Perspectives built in India

There are 3 parts to this reflection on my squeezed escapade in India. Firstly I include a poem I wrote when I was sitting in the departure gate of the airport, waiting to fly back to England. I get a bit lost in words and sounds at times, so I’m not sure it’s easy to understand, unless you know the context of my inspiration. I dilate/dilute my poem by copying down here sections from my diary, which I wrote during the 2 days of the symposium. These 2 sections contain a simplistic narrative of an adventure I had, and then a more philosophical deliberation on my part in the symposium at the Goethe Institute. This symposium and the concurrent exhibition were called “Crisis and the Making and Unmaking of Sense: Art as Schizoanalysis”, organised by Khoj International Artists’ Association.

  1. Pure perceptions

The smog tugs

my throat in

smoky dregs

that won’t

relent and

parch my

retching

breath

amidst the

dirty, musty

rubble.

I stumble,

tremble,

grumble.

The sounds

abound

unfounded

ground.

In dirt

a yurt (of sorts)

surrounds

the furtive

thoughts.

I’m caught

amidst

a sort of

noise

that toys with

grids that lead

instead to boys who

glue their eyes

to gushing buys

and see my white naivety

a state to shove believing with

above their toil.

A royal boil

begins to itch my throat

again.

They sell me rotten apples

coupled

and drive me through the rubble.

In-credible, a fib,

unstable, a rib

bounces and renounces

my body’s defences

as I lurch across the track.

A fact backed when

shambles wend

around the bend

floundering my senses

(jabbering,

shuddering).

But then I arrive.

Dust clears.

Rust bears

my weight.

I stare

into the

air and through

the golden

groats’

emboldened

stoats

and feel

iotas grinning

and calmly

holding my inebriety.

Instead of lurching,

retching,

deflecting,

I nurture

nature

softly dazzling,

embezzling

and tickling

my senses.

Here the sun

maintains grains.

Those groans

from tomes of blown up dens

cannot subsume the oms

from green and grown refrains.

Liquid lubrication

amidst the new creation

defies the chronic,

bubonic,

catastrophic,

hegemonic

grasp.

This is our task.

We slip through,

ripping their cloak,

nipping through the boundaries,

staking out founded steeds

for a brand new reality.

Grand, astute, a fluke?

Not quite, more like

a great hike that breaks

the strokes of broken lives

and strives to set us free.

2. My adventure

Last night Lleah (who has dyed her hair pink) took me to somewhere in central Delhi. It was very intense and a crisis evolved. Before it did we had a highly stimulating set of sensoriums/sensoriae, which erupted from the trip to this crammed, chaotic market. We went on the subway first of all, which was a pretty intense experience in itself. Talk about crammed. So many dark, smelly men, wet and whet with sweat and pounding the inadequate space too close to me. One man placed his left ear on my lips. As my breath banged his warm skin, and our bodies touched, clammy and condensed, I immediately gasped, aghast at this ghastly unwanted intimacy, and retreated (as much as was (im)possible, given the restraints (im)posed by the lack of space). Soon it was our stop. The station was similarly crammed full of people. We went up the stairs. So was the street.

Undeterred, excited, I followed Lleah and we began to explore. Neither of us knew where we were going. We followed out noses. The odd pong barred the route – urine, mould, dirt. In fact, each olfactory stimulus enhanced the overall sensorium, since it made the journey more authentic.

We wandered randomly through the streets, undeterred by the aggressive rickshaws (‘autos’) and motorcycles beeping and cavorting their horns and accelerators, bombarding through the space.

The streets were lined with market stalls. Most were selling colourful material and fabric, bangles or fruit. I took lots of photos and videos, really enjoying this adventure.

After a while we decided to return home. We found a rickshaw (after one we’d rejected due to excessive charge) and climbed aboard. By now it was rush hour and the streets were crammed with beeping automobiles aggressively meandering around each other, noisily trying to overtake and ignoring any semblance of order posed by lines, lights, regulations, or policemen blowing vociferously into plastic whistles.

Then, before we knew it, a motorcycle cruised past at huge speed, and snatched Lleah’s purse, which she was holding on her lap. It flashed past and away, irretrievable. We urged the rickshaw driver to follow, and he went down the other side, the wrong side of the road, dodging rickshaws etc., trying to catch the villant. Violence. Shock. Fear. Lost. The motorbike went away and we could not follow. The purse was gone and we were unable to retain it. so we ordered the rickshaw driver to take us to the police.

At the police station Lleah formed a complaint. We had to go to another police station to do this, in the same—evidently dangerous—rickshaw that we’d lost the purse on before. I was scared and clasped my own bag so closely to my chest. The next police station seemed “helpful” in inverted commas, but Lleah’s purse (passport, all her money, credit cards and iPhone) was irretrievable and she had nothing. The police did nothing and were quite intimidating. They gave us each a glass of water and tried to insist that we drank it. Now pure water here is poisonous so that was a pretty shifty gesture.

I was melting into patheticism, if I’m honest, by this moment. I gave Lleah some money and asked the police to get me a taxi to return to KHOJ, where I was staying. At first they did not want to get me a taxi and said I should use a rickshaw, this same rickshaw which had brought on the situation. I refused, and eventually a taxi was called. I got in and we drove off.

Before long it was evident that this bedraggled taxi driver did not know where we were going. Soon we were lost, in the middle of nowhere (after travelling at speed up the motorway). The taxi driver jabbered away in one of the multitude of languages apparent in India. He did not speak English. He stopped the car, left me alone in it, and wandered off to speak to a fat, bearded man who was sitting in an armchair outside his house. The driver eventually came back and we were off again. He turned around. Kept stopping and turning around. I became increasingly scared, and did not know what to do. I had no one’s telephone number and my phone wouldn’t seem to work anyway.

I shouted pigeon English at the driver and he shouted his Indian nonsense back at me. No sense. The Crisis and Unmaking of Sense. Then, suddenly, I recognised the street and so it was fine. I stopped the taxi. Refused to pay the extortionate fee he proposed, I paid a lesser fare, and walked to KHOJ. I found, then, that the door was locked and I couldn’t get in. I had no key. Shit. It was late by this point and of course I was on my own. All I could do was bang on the door and shout loudly, hoping someone was there who could let me in.

Someone did. And then I ate cereal and milk. I forget about water being poisonous and drank it neat from the tap. Fuck. Oh well, I was fine. Phew. What an adventure!

3. A more philosophical debrief of the symposium, and my own intervention

. . . So it’s bumpy now, because I’m on my way back home in a taxi to Delhi airport. I wend my way. Yesterday (the second day of the symposium, the day after the above adventure) was terrific. I showed my film and made my intervention. I was so brutally honest about my experiences because they could be applied critically to the overall trajectory of the symposium, which was: schizoanalysis and the making/unmaking of sense. 

In basic terms the symposium and exhibition presented artists and thinkers who demonstrated different ways of perceiving and reacting to the world, in response to a crisis that is both social and psychological. This concerns psychosocial trauma, the effects of genocide, the disappearance of lives from history, and the false rewriting or superimposition of a history that is fundamentally hegemonic, selective, exclusive and hierarchical.

The point we made at KHOJ was to show how stating a different truth to the one superimposed and falsely fixed by history can de-legitimise the structures of power who control it. This is agency. We cannot reverse genocide. We cannot prevent trauma. But we can build a rhizome of utterings, rememberings, representations, which secure our different identities and, collected, can provide healing and retaliation.

The symposium tried to install this agency through a schizoanalytic framework, one which dismantles the fixed, teleological, catastrophic logic of systems of power. We founded a way to state and respond to the pits of hell and torturous atrocities installed and advocated by these mutually destructive—whether totalitarian or capitalist—forms of power. Making art, thinking through making, and sharing what is made, resists and decentres. It provides healing. A rhyzome of possibilities.

My own part to play in the symposium was highly insignificant. I felt like an ignorant, spoilt child – from the West, where, although we are hyper-consumed and dictatorially controlled by capitalism, we know nothing of the atrocities suffered in other parts of the world (represented at the symposium). However, I have experienced my own atrocities. My own genocide, which fortunately I was able to free myself from. I make art. This provides a process of retaliation from my demons, a process of sense-making, and a process of healing. What I do with art can be applied to other situations, since it is not just individual, or confined to me. It is social.

I showed my ”Touché” film (viewable on my website, under ‘Painting Film’. Then I explained how I’d made it, and discussed how it showed a different perspective of the world, which consists of my hallucinatory visions. I developed this subjective narrative through a schizoanalytic appraisal and applied my thoughts to a critical as well as clinical register. Leon Tan, whose film (made with Virlani Rupini) was shown in the exhibition, asked me questions, and talked about his own work also. Together we discussed how art can promote healing in situations of psychosocial trauma, particularly using Deleuze and Guattari’s ideas about and their methodology of schizoanalysis.

Pooja Sood, who runs KHOJ, said she would have liked to have put my film in the main exhibition, and I had some great responses to it, both during the symposium and afterwards. I connected with several artists, who said that they also have visions. We began to discuss what larger intervention we could manifest together, as a result of the insight and openings uncreased and set free here, floating and yet grounded, beneath the soil and grains of dirt, spit and detritus, and growing reams of shoots and bulbs from the multiplicity of roots that spread across the many corners of the world. I mean, the symposium had a global audience. Participants came from all around the world. The world – its corners don’t trap or confine, we are set free by the agency of the frisky roots which take us to and from them, skipping through time zones, nations and boundaries, spreading hope and clasping hands with friends along the way.

By the end of the symposium I felt surrounded by these friends and so stimulated that the pores in my skin began to ooze with synaesthetic shivers. Hair-raising, but with the comfort and security of company by now, unlike the adventure of the previous night, I settled into this expanded sensorium.

After a rousing, celebratory booze up (or diet coke spritz, in my case)m we confirmed our vows of fraternity and agency. Pooja drove Navjot, Ana and I back and I went to bed. Tumbling thoughts and sensations pervaded the ends of my consciousness as I lay down to settle, safe and secure on the wooden bed. Hypnogogic visions mutated these cerebral happenings and soon my mind was wound with skipping images of hope, release and joy.

This is what I found in Delhi.

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Testing my revised plan for ‘Making Sense: Art Practice and Transformative Therapeutics’

Here is an outline of my revisions to the plan I propose for the book I am writing, which is based on my doctoral thesis. My proposal is currently being considered for publication with Bloomsbury, and has undergone rethinking my original work and including new material, following recommendations from the Readers who reviewed my original proposal (and previous comments from my unsuccessful application for publishing this book with Edinburgh University Press). But the point of Making Sense remains, I hope? Tell me what you think…IMG_1598

Introduction

This book is divided into two halves: the first considers how art practice provides an agency of transformative therapeutics in a clinical sense (that is, either inside or outside of the psychiatric clinic) and in terms of healing for the individual subject. The second part of the book considers how art practice provides an agency of transformative therapeutics in a larger, social context, as a critical method of thinking and epistemology about the world we inhabit. Both of these viewpoints then define how art helps us to make sense of the world.

In the introduction I present the main terms I use throughout the book (sense, making sense and transformative therapeutics) and also my methodology for establishing my central thesis: how art practice provides an agency of transformative therapeutics that helps us to make sense of the world. To establish the critical and practical position for Making Sense I pave a path between contemporary art practitioners and poststructuralist aesthetic theories through psychoanalysis. The aim for this project is to instigate a process of (and desire for) discovery and healing (or ‘transformative therapeutics’), which is applicable to the reader who connects with and learns about themselves and the world by engaging with the investigative and critical approach, through the agency of art practice, that forms and fuels the content of this book.

The introduction begins to develop an understanding of how we can use art as a method of healing and as a critical method of research (the two ways by which I define ‘transformative therapeutics’). Firstly this is considered in relation to the subject, and an individual’s healing, which can take place both inside and outside of the clinic. I begin by using specific cases of art psychotherapy, with examples where making art has been therapeutic in a clinical, psychiatric setting. I then consider the therapeutic agency of art practice outside the clinic, via Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of schizoanalysis, which destroys the clinic (although I question this) and open out how art practice can provide an agency of transformative therapeutics on a larger scale that can instigate social change. At this point I develop Making Sense through making art as a critical method of ‘material’ thinking that can provide a sense of politics, territory and a real epistemology, beyond the subject who performs the act of creating or viewing an artwork.

In the introduction I also define my position with regards to the suffering, illness, or pain, which art is said to alleviate, heal or cure. Defining cure does not involve a teleological (mis)understanding of progress, but a neurodiverse understanding of self-awareness, and a politics of care. I am not approaching cure from the viewpoint of a clinician (although I go through pharmaceutics in the final chapter). I do not want to impose psychological normativity. Here I engage with Lucille Holmes’ work on art and perversion, and build a schizoanalytic (rather than psychoanalytic) trajectory.

