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The Garage Band Effect
The Parasitic Mind, Marshall McLuhan + the Boston Trauma Conference
I remember being a little girl sitting in catholic mass, listening to the priest teach the New Testament story of Jesus and the parable of the talents. Specifically, I remember the servant in the story who buried in the ground for safe keeping the talent his master gave him. When the master returned after a time to inquire about how the servant had invested his talent, he reported that he hadn’t done, he had kept the talent safe in the ground, away from everything and everyone. What is the point of a talent if you do not apply it to serve the world somehow? Why have things simply to collect them? Why accumulate and gather knowledge simply for the sake of doing so? Isn’t knowledge for cutting?
Gad Saad talks about this in his book, The Parasitic Mind, with respect to the world of academia. Many professors forget that their professional responsibility is not only to generate new knowledge but also to seek to maximally disseminate it (p. 11). I attended the 34th Boston Trauma Conference online a few weeks ago and I witnessed the Garage Band Effect. It fascinated me. Here I found myself, sitting in a virtual room with the leading clinical researchers in the field of human attachment and trauma, a welcomed respite from the chaotic psychological warfare of the SOGI vs anti-woke battlefield. A rational world exists, evidence-based science and clinical research exists that could right now end this ridiculous dissociative identity crisis we have created in young people through social media and education mind contagions.
How could it be that we the masses only see Jack Turban’s crappy garbage pretending to be scholarly work and we don’t see Martin Teicher’s solid work as the leading expert on child development and trauma? Why are parents receiving the affirm your kid by parentifying them and harming their growing bodies and stunting their growth and destroying their reproductive capacity rather than the brain savvy parenting message? Well because Jack Turban is a self-serving attention-seeking glory hound and Martin Teicher is a humble man of science who, in comparison to Turban, thinks serving humanity is conducting his research and keeping his head down, as opposed to taking kickbacks from big pharmaceuticals companies and publishing lies pretending to be scholarly work.
I wonder, can a medical or other clinical human helping professional be both political and clinical? I don’t know that they can be both unless they are someone like Bessel van der Kolk, who himself lives at the edge of the mainstream and always has because he chose early on to challenge mind-body medicine. The process of getting a diagnosis into the DSM involves lobbying and curating a narrative and also the research evidence that supports it. It sounded like a political running for office campaign when Bessel described it. Would getting that Developmental Trauma Disorder diagnosis1 into the DSM really have help the afflicted on the ground, though? That’s the question Teicher asked in one of the conference panel sessions. It’s a very good question. The answer is probably no.
So, back to the Garage Band Effect. What need does it serve and how could that need be served another way so that academia can come out of its ivory towers and down to the little people and the real world? Knowledge is for cutting means emerging from the safety of the ivory tower and cutting a path for humanity to rise. The sentiment governing the profound transformation of the Catholic church in 1964 echoed this one — the religious leaving their cloisters and moving into the world of humans, serving humanity rather than expecting to be served by it. That is my understanding as the only child of a devout Catholic family of 6 to be born after 1964 to a mother who embraced Vatican 2 and the incredible changes it foisted upon her religious and social life.
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At the Boston Trauma Conference, Bessel spoke of his desire to de-professionalise and/or de-institutionalise trauma care during the conference. He spoke about what I will call the elitism and the gate-keeping that keeps knowledge in and keeps people out and discourages mind-body unity. I learned that much of care delivery planning for the mind and emotions happens in back rooms in a polarised political landscape. This takes my thoughts to the many historical councils that happened to shape Catholic catechism and the book we know as the Bible.2 It is easier to forget this if like me your professional experience lies in direct clinical care and supervision and not in the world of funding and grant-acquisition machinations.
