Mr. Messy and the Ghost in the Machine: A Tale of Becoming ... a Working-Class Academic (Researching Environ(Mental) Health) [1]

Jamie Mcphie


...knowledge is not classificatory. It is rather storied.
(Ingold, 2011, 159).

[1] The semi-fictional story of Mr. Messy and the Ghost in the Machine (which you may eventually come to, although it may be read without reading this preface-epilogue) traces the journey of a working-class child who slowly transforms into a transclassed young adult to become a lecturer in higher education. During his time teaching and studying/researching at university he is transformed yet again into a middle-class academic (by Mr. Neat and Mr. Tidy who want nothing more than to 'straighten him out'!). Eventually, however, this enclassing has the reverse effect on him as he has a moment of existential clarity and becomes a working-class 'haecceity' [2] in academe, finally accepting/realising that he/she [3] has no 'fixed' form as an organismic 'subject' (although a story never finishes at 'the end').

[2] This preface-epilogue is messy. It introduces-concludes the story of Mr. Messy and the Ghost in the Machine by taking a nonlinear route across a wide plane, assembling themes of children's literature, gender (in)equality, environmental (in)justice, psychiatry/psychoanalysis/psychotherapy, schizoanalysis, happiness, academic elitism, suicide, flat caps, myceliums, extended minds and entangles them together within the assemblage of social class and inequity; because they cannot be separated.

[3] You, the reader/performer, will have to do some work. You are not merely a passive observer or audience member. By your very actions (or 'intra-actions' [4]), of reading this you are implicated and imbricated in the story. You are changing it as we speak; because you cannot be separated from it.

[4] This is not symbolic. It means nothing. It is always a becoming...

Becoming Mr. Messy

[5] Roger Hargreaves introduced his series of children's 'Mr. Men' books to a mostly admiring public in 1971. Since then, together with his 'Little Miss' books that were introduced in 1981, they have produced sales of over 100 million across 28 countries (McClintock, 2011). They were/are morality tales for children following the exploits of various colourful characters whose names represent their varying charismas and physical features, such as Mr. Strong, Mr. Nosey and Mr. Bump.

[6] Although 'my' tale of Mr. Messy takes a divergent course away from Hargreaves' (1972) intended story (in the original version Mr. Neat and Mr. Tidy end up reforming Mr. Messy), I would like to point out that it is in no way intended as a criticism of the original Mr. Messy story as I grew up with very fond memories of him and his colourful companions. However, I was brought up in the 1970's as a working-class male in a patriarchal society (commanded by Margaret Thatcher) and therefore it is not surprising that I found the stories appealing (just as many young working-class girls found The Spice Girls (including 'Posh' Spice' [5]) appealing in the 1990's); there was an engendered character to fit each (fixed) personality stereotype. For example, in the Mr. Men stories, there was a Mr. Strong, Grumpy, Cool and Funny for little boys to identify with and become engendered by. For the girls (introduced a decade later) there was a Little Miss Giggles, Dotty, Fickle and Bossy (these identities have no promise of abating as in 2011, a Little Miss Princess was published and in 2014 a Little Miss Hug was released). The female equivalent for Mr. Funny was Little Miss Fun (a possible implication being that it is okay for a female to be fun but not this is the masculinised role...or am I going too far?).

Becoming engendered

[7] There are legitimate criticisms of the Mr. Men books, including the later additions of the 'Little Miss' series. Ruth Whippman's (2012) critique in the Huffington Post clearly points out the gender bias of children's books (and televised programmes), including the Mr. Men (although childhood favourites of hers) in their 'science fiction-style dystopia in which all the women appear to have been wiped out' and the Little Miss series for their infantilising, demeaning stereotyping. She also highlights the lack of female Muppets on Sesame Street and the fact that in Thomas the Tank Engine, 'all the senior positions are occupied by men' (Whippman, 2012).

[8] One study of almost 6000 children's books from the years 1900 to 2000 in the United States found a strong gender disparity and bias towards stories that feature males as lead characters, indicating that a 'widespread pattern of underrepresentation of females may contribute to a sense of unimportance among girls and privilege among boys' (McCabe, Fairchild, Grauerholz, Pescosolido and Tope, 2011, 221).

[9] There are, of course, a small number of alternative tales for children that tackle issues of gender stereotyping and inequality (see 'Little Miss Muffet Fights Back: a bibliography of recommended non-sexist books about girls for young readers' (Feminists on Children's Media, 1974); or 'Tales for little rebels: a collection of radical children's literature' (Mickenberg and Nel (eds.), 2008), which both present alternatives to social (in)justices of gender stereotyping) but the reason I mention them here is that I see these gender issues as embroiled in a larger social project, immersed in social inequity; because they cannot be separated. For example, I believe that the engendering and enclassing of Western children stems from the same ontological and epistemological paradigm that shapes and fixes our identities and is also evident in much of our academic and psychiatric/psychoanalytic/psychotherapeutic practices (more on this later in the preface-epilogue).

[10] The Western worldview that supports our knowledge base, in turn, influences how we think about politics, ourselves, our cultures, our genders and even our environments. For example,

'...the prevailing objectivist and positivist worldview implied by linear and reductionist approaches to knowledge generation (or knowledge 'gathering' from a positivist perspective) has a significant influence on western perceptions of the environment as separate from humanity.' (Clarke and Mcphie, 2014, 4)

Becoming ecological

[11] How humans conceive of and behave within their environments is certainly not divorced from social inequity. 'The existence of classes within human society has had profound impacts upon our ecological relationships as well as our responses to changing environmental circumstances' (Empson, 2014, 40). In fact, 'class' may indeed underpin our environmental values and behaviours.

[12] 'When poverty over-rides everything else, people forget about the environment.' (Osman, 2000)

[13] But class is not simply about poverty, it is deeply entrenched in our worldviews. For example, Breakell (2002) suggests that visitors to 'natural' [6] environments, such as national parks, are overwhelmingly from white, middle class backgrounds, perhaps due to 'consuming signs' that Baudrillard (1981) suggests reinforces our various class identities (Suckall, Fraser and Quinn, 2009). This raises questions of historicity regarding the relationships between social class, environmental values and perceptions of gender.

