Feedback on the seminars and radio programmes in an email  from a banker.

Dear David ,

Thank you for you and your colleagues talks.

I am interested in how society impacts individuals, i.e. the bit from the macro/societal level back to the micro/individual.

It seems that this is what you are doing in these talks to some extent, though typically
the analysis moves from analysis of the individual traits and then to how these play out
at large in society. There is then a feedback loop – how the society itself then impacts back to the individual – and it is this what I would like to understand more.

e.g. When we work to pay off a mortgage, take on debt, spend so much time working through meaningless processes (I’m thinking bureaucracy/ forms/meetings in work/travel, automated phone systems etc) – it seems to me that these human created processes in themselves can damage us. What does the ‘drip drip’ of existence within the modern world do to us, the non-billionaires? So, I’m raising a point about how society acts on us, rather than how we have created it. What might it do instead?

Many say that they are unhappy the way society seems to have inflicted itself upon me –
a meaningless job, time away from family, serving a cause I did not think enhanced the world to pay for my existence, training my kids in school for more of the same, etc.

 However, I have tried/am trying to respond positively to this – I’m consciously taking time away from my previous work (as a London banker) to ‘de-institutionalise’ I’m lucky as I can fund such a break, for a while at least. I accept that my previous job/effort would be by and large what Dr Bell would calls ‘superfluous’ (though for me this was framed by David Graeber’s article:

It seems to me that you and your panellists also feel inflicted upon by modern society too – I think, the talks on radio and the seminars may be therapy for us all – but I wonder if you could be even more explicit on what this society does to us, perhaps it is long-term boredom, un-creativity, low level violence, etc.

Another thought I have – is it possible to put our current society into some sort of historical/temporal context?

 A consensus with your panellists seems to be that financialisation/neoliberalisation of modern life fosters greater uncaring. People nowadays are more depressed/harassed and that then only serves to make things worse. I don’t actually disagree – but, as we are within the society itself, are we actually able to know that? It may be that we are experiencing as much (or less) depression, anxiety, etc as a society as we always were.
Dr Bell mentions the poor explanations on the origins of Nazism and that the multiple aspirations of that society may have played a role in bringing this about.
Are we somewhere similar now, and there may be a lesson to learn?
Do we know – were the of German society in a fundamentalist mindset, anxious, depressed, something else?
Another interesting point in time is when we moved into the industrial age.
Perhaps there’s no chance of getting an answer to this sort of ‘psychoanalytical + anthropological/historical’ questions -the past is a different country and perhaps we can’t make a meaningful comparisons.. But if there’s a chance of a better explanation/analysis
of the past, I’d love to hear more.Finally, to play devil’s advocate, perhaps there is an alternative view to the ‘uncaring’ undercurrent that frames the shows so far…? Is it possible that something different is occurring, or that uncaring is only half the story? Perhaps, we are going through ‘growing pains’ as we move into an information age. So, as a once in a generation change, there is unsettling disruption in all levels; but there are positives too – with more information, greater interaction between people and greater understanding of ourselves. Your show itself might be considered as a product of this new improved age – ie we have greater engagement and accessibility to information relating to the internal world; we can increase our understanding of our own mental landscapes. It does not seem that this was so in my parents age.

An Answer to the Banker DM

The separation between the person and society is utterly untenable. It’s like detaching the air inside the football from the air, its got a surface which holds it together, gives it form, allowing it to be acted upon and have motion, but it is air and is in the air.
Psychoanalysis’s greatest gift could be the deflation of the illusions of the self-centred individual and a recognition of our consubstantionalness with world and others.
From this insubstantial ground we can recognise sensations and perceptions flowing through us as we grasp the illusions of self and exhale “this is me’, “this is me”.

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