Part One: Transformative Therapeutics as Healing for the Individual

 

1. Making sense of transference: how art can nourish the senses

This chapter considers what happens when we interact with an artwork and asks the question: how and why does art affect us? The purpose of this question is to begin laying out how an artwork can stimulate the agency of transformative therapeutics, which is seen in this chapter through the ways that an aesthetic encounter ‘nourishes’ the senses. I interrogate the sensory experience of visual perception, which happens when we look at an artwork. This involves considering phenomenology (through structuralist and poststructuralist thinkers such as Bergson and Deleuze), neurobiology (through Barbara Stafford), and the judgement of taste (through François Cheng and Kant). By using the sensuous example of viewing and being affected by a selection of paintings by French neo-Romantic painter Jean-Bernard Chardel, I show how encountering an artwork can nourish the senses and in this way provide an agency of transformative therapeutics.

I then consider how making an artwork can nourish the senses. This involves examining the psychology of the process of art practice, and considering what happens when, say, we paint an image. I develop the concepts of transference and countertransference, through Joy Schaverien, to understand how an artwork can transfer, hold, transform and evoke attributes and states, causing growth and transformation for the person who makes this object, and for the viewer who encounters and perceives it. I consider the picture as a ‘scapegoat transference’ and a talisman. I then situate this as an agency of transformative therapeutics, particularly in relation to French photographer Jean Frémiot’s work with disadvantaged adolescents. Frémiot shows how making art can provide special attention, a new worldview, and, indeed, an ethics of taking care that nourishes the senses and creates a new mode of existing.

2. Making sense inside the clinic: episodes of art psychotherapy

In the second chapter I situate the agency of transformative therapeutics of art practice as it may take place inside the psychiatric setting of the clinic. This chapter is about art psychotherapy, which I introduce and describe how it can help people overcome difficulties, illness, and suffering. I do this by including vignettes of my own formal experiences of art therapy and psychoanalysis, showing how art practice involves desire and subjectivity, and leads to growth and transformation, with the influence of (and problematic dependence on) the art psychotherapist. This enables me to further consider and define the concepts of healing, growth, transference, subjectivity and desire. In theoretical terms I use Joy Shaverien (via Jung), Lucille Holmes (via Jacques Lacan) and Griselda Pollock (via Kristeva) to analyse my experiences of art therapy in terms of its clinical setting. This setting raises problems, and at the end of this chapter I question whether art’s agency of transformative therapeutics is dependent on the clinic. My critique here raises Deleuze and Guattari’s efforts to destroy the clinic and, in particular, psychoanalysis with their practice of schizoanalysis.

3. Making schizo sense: destroying the clinic

This chapter is about Deleuze and Guattari’s project of schizoanalysis, and the concepts of ‘counter-actualization’ (which is a synonym of healing) and the ‘desire machine’ (the motor and fuel of counter-actualization). Deleuze and Guattari’s intent with these ideas is to destroy the clinic, which they argue causes rather than cures psychiatric illnesses. In this chapter I define schizoanalysis, going through Freud, Klein and psychoanalysis, and Kant, questioning how this is a useful or applicable practice beyond its task to destroy Freud and the clinic. Schizoanalysis wishes to source ‘a place of healing’, or agency of transformative therapeutics, by engaging with the schizophrenic and liberating them from their clinical detainment. There are problems with Deleuze and Guattari’s argument for this position, with their dependence on (and exclusion of) the schizophrenics Artaud and Schreber. I raise these problems, and then use Deleuze’s morality in The Logic of Sense to resolve them and source the transformative therapeutics of art practice, using the example of the schizophrenic artist Adolf Wolfli, and the movement of Art Brut.

