I decided to combine together a few papers I’ve scraped up and attempt to investigate the topic of Obsession through as many sources that I’ve gathered through recreational work. In getting into the complexity like going through a lawnmower to find out why it cannot be started. In an attempt to go into complexity, it is a possibility to catch a corner of reality.
Images, Nostalgia, and Idols, oh My!!
Obsession lurks within humanity by the hour, it seeks constant attention for some person or inanimate object in order to bring some sense of purpose in life. What obsession results in can be either negative or positive depending on context or situation each individual in relation to others is in. They’re cases that people can be “happy” in a despotic regime in the sense of comfort and security, leaving all other aspects being thrown all out the window. What’s interesting about obsession is that it encompasses all of our lives, similar to the pain that we can never really recover nor escape it because it’s replaced from one form to another. Obsession is also at odds with boredom( which will be discussed later), the spectrum of boredom widens as conceptions of paranoia, depression, and suicide are the new normal, similar to how in Ancient Greek myth, the Titans were replaced with the Olympians.
Obsession usually comes about by our innermost fears. When you contemplate on a problem, it consumes your mind and removes other details that you were focused on. One of the reasons why phobias exist is because people are unable to deal with their fears, so they focus on the inevitable train crash of death in the hopes they will find a way out. The inability to find solace with death produces escapism and nostalgia which then turns into self-loathing anger onto the world. The interest to look into the past is the inability to deal with the complications of the present, it reverts to using yesterday’s tools to today’s questions This results in heightening one’s Ego and makes the individual’s misery a commonality to those around you. An example of how this is played out is the struggle between Hate and Love, in order to hate or love an object or subject, one must rearrange the trajectory of one’s own desire in order to decide what should be loved or hated. Speeding up these love-hate desires shows the complexities of one’s own emotions and how it changes with technology (at the moment from which I’m writing this, its due to electric technology). With humans developing more environments through new mediums, sensory changes heighten our sense of desires and focus on images that aren’t our own. Our own desire is fabricated by someone else creating it, take the Hula Hoop, for example, no one knew what the hula hoop was until they wanted it on display through advertisement and hearsay.
As patterns of information are dismissed or enhanced due to “eye of the beholder” it sets forward a visual space, making literate and individualist tendencies to emerge from mass print and erased over time. As propaganda, convictions and pursuits come into being, so too the fanaticism that religions and ideologies bring about to people. Some are able to not take seriously, others get furious as tribes fight each other due to blatant rage, violence endures as a constant struggle with little to no end in sight except for brief moments of the ceasefire.
In regards to mental conditions itself, its obviously impacted people around us, with the aspect of OCD.
“Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.”
These urges come from our fixed appeal to a series of images surrounding our environment, the eye becomes the dominant organ to the ear as we accept more and more of it as beauty. This beautification also arrives in the form of lust and libido, the images of naked woman or man represents an intense feeling for a pleasurable pain, an intense struggle that comes to an abrupt end through a climax of release. The effects of this range from a series of heightened senses to more lust for greater acts of sex (hardcore porn). In this dilemma, it’s more apparent that the nature of sex should be studied and why BDSM and other erotic fetishes have become more and more popular in the past century. Technology plays a role in liberating the individual by giving open opportunities to access new forms of images and information while being oppressive by creating a new obsession that can be difficult for some to detach from.
It isn’t just pornography that has played this role in subliminal imagery and messaging, advertising has played the part as the sex-ed teacher for people who glance at them. An example would be a Sprite commercial that cuts to oral sex and then with the burst of the sprite bottle to represent a phallic release (1). “Obey your thirst”, the demand for the libido to just let yourself go is something that is created by the desire that was created by someone or something else that an individual. A cautious approach to personal questions must come into question, all of it relating to what is truly your dreams and how to deter them if they aren’t. A segment of this comes into mind with a lecture by Deleuze on this subject (2), in that video, he warned about how the desire of someone else’s dreams can be dangerous to the individual because the more desperate people that exist within, the more hazardous they become to everyone around them. The origin of dreams itself is a reflection of the environment we live under, a new medium creates itself as a different form of capital by new inventions with older inspirations. Celebrities, singers, and politicians pay tribute to the fame others had, making them into idols that attempt to give power to them. Apostle Paul makes a response in 1 Corinthians 8 that shows that at the end of the day, these idols have no meaning except that which is created by our own obsessions.
