My experiences with the AR (augmented reality) stickers – drag and droppable video objects that Google bundled into my first-gen Pixel XL phone recently – reproduce exactly the violence that has been done to my person, reputation, and professional trajectory since at least 2002, and perhaps earlier. This violence has almost certainly been committed by the US and British security agencies of the time, alongside at least some people in the Balkans – both family and enemies – as they strove to use mental health legislation & systems to prevent me from being able to convince other people around me that what I was seeing, sensing and perceiving about surveillance – in particular surveillance carried out both physically and digitally on me – was true.
So where does all the above connect up with the AR technology I have been using to post videos filmed on the fly in the UK and Ireland?
Because the phone I have allows me to see, with grand certainty in my own mind, things – objects, realities, thoughts, impressions – that no one else can see. It is a metaphor for not only my supposedly paranoid mind but for many other alleged schizophrenics. Read Rosenhan for further details; Laing and Esterson too. You will see schizophrenia – in particular paranoid schizophrenia – in so many cases is no mental disorder. Post-Snowden, it must become – and be seen to become – a skillset. We have turned a beautiful ability into a tawdry mental condition, suppressing so many truths in the meantime. It’s time we stopped.
For the difference between the Snowden-like perceptions that in the early period of the 2000s I had – serving to imprison me under electronic lock and key for an abusive month – and the experience I am now having with Google’s AR technology is that the things I see through my phone I can share with others during and after the event. Then I couldn’t, even though I saw the truth. None of my family believed me. Some of my family even actively helped to lock me up.
This isn’t, however, my biggest preoccupation. The bastards who destroyed more than a decade of my life – and here I include those who have been complicit in this violence – have, in the end, not quite been able to destroy me. But the lives of innumerable others, diagnosed with paranoia pre-Snowden, have had – and what’s more disgraceful are still having – their lives, self-confidence and trust in others turned upside down. When people deny your reality by saying you are ill, for sure they know what they are doing. Especially when the reality they deny is one whose effective perceiving and communicating would damage their own increasingly corrosive holds on the levers of power.
In hindsight, AR is the very best experience a man like myself, with a life lost hideously behind him, can have. At least as a simulacrum of what can no longer be communicated … at least as that it validates.