Bleak Theory (By Paul J. Ennis)

Three Pound Brain

In the beginning there was nothing and it has been getting steadily worse ever since. You might know this, and yet repress it. Why? Because you have a mind that is capable of generating useful illusions, that’s why. How is this possible? Because you are endowed with a brain that creates a self-model which has the capacity to hide things from ‘you.’ This works better for some than for others. Some of us are brain-sick and, for whatever perverse reasons, we chip away at our delusions. In such cases recourse is possible to philosophy, which offers consolation (or so I am told), or to mysticism, which intentionally offers nothing, or to aesthetics, which is a kind of self-externalizing that lets the mind’s eye drift elsewhere. All in all, however, the armor on offer is thin. Such are the options: to mirror (philosophy), to blacken (mysticism), or to embrace contingency (aesthetics)…

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2 responses to “Bleak Theory (By Paul J. Ennis)

  1. The third in the series! I really enjoy this line of thinking, all the way down to its hardcore naturalist nihilism. But much like with Scott’s work I’m left wondering what are we to do with this ‘dark’ awareness? Surely not just dwell in that particular house of language until death? Bleak on bleak on bleak, who cares…….?

    And how come we are smart enough (cognition works well enough) and able to know enough about the world to have and trust what science (specifically neuroscience) tells us about our limitations but too stupid to pragmatically navigate around some of those limitations? It is as if crash/bleak theorists argue that it’s their true belief that it’s impossible to have true beliefs. And if we are capable of gaining knowledge of our stupidity doesn’t that make us somewhat smarter, in that we have different choices to make? Isn’t the bleak/crash story just another in a long line of coping stories ultimately meant to either motivate us to some practical action or away from some other habit?

    I think they often ask the wrong questions. Many of us know that philosophy is mostly just poetics for personal reflection purposes and cannot answer the more important questions about embodied experience the way science can. So what? The more urgent question facing us is how does knowing our limitations (errors, etc) help us deploy those limited capacities to get along better in the world and create better projects for living? Because living in these conditions is the task at hand.

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