I Am Not a Brain in a Bottle—Though My Brain Might Well Be a Klein Bottle

The subtext of the film:

  1. We are not telepathic; if we were, we would want to die (presumably because others’ thoughts are unsurvivable).
  2. Those who believe they are telepathic want others to die (because they’re psychopaths)—or want them to think themselves to death (because they’re psychologists).

Cognition is embodied (and embedded)—which means it is also “embrained,” but only partly so—body and mind meshing like the endless surface of a Klein bottle without inside or outside (which is exposed at all points to the world around us, i.e. we and our world are interpenetrated).

I like Michel Serres’s description of the self as Klein bottle, the involute—enfolding and enfolded—nature of our skin embodying identity, its touching itself, consciousness (Five Senses: A Philosophy of MIngled Bodies, trans. Margaret Sankey and Peter Cowley [1985; London; New York: Continuum, 2008] 22):

I touch one of my lips with my middle finger. Consciousness resides in this contact. [. . .] [It] increases in size and swells at these automorphic points, when the skin tissue folds in on itself. Skin on skin becomes conscious. . . . Without this folding, without the contact of the self on itself, there would truly be no internal sense, no body properly speaking, cœnesthesia even less so, no real image of the body; we would live without consciousness, slippery smooth and on the point of fading away. Klein bottles are a model of identity. We are the bearers of skewed, not quite flat, unreplicated surfaces, deserts over which consciousness passes fleetingly, leaving no memory.


One thought on “I Am Not a Brain in a Bottle—Though My Brain Might Well Be a Klein Bottle

  1. Pingback: Word of the Day: Eukaryotic (pace DFW) « Te Ipu Pakore

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