Becoming enclassed

[14] In his history of the development of social classes, Martin Empson (2014) informs us that as agriculture became centred on permanent settlements, society became divided into distinct classes (40). As agricultural surplus grew, certain individuals and their family groups began to form a social class which controlled a part of society's wealth (Empson, 2014). Following Frederick Engels proposition, Empson (2014) agrees that the oppression of women was encouraged with the arrival of class society as females took on subordinate roles. Engels described this event as the 'world-historic defeat of the female sex' (Empson, 2014, 42). 'Engels argued that the rise of class society brought with it rising inequality-between the rulers and the ruled, and between men and women' (Smith, 1997). However, according to Catherine Keller (1984), the vilification of women (in 'the West') did not begin until the Bronze Age, with the advent of a patriarchal society. She also posits that this oppression was associated with the separation of mind from body in Western philosophy (Fonda, 1995).

[15] Regardless of 'when' these oppressive binary biases began, current environmental issues and gender inequality are both enmeshed in and with class structures and can therefore be traced to the agricultural revolution insofar as it transformed our worldviews and actions. Consequently, 'with the rise of class society, there is a corresponding development of the state' which is 'made up of institutions and organisations that exist to protect the interests of the ruling class' (Empson, 2014, 41). This undoubtedly brings with it the exploitation of one class by another, even if those ruling class interests are subtly hidden away from a public consciousness within those institutions. For example, with relation to the theme of this special issue, Stich and Reeves (2014) argue that powerful messages, 'coded' with varying forms of class-based academic capital, lie beneath the generalised rhetoric of mission statements within American higher education institutions.

Becoming academic

[16] The mechanistic ontological and epistemological paradigm that I believe underpins much Western institutional practice is also evident in the underlying themes of this paper/story: the themes of psychiatric/psychoanalytic/psychotherapeutic design (from my own academic research as a PhD student) and social inequity in academe (from the perspective of becoming a working-class academic). Once again, they cannot be separated. I believe this same paradigm is even entrenched in more liberated fields of academe (where these very issues are more commonly brought to light), just a little more subtly. For example, in the case of class domination in academe, the 'domination' is not so overt as ' is hidden behind “well-reasoned” theoretical formulations, subtle comments in between the lines, and attempts to categorize the working-class (woman)' (Leeb, 2004, 15).

[17] The UK's newspapers often report issues of social inequity in both medical models and academe, with titles such as, 'Why we need more working class professors' (The Independent, Van Bueren, 2005) or 'Working classes lack intelligence to be doctors' (The Telegraph, Beckford, 2008). There are, of course, papers, books, associations, groups and blogs that exist specifically to discuss issues of social inequity in academe. For example, the 'Association of Working Class Academics' (AWCA), is a blog dedicated to greater class equity; 'Working-Class Women in the Academy: Laborers in the Knowledge Factory', by Tokarczyk and Fay(eds.) (1993) and 'Working Class Women in Elite Academia: A Philosophical Inquiry' by Claudia Leeb (2004), are books dedicated to the issues of class and gender inequity in academe; and 'Strangers in Paradise: Academics from the Working Class' by Ryan and Sackrey (1995) highlights examples of academic social inequity from the USA. However, I 'feel' the main social inequities and dilemmas associated with modernist thought are hitherto be 'acted upon fully' in academe.

[18] This hierarchical academic model has been born out of class structures that have been evident from the very first universities in Bologna, Paris and Oxford. I do not believe much has changed in this regard in almost 1000 years. This model was born out of the influence of Catholic Monks, which was born out of the Platonic model, which was born out of the agricultural revolution....and so on. It was enacted and essentialised further still through the Enlightenment (in which Descartes rose to fame), leading to the industrial revolution which firmly cemented the modernist paradigm into the mechanised structure many people experience in academe today.

[19] The trail of (re)production tightly couples academe with a wellness model as we try to find ever more efficient models for the (re)production of hierarchical epistemologies and the semi-elusive 'good life'. But how can 'we' have time for the good life, or even to philosophise, if 'we' have to work?

Becoming 'swarms of difference'

'Since I am nothing but literature and can and want to be nothing else, my job will never take possession of me, it may, however, shatter me completely, and this is by no means a remote possibility'
(Kafka, 1964, 230).

[20] The short story of Mr. Messy and the Ghost in the Machine is a metaphor, always entered into in the middle by the reader (who brings with them an enclassed, engendered, politically entrenched historicised biography), designed primarily as a tool to encourage further exploration into relational thinking for academic and therapeutic applications. Relational ontologies view the world as organized by relations rather than by substances (Emirbayer, 1997). This is a topological sense of space as weaving and relating, which supplants more static notions of Euclidean space (Marston, Jones and Woodward, 2005; Wylie, 2007). Rather than relations being forged in an already-given space, relations are viewed as creative of spaces; they make spaces...relational spaces. 'In light of this, relational theories [...] propose an ontology 'between' agency and structure, where the notion of two separate realms—mind and body, natural and cultural, subject and object, agent and structure—is illusory (Wylie, 2007)' (in Clarke and Mcphie, 2014, 5).

[21] Mr. Messy and the Ghost in the Machine is a nudge and tease for anyone thinking of transgressing or breaking free from clinical Cartesian staticity embedded within traditional modernist medical and academic models. For example, modernist thought in traditional psychiatry, psychoanalysis and psychotherapy, postulates the notion of a 'true self', implying that beneath our experiences lies a core set of structures that drive our sense of self (Walther and Carey, 2009). In this sense, the mind is often divorced from the body, where the focus is usually on 'curing' the human as a bounded and isolated entity. Walther and Carey (2009) posit that from this perspective therapists tend to focus on questions such as, 'what is wrong with a person' and 'how can they be fixed'? Foucault's operation of modern power suggests that dominant discourses and normative expectations gain a truth status by which people measure themselves (and others), privileging the interests of those whose lives 'fit in' with their own narrow confines, yet marginalise those who live their lives in different ways (Walther and Carey, 2009). Similarly, modernist thought survives in academic models (derived from the same essentialist ontology as the modernist medical model) through hierarchical social structures that exist to support the dominant discourses of the middle-classes.

[22] Of course there are a growing number of post-modern and post-structural accounts emerging in both medical and academic production that take into account the 'swarms of difference' that Deleuze (1997) claims are 'a pluralism of free, wild or untamed differences, a properly differential and original space and time' (50). For example, 'narrative therapy' (White and Epston, 1990) acknowledges that we are composed of multiple stories that form in a social and relational context over time. 'Ecopsychoanalysis' (Dodds, 2011) and 'radical ecopsychology' (Fisher, 2012) also offer alternative therapeutic approaches to the Cartesian model but they have yet 'to bite' into the modernist medical model in an influential manner.

