R.D. Laing

The Politics of Experience

"There is little conjunction of truth and social 'reality.' Around us are pseudo-events, to which we adjust with a false consciousness adapted to see these events as true and real, and even as beautiful. In the society of men the truth resides now less in what things are than in what they are not. Our social realities are so ugly if seen in the light of exiled truth, and beauty is almost no longer possible if it is not a lie the requirement of the present, the failure of the past, is the same: to provide a thoroughly self-conscious and self-critical human account of man."

The Politics of Experience

"Words in a poem, sounds in a movement, rhythm in space, attempt to recapture personal meaning in personal time and space from out of the sights and sounds of a depersonalized, dehumanized world. They are bridgeheads into alien territory. They are acts of insurrection. Their source is from the Silence at the center of each of us. Wherever and whenever such a whorl of patterned sound or space is established in the external world, the power that it contains generates new lines of force whose effects are felt for centuries."


They are playing a game. They are playing at not
playing a game. If I show them I see they are, I
shall break the rules and they will punish me.
I must play their game, of not seeing I see the game.

The Politics of Experience

"As adults, we have forgotten most of our childhood, not only its contents but its flavor; as men of the world, we hardly know of the existence of the inner world: we barely remember our dreams, and make little sense of them when we do; as for our bodies, we retain just sufficient proprioceptive sensations to coordinate our movements and to ensure the minimal requirements for biosocial survival -- to register fatigue, signals for food, sex, defecation, sleep; beyond that, little or nothing."

The Politics of Experience

"We live in a moment of history where change is so speeded up that we begin to see the present only when it is already disappearing. It is difficult for modern man not to see the present in terms of the past. The white European and North American, in particular, commonly has a sense not of renewal, but of being at an end: of being only half alive in the fibrillating heartland of a senescent civilization. Sometimes it seems that it is not possible to do more than reflect the decay around and within us, then sing sad and bitter songs of disillusion and defeat."

The Facts Of Life

"Is there any sense in wondering who or what I am and why I am here?...Am I dead or alive? Am I asleep or awake? How can I be certain this is not a dream? How do I know whether my world is not a five-channel synchronized hallucination?"