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.”


Physiological cinema

“Thus Kubelka initiated the flicker film, what Regina Cornwell has described ‘phenomenologically as the short and very rapid succession of recurrent images which flutter or fluctuate in various structures.’ The effect is abrasive yet revolutionary. [Arnulf] Rainer values the process of cinematic projection and the immediacy of vision over the illusionistic three-dimensional representation of past events; it is a film that appeals not to the psychological or emotional but rather to the neurological and physiological brain, creating optical illusions and even fleeting hallucinations that at once disabuse viewers of the limiting priorities of mainstream cinema while inviting them into new worlds of perception.”

Flashes of Brilliance: A brief history of the flicker film, Michael Joshua Rowin.

Zero stroke

“Zero stroke or cipher stroke was a mental disorder, reportedly diagnosed by physicians in Germany under the Weimar Republic and said to be caused by hyperinflation of the early 1920s. The disorder was primarily characterized by the desire of patients to write endless rows of zeros, which are also referred to as ciphers.”



“The term scotomization comes from the Greek noun skotos (darkness). In the older literature it is used as a synonym for the term negative hallucination. Both terms are used to denote the failure to perceive an object or stimulus that is present within one’s range of perception. The term scotomization was introduced in or shortly before 1926 by the French psychoanalysts Edouard Pichon (1890-1940) and René Laforgue (1894-1962). In psychoanalytic theory, the term scotomization is used to denote the tendency to ignore, or to be blind to, certain impulses or memories, especially those experienced as a threat to the individual’s ego.”

Dictionary of Hallucinations

Las mujeres piensan

«En sus películas las mujeres piensan. Y esto es algo que jamás me ha llamado la atención en otros cineastas. En ningún otro. Frecuentemente muestran mujeres que reaccionan y se comportan como se supone que deben hacerlo las mujeres, pero en Sirk piensan. Hay que ver esto. Es maravilloso ver pensar a las mujeres. Da esperanzas. Francamente».

Sobre seis películas de Douglas Sirk: Sólo el cielo lo sabe (1955), Rainer Werner Fassbinder.


“Shoshin (初心) is a concept in Zen Buddhism meaning “beginner’s mind”. It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would.”


“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki


“(…) las emociones están situadas en el lóbulo temporal del cerebro. Si éste está dañado, el individuo afectado puede volverse incapaz de tomar decisiones, incluso las más intrascendentes, como en la consulta del médico escoger día y hora para la próxima visita, ya que analiza interminablemente los pros y los contras de esa decisión sin darse cuenta de la necesidad de tomar al menos una ya”.

La inteligencia emocional de los jueces
Angel Puyol


“Engrams are a hypothetical means by which memory traces are stored as biophysical or biochemical changes in the brain (and other neural tissue) in response to external stimuli.

They are also sometimes thought of as a neural network or fragment of memory, sometimes using a hologram analogy to describe its action in light of results showing that memory appears not to be localized in the brain. The existence of engrams is posited by some scientific theories to explain the persistence of memory and how memories are stored in the brain. The existence of neurologically defined engrams is not significantly disputed, though their exact mechanism and location has been a focus of persistent research for many decades.”



“A saccade (pronounced /səˈkɑːd/, sə-KAHD) is a fast movement of an eye, head or other part of an animal’s body or device. It can also be a fast shift in frequency of an emitted signal or other quick change. Saccades are quick, simultaneous movements of both eyes in the same direction. Initiated by eye fields in the frontal and parietal lobes of the brain, saccades serve as a mechanism for fixation, rapid eye movement and the fast phase of optokinetic nystagmus.”



Heterotopia is a concept in human geography elaborated by philosopher Michel Foucault to describe places and spaces that function in non-hegemonic conditions. These are spaces of otherness, which are neither here nor there, that are simultaneously physical and mental, such as the space of a phone call or the moment when you see yourself in the mirror.



Fringe, Seasons 1-2 (2008-2010)
J. J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci

• Человек с киноаппаратом / Man with a Movie Camera (1929) [watch]
Dziga Vertov

• Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly

• The Ghost Writer (2010)
Roman Polanski

• El Abecedario de Gilles Deleuze. A de Animal (1988) [watch]

• Some Like It Hot (1959)
Billy Wilder

• Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Sidney Lumet


Akrasia (ancient Greek ἀκρασία, “lacking command (over oneself)”), occasionally transliterated as acrasia, is the state of acting against one’s better judgment.

The problem goes back at least as far as Plato. Socrates (in Plato’s Protagoras) asks precisely how this is possible – if one judges action A to be the best course of action, why would one do anything other than A?


Silent but deadly [or why I can’t think clearly]

—So you think that music killed these people?
—Not music per se. Could you help me with this please, my dear?
—What about this? Would that work?
—Figaro? Perfect!
—We’ve known for some time that different sounds affect the brain in different ways.
—Look at my brain waves on the monitor.
—They’re smoothing out.
—Harmonic music reduces neural activity.
—Which is why we think more clearly when we listen to it, as opposed to this… Dissonance. Look… Look at my neurons.
—We get it, Walter. Can I turn this off now?
—Oh, sorry. You see, the point is this, that with this type of auditory phenomenon, taken to its ultrasonic extreme, can be fatal, and the way it affects the brain, it could well have induced some type of vegetative trance before death.
—Which would also explain the trauma to the inner ear.
—So we’re looking for some kind of deadly music box?
—No, it’s ultrasonic, so you wouldn’t be able to hear it, the frequency’s too high.
—Silent but deadly.

Fringe, episode 2 season 3.


Arithmomania is a mental disorder that may be seen as an expression of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Sufferers from this disorder have a strong need to count their actions or objects in their surroundings.

Sufferers may for instance feel compelled to count the steps while ascending or descending a flight of stairs or to count the number of letters in words. They often feel it is necessary to perform an action a certain number of times to prevent alleged calamities. Other examples include counting tiles on the floor or ceiling, the number of lines on the highway, or simply the number of times one breathes or blinks.

Arithmomania sometimes develops into a complex system in which the sufferer assigns values or numbers to people, objects and events in order to deduce their coherence.


Folklore concerning vampires often depicts them with arithmomania, such as a compulsion to count seeds or grains of rice. More lightheartedly, the muppet Count von Count from Sesame Street appears to be a fellow “sufferer”.