[23] Since the 1980's there has been a surge of Freirian, Foucauldian, Deleuzian and Butlerian (Judith, not Samuel!) inspired (feminist) pedagogies in academe that have left a sizeable dent in the modernist paradigm. Looking at my bookshelf, I see 2nd hand books by Haraway; Bennett; Ivakhiv; Shaviro; Thrift; Morton; Herzogenrath; Latour; Connolly; Barad; Ingold; Somerville, Davies, Power, Gannon and de Carteret (eds.); Coole and Frost (eds.) and many more (including those spread throughout this paper) who have been touched by post-modern/post-structural brilliance in their various fields of study. However, although these 'breaths of fresh air' are on the rise, there still seems to be no abating (as yet) of the dominance of the modernist paradigm in academe. I believe this dominance can be identified through outcomes such as the increasing stress levels, mental health problems and even suicides amongst many academics and PhD students in universities throughout the UK (more on this 'radical' concept under the heading 'Becoming Mr. Happy', later in the preface).

Becoming mycelium

'I don't like points'
(Deleuze, 1995, 161).

[24] 'My' Mr. Messy is always a haecceity (a 'thisness') more than a quiddity (a 'whatness'). It follows the complexity of Deleuze and Guattari's (2004) rhizomatic [7] pathways (or alternatively the wayfaring lines of Tim Ingold's (2011) fungal myceliums [8]) in order to explore a creative alternative to the temporally static and internalised understandings of the 'bounded self' (a notion that Marcus Doel (2000, 120) calls 'pointillism' [9]) in much traditional academic and psychoanalytic/therapeutic design and practice. Deleuze and Guattari (2004) referred to the human body as a haecceity so that it may be defined by the 'speeds and slowness of its material flows and its set of affects' which allowed them to discuss the uniqueness of things or events instead of the 'traditional Aristotelian genus/species/individual scheme' (Bonta and Protevi, 2004, 94). 'No longer a self-contained object like a ball that can propel itself from place to place, the organism now appears as an ever ramifying web of lines of growth' (Ingold, 2011, 85-86); this is the haecceity that Deleuze and Guattari (2004) compared to a 'rhizome'. Deleuze and Guattari (2004, 7) describe the rhizome in terms of 'principles of connection and heterogeneity' where any point 'can be connected to anything other, and must be. This is very different from the tree or root, which plots a point, fixes an order.'

[25] Anthropologist Tim Ingold prefers the metaphor of the fungal mycelium (2003, 302-306), to the rhizome, and refers to human 'knots' (2011, 148) rather than/as well as haecceities. He goes on to explain that the mycologist, Alan Rayner (1997) had suggested 'the whole of biology would be different if it had taken the mycelium as the prototypical exemplar of the living organism' as 'it could not, then, have been built upon the presumption that life is contained within the absolute bounds of fixed forms' (Ingold, 2011, 86). 'Instead of thinking of organisms as entangled in relations, we should regard every living thing as itself an entanglement' (Ingold, 2011, 87). The artist Ryan Alexander (2010) demonstrates a wonderful example of a human growing as a mycelium, available by following this link:

[26] Human 'agency' may also be subject to the same haeccetic treatment as 'the body'. For example, rather than being something that someone or something 'has', Karen Barad (2003) describes agency as 'an enactment'.

[27] Haecceity, knot, entanglement, enactment, multiplicity.

[28] Personally, I prefer the concept of the children's character Mr. Messy as I identify more strongly with him...and if you Google Mr. Messy, there he is, you don't even have to use your imagination! Although in the original Mr. Messy (Hargreaves, 1972) he was not a working-class academic, for the purposes of my story, he I am (becoming)!

Becoming (a) flat cap

[29] Mahatma Gandhi was born to a prosperous 'Bania' or merchant caste. Babasaheb Ambedkar was born to a poor 'Mahar' or Dalit caste (an 'untouchable'). Although not at first obvious, this fact is evident in their clothing when they both became prominent leaders in India. While Gandhi dressed down, Ambedkar dressed up! Gandhi wore simple clothing, to make a point, a sort of 'sacrifice' (Guha, 2002). Ambedkar wore a suit and tie, to make a point, a sort of 'rebelliousness' (Guha, 2002). But of the two, Ambedkar seemed to be the greater spokesperson for the Dalits. Make of this what you will, but I have worn a flat cap (a working class 'gesture') for all of my academic career, to make a point, although I have never been quite sure why! After all, I forgot that I was working-class until I began to deconstruct myself as a co-production of environmental, cultural and political 'affects' [10].

[30] Mr. Messy and the Ghost in the Machine tracks my journey from working-class to trans-class to becoming middle-class (back/forward) to becoming working-class in academe. It is a realisation and admittance that the working-class mycelium was always 'there' but never consciously accessed or admitted to in adulthood. Eventually, after being subjected to a series of Occidentalised academic and medical interventions, Mr. Messy realises and admits to his/her (true) nature of becoming...a working-class academic researching 'Environ(Mental) Health'.

'If we consider identity not as fixed or single storied, but as multi-storied, fluid and always in the process of 'becoming' something else through the social and political experiences of life, then we can position ourselves in relation to people in a way that is enabling of their preferred possibilities for living.' (Walther and Carey, 2009, 4)

Becoming extended and spread in the environment

[31] As well as Deleuzian rhizomes and Ingoldian mycelium's, this story also borrows heavily from process externalism (Manzotti, 2011) and extended mind theories (Clark, 1997; Clark and Chalmers, 1998) as they seem to fit rather snugly into the rhizomatic paradigm.

[32] I will attempt to explain these theories very briefly, although Tim Ingold describes the theory of extended minds quite well himself:

'In a nutshell, the theory postulates that the mind, far from being coextensive with the brain, routinely spills out into the environment, enlisting all manner of extra-somatic objects and artefacts in the conduct of its operations. The artifactual world then becomes a kind of 'wideware' (Clark, 1998) or 'distributed mind' (Jones, 2007, 225).' (2013, 97)

In 1970, Gregory Bateson proclaimed, 'The mental world – the mind – the world of information processing – is not limited by the skin' (Bateson, 2000, 460). Extending this theory, Andy Clark (1997) suggested that '...cognition emerges from the interaction between brain, body and the environment' as consciousness is a 'transcranial process' (Clark and Chalmers, 1998).

