Retinal pessimism

“…Retinal pessimism is not simply the failure of the phenomena of perception, the physiology of the retina, or the science of optics. Nor is it the conviction that whatever one is seeing is the worst of all possible things that could be seen. Both are intriguing options. But, retinal pessimism is something else, and it is encapsulated in the strange status of black: at once present and absent, at once a fullness and an emptiness, at once the absorption of all light and the total absence of light. Black is at once the foundation of all colour and, in its absence or emptiness, it is also what undermines the substantiality of all colour. If one is willing to go down this path, a retinal pessimism is not just about the non-colour that is black, but it is about the perception of colour itself. It is, ultimately, the suspicion that all colours are black, that all retinal activity is retinal inactivity. Retinal pessimism: there is nothing to see (and you’re seeing it)…”

“Black on Black”, Eugene Thacker, The Public Domain Review.

Powerless to do anything

I have suffered from sleep paralysis several times, and it’s a really scary thing that I’ve never knew how to explain, but this is a very good explanation:

“At first, you can’t move. It feels like you’re waking up, except your arms and legs and head and tongue are all frozen in place. You want to cry for help, but you can’t. You’re betrayed by your body, paralyzed. You lie there as your breathing begins to quicken, your heart rate jolting, until you see it: a shadowy figure in the room, moving closer. Maybe it’s a man in a dark cloak. Or maybe it’s an old woman, grotesque and witchlike. Either way, there is something sinister—and you are there, in your bed, powerless to do anything.

This real-life horror is known as sleep paralysis: a half-dreaming, half-wakeful state that leaves your body immobilized while you encounter nightmarish visions of terror. By some estimates, it affects about 6 percent of the general population, many of whom are left without an explanation for what happened to them. Was it a dream? Was it reality? Was it supernatural—and will it happen again?”

“Rodney Ascher’s New Doc ‘The Nightmare’ Reveals the Real-Life Horror of Sleep Paralysis”, Arielle Pardes, Vice.

I’ve had several experiences of this kind, mostly related to the type of sinister figures described in the article, but I remember specially one occasion in which the hallucination was auditory, not visual.

魔境 makyō

“The term makyo (魔境 makyō) is a Zen term that means ‘ghost cave’ or ‘devil’s cave.’ … Makyo is essentially synonymous with illusion, but especially in reference to experiences that can occur within meditation practice.

…the combination of ma meaning devil and kyo meaning the objective world. This character for ‘devil’ can also refer to Mara, the Buddhist ‘tempter’ figure; and the character kyo can mean simply region, condition or place. Makyo refers to the hallucinations and perceptual distortions that can arise during the course of meditation … These can occur in the form of visions and perceptual distortions, but they can also be experiences of blank, trance-like absorption states.

…It is characterized in some schools as ‘going to the movies,’ a sign of spiritual intensity but a phenomenon that is considered distinctly inferior to the clear insight of settled practice.”


Paralysis by analysis

“Analysis paralysis or paralysis of analysis is an anti-pattern, the state of over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome. A decision can be treated as over-complicated, with too many detailed options, so that a choice is never made, rather than try something and change if a major problem arises. A person might be seeking the optimal or ‘perfect’ solution upfront, and fear making any decision which could lead to erroneous results, when on the way to a better solution.”