This will be a short post as I’m in transit to Brown for a talk on Tuesday, but I just finished RS Bakker’s Neuropath, and felt the need to mention it to spare myself the disquiet it’s generated in me (think about how Naomi Watts saves herself and her son in The Ring). This novel is not for the faint of heart. Indeed, I’m half tempted to sue Bakker for plunging me into a first-order existential crisis. It is also a novel well worth reading. I don’t know that I agree with Bakker (though I also don’t know that I have an argument against his claims), but I do think he is posing the right questions regarding the significance of neurology for who we are, ethics, and politics. This novel has really wrecked me. I do wonder, however, why we have consciousness or a sense of self at all if it’s just an illusory output? What evolutionary function do these things serve? Are the just spandrels? Readers will find an excellent review of Bakker’s novel by Shaviro here. While this is one of the most intellectually thought-provoking novels I’ve read in years, I wouldn’t recommend it to tender hearts.

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