4. Making sense outside the clinic: Lacan’s sinthome

Now that we are outside the clinic I show how art can take the place of the analyst for the ethical treatment of the symptom. This chapter is about Lacan’s concept of the ‘sinthome’, which he raises in his work on James Joyce. I engage with another schizophrenic artist, Kyle Reynolds, who uses painting as a method of healing that has enabled him to evade hospitalisation and manage his psychosis for over a decade, outside of the clinic (and without any formal intervention of an assigned art psychotherapist). Lacan’s sinthome helps me to define how art practice makes sense outside the clinic. The inclusion and application of Lacanian theory is potentially problematic to Deleuze and Guattari (based around Lacan’s defining desire as a lack, whilst Deleuze and Guattari define desire as inherent production), although Guattari was trained by Lacan and his influence is still apparent in the schizoanalytic project. I use Zizeck here, to question and resolve the difficulties of juxtaposing Lacan with Deleuze and Guattari, and to continue building the independent agency of transformative therapeutics. I then utilise another example, from Brazilian psychoanalyst Suely Rolnik, who talks about how she initiated an episodic practice (and healing) of schizoanalysis, by the intervention of Deleuze, outside the clinic.

Half way through the book we are outside the clinic and can build, transfer and expand this agency of transformative therapeutics beyond providing care and healing for the individual subject. Now we can establish the transformative therapeutics of art practice as a critical method of research on a larger scale, which can instigate social change and help us make sense of the world at large.

Part Two: Transformative Therapeutics as a Critical Method of Thinking

 

5. Making sense of territory: the painting event

In the fifth chapter I propose art practice as a method of ‘material thinking’ (via Paul Carter), which is informative about how the world exists and is territorialized. In this chapter I examine art practice as a critical method of research and develop the concept of ‘the painting event’ to define the process of creating any artwork. I show how this process marks territory and, in so doing, provides a method of thinking (or practice as research) that offers a transformative therapeutics. I look into the movement of ‘Process art’ and Robert Morris’ ‘Anti-form’, to move our understanding of how an artwork has its affect away from the final object formed, and onto what might be achieved or provided, as a method of thinking in itself, during the process of its creation.

This chapter offers the dual perspective of the aesthetic (or the reception, consumption and reflection of artworks) and the artistic (or the production and the creation of artworks). Between both these perspectives lies a way of thinking about sense that helps us to think about territory and how we inhabit the world. Here transformative therapeutics is sourced from art practice as a method of thinking about and marking territory. In this chapter we use art to learn how we inhabit the world. We consider our place in the world through the process of making art. In this sense, meaning is practice-based and it provides an aesthetic ecology. I establish these ideas by utilising Simon O’Sullivan’s Deleuzian-inspired work on ‘geoaesthetics’, through the paintings of Caroline Rannersberger.

6. Making political sense: String Games

In Chapter 6 I consider how art practice provides an agency of transformative therapeutics through the technology and politics of play. To start, I examine a new media performance-installation by the Canadian artist Vera Frenkel. During the creation of this work in 1974, String Games: Improvisations For Inter-City Video, there is a sharing of the sensible, an invention, improvisation and transmission of meaning, and a technology of play, which is how I demonstrate that the artwork makes political sense. Playing String Games provides inter-personal (and inter-state) healing that demonstrates topical social change. This is political sense.

During the event of this work Frenkel choreographed space, time and the senses through playing a game of cat’s cradle, via inter-city video, between two rival cities in Canada. I show how the process and installation of this performance makes substantial insight through its political sense: we learn how to improvise language, with its gaps for expressing the dissensus and difference of identity, and create a holistic sense of space that forms a ‘community of sense’. In this way Frenkel’s artwork provides a transformative therapeutics and a political community for its participants. The work is set in relation to the capitalist monopoly of the medium, governed by Sony’s overbearing control with this elementary form of ‘Skype’, and also in the economic rivalry between the two cities, Toronto and Montréal, which Frenkel here engages diplomatically, on each side of String Games.

I use Rancière’s notion of the ‘partage du sensible’, or the ‘distribution of the sensible’ to consider the boundaries of our active participation and place within the world. Rancière helps me think about what is fundamentally at stake in Frenkel’s art performance, seeing its political sense as a sharing of the sensible and in terms of its technics – the technology of the game and of the inter-city video facility. I then show how such a technics provides transformative therapeutics, which demonstrates how this artwork offers a Making Sense of, and in, the world. The point is to find a method and way of thinking that helps us understand and extend the emancipatory potential and transformative, therapeutic power that can be gained from the political sense of Frenkel’s work.