“4 As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world and that there is none other God but one.
Pauls obsession with God is blurred for his worship, though he can see that it means nothing else in regards to life itself. The same God who fooled others for believing what they want, it’s become apparent that the world should not be taken as seriously as most people want to believe. Once you begin taking it seriously, it becomes apparent that the game will never satisfy the person and will die in their own obsession.
In regards to general images, its a violent intrusion into our minds by influencing new ideas that demand new conformity. It’s a conforming essence that you don’t have to agree with, just accepting it as it is and that acceptance comes with nostalgia due to inability to agree with present trends by pondering “what went wrong.” Its an escapist trap because it doesn’t take into the account of how and why the present-day discarnate man is in the situation they are in, parents have lost control because they lost themselves in electric technology, they gave into the entertainment of their time, the obsession over past celebrities brings inspiration to new and controversial ones. More details on this specific subject can be found here (3)
Obsession, if not controlled to a certain degree, stagnates low energy to most important functions of everyday life, creates tribalism with the intensification of demands for violence against the opposing party(they can legitimately exist or not depending on circumstances). This doesn’t have to be in the political sense either, the phrase “being wired” refers to a restrict of interpreting or caring about anyone else due to a breakdown of stress and thinking itself. The obsession with being wired is the demand for relief, some take a while to recover from strenuous periods of the mind, some stay for as long as possible.
It doesn’t take long for being in the Cyberspace to find out that media figures, politicians, journalists, and celebrities seem obsessively narcissistic of their own image/reputation. Family issues, cultural shifts, mood swings play a part in this phenomenon, however, it’s just not the cause of what’s happening. A glimpse of the possible reality can be an obsession with electronic technology and the extensions that change our personalities and those around us. A misunderstanding of past myths can help in this regard, specifically in relation to the Greek myth of Narcissus(1.). In Understanding Media, Marshall McLuhan offers a different interpretation of the myth by saying this.
“The Greek myth of Narcissus is directly concerned with a fact of human experience, as the word Narcissus indicates. It is from the Greek word narcosis, or numbness. The youth Narcissus mistook his own reflection in the water for another person. This extension of himself by mirror numbed his perceptions until he became the servomechanism of his own extended or repeated image. The nymph Echo tried to win his love with fragments of his own speech, but in vain. He was numb. He had adapted to his extension of himself and had become a closed system.”(pg.51)
McLuhan then uses this to talk about language and how self-amputation plays a role in our central nervous system, that electric technology extended outside ourselves to become the new nervous system.
“To the degree that this is so, it is a development that suggests a desperate and suicidal autoamputation, as if the central nervous system could no longer depend on the physical organs to be protective buffers against the slings and arrows of outrageous mechanism[…] For if Narcissus is numbed by his self-amputated image, there is a very good reason for the numbness. There is a close parallel of response between the patterns of physical and psychic trauma or shock. A person suddenly deprived of loved ones and a person who drops a few feet unexpectedly will both register shock. Both the loss of family and a physical fall are extreme instances of amputations of the self. Shock induces a generalized numbness or an increased threshold to all types of perception. The victim seems immune to pain or sense.”(pg.53)
Pleasure and Comfort want to be in equilibrium for each individual, this wont to happen due to the Pain and the obsession of such removal or else the individual becomes numb to the suffering around him due to the impact of Pain itself. In this context, Pain means both emotional and physical distraught, in opposition to comfort because it seeks to remove bonds of emotional comfort and happiness. We become aware to this perception due to the intensity of our pain, it either creates more of dependency on technology to either express our emotions, create “better” moods or become self-aware of our own obsessions (It can be all three possibilities or just some depending on circumstances).
