Monday, November 18, 2013

Orwellian Industries: The Department of Applied Phenomenology and Hermeneutics (Satire) by Gloria Garfunkel

If you think of yourself as a book full of words and images that you can manipulate and change, this text interpretation is the art of hermeneutics. Interpreting the Bible is a type of hermeneutics. Today we include in text interpretation people’s thoughts, feelings, behavior and communication.  This sounds like psychoanalysis, minus all the jargon.

Phenomenology focuses on the subjective experience of the senses and emotions. The source of these concepts is philosophical and far superior to the more recent psychotherapeutic theories and integrate seamlessly with hermeneutics.

Everyone knows the study by now of people on a waiting list getting equally improved to people in psychotherapy for the same amount of time. The touchy-feely game offered over at MacMental and Psycho- King is a sham. We, on the other hand, get way more results than waiting on line in a control group.

Despite my problems with my boss, Stan Stealth, vented elsewhere, I am proud to work in the only significant Department of Applied Hermeneutics and Phenomenology in the world. There's one small upstart institute in Paris at the Sorbonne, but they are no competition. Our genius founder, Hibbert Hobbs realized that anything tangible could already be purchased on Amazon, but the thing that people missed most in their lives is the intangible: a sense of meaning, something even the Almighty Google can't provide.  

Clients therefore place in our hands their meaningless lives full of designer shoes and kitchen gadgets, and we cash in on their material goods (I personally prefer the diamond rings) and then help them to either develop meaning in their lives or radically accept that their lives are hopelessly meaningless and they need to get on with things without their things and some twelve-step programs. As part of the process, we help them co-construct hierarchical checklists of their meaning-making/acceptance goals. It is extremely gratifying work and like nothing I thought I'd be doing after graduating engineering school.

Any comparisons to Scientology are also completely fictitious and ignorant of the extensive empirical research with primates and beagles backing up our enterprise. We do not claim to be a church but rather a science and we pay our taxes although we do rely on a significant inflow of government grants and alleged kickbacks.

I assume my colleagues are equally gratified. I don't know. We don't talk to each other. All communication goes through my boss, Mr. Stealth, who controls everyone's subjective experience by declaring various and sundry lies to be true, like “No one but you takes sick days,” though there is an obvious sick day chalk board at the front desk for everyone to see that is always crowded with names of no shows and people leaving early.

I've been here for a good five years and have gotten to the point where I can usually differentiate Mr. Stealth's many lies from the grains of truth, which I think is the reason he is out to get me. It's certainly not due to low productivity or the quality of my work which is stellar.  I am extremely flexible in my work abilities, shifting easily from the Heidegger to Ricouer schools of Hermeneutics and the Husserl to Sartre schools of Phenomenology. There is no problem related to subjective or textual thought and meaning that I can't help to solve without the need for outdated psychotherapy and I am exceedingly popular with our clientele, with a waiting list of three months.

 I've been toying with the idea of going out on my own as a private consultant, perhaps reaching a more affluent and thus more meaning-challenged clientele. I'm just not sure I could cope out there on my own without the steadily motivating input of my sadistically abusive boss.

Author bio: 

Gloria Garfunkel is the daughter of two Holocaust survivors and has a Ph.D. in Psychology from Harvard University.

No comments: