no. 1

meditations on the virtual

F. Scott Taylor


The Process of Subjectivation and Subjugation in a Techno-Cultural State
[including comment on normal and abnormal mediational and dissociative processes]:

The individual attempts to gain control of the body politic through the dissociational aspects of its thought, action, invention or technology. The
greater social body politic attempts to gain control of the individual through imposing such dissociations back upon the individual.
Language phenomenology is the technological ability to dissociate the synaesthetic whole of ecological psychophysiology into discrete bundles
(contexts) of synaesthetic meaning and application. A lexicon (with associated semantics and syntax) represents the control and controlling mechanism held in common between an individual and group. For better or worse, it is a technology for the deduction (comprehension) and induction
(application) of dissociated and dissociative hypnotic or delusional states of being.

All conscious states are processes coordinated and orchestrated through a multiplex of hypnotic or trance states. We are always transformed and
transforming by-through-with trance states. Unconscious states are holistic, environmental and universal (if not eternal). They are also dynamic and
transformational. Conscious thought is more dissociative and delusional, unconscious thought less dissociative and delusional, therefore more associative. The greater the dissociational state the more literal and unambiguous it is. But in Lacan’s terms it is more “real” and, hence, paradoxical and delusional.

The more associational a state the more analogical and ambiguous, yet the more “true.” Similarly, the greater the dissociation, the more objective
(literal, material, particle). The greater the association, the more subjective (extended, wave-like, field-like).

And here is the rub where metaphysics, philosophy, epistemology, psychophysiology and science are concerned. At base, the subjective is more
true than the objective, but less real. The subjective becomes more and more ineffable and "autistic", but the objective, through systematic,
mathematical reduction (think “Occum’s Razor”), becomes a zero degree, becomes virtual.

The greater the dissociation, the less paradoxical. The greater the association, the greater the paradox. The Zen Masters learned that one
cannot solve a paradox, as their adjuncts attempt to do. One can only look for a greater paradox which contains the lesser. When one invents or
discovers a greater paradox, one is empowered. One becomes a better mediator. To mediate is to centre, is to see the difference between seeming
contradictions, always remembering that the greater the contradiction the deeper the truth. A mediator attempts to mediate all the conflicts between
seeming contradictions, therefore, in psychoanalytic terms, between the "self" and the "other." A mediator is diplomatic and ambassadorial. A
mediator attempts to negotiate terms that ensure balances of power and armed neutralities. A mediator is a peace-maker and peace-keeper where the
individual and the group are both concerned.

Technological mediation, however, involves the hardware/software equivalent of an environmental dissociative action. It seeks to displace natural,
holistic, environmental dynamics (transformations and transitions) with brute controls, containments and expedients. These are not in the service
of the greater group, but in the political-economic service of the lesser. Technological telecommunications reproduce equivalents of
psycho-physiological dissociative orders arrangements. At first, and for the most part, organizations which affect associative metaphoric and
analogical synaesthetic mind-brain-body arrangements. Then, as they became techno-culturally dominant, they obsolesce and annihilate the general
associational, the psycho-physiological, for mechanical, material hardware and software. The rationale for this is supposedly logical.

Associative metaphoric and analogical sensibility is not logical and needs not be logical because it is the sensibility built upon and with dynamic
“phase transitions,” on, in short, those transformational dynamics that cannot be isolated as discretely “functional” or figurative.

Three basic trance states were formally observed and identified, defined and described, by the great medical practitioners of the nineteenth century
(Charcot, Janet, Binet, James, Freud et cetera). These three states are found in the normal subject under normal environmental conditions (that is, conditions that are not technologically mediated), and the more normal the subject the more readily observable:

1) A superficial light Left-Brained Trance, which is predominantly Visual, and is involved with the splitting off of the visual sense from the other senses;

2) A deeper Right-Brained Trance, which is both Visual and Audile-Tactile;

3) A very deep Autonomic Nervous System Trance which is Visual,
Audile-Tactile and Autonomic.

Associated with these three dissociative states are three different “selves” or "subjectivities." That is, a completely coherent, identifiable "self" can be associated with each of the states. The first "self" is only, however, aware consciously (and unconsciously) of herself; the second "self" is aware consciously (and unconsciously) of both herself AND the first "self"; while the third, is aware of all three co-terminate states of being. As these trance states are subsequently accessed, the "self" does not become less aware of the general, external environment (as might be supposed in an
"autistic" model of "subjectivity") but more aware of the general, external environment, including the social environment, and, more aware of the
dynamics (or “transitional phases”) uniting the internal and the external. So we are approaching yogic abilities when we induce deeper trance states.
In fact, the deeper “self” or “subjectivity” becomes more verbally fluent and more associative. This is the basis of the “talking cure:” the subject
is verbally induced into deeper and deeper dissociative trance states which, paradoxically, allow for greater associative unity, consciousness and
comprehension because the individual is more embodied or exhibiting “presence.” In other words, the more verbally embodied we become, the more the dissociative verbal capacities are re-associated into base being.

