New plan for Making Sense monograph

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I’m trying to publish a book that is based on my doctoral thesis. The proposed title of this book is Making Sense: Art Practice and Transformative Therapeutics. Bloomsbury are currently considering my proposal for publication. Three reviewers (Professors Leon Tan, Joy Shaverien and Lucille Holmes) read my initial proposal and said it was academically interesting but that I needed to include more psychoanalytic theory and material from art psychotherapy. I have digested their critical responses, which were very helpful, and here is my basic new plan. What do you think?

Although the main field of Making Sense will remain focused on contemporary art, poststructuralist and deconstructive philosophy, I will insert new material and a more critical use of therapeutics and therapy, to define and back up my position of transformative therapeutics. This approach will provide a narrative going through the book. Firstly, I introduce and define how creating and viewing an artwork has an affect that I call transformative therapeutics, which is applicable for the individual and society at large (I show instances where this is the case). This involves chapters that deal with the senses, beauty, politics, and territory. Then I take a clinical approach, using my own formal experiences of art therapy and psychoanalysis, to show how art practice involves desire and subjectivity, and leads to growth and transformation, with the influence of the art psychotherapist. This investigation leads me to question the clinic, and build the position that the transformative therapeutics and making sense of art need not rely upon a professional. My argument needs to go through therapy to realise that the therapeutic affect can occur without formal therapy and take place through the motor of art practice itself (rather like the ‘desire machine’ of Deleuze’s ‘Body without Organs’). Here I look into how schizoanalysis challenges psychoanalysis (and breaks the clinic), through a Deleuzian morality. I then use Lacan (and Kyle Reynolds) to argue that the artwork can replace the analyst and be a therapeutic force in itself. I then describe examples of such a position, in relation to how art can provide palliation, an ethos and a technique of the self. I then consider the role art has in making life worth living. Here I go through Winnicott and Schaverien on the transitional object, through Stiegler on the notion of the pharmakon. In this chapter I approach the clinical setting of pharmaceutics. Although, by now, we are outside the clinic, healing and therapeutics might seem to rely to some extent on the drug industry, which can resolve the ‘chemical imbalances’ that are said to cause some mental illnesses. Here I consider whether the use of psychiatric drugs is amplified to make people functional members of the workforce, so that ‘normality’ is controlled or manipulated by capitalism and consumption. This continues my critical questioning of psychological normativity, healing and cure. I use Stiegler’s pharmakon to build a politics of care, Taking Care, which employs a neurodiverse perspective that is fuelled (again) by art practice as a sensuous, hands-on process of transformative therapeutics. In relation to this pharmaceutics are still necessary and important, although controversial and problematic. Making Sense has limitations: it can’t replace drugs, but it can still occur outside the clinic, independent of the professional, and be applicable for everyone. My conclusion is that we are all artists and we can all access and stimulate the desired-for growth and transformation that is provided by art practice. At this point my book launches a new and equally-accessible aesthetico-therapeutic paradigm. Here the world Makes Sense.

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