[33] Similarly, Italian philosopher Ricardo Manzotti's (2011) 'spread mind' theory suggests that there is no separation between the phenomenal world and physical reality. He elucidates the spread mind using an example of a rainbow, 'a physical process taking place in the environment' (6) that 'cannot be defined autonomously without an observer' (5). So a rainbow is a physical process [11] that bridges the 'inside' and 'outside' of the human body (hence the term, 'process externalism'). He continues, '...the physical underpinnings of consciousness may comprehend a part of the environment and thus may extend in space and time beyond the skin' (Manzotti, 2011, 1). Thus, from this perspective, there can be no mental representations, only enactions and what Karen Barad terms, 'intra-actions'.

[34] Tim Ingold has taken Bateson's proposal that the 'mind' is not limited by the skin one step further and declared, 'the organism is not limited by the skin' (2011, 86). The organism, or haecceity, thus becomes a type of ecological knot, rather like Mr. Messy.

Becoming an ecological knot

'Stop! You're making me tired! Experiment, don't signify and interpret!' (Deleuze and Guattari, 2004, 153)

[35] Mr. Messy and the Ghost in the Machine is not meant to explain, symbolise or analyse, it is merely productive and creative. Virginia Woolf insisted that her novel, 'To the Lighthouse' was devoid of symbolism, clarifying, 'I meant nothing by The Lighthouse' (Ellmann, 2000, xvi).

[36] 'The symbol is not in the poem. The symbol is the poem' (Boland, 2000, xv)

[37] Presumably taking heed of Merleau-Ponty's work, Barad (2007) explains, 'We do not obtain knowledge by standing outside the world; we know because "we" are of the world. We are part of the world in its differential becoming' (185).

[38] As Brian Massumi pointed out in the translator's foreword to Deleuze and Guattari's (2004) 'A Thousand Plateaus', 'The question is not: is it true? But: does it work? What new thoughts does it make possible to think? What new emotions does it make it possible to feel? What new sensations and perceptions does it open in the body?' (xv-xvi).

[39] I believe that by exploring novel lines of flight (or ecological knots), such as fictionalising academic narratives (which, I contend, is an interrelational phenomena/event made up of physical ecological processes), we may help make accessible much of the elite academic prose reserved especially for the mental health 'academic' and 'professional' in order to find equilibrium in our lived social experiences. Therefore, a more creative engagement with ecological (interrelational) materials may lead to a more balanced consistency which is 'always a matter of spacing and pacing, of speed and slowness, of rhythm and expression' (Doel, 2000, 130).

'The inward-looking individual fails to see the interconnection as part and parcel of his/her nature and is thus inhibited by an inadequate understanding of him/herself. The truth of self lies in its interrelations to others in a rhizomic manner that defies dualistic modes of opposition. Reaching out for an adequate representation of oneself includes the process of clearing up the confusion concerning one's true nature as an affective, interconnected entity. Ultimately, this implies understanding the bodily structure of the self. Because of this bodily nature, the process of self-consciousness is forever ongoing and therefore incomplete or partial.' (Braidotti, 2011, 310-311).

Becoming Schizoid

[40] As well as the 'inward-looking' sense of self that (The Portable [12]) Braidotti speaks of, there are also disembodied and hyperembodied senses of self that have emerged seemingly as a direct result of the modernist dilemma. For example, schizophrenia patients often experience a split between mind and body (disembodiment) whereas melancholic depression has the potential to separate the body from its surroundings (hyperembodiment) as phenomenal space is no longer embodied (Fuchs and Schlimme, 2009). Fuchs and Schlimme (2009) emphasise that confined to the present state of bodily restriction, patients suffering depression cannot transcend their body anymore and so plunge into the spatial boundaries of their own material bodies which is experienced as an object among others. This has implications concerning a person's sense of self, identity and of being (becoming) alive. But how this imbalance is usually dealt with reeks of class politics and submits to an economic structure that always subjugates certain social (and cultural) groups to create a binary bias of oppression. By this, I am not suggesting that all working class academics are depressed or schizophrenic, although there is evidence that implies we are more at risk of becoming mentally ill than academics from a higher social status. Therefore, unconsciously becoming middle class may 'seem' to be a prudent survival strategy for many working-class academics.

[41] The World Health Organisation (WHO) (2010) has stated that there is sufficient evidence available that social determinants affect health. If a person's socioeconomic status is low, their physical and mental health will be at a higher risk of being low (Marmot, 2007). Within the 2010 WHO report, Fairburn and Braubach (2010) found that 'with very few exceptions, all studies identified the poor and less affluent population groups as most exposed to environmental risks in their place of residence' (33). The psychological distress that is produced by social conditions may emerge from 'the confluence of economic and political power' (Brown and Tucker, 2010, 247), which manifests itself in impoverishment and disempowerment.

[42] Taking an example from psychiatry, Brown and Tucker (2010) point out that medical power (enmeshed in economic and political power), in the guise of the professional psychiatrist, may be exercised with oppressive consequences. The diagnosis of various medical 'conditions' (such as schizophrenia) overrule legal and moral rights and as a consequence, the service user is marginalised and 'excluded from full participation in mainstream society and subject to the ultimate sanction of being deprived of [their] liberty on the say-so of [their] psychiatrist' (Brown and Tucker, 2010, 230). Brown and Tucker (2010) note that whilst it is the psychiatric patient (or 'service user') who 'knows' their own body from within and has primary access to their own thoughts and feelings, their knowledge is (to some extent) discounted as the assessment/diagnosis needs to be completed and properly deciphered by the mental health 'professional'. 'Rather than affirming what a body can do, the meeting seeks to render the service user as a passive collection of dysfunctional affects that stand in need of careful management' (Brown and Tucker, 2010, 243).

[43] These issues of Cartesian separation and authoritarian hegemonies have also been highlighted in both psychoanalysis (notably by Deleuze and Guattari) and psychotherapy (for example, James Hillman's (1978) 'archetypal psychology' or White and Epston's (1990) 'narrative therapy'; or from a feminist perspective, Catherine Keller's (1986) critique of Western notions of selfhood in 'From a Broken Web').

[44] In Deleuze and Guattari's (2004) schizoanalysis ('the study of bodies politic from a materialist, anti-Oedipal perspective'), 'the body is the only practical object' of analysis (Bonta and Protevi, 2004, 138). Deleuze and Guattari (2004) were opposed to the evident authoritarian role of the psychoanalyst's relationship to their patient, as well as Sigmund Freud's Oedipus Complex as a symbolistic analytical account/method, and suggested that psychoanalysis subjected the unconscious to

'arborescent structures, hierarchical graphs, recapitulatory memories, central organs, the phallus, the phallus-tree – not only in its theory but also in its practice of calculation and bases its own dictatorial power upon a dictatorial conception of the unconscious. In both psychoanalysis and its object, there is always a general, always a leader (General Freud). Schizoanalysis, on the other hand, treats the unconscious as an acentred system, in other words, as a machinic network of finite automata (a rhizome), and thus arrives at an entirely different state of the unconscious' (19).

Thus, Ingold's (2011) spread organism becomes part of the same assemblage as 'schizoanalysis'. Perhaps academe's hierarchical and Oedipalised social topologies could use a dose of schizoanalysis [13].

[45] Has an Orwellian and Kafkaesque dystopia really slipped through the social net and passed unnoticed to imperceptibly manifest itself in Western neoliberal democracy? If so, how may we be blind to it? Is there a model of well-being that is perhaps unconsciously used to numb and oppress certain social and cultural groups?

Becoming Mr. Happy

[46] Sara Ahmed (2010) argues that the science of happiness presumes that happiness is 'good' and 'out there', that you can measure it objectively in order to maximise it. She writes 'from a position of skeptical disbelief in happiness as a technique for living well' as she sees it as a possible tool for justifying oppression (for example, the 'happy housewife' or by privileging hegemonic groups who have access to what makes us believe we are happy) (Ahmed, 2010, 2). So it seems that happiness may be the new opium of the masses and whoever or whatever controls it, controls society.

'Happiness, after all, is generally measured as reported satisfaction with one's life – a state of mind perhaps more accessible to those who are affluent, who conform to social norms, who suppress judgement in the service of faith, and who are not overly bothered by societal injustice.' (Ehrenreich, 2009, 169)

In her book 'Bright-Sided', Barbara Ehrenreich (2009) explains how positive thinking may be undermining America as, 'positivity is not so much our condition or our mood as it is part of our ideology – the way we explain the world and think we ought to function within it' (4). Richie (2007) goes as far as to say that poverty and loneliness could even be seen as a liberation from strivings to become rich and popular. This smacks of the dystopian future of Aldous Huxley's (1932) Brave New World where even the right to be unhappy is stolen from us.

[47] In the introduction to her book 'Cruel Optimism', Lauren Berlant (2011) begins,

'A relation of cruel optimism exists when something you desire is actually an obstacle to your flourishing. It might involve food, or a kind of love; it might be a fantasy of the good life, or a political project. It might rest on something simpler, too, like a new habit that promises to induce in you an improved way of being. These kinds of optimistic relation are not inherently cruel. They become cruel only when the object that draws your attachment actively impedes the aim that brought you to it initially.' (1)

This promise of the good life is especially poignant for the working classes as it mostly addresses those who seek a 'way out' of an ever impending impoverishment that waits quietly balanced always on the horizon, with the words, 'Even when you get what you want, you can't have what you want' (Berlant, 2011, 266) echoing in the darker recesses of the mind.

[48] Maybe the forced production of happiness actually leads to what Franco Berardi (2009) has called a 'mass production of unhappiness' (168). This 'happiness' may be subtly disguised in academe as something Nadine Muller (in Shaw and Ward, 2014) described as (being sold as) 'doing what you love', blurring the lines between a personal and professional life. However, Shaw and Ward (2014) claim that mental health problems are on the rise among UK academics. A study of over 14,000 university employees in the UK, published in 2013 by the University and College Union (UCU), indicated that nearly half of academics show symptoms of psychological distress prompted by heavy workloads, a long hours culture and conflicting management demands (Shaw and Ward, 2014).

[49] The Guardian newspaper's higher education network blog has recently 'highlighted a "culture of acceptance" in universities around mental health issues [...] which reported instances of depression, sleep issues, eating disorders, alcoholism, self-harming, and even suicide attempts among PhD students and has been shared hundreds of thousands of times' (Shaw and Ward, 2014).

[50] Pat Hunt, a member of the UK body for heads of university counselling services, stated,

'There are increasing levels of anxiety, both generalised and acute, levels of stress, of depression and levels of what I would call perfectionism [...] By that I mean when someone is aiming for and constantly expecting really high standards, so that even when there is a positive outcome they feel they have fallen short. So instead of internal aspiration helping them to do well it actually hinders them.' (Shaw and Ward, 2014)

I believe there are 'expectations' within academe that are often taken-for-granted; expectations that are directly linked to social inequity. With an increased work-life balance, many working-class academics (and PhD students) may not fare as well as those from the middle-classes and, as we have discussed, mental health can become an issue as a direct result of social inequity.

[51] Maybe we need to (re)examine how well-being, happiness and optimism is bought and sold; how it results in the oppression, disempowerment and social stigmatisation of certain modern social classes, both through our therapeutic models and also through the contradictory and privileged epistemologies of academe (where these issues are written about and read by other academics, including working-class academics, but not by the non-academic social classes whom it is being written 'about' and potentially 'for').

[52] In my experience becoming a working-class academic, I have become aware that much of the structure of academe supports a staticised Cartesian approach to identity and one that follows the Western therapeutic model of the bounded self that is still embedded in and controlled by a masculinised, white, middle-class hegemony. Becoming a working-class academic is not just about recognising who you are or where you are from or even the recognition of the existence of social inequities within the Western academic framework. It is a realisation that it is a much larger interconnected project that involves, among many other phenomena, gender (in)equality, environmental (in)justice, political (il)literacy and the diseases of Western education, the medical model and 'Interpretosis' [14] (perhaps there should exist an injection that cures all three). The virus has manifested itself in academe's scaffolding, its brickwork, its foundations and ultimately in its roots. Taking a 'leaf' out of Deleuze and Guattari's rhizomatic meshwork, the root structure that allows the territorialisation of the state machine must be 'recognised' before it can be deterritorialised (for it to be reterritorialised). This recognition may be accessible to many academics but there is a difference between those academics for whom 'epistemological accessibility' comes to easily due to certain class privileges, who are 'expected' to have accessibility (and are 'supported' by this accessibility) and those lower down in the pecking order, where it must be 'earned' or even fought for. And then, once this epistemological accessibility is finally acquired, there are many new barriers and blockades that will continually try to prevent further growth, as exemplified in the study by Stich and Reeves (2014) that highlighted how this privileged epistemology is manifested within the very language of academe. It is a cruel optimism indeed. Once you have been conned into becoming Mr. Happy, the cruelty really begins.

Becoming a 'piece of resistance' [15]

[53] 'It is odd how the tree has dominated Western reality and all of Western thought, from botany to biology and anatomy, but also gnosiology, theology, ontology, all of philosophy...' (Deleuze and Guattari, 2004, 20). Working-class academics are encouraged to achieve higher statuses in academe by 'fitting in' or even 'changing' to the current hegemonic system that sells the meritocratic dream (an illusion for many). However, this assimilation strategy continues to ostracise those social groups that support its very roots (or should I say 'fungal pathways'?). It reduces our capacity for heterogeneity as it contradictorily homogenises our multiplicities and creative spirit at the same time as encouraging us to be more creative (by abiding by a set of rules and regulations that 'show us' how to be more creative for the sake of parity!). Even as I write this, I realise how much I have tried to become that very identity that my tale of Mr. Messy seeks to overcome. Academe has tried to assimilate me but by 'allowing' me the opportunity to read Deleuze and Guattari, Bateson, Ingold, Barad (and many more; hence the recent acquisition of a pair of glasses), it has opened out new pathways (always seeking lines of flight), ones that continually try to be 'brought back down to Earth' by the very (homogenising) power structures that gave me the opportunities in the first place.

[54] 'They become cruel only when the object that draws your attachment actively impedes the aim that brought you to it initially' (Berlant, 2011, 1).

[55] I may eventually receive my PhD, thinking that it will bring me what I want but I know that 'what I want' will ultimately never be afforded to me.

[56] Even when you get what you want, you can't have what you want' (Berlant, 2011, 266).

[57] Maybe I will have to take comfort in the realisation that I am always already becoming a working-class academic. Maybe I will have to be contented by adding to society's 'wealth' (as in 'life') rather than controlling society's 'wealth' (as in 'monetary'), as befits my station in life!

[58] But the Linnaeus tree of knowledge is now being eroded at its roots:

'...the Linnaeus tree of taxonomical knowledge is losing its signification. Once symbolizing a classifying reason and the supremacy of human kind against all other entities in Foucault's The Order of Things, the tree of taxonomical knowledge is now being attacked and undermined to the depth of its metaphysical roots...'
('A Counter Order of Things', 2013).

Mr. Messy and the Ghost in the Machine is part of this new erosion. It is a multiplicity and, taking inspiration from 'The Lego Movie' (2014), a 'piece of resistance' that highlights how everything is not always 'awesome'. It is a semi-accessible story of revolution ('vivre la revolution').

[59] Paulo Freire (1996) proposed that 'people develop their power to perceive critically the way they exist in the world with which and in which they find themselves', so that 'they come to see the world not as a static reality, but as a reality in process, in transformation' (64). Donaldo Macedo suggested that Freire's view offered to him

'—and all of those who experience subordination through an imposed assimilation policy—a path through which we come to understand what it means to come to cultural voice. It is a process that always involves pain and hope; a process through which, as forced cultural jugglers, we can come to subjectivity, transcending our object position in a society that hosts us yet is alien.'
(Macedo, 2000, 12)

Mr. Messy and the Ghost in the Machine urges you to become a 'piece of resistance'; but never forget...

[60] 'Even when you get what you want, you can't have what you want' (Berlant, 2011, 266).

Becoming a story...

Mr. Messy and the Ghost in the Machine

[61] Mr. Messy was a very messy person. In fact he was so messy that he resembled a knot; a bundle of pink lines that had no beginning and no end.

[62] Mr. Messy was a transclassed academic...although a very messy one. In fact, he was always being told to 'straighten out', 'follow the rules' and 'toe the line' a little more than he currently did, even though he tried desperately hard to 'fit in' with the other academics who simply considered him 'whacky' (when they actually meant 'creative').

[63] The humble place which he called home was also exceedingly messy. It was so messy that there was no space at all. It was covered in webs that (inter)related everything in a meshwork of fine silken lines. Everything in this place leaked, including him, and it seemed as though everything moved...nothing was still. It was all in constant transition. In fact it was difficult to know what was what or if anything was anything! For example, it was difficult to tell the difference between inside and outside, even regarding Mr. Messy himself. You couldn't tell his top from his bottom, his mind from his body or even his body from everything else. It was all very confusing.

[64] Even so, Mr. Messy was 'relatively' comfortable being messy. With every passing moment in time, the pink bundle of knots that he thought of as 'him' was becoming messier and messier, a palimpsest of threads that transacted with the threads of previous messiness. He was always involved in a process of becoming but not quite knowing what. But...Mr. Messy wasn't always transclassed!

[65] Before he was a Mr. Man (when he was merely a 'Master Boy'), he underwent a strange transformation. He was born in a small flat above a shop before moving to a council house. When he was old enough, he was sent to school, the same as every other Master Boy and Little Miss (notice how Master Boys change to Mr. Men as they reach maturity yet Little Miss' stay Little Miss'!).

[66] At school he would see the middle-class Master Boys gang together to occasionally invite a lone working-class Master Boy into their group, lulling them into a false sense of security only to run away from them later in the day, calling them names befitting their station in life, such as Master Smelly, Master Dirty or Master Poor. At that time, Master Messy thought, 'how cruel' and so befriended these outcastes, having empathy for them (in a non-patronising...patronising way!). Nevertheless, if it looked like the taunting would be directed at him for befriending the young Master Poor's, he would always walk the other way to be by himself in the art department, away from the Master Poor's and away from potential trouble (of course the taunting would never be aimed at Master Messy 'directly' as he was not seen as one of the very poor Master Boys and besides, as a survival strategy, he was best friends with the 'hardest' Master Boy in his year, Master Hard!). However, in order to receive even less attention from the ruling middle-class Master Boys, he would not speak with the accent of his extended family, as he unconsciously learned that the neutral accent of the middle-classes would help him gain social capital and upward mobility (another survival technique), a very useful unconscious trick that his mother had learned unconsciously (when she left the coalfield environment to become a nurse, a reputable profession that warranted a slightly higher status than the one she had previously).

[67] Still, Master Messy went through a tantalising period of tasting a middle-class lifestyle for a few years when his parents became members of the petit bourgeois with their book business. They bought a big house and shortly afterwards became impoverished due to a very messy divorce. Even long after his parents had lost their rather splendid house, young Mr. Messy still carried a photograph of the house around with him to prove to people that was where he once lived, as if to re-affirm his middle-class status he so deserved. Mr. Messy carried that idyllic identity with him all the way to academe as it 'seemed' to serve him well without ever realising that he could never 'truly' attain that elusive middle-class identity and so never truly relax in his undefinable transclassed shape.

[68] You see although his sister, Little Miss Whacky, and he were the first in their immediate and extended family to receive undergraduate degrees; although all three of his surviving uncles were coal pit miners; although his mother, Little Ms Socialist (only 'little' in Euclidean height!), was one of the poorest girls in her school (her words) in one of the poorest regions in England (in 'The North' of Misterland); although he was brought up (for ten years) in one of the most violent towns in Misterland at that time (a coal mining town during the strikes in the (Mr.) Thatcherite 1980's); although his extended family speak with very broad colloquial accents; although he's forty-three years old with no mortgage and no savings whilst trying to support a new family (although he was 'advised' not to have a 'Master Baby' during his PhD), working as a full-time lecturer and undertaking a PhD with a baby screaming in the background...(right now!)...he still managed to pass himself off as middle-class (even duping himself). In order to 'fit in' and 'achieve' a certain status in life (including an academic status when he first entered academe), in order to 'rise up the ranks', he passed himself off and considered himself as middle-class, affecting his accent, choosing particular friendships, frequenting certain 'country' pubs over certain 'townie' pubs, all for fear of losing social capital and being treated as 'lesser' in status (perhaps unconsciously, perhaps not). Anyway, back to the story!

[69] (Un)fortunately for Mr. Messy, one day he crossed lines with two Occidentalist academics, Mr. Neat (a professor of education) and Mr. Tidy (a professor of psychotherapy), who wanted nothing but to iron out Mr. Messy so that he looked more respectable. This was for his own good, they said, so that he could fit in with all the other Mr. Men who all had very well drawn bodies so you could tell the difference between their outside and their inside, their minds from their bodies and clearly see what characters and identities they were all supposed to (re)present. Mr. Nosey was quite clearly nosey...he had a big, long nose! Mr. Tickle was quite clearly designed for humorous antics...he had incredibly long arms! And then there was Mr. Happy who was perhaps the idyllic Mr. Man. He was a shining example of what Mr. Men should ultimately aspire to be...happy! What was Mr. Messy? It was difficult to tell with no beginning and no end! All the other Mr. Men had gardens with clearly defined boundaries (just like their bodies), so you could tell the difference between natural and unnatural things and one Mr. Man's property from another, you know, just in case there was ever a problem with what belonged to who or who belonged to what!

[70] In order to straighten him out, they told Mr. Messy of a story about a ghost who lived in a machine that controlled everything the machine did in order to give it agency. This ghost wasn't made of matter like you and me, but of nothingness that resided somewhere in the machine's pineal gland, located in its brain. 'How funny', thought Mr. Messy, 'that nothingness could be 'located' in a space'! Don't forget that Mr. Messy's home had no space at all as it was full of threads of materials...just like him!

[71] After a long and deliberated discussion, Mr. Neat and Mr. Tidy had managed to persuade Mr. Messy that the ghost in the machine was a metaphor for all the Mr. Men, including him. 'He' was the machine! At first this idea scared Mr. Messy as he didn't really like the thought of a ghost in his brain! But Mr. Neat and Mr. Tidy calmed him by giving him some methylphenidate (of course Mr. Messy didn't really mind Mr. Neat and Mr. Tidy telling him what to do as it was obviously for his own benefit...after all, they were highly trained professional professors and he was merely a layperson (lecturer) by comparison)!

[72] Mr. Messy asked if anything else had this ghost in their machines, you know, like dogs, fleas, trees or blades of grass? 'Of course not', was the resounding reply, 'they weren't drawn the same way at all, that's what distinguishes Mr. Men from 'nature', including all the things we Mr. Men make, like technology, buildings, cars and Lego!'.

[73] 'But I thought 'everything' was natural as it is all part of the biosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere or atmosphere', queried Mr. Messy (well chuffed with himself having articulated such a literate response in front of two acknowledged professors, even if he was compartmentalising 'nature', something he hated doing!).

[74] 'Oh no!', laughed Neat and Tidy, 'nature is that green stuff out there, you know, stuff that's natural...natural stuff!'.

[75] Mr. Messy thought for a moment, 'Hmmm! This was so well explained and very convincing. After all, what did he know?'

[76] And with that, Mr. Messy agreed to have a full makeover. It took ages to convert Mr. Messy to a more recognisable form. There was so much mess and knot to untangle that Mr. Neat almost gave up. But with the help of huge amounts of colouring in (academic make-up, appropriate media saturation, fashionable academic accessories and a big dose of hyper-consumption) and boundary defining line drawing (pharmaceutical sponsorship, psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, counselling, antidepressants and antipsychotics), Mr. Messy no longer resembled a knot. In fact, he was so neat and tidy that he was given the new name of 'Mr. Man' (and rapidly contracted the Western disease of interpretosis).

[77] With their mission complete, Mr. Neat and Mr. Tidy smugly made their exit and left Mr. Man to reflect on his newly given identity. How normal he was! How smooth. How round. How identifiable. How defined with an inside and outside. How a big pink middle-class dot!

[78] How...ever, Mr. Man felt anxious! He didn't feel as related to everything else as he once had. All the threads that made him aware of what was happening within the rest of his environment, like a spider in her web, didn't seem to be 'working'. In fact, he had no relations at all. Now, he just had a static sense of himself, detached from other objects that were outside of this new boundaried, full dot with a ghost rattling around somewhere inside his pineal gland!

[79] He went to see his doctor to see if there were any pills to help with his interpretosis. His doctor told him to take a cheap holiday to Magaluf, you know, to take his mind off things and try to fit in just that little bit more! So he did (because his doctor obviously knew more than he did about these medical issues)! But as he was flying over France via one of the more eclectic/eccentric airlines (Deleuzian Airways) and across the line of flight of the aircraft, after flying over a thousand plateaus through this weather world high in the sky, he saw a beautiful rainbow. He wandered if anyone else saw it the same way he did or even if anyone saw it at all. If they didn't, did it even exist? Just then, he remembered something that his Italian neighbour, Mr. Man...zotti had told him about rainbows that made him question Mr. Neat and Mr. Tidy's story of the ghost in the machine.

[80] 'You see', explained Mr. Man...zotti, 'a rainbow is not an object in the sky that can exist alone without someone or something to perceive it. Nor is it an image, magically conjured up in the brain by the mysterious non-physical stuff that resides somewhere in the pineal gland. The rainbow is a physical process that takes place along the threads of light (or lines of flight) and pink threads of Mr. Messy'.

[81] 'Aha!', exclaimed Mr. Man, 'this is what Mr. Man...zotti meant by my mind being 'spread' both in the environment and in my knotted self'.

[82] Mr. Man thought of his old teacher, Mr. Gibson and his theory of affordances that were neither objective properties nor subjective properties; or both if you like! 'I wonder if this is what he meant?' thought Mr. Man, having never really linked the theory to 'real life' phenomena until now.

[83] As Mr. Man disembarked the plane, he had one of those rare moments of existential clarity as he noticed himself walking down the plane's steps to an ecology of mind (after a book he'd just read on the plane, by a Mr. Bateson...and no, I've no idea what that particular book was doing on the plane in the first place so don't ask!). It all started to make sense at last. If the mind was not just 'in' the brain as a separate information processing system that was cut off from the rest of the environment, capable of conjuring up magical representations of the real world or a supernatural, non-physical entity that resided somewhere in the pineal gland (...take a breath...), then Mr. Neat and Mr. Tidy's tale must be just a ghost story designed to turn Mr. Messy into a solid, easily definable object like the other Mr. Men. Also, why was he so dependent on his doctor's elite knowledge and skill set to inform him of what he should do and how he should perform? Why did he trust his doctor so implicitly, just as he had blindly accepted and followed the cultural and social hegemony of Mr. Neat and Mr. Tidy? And whilst he was still in the moment of existential clarity, why did he never have access to the linguistic elitism of academic writing (particularly academic 'journals') 'before' he began his undergraduate and postgraduate studies?

[84] Suddenly, Mr. Messy|Man realised something, 'of course', he thought, 'I must be a post-modern version of what was once called working-class!'. This all seemed to begin making a little more sense. The 'Matchstick Men' had been replaced by the 'Mr. Men'! But Mr. Messy realised that he had been working-class all along, he just tried to hide it by calling himself transclassed or middle-class in order to 'fit in' so that he could be considered for a part in the Mr. Men series of books, as an easily identifiable 'someone' in the social hierarchy of the Western neoliberal democratic paradigm...just like Mr. Happy!

[85] You could say that Mr. Messy had finally 'seen the rainbow' and was free from Cartesian thinking forever. He was no longer set in stone (just like a stone is never set in stone) with a solid, unchangeable shape or colour like Mr. Happy or Mr. Strong, just because that was the way he was drawn or the way the other Mr. Men saw him. Just like his friend Mr. White had told him, he could change his narrative to become whoever he wanted to become. In fact he chose to no longer be pink, he chose to be all and so adorned the invisible flat cap of modern working-class society! And from that moment on, he chose her own (never-ending) story, fully embraced transgressive philosophy and became a nomad because they are always 'in the middle'!

[86] be continued...always...


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[1] The term 'Environ(Mental) Health' was coined in 2013 during a telephone conversation that I had with my friend and co-conspirator, David Clarke, as we were trying to find a word that adequately described my point that mental health is an embodied physical process that is spread/distributed in the environment rather than 'merely' in the head; 'Environ(Mental)' seemed to fit most snuggly.

[2] The concept 'haecceity' is taken from the medieval philosopher Duns Scotus to mean a 'nonpersonal individuation of a body' (Bonta and Protevi, 2004, 94).

[3] 'He/she' is meant to highlight the 'engendered' nature of Mr. Messy rather than suggesting Mr. Messy is 'transgendered' in the more traditional sense.

[4] Karen Barad (2012) coined the term 'intra-actions' (as opposed to 'interactions') to denote 'practices of making a difference, of cutting together-apart, entangling-differentiating (one move) in the making of phenomena. Phenomena-entanglements of matter/ing across spacetimes-are not in the world, but of the world' (7-8) where '...the agencies of observation are inseparable from that which is observed' (6).

[5] I emphasise Posh Spice here as Baggini (2007) observed that many British people are working-class but with middle-class wealth.

[6] By 'natural', I presume Breakell means 'that green stuff out there' (as mentioned in Mr. Messy and the Ghost in the Machine). I believe this to be a false Cartesian division of the nature-culture binary as they are anthropocentric 'concepts' born out of a Western paradigm. In other words, 'nature' has been 'naturalised' (Žižek, 2008) and so must be either 'all' (everything is nature) or 'nothing' (everything is culture) (Morton, 2007).

[7] Rhizomatic refers to the rhizome; an interconnected, mesh-like subterranean stem structure of plants containing bulbs and tubers.

[8] A fungal mycelium is the mass of branching filaments of fungi.

[9] Deleuze and Guattari (2004) contend that 'lines of becoming' are not defined by the points they connect (hence, Doel's (2000), 'pointillism') and have no beginning or end, only middles. 'A becoming is neither one nor two, nor the relation of the two; it is the in-between, the border or line of flight or descent running perpendicular to both' (Deleuze and Guattari, 2004, 323).

[10] 'Affect' has been labelled as 'forces of encounter', 'molecular events of the unnoticed' (Seigworth and Gregg, 2010), a prepersonal, non-conscious experience of intensity (Massumi, 2002) and 'Intermediary concept' (Lapoujade, 2000, in Brown and Tucker, 2010).

[11] Manzotti borrows heavily from Alfred North Whitehead's (1929) 'Process and Reality' in order to explain process externalism.

[12] 'The Portable' refers to the title Rosi Braidotti (2011) gives herself in her book 'Nomadic Theory' and is a notion of a 'subjectivity as one in flux', 'always in the process of becoming'.

[13] Attempts at this have already begun, such as the conference held in 2013 at Murdoch University, Perth, Australia, titled, 'Deleuze. Guattari. Schizoanalysis. Education' (access the abstracts by following this link: «»).

[14] 'Interpretosis' is a term that Deleuze and Guattari (2004) coined as one of the diseases 'of the earth or the skin, in other words, humankind's fundamental neurosis' (127) as it 'is carried to infinity and never encounters anything to interpret that is not already itself an interpretation' (126).

[15] A 'piece of resistance' is taken from The Lego Movie (2014) in which the hero must place the piece of resistance (the lid from a tube of glue) back on the tube to stop the 'baddy' from statisizing the Lego universe.