This is not the case, however, with the non-verbal intrusion of technological media into our psycho-physiological awareness. Most of our
tele-communicational trance states have been very, very shallow and only involve superficially visual states of awareness: three- and two-dimensional
forms of painting, photographs, cinema and, to a degree television. Reading a graphic text on a page might be considered, in fact, the most superficial
and light of all technologically-mediated trance states. Then, radio is both audile-tactile and visual (involving the eidetic sensibility and the
“imagio”) as is television, the first enhances the auditory and the second the visual. But these differ from formal psycho-physiological hypnotic
induction because they do not direct verbal association towards greater sensibility or greater context, but do the opposite. With the higher-visual
resolution of HDTV, Plasma screens and VR the visual is increasingly favoured WITHOUT reference to the other senses. The fact that VR
applications may soon have kinaesthetic and other sensory simulations does not mean that the trance state experienced in VR will become more
environmentally referential because these all aid and abet a delusional visual state of being and relative subjectivity. In other words, with
increasing high-fidelity in VR we become more and more dissociated in what is a superficial, delusional state in the first place. We are in a state that is roughly like the classical first, superficial, shallow trance as this is dissociated or vivisected more and more.

We have seen, and continue to see, from the late eighties into the twenty-first century a way of describing the theoretical and actual success of VR in terms of the relationship of so-called "presence" to the so-called "self.”

This relationship is discussed in a series of papers by Giuseppe Riva and John A. Waterworth, among others, including "Presence and the Self: a cognitive neuroscience approach"

See also:


Presence or the delusion of embodiment in VR is defined as "the embedding of sensory-referred properties into an internal functional space. Without the emergence of the sense of presence it is impossible for the nervous system to identify the separation between an external world and the internal one." There are, they say, according to neurologist Damasio, three levels of self-identification allowing for conceptual distinctions between "proto presence", "core presence" and "extended presence". They say that each solves a particular facet of the internal/external world separation, or dissociation. In short, "the more [VR subjects] are able to differentiate [dissociate with/through VR] the self from the external world, and the more they are integrated [associated into a sense of delusional embodiment], the more [they] experience a sense of presence."

But note immediately that these three levels of self-identification are not at all like those describing classic hypnotic dissociation (attentive
meditation), but apply to the differentiation of the self from the external world IN a VR trance state. So so-called "presence" in VR is merely a
psycho-physiological adaptation to a delusional environment. And, as such, it describes an "autistic" adaptation to what is for all intensive purposes
a socially-applied mediational technology. Therefore, I would posit, that the authors’ rationale is that, unfortunately, of "social autists" working within the "socially autistic state" of current techno-culture. (Please note that I am not including Damasio in this intellectual fiasco. Damasio may be fully aware of the whole psycho-physiological tradition of his science and may not be making the same conceptual and perceptual mistakes. I would have to examine him more closely I would typtify him as a "social autist" in the same sense as these.)

The authors make it quite clear but in their peculiar logic that "extended consciousness" (the classic Cartesian category res extensa which I would see more in terms of verbal, metaphoric and analogical extension) has advantage.

They state: "The advantages of extended consciousness depend on the fact that we can distinguish between the experience of the external word [sic.] and experience of internal worlds, both remembered and imagined. Confusions of the two indicate serious psychological problems, problems which, until recent times, would have prevented survival and the passing on of this condition."

This is STILL a most serious psychological problem and still involves the survival of our race and a habitable condition of our worldly environment.
I won't go on to analyze the text in depth but add, merely, that in order to "recognize" or remember something, we must cognize (be cognizant) in both brain hemispheres simultaneously. In order to "experience" anything we must not only be present in both our brain hemispheres but throughout our entire mind-brain-body, our whole sensorium.

Let me give an extreme example of the necessity of this: a torturer does not typically remember torturing because in order to torture in the first place
he or she has to be dissociated from his or her own embodiment or autonomic nervous system (to exist as if severed from mirror neurons and the empathy they confer).

The tortured, however, experiences emotional affect or post-traumatic stress flash-backs when he or she remembers the torturing because he or she was present (fully embodied) in his or her mind-brain-body. The problem for the tortured becomes one of dissociating from what was, rather than a
dissociated experience, a totalizing experience, and that is why there remains such a terrible medical condition or state of being.
With VR we come more into "presence" (the delusion of being embodied) as we dissociate from totalizing reality, the totalizing reality of both the
internal and the external in direct dynamic interaction. We also tend to experience post-traumatic stress because we have become falsely embodied in
VR. We unwittingly allow or permit ourselves not merely to suspend our disbelief, as when we read a book, but to believe in a totalizing artificial
anti-environmental anti-context which is dissociative, superficial and shallow -- becoming a "presence" in VR IS TRAUMATIC AND PSYCHOTIC because we recognize consciously and unconsciously that the experience is wholly delusional. The experience makes us feel guilty because it is self-destructive.

We are currently attempting to habituate ourselves to totalizing psychotic techno-cultural conditions as mediated by dissociative technologies, i.e. telecommunications. The VR telemetry itself substitutes for the social and environmental reality. Hence, the new "inter-subjectivity" is merely a form
of subjugation by technological means. It is not “cyborg” or “post-human,” it is anti-external and interior environment. As a result the Bentham
"Panopticon" inverts with even more perversion into the means by which the individual "self" or "subject" can subject him or herself to a totalizing observation which acts as its own dissociational instrument.

Next installment on extended "inter-subjectivity."