Wank Meets Narrative. Narrative Eats Wank.

by rsbakker

Aphorism of the Day 1: Awareness always has its face mashed against the window of the world simply because that’s where Death prefers to hide. Meditation is just another way to bury our head in the sand inside our head.

Aphorism of the Day 2: Consciousness is a child encircled by magicians, never knowing whether to be terrified or amazed.

Aphorism of the Day 3: Theory is the cognitive slinky when compressed, and narrative is the cognitive slinky when extended, going ker-chuck, ker-chuck down the stairs.

Aphorism of the Day 4: Fuck off with the aphorisms already!

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Creativity has swallowed me whole, once again. I apologize for my absence on the comment strings.

Just a couple of things of interest: I recently did an interview with Adam for Orbit, which is meant to introduce me to new readers, so will likely be old hat for you all.

Also, Pete directed me to this, a very cool, but very wank, essay on Neuropath. The only quibbles I would raise with Fisher’s reading is that although ‘voluntarism’ is raised as the book’s big fish – simply because it was the most intuitively accessible way to engage the largest number of readers on the shape of the problem – it is agency (and even more generally, intentionality) and its degrees that Neuropath is problematizing, whether it be social agency (reflected primarily in the invasive contrast between private and public space) or personal agency (reflected in numerous different ways). The book ends with the Bible family ‘reunited in love’ for a reason: The question is, What does this love mean? Neil says, ‘Nothing!’ The book says, ‘Nothing that I can figure out.’

What Fisher misses, I think, is the second, sceptical part of the double movement that permeates the book, the sustained critique of – you guessed it – wank as something that can rescue us. The problem of the social and personal materialization of the Argument is that it literally burns down the rational hustings under those who argue against it, either via redefinitional apologia (like Dennett) or redemptive conceptual experimentation (like Malabou) or what have you. It is inevitable that philosophers will mount rational recovery operations to salvage something of their intuitions, none of them commanding any real consensus, all of them requiring years of specialized training to comprehend and a certain wilful denial of cognitive psychology (Tom Bible’s profession) to believe. This is the sense in which Neuropath actually anticipates Fisher’s reading, engulfs it, and rewrites it into more evidence. And this is the sense in which, I think, the contemporary problem of nihilism needs to be understood. As soon as the problem ceases to be something ‘merely philosophical,’ it ceases to be something that ‘mere philosophy’ can adequately address. The question is now locked in the hands of the institution most directly responsible for its materialization, science. Neuropath, as science fiction, depicts a time when the pessimistic inductions we are making now have become/are becoming accomplished facts.

And if you have any doubt about the strength of those pessimistic inductions, I invite you to check out the links that Jorge and others have posted on the comment string for “Caution Flag.” Christ, even I’m thinking about making a TCMS cap!