A Philosophy of Malfunction: Mind, Matter and a Bag of Chips

Haider Ali Akmal
5 min readAug 9, 2014

Looking into the eyes of the beast you can whimper in the corner, pee your pants, run for your life or if you’re man enough, face it.

Either way you have more options in being a coward than not.

That’s a little something a lot of people would consider before actually deciding. But I have a question, would it be alright if you decided to play carom with the beast instead?

Too random I understand let’s settle down little closer to earth than; imagine this, you’re on a boat with nothing around you for miles but water and you’re constantly being pestered by silly rantings and utterly obnoxious activity around presumable psychotic patients (I would start questioning your own presence there by now) and you’re only hope for staying sane would be the fact that the boat ‘is’ going somewhere and ‘will’ eventually hit dry land. Would you stay sane or would you prefer the carom puck?

This article might seem stupid at this point and I wouldn’t blame you in thinking as such but that is exactly how I feel on a daily basis. I’m a Printmaker so I should be boring but I am in NCA as well so apparently boring shouldn’t be in the dictionary! This article is about my experience of a nutcase institution it’s about when I crash landed here and what my innocent eyes were forced to witness, in other words my Disorientation.

For sake of inconspicuousness I shall attempt to not mention anyone in direct light in this article instead we shall use the magical help of metaphors like cheese, biscuits, and iguanas (ah how loveable they be).

An institution is built up on 3 major factors (with our case, not in general) the institutioner, the institutionee and the canteen. We shall have the institutioners as our iguanas as they are dull and remain uninterested in what the biscuits have to offer and just wait for their strike as they teach and attempt to bring the institutionee’s to their literal knees begging at times like juries and asking for the ‘biscuits’ themselves.

The cheese are members of the institutuionee who stay unseen in the sense that they just rot in the sun slowly melting under intense pressure but end up gathered into a transformation (a rather sticky one), one that takes them from cheese into the iguanas themselves. I don’t understand how that happens but I do see a tendency for the iguanas to be not only dull and boring but also very stuck up so yes the metaphors do work!

The biscuits get crumbled, trampled on, mishandled in a way and have no importance in this entire menagerie they are the popcorn under you feet at the movies. Surprisingly the only thing interesting in this whole debauchery is the canteen, the students (oops sorry biscuits) ironically run the place yet are treated like fish in a sushi bar; skinned, choked and eaten alive. But the canteen can mean more as we shall see further. Please note that so far I haven’t introduced any Administration to this institution, this is plainly because I don’t believe it exists anymore…

Where were we?

Ah yes, boat out at sea, full of maniacs! Metaphorically speaking the boat doesn’t exist, it is a confined space it could be a cell or a box of matches it could be anything but the point is it’s full of maniacs and you at sea can do nothing about it. You can only hold onto your sanity for so long before you become one of them!

And then what, are you left prepared for the shore? Can you move on? Forget all of that we had a beast playing carom in the start has anyone kept track of the score!! No! No one has it’s because when you leave the house all sane like and enter a world full of Jackson Pollock’s and Charles Manson’s you can’t expect to stay sane you have to do something or else you become the cheese that become the iguanas that eat the biscuits! And the canteen how we can forget the only speck of land you thought you had control over when you actually don’t, there you’re nothing but the dust on the underside of each chair that embraces the buttocks of its benign abusers!

You come to this crash site with your childish hopes and dreams and end up covering them up finding cooler things the iguanas would like who would eventually decide whether you stay or go free!

But who cares about you, you’re a biscuit! You’re nothing with a cup of tea! Yet still you perceiver like the eagle soaring in the rain, you can take a piss wherever you want and no one would know the difference! In an institution that teaches you to be traditionally post-modern as post-modernly traditional this article should do justice to the fact that it has done something to me.

I’m sure this change happens to all who come to this red bricked asylum I’m not sure it’s healthy at the moment I can only say that for sure once they let me go. But my experience here has been more than just enlightening and rewarding, it has also been confusing and this was my attempt at breaching that confusion with yet more confusion.

Don’t take this wrong you might think this guy can just cook up some big words and say he’s post-modern, well if that’s the case then I think I’ve made my point… now where’s my bag of chips?

Haider Ali was studying Printmaking from the National College of Arts Lahore when he wrote this, he’s graduated since and has ended up a rather swell lad. The only problem would be the throbbing in his head after four years of Art School. This article was about his experience becoming insanely sane and how he believes everyone deserves a bag of chips now and then. He also has 8 parrots. Don’t ask.

Photo credits, Ellen Potems



Haider Ali Akmal

Design Futurist, Printmaker, nerd, and occasional writer interested in the interconnectivity between empathy, memory, and the digital world.