“Moreover, Blake announces as his theme in Jerusalem the organs of perception:
If Perceptive Organs vary, Objects of Perception seem to vary:
If Perceptive Organs close, their Objects seem to close also.
To behold, use or perceive any extension of ourselves in tech-nological form is necessarily to embrace it. To listen to radio or to read the primed page is to accept these extensions of ourselves into our personal system and to undergo the “closure” or displacement of perception that follows automatically. It is this continuous embrace of our own technology in daily use that puts us in the Narcissus role of subliminal awareness and numbness in relation to these images of ourselves. By continuously embracing technologies, we relate ourselves to them as servo-mechanisms. That is why we must, to use them at all, serve these objects, these extensions of ourselves, as gods or minor religions. An Indian is the servo-mechanism of his canoe, as the cowboy of his horse or the executive of his clock”
To see if this interpretation of obsession taking over people completely is correct, Gary Genosko summarizes what is meant of McLuhan’s thoughts on Narcissus.
“McLuhan used the Narcissus myth to indicate that the beautiful youth, Narcissus did not fall in love with himself, as the myth is commonly read. Rather, Narcissus fell in love with the technological extension of himself… he believed the youth’s loss of his ability to communicate sexually may be nonetheless reparable.”
“As Donald Theall observed, the New Narcissus “fecundates his images, the technology that he has generated and that is changing him”. (Genosko,McLuhan and Baudrillard: Masters of Implosion, pg. 68)
If what is said is true, then it goes to show that narcissism extends from a desire to be an idol that wasn’t our own image but someone else’s. Obsession from within one’s own self is different from an obsession with other objects. Idols that we see are movable or not, the ideals of it become a shouting match of who wants to be the biggest supporter of someone or something. McLuhan offers a diagnosis of this as a blinding effect to the world around us by a distraction of our own senses.
“I call this peculiar form of self-hypnosis Narcissus narcosis, a syndrome whereby man remains as unaware of the psychic and social effects of his new technology as a fish of the water it swims in. As a result, precisely at the point where a new media-induced environment becomes all pervasive and transmogrifies our sensory balance, it also becomes invisible. “ (1)
In appealing to your self-interest, you realize what you can or cannot have in this world. It doesn’t have to be fair and it won’t, the purpose is to protect yourself from obsession because the Ego can be manipulated with phantoms that are appealing from hindsight. Our current world lays traps for people to get suckered into, know the details of these traps and survive for as long as you possibly can.
“Existentialism offers a philosophy of structures, rather than categories, and of total social involvement instead of the bourgeois spirit of individual separateness or points of view. In the electric age we wear all mankind as our skin. “(McLuhan, Understanding Media, pg.58)
“It is a curse no more distinct than any of the ancients who carved the form over and over again in stone. Love most what you cannot be.”
Conspiracies and State/Corporate Suppression
As I am writing this, there’s a controversy surrounding the aspect of Alex Jones being kicked off major Silicon Valley platforms for reasons that may vary between justifications and excuses (1). The whole aspect of this controversy is to get people engaged in dialogue from which they are beyond the control of each individual, whether it’s from pro-free speech or anti-hate speech. One podcast, in particular, did talk about this, in general, was called Porkins Policy Radio (2). The first part consists on fears and paranoia of what could happen to their outlets which are characterized as conspiracy theory outlets because its connected to aspects relating to 9-11 Truth thanks to Alex Jones popularizing it as his own property. They also mentioned in the first half with one guest that it’s a scary phenomenon that corporations cooperating on a “fascistic” scale to silence people is heading everyone into a dangerous era. They neglect to mention (probably because they didn’t know) that Anti-War.com writers were suddenly suspended on Twitter as well which is interesting to observe as well(3)
One of the main problems with this has to do with the obsession surrounding this controversy, the fact that this Porkins Policy Radio is too involved about this shows that it’s missing the general idea of what’s happening in the mainstream. That being the Medium is changing directions, Capital is flowing in a different motion, the obsession over this is only reinforcing the corporate structures and personas by giving it attention, similar to banning Alex Jones from these platforms as the host points out. By constantly thinking about scenarios, by taking it way too seriously, the obsession starts to morph itself into paranoia, it is an obsession because it’s the process of paying attention to same object or subject while diminishing care for other aspects in your life. Conspiracies usually create this aura for thrills and seeking an answer to “what is really happening”. The innate quest to seek for knowledge is pure violence, just like seeking a quest for your identity, knowledge of certain types of information can be either useless or useful depending on the person you encounter. Knowing this, obsession takes a part of creating meaning for people’s lives, a phantasm from which they are driven to continue living for the sake of someone else’s cause (mostly egoist due to financial gain). Once that is gone, Obsession turns into depression and suicidal thoughts, the real meaning of life is there is none, the highest purpose in life is to have no purpose at all. This can be observed by just looking at the most obsessed fanatic compared to the quietest, conserved celebrity who is minimally involved. This revolves around the theories surrounding power that happen normally on a daily basis.
“You should be aware of everything happening on the street, and of anyone who might be hatching plots against you. Do not feel threatened; this is a dangerous way to start becoming paranoid.Do not retreat and close ranks, to find security in a kind of fortress. Fight the desire to turn inward.Do not rely on information from a small circle, and lose perspective on events around you. Do not lose maneuverability and become an easy target. As in warfare and most games of strategy, isolation often precedes defeat and death. Make yourself more accessible.Seek out old allies and make new ones, force yourself into more and more different circles. If you need time to think, then, choose isolation only as a last resort, and only in small doses. Be careful to keep your way back into society open.
You need to be permeable, able to float in and out of different circles and mix with different types. That kind of mobility and social contact will protect you from plotters, who will be unable to keep secrets from you, and from your enemies, who will be unable to isolate you from your allies. Always on the move, you mix and mingle in the rooms of the palace, never sitting or settling in one place. No hunter can fix his aim on such a swift-moving creature.” (4)
“Everything is judged by its appearance; what is unseen counts for nothing. Never let yourself get lost in the crowd, then, or buried in oblivion. Stand out. Be conspicuous, at all cost. Make yourself a magnet of attention by appearing larger, more colorful, more mysterious, than the bland and timid masses.” (5)
Besides power struggles, complications in relation to debates are centered around reinforcing the hierarchies, the State and Society as a whole
“However, Deleuze and Guattari take this analysis further than anarchism, looking at the way that the state has penetrated and “coded” thought, in particular rational thought. Rationality does not provide, as it did with the anarchists, a point of departure for resisting the state: the state actually depends upon rational discourses for its legitimization and functioning while, in turn, making these discourses possible. It is not just that these discourses seek to provide a rational justification for the state—they are manifestations of the state form in thought. Rational thought is state philosophy: “Common sense, the unity of all the faculties at the center of the Cogito, is the State consensus raised to the absolute.”320 The state is immanent in thought, giving it ground, logos, providing it with a model that defines its “goal, paths, conduits, channels, organs.”321(6).”
Robert Greene in 48 Laws of Power talks about the result of such obsession surrounding debates like this. It shows how this desires of others to be pathetic when it’s constantly readdressed with drama.
