which some
 people may never respond to, like
 eating mushrooms the first time.

 anti-depressants are like uppers, and
 can bring a level of euphoria every
 time taken. anti-psychotics can re-
 arrange the conceptual workings of
 the brain. one example is that, off
 of anti-psychs is comparable to
 having a chess set with all the
 pieces on the board, but spread all
 over and not aligned in any order.
 whereas, on anti-psych meds, one's
 brainspace is well ordered like
 a chess set prepared for a game,
 ready to play along with the rules
 of engagement, clear and focussed.
 valium and valium-class tranquilizers
 are just that, and are some of the
 most addictive drugs there are in
 the repertoire of psychiatry. like
 its categorical name, the drug can
 bring an evenness to emotion, often
 containing fear and stress.

 the tradeoff is that, often the
 symptoms become worse when on the
 pills, and going off of a medication
 can be a disaster. typical is a period
 of adjustment to a new med, a 2 week
 psychological adaptation, where emotion
 and reasoning and consciousness are
 all rearranged and volatile. common
 is a change in eyesight with each change
 in medicine. common in the alchemy
 of psychiatry is the mis-diagnosis,
 where one is experimented upon by
 different pills until one or a
 combination seem to work. the
 'patient' in effect becomes the
 lab rat for the drug companies and
 the doctors. reports are sent back
 up the chain of command. while the
 ever present representatives of the
 drug companies pay visits to clinics
 to hand out samples, and treat the
 staff to lunch on the company while
 watching a new PR videotape of a new
 drug release, while signing them to
 attend the next "conference" on
 reasons to prescribe the wonder drugs.

 it's common to be on and off dozens of
 meds. it is not common to go off al-
 together. suicides can be a result.
 the withdrawal symptoms are physical.
 one may never have had a problem with
 their body, and then a drug may cause
 one, all of the sudden, to have tremors
 or panic attacks or slowed speech or
 any number of things.

 also common is for one to become
 psychotic if they are put on meds,
 or more psychotic, if they do exhibit
 symptoms, by sheer fact of the process
 of elimination of drugs by trial and
 error and the resulting damage to
 an individual's System of Control.
 odd, the insane are feared more
 than criminals who've murdered
 people. ideas are feared, especially
 those deemed "crazy" by society.

 pills are pushed. Brave New World
 and soma are good and well. people
 in the collective, those who do well,
 do not cause problems, do not cause
 a fuss, do not challenge professors
 beyond a certain limit, do not
 question authority by themselves,
 they may see taking pills as a
 weakness of character. as a failure
 of the intellect.

 those whom see the individual as the
 Controller of the self are mistaken,
 unless they are of the privileged class
 by which society defines itself. they are
 the ones whom can freely speak out about
 crimes and problems without punishment.
 they are the guardians whom protect
 the rest with their analyses. they are
 the ideal and think there is a choice.

 but it is an illusion, like the Matrix,
 like D&G. the collective state, both
 public and private, often has the
 greatest Control over the individual self.

 for some people, it is nor never was a
 choice to take pills. they were pre-
 scribed in the script of whose ideas
 are sane and whose are illegitimate.
 in this strange world, reasoning will
 get you nowhere, because nobody cares.
 it only matters if your speech is
 institutionally accepted, then it
 will be heard.

 in the end, taking pills is like
 putting a straightjacket on your
 mind-body. it puts a limit to
 thinking, to feeling, to emotion,
 to inquiry. it stifles the fire,
 the desire that drives discovery,
 innovation, revolution, love. it
 mummifies those who do not conform,
 entombing them in their own worlds
 of supposed fantasy. it sanctions
 a class-war of the sane and normal
 versus the dangerously insane. the
 state is God, and the psychiatrist
 is the parent. mommy-daddy-me.

 until the hypocrisy of the cult
 of "proper" intellectualism is broken,
 and the hegemony of legitimation of
 ideas by state-sanctioned institutions
 is questioned, the status-quo will
 continue to marginalize segments
 of the population while acting as
 guardians for social/economic/political
 idea(l)s sanctioned by the state.

 many minds, many ideas, are suspended
 like the bodies sustaining the machines
 of the Matrix. they are the life-support
 for the status-quo, for the rules of
 engagement. no questions asked, no
 answers need be given. but there are
 prisoners. they are not victims, alone.
 they are fighters. for their souls,
 for their beliefs, for their dreams,
 for their own individual realities.

 they know the poetry of madness. in
 people whom can play a caeser or jump
 off a highway bridge into traffic, whom
 have been abused and abadoned, whom have
 rebelled and lost, whom have been homeless
 and unloved, whom have lived their whole
 lives on the outside of 'reality.' it is
 often in madness, as Foucault writes, that
 change resides. who are you going to trust:
 a sane state or an insane individual? like
 Morpheus says: you choose. most likely, the
 popular culture has already chosen, and it
 is preprogrammed into our social policy and

 pills or no pills, break the code of silence
 and challenge the psycho-social institutional
 System of Operation and order of Control
 based on immunity and assumed rationality
 of ethically bankrupt and inhumane dogmas
 based on status and privilege and power.

 schizo-revolutionaries of the world unite!



 "am i crazy enough???"


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