How would I have discovered any of this latest stuff that profoundly changed my way of seeing familiar things if I had not attended the trauma conference? Good question. I am daily unindated with information I do not want about gender wang and the opposition to it from popular media. It’s tiresome and it’s all part of the same cult. It’s silly and disproved. Why are we still talking about it? Why are there states still promoting it to the detriment of humanity? An entire body of science exists that disputes all the claims gender medicine makes. This world funds Jack Turban and Eli Coleman and it also funds Bessel van der Kolk and Martin Teicher. That’s messed up, isn’t it? Maybe there’s more to this. Maybe this is some kind of mind virus that’s been transmitted socially.
So what on earth does any of this have to do with Marshall McLuhan?
One of my favourite bathtub books is a green hardcover book called On the Nature of Media, a compilation of essays from the last quarter McLuhan’s career as a communications theorist, in which he examined mechanical culture, electronic culture, and the impact of marketing on the human body. The introduction describes McLuhan’s radical approach to pedagogy and knowledge exploration. He felt the phenomena he wanted to explore did not fit into the specialised academia publication circuit and sought to go beyond the conventional bounds of academia by publishing in Harper’s Bazaar and other mainstream magazines.
Watching Gad Saad and Jordan Peterson these past several years very publicly push through the woke-infested brain rot in Canadian academia and battle the coercive control of oligarchs trying to silence them on social media platforms reminds me of McLuhan, who taught and lead by example in a radical departure from the careful Garage Band confines of the academy. University of Toronto president Claude Bissell wrote about McLuhan’s great fame [following Understanding Media] … [and noted that he had,] among many academics, a kind of infamy. He had … deserted the sacred word and allied himself with the infidels.3
The medium is the message seems more profound as the digital era becomes an established reality. The way we interact with information has fundamentally changed. What does that mean when it comes to learning and information dissemination? Well, I think it means a great deal more than we want to realise. In 1955 McLuhan wrote the following:
It is therefore, a simple maxim of communication study that any change in the means of communication will produce a chain of evolutionary consequences at every level of culture and politics. And because of the complexity of the components in this process, predictions and controls are not possible.4
What if the Parasitic Mind Virus originates as a structural flaw or vulnerability of the medium of digital media itself? What if the remedy to the parasitic mind virus lies in total irreverence to the intellectual elitism that derides appearances on Joe Rogan, and coerces the masses to announce their preferred pronouns and chant black lives matters routinely on cue like a dhikr at prayer time? Would McLuhan have been cancelled today? Would he appear on Joe Rogan? Would he reject the stuffy academy in favour of information dissemination via popular culture? These are rhetorical questions to stimulate your thinking about this stuff.
How can we get the reality based and clinically sound research and knowledge from inside the rooms of the Boston Trauma Conference to the inside of people’s screens— to Twitter, to YouTube, to the masses who need this stuff to be brain savvy humans? Because judging from the public reaction to Jordan Peterson the need exists. We can agree that he is a polemic and divisive figure and acknowledge his contribution to the field of human behaviour and the way he met a need boys and men seemed to have in a way that few could match. Peterson is his own brand and he got there because he saw a need and stepped outside convention to meet that need for knowledge. I can only admire that part of his process and work, whatever I might think about anything else he has said or done. I hope others don’t hold me to past foolish things I have said and done because we are here now and so I will live that.
The deliberate disconnect between the knowledge hoarde and masses who have needs the knowledge hoarde could meet seems vast and profound. The gift of the information era that digital technology has given us in some ways makes us feel small and less in control than we imagined. I guess that’s humility setting in, when we realise comparatively the bigness of the universe and the minuteness of our human life. Dacher Keltner would call that emotion awe. We know now that awe provides us with a way to enter a self-transcendent state, which helps us get out of our self-focussed + threat-oriented mindset and into realm of connection with universal life.
The DSM-5 review committee rejected the diagnosis, by the way, Bessel spoke about this at the conference and I think I tweeted it when I watched that session during the conference.
The DSM is a kind of holy book of humanity, isn’t it?
Logan, R.K., (2011). MCLUHAN MISUNDERSTOOD: SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT. Reason and Word, (76).