Engleby quote (Ideas to be explored – Home as the cosmos, Self as evolutionary illusion)

 Had a entire post and some thoughts to accompany re: A pseudo-nerd screenplay + scenes that I’ve decided to scrap for several reasons. Instead here’s something that I want to explore further. Perhaps in prose… I know it’s a controversial epigraph/idea lynch pin for numerous reasons. Not trying to be exclusionary at all, but those that have read Engleby will understand why; also contentions exists regarding philosophy of mind, evolutionary neuroscience and all that…

Well, I’ll be quiet now.


‘Scientists now believe that my sense of self is an illusion generated by the chemical activity of the brain; that there is no such thing as ‘mind’, that there is only matter, but that over the successful Homo sapiens years the idea of self has become a ‘necessary fiction’.  We think that some small grey bits of the brain, following a inaccuracy in cell duplication many years ago, began in one individual and his offspring to generate an illustrate of mind; and that, in history, the chance mutation that allowed them this chimera had side effects so helpful to the species that its possessors, to the extent that we are all now descended from them – mutants every one of us, whose key mutation is a fib. 

If that current thinking is right and consequently there is no self, then my consciousness is so biochemically similar to that of the small boy in the supermarket as to be functionally indistinguishable. Therefore ‘I’m since I am not an individual entity, cannot cease to be, but am doomed to exist for ever- until or unless some new freak mutation finds favour with the powers of natural selection, and human consciousness, like the bat’s blind eye, falls back into disuse, deselected, along with the other hopeful monsters- back into the welcoming void whence it came.’

Engleby, Page 323/4


Thought 1

He grew fond of the detached, atomised mental state induced through his forays with this GM hybrid. He virtually felt the cells, the tissue tearing apart, couldn’t he? Tearing apart from themselves, dividing, metastasing, the chromosomes, double helix uncoiling, undressing, and disintegrating into less than a handful of dust, less than nothing.

Sometimes he imagined his gaseous self moving through long-since inhabited, sprawling neoliberal dystopias, cookie-cutter stations freed from all greyed judgement. Stagnant ovens of any significance gleam without signifier. Just crumbling. Just emptiness. No markets, no delays, no one. The grubby, glass hangars and needles of tomorrow’s, yesterdays assuming a unknowing plain of bureaucratic cognition and veil of transparency to no humans. Just foxes who falsely assume on the utopian impetus of an ideology. But they don’t. Do they?

King’s Cross only remained the centre of the universe for the overwhelmed hubris of the commuter that bestrode its inward-looking (at least for the ubiquity of CCTