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Bastian Greshake Tzovaras

gedankenstuecke@bookwyrm.social

Joined 3 years, 1 month ago

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Bastian Greshake Tzovaras's books

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2024 Reading Goal

47% complete! Bastian Greshake Tzovaras has read 17 of 36 books.

Robert Chapman: Empire of Normality (Hardcover, 2023, Pluto Press) 5 stars

'Groundbreaking ... [provides] a deep history of the invention of the 'normal' mind as one …

when eugenics & capitalism conspire

No rating

This book hit very close to home, both on a professional and personal level. Chapman provides a great overview over the historical forces that shape neoliberal capitalism in the 21st century and how the "Empire of Normality" co-evolved alongside it thanks to eugenics and how an increasingly narrow definition of what is "normal" is shaped by capitalist production.

As @pdotb@wyrms.de outlined in their review, the concluding chapters into a way forward are quite broad, but dismantling neoliberal capitalism & "neuro-thatcherism" are grantedly quite big and in a sense far beyond the scope of what one book can provide.

Robert Chapman: Empire of Normality (Hardcover, 2023, Pluto Press) 5 stars

'Groundbreaking ... [provides] a deep history of the invention of the 'normal' mind as one …

In this, as we see most clearly in post-Fordist economies, capitalism puts each of us between two harmful conditions. Either it 'values' us, in which case it makes us workers and mercilessly exploits us, making us ill through the alienation such exploitation brings. Or, it disvalues us, making us disabled and discriminating against us as part of the surplus population. This often pushes us into poverty and positions us to be treated as disposable. However each of our minds is constituted, we are caught between these two options, neither good for us, and both harmful in different ways.

Empire of Normality by 

Robert Chapman: Empire of Normality (Hardcover, 2023, Pluto Press) 5 stars

'Groundbreaking ... [provides] a deep history of the invention of the 'normal' mind as one …

The rise of neuro-Thatcherism, whereby neurodiversity advocacy is turned into a business-oriented programme for unearthing neurodivergent strengths or super powers' and then mining those with these strengths may be useful for those neurodivergent people it helps into jobs. […] neuro-Thatcherism does nothing to fundamentally challenge the deeper structures of society I have identified throughout this book as underpinning neurodivergent oppression. What's more, to the extent that neuro-Thatcherism becomes the dominant neurodiversity discourse, it will drown out the more radical and emancipatory modes developed by grassroots activists.

Empire of Normality by  (Page 141)

Robert Chapman: Empire of Normality (Hardcover, 2023, Pluto Press) 5 stars

'Groundbreaking ... [provides] a deep history of the invention of the 'normal' mind as one …

neoliberalism brought what Mark Fisher termed a privatization of stress?" Here self-care became an ethical imperative for the individual, and a focus on self-management took over from state support, which was increasingly limited. Wellness and mindfulness industries have rapidly expanded in ways that function to help tired people adjust to increasingly long working hours and lower living conditions. In the United Kingdom, state support for anxiety or depression typically consists of a tiny number of CBT sessions, used with the explicit aim of returning people to work.

Empire of Normality by  (Page 120)

Robert Chapman: Empire of Normality (Hardcover, 2023, Pluto Press) 5 stars

'Groundbreaking ... [provides] a deep history of the invention of the 'normal' mind as one …

This is not to say these problems did not exist prior to post-Ford-ism, or that things like autism or ADHD are not real disabilities. They are no less 'real' than diabetes or dementia. But existing forms of difficulty or disablement, while to some extent grounded in atypical neurological development, were in many cases hugely amplified in this phase of capitalism. Traits that were previously relatively benign became associated with some level of disablement, while traits that might have only been minimally disabling became significantly so. This has increased as the intensification of capitalism has become so pervasive: it structures or at least taints almost every aspect of sensory experience and cognitive processing in day-to-day life, whether in work or in leisure time. It is not the technology itself that is the problem but rather that technology is primarily used in service of capital, and the various systems of domination that capitalism is intertwined with, which leave so many of us constantly fatigued, far beyond the workplace.

Empire of Normality by 

Robert Chapman: Empire of Normality (Hardcover, 2023, Pluto Press) 5 stars

'Groundbreaking ... [provides] a deep history of the invention of the 'normal' mind as one …

If boredom was distinctive of the work of the monotonous Fordist era, anxiety and depression are distinctive of post-Fordism. But this was not the only effect of these shifts in capitalism. Just as the Industrial Revolution brought new bodily norms, so too did the digital revolution and cognitive capitalism bring newly restrictive cognitive, emotional, and attentive norms in both the classroom and the workplace. The sensory-cognitive intensification of capitalism meant that a great many more people were either shut out of education or work, at least to varying extents, and were thus harmed in a different way. Rather than being positioned as ordinary' workers with mental health problems, they were disabled, and pushed towards the surplus population, even if some did manage to work despite this.

Empire of Normality by 

Julia Shaw: Bi: The Hidden Culture, History, and Science of Bisexuality (2022) 4 stars

For newcomers to bisexual history & politics

4 stars

Julia Shaw provides a good, high-level summary of many of the current challenges surrounding bisexuality, both in face of the majority heterosexual society as well as amongst queer culture due to "monosexual privilege". I'm not sure that the book is necessary what I'd have wanted or expected – as a lot of it mirror's Shiri Eisner's points already made in "Bi: notes for a bisexual revolution" (which I would recommend both for the political stance it takes as well as the contributions to queer studies).

At the same time, I do appreciate the efforts in making the topic accessible to a potentially broader audience and the points haven't lost their relevance at all (and are something I personally still struggle with in the form of "bisexual impostor syndrome").