Desire often creates paradoxical effects: The more you want something, the more you chase after it, the more it eludes you. The more interest you show, the more you repel the object of your desire. This is because your interest is too strong-it makes people awkard, even fearful. Uncontrollable desire makes you seem weak, unworthy, pathetic. (pg.305)
The opposite of obsession with political topics is detachment through “losing yourself in the crowd.” By assuming no form but a brand identity, you hide your inner identity, your true self to yourself and own up to the grief that each person experiences daily. Your desires are dreams are your own, it becomes not an obsession but a way of living with yourself, “tell me your relation to pain and I’ll tell you who you are” as Ernst Junger said. In the second half of the podcast, it essentially confirms what I say with another caller explaining how Alex Jones ruined 9-11 truther movements due to him being a huckster, the corporations doing the same thing is irrelevant to the caller due to the perceived damage of the movement post-September 11th, 2001. The host of the show went through damage control by pretending to be contrarian in an attempt to appease the caller that he knew. They then go on to how Social Media essentially becomes a prison and that people need to go out and talk to people, this reminds me of Mark Fisher’s description of Capitalist Realism and the Hypernormalisation documentary (7), our complaints and grievances expressed online aren’t gonna end up like the Arab Spring anymore, rather people will distrust each other while waiting for the civil war that was either never coming or has already happened in civil society through Bio-wars. Obsession over one another is the inevitable consequence for the fear of Malice and Conspiracy.
Suicide, Boredom, and Paranoia
When people encounter others in their experience in the world, it eventually ends ups with weird encounters. In America, it comes with all different shapes and sizes, from Christian fundamentalists to ufo cults, from conservative militias to anarchist activists against the State. The individual gets to hear everyone’s mind by listening for “the grain of truth” in an attempt to make sense of the world around them. Questions that can possibly be brought up are the following;
What is the purpose of Life?
Who am I?
What am I?
What can I do to make a better future?
Such questions can never be answered with satisfaction because the answer will always be different with a series of encounters that makes up an experience within a certain environment he/she/them is in. Once the individual gets saturated with the questions of life and the overconsumption of information that is being tossed around every day, the effect turns into boredom. Boredom is defined as the state of being weary and restless through lack of interest (1) and this usually results in loneliness and depression, the realization that each person is really nothing special in the world. This comes into the mind by mixing Cioran with Depeche Mode, showing a connection between Optimism and Suicidal Tendencies.
“Only optimists commit suicide, optimists who no longer succeed at being optimists. The others, having no reason to live, why would they have any to die?” (2)
“Girl of Sixteen,
Whole life ahead of her,
Slashed her wrists, Bored of life,
Didn’t succeed, thank the Lord,
For small mercies”(3)
It’s interesting that this can be analyzed with suicide stories as well, some of the news relating to those usually end with a parent of the dead child or someone else explaining how they don’t understand why they would do this. This is not enough to make a completely accurate assessment, rather a postulate that can be observed more than the average pessimist. In 2015, the average amount of suicide deaths was 1.5 percent (4) and that has gone up ever since the present day (5) with Death having new names to add onto the pile every day. (6) Life seems to be constantly suffocating the optimism with multiple accounts of health implications, criminal activity, State violence, Terrorist attacks, Sexual assault, Opioid overdoses and many more that have been forgotten. Paranoia starts becoming the new normal because the future doesn’t seem to exist anymore to most people, it’s a constant renewal of possible tragedies and incivility to people around them.
What does this have to do with boredom? It takes hold when one gives up discovering new techniques, new information, new interpretations of life. Boredom is interlinked in some way to suicide because its a cry for help by the means of seeking attention, the individual who suffers from boredom is desperate into finding something that they can become obsessed over. Let’s be clear here, boredom is not an obsession, it’s a desire for being obsessed again by an object or another person. It’s the shallow notion that one needs to play a new role, a new identity to be taken over as a whole. The bored person doesn’t want to be bored anymore, they don’t want to understand why they were brought to this conclusion, they just want an exit out of the “circus”. This is where Paranoia takes hold, in order to find another identity one must engage in violent thrills by means of conspiracy or culture wars.
Being Paranoid is a normal occurrence in this world now, it keeps you alive for as long as possible and you’re deeply involved with every word that someone speaks and writes. This doesn’t help with the realization that all words are essentially metaphors that when combined into sentences produce meaningful statements or gibberish that is incomprehensible. What shows in this late stage of modernity is that Boredom, Suicide, and Paranoia have one thing in common, they are interrelated in obsession as driving causes of accelerating death in human civilization.
“Within cells interlinked,
Within cells interlinked,
Within cells interlinked “ (7)