Donna Haraway’s work on playing string games becomes a useful way of thinking about politics and the primacy of technology and game-play in our definition of politics. In all these cases I develop how the artwork offers an affective therapeutics and transformative sense about the world. The psychology (and transformative therapeutics) of play involves Joy Schaverien’s work on Sand Play and helps us understand the political sense and opportunities for transformation provided by playing and performing String Games.

7. Making sense at the limit

In this chapter I show how art practice provides an agency of transformative therapeutics as a method of palliation, mourning, and ‘being in the present’. Firstly, I consider how an artwork can offer us an intimate sense of the ineffable threshold of existence, or an experience at the edge of our existence, at the limit of what is real. Secondly, I demonstrate how the process of making an artwork can provide a form of therapeutic palliation, as the capacity to enable a method of ‘being in the present’ in relation to this limit. By examining an encounter with Sophie Calle’s installation Couldn’t Capture Death, Calle’s artistic process, and then turning to American video-installation artist Bill Viola (who also works on the threshold), through the aesthetic theory of Jean-Luc Nancy, this chapter aims to develop the ongoing hypothesis that engaging with art can provide the transformative therapeutics that defines our Making Sense of the world.

In theoretical terms this chapter aims to open and develop the dimensions of Nancy’s aesthetic theory on how an encounter with an artwork presents the ‘threshold of existence’, and also how an artwork provides a ‘technique of the present’. With critical reference to Bourriaud’s Relational Aesthetics and by examining the enclosed space and aura of works by Calle and Viola, set in Robert Storr’s curation of the 2007 Venice Biennale, this chapter thinks about how encountering these works provides a poignant sense of our finitude during and beyond their event in Venice. We gain a sense of how an encounter might provide a making sense of the world at the limit, our limit. Then I open this discussion onto how the process of making these artworks provides an ethos and technique of existing, or ‘being in the present’, by using direct interviews with Calle and Viola, and developing a discussion about technology through Jean-Luc Nancy and Heidegger. I also utilise the psychoanalytic theory of Darian Leader, which considers art in relation to mourning and the mother figure, and helps us to understand the transformative power and therapeutic sense of Calle and Viola’s works. We discover how art practice can provide transformative therapeutics in the way that it offers a way of life, and here conclude with Foucault’s hypothesis of seeing the artwork as a ‘technique of the self’.

8. Making sense with the Pharma

In this chapter I use the term ‘Pharma’ to account for pharmaceutics and the drug industry, and also the ‘pharmakon’, which is a dual sided concept that can indicate both a poison and a cure. Sourcing the curative pole of the pharmakon is the object of this chapter. Stiegler partakes in this search in his What makes life worth living: Pharmacology. The title of this book captures the extent of our situation: Stiegler says that the misery of the present (the ‘disenchantment of the world’) has led us to lose the sentiment to exist, and now we just don’t know why life is worth living. This situation introduces our need for the curative pole of the pharmakon.

The search for cure leads me through Winnicott and Schaverien on the transitional object. Winnicott shows us how we can use an artwork to supply a resource for re-enchantment and the curative situation of the pharmakon. We see how art uses creativity and play to define meaning, sense and healing.

Winnicott’s psychanalysis raises the clinical setting and leads us to consider the role that pharmaceutics has to play in the search for a cure. Although, by now in the narrative of the book, we are supposedly 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, as Stiegler argues, 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 (via Stiegler, and also Ben Goldacre’s Bad Pharma). 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.

 

Conclusion: Making Sense of the World

In this book we have developed an understanding of how an artwork can have an affect on us, and we have been through different kinds of art psychotherapy that provides healing, psychological self-awareness and growth. We have then located therapy outside of the clinic, and our agency of transformative therapeutics has extended beyond the individual case examples to provide a critical method of thinking about society that can affect the world at large. At the end we question the remaining disenchantment of the world, and the influence and dependence on the drug industry, which pose limitations to Making Sense. But we have still located and begun to understand how art practice can provide both a method of being in the world, understanding it, and an agency of transformative therapeutics that is applicable to all.

The purpose of this book is to inspire and stimulate this accessibility and encourage the reader to experiment with art practice as research and locate this agency. The proof of its potential to offer a way of being in and transforming the world that is universally accessible depends on continued stimulation and experimentation, which is an on-going, nascent inquiry that extends beyond the confinement of this book.

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.

New plan for Making Sense monograph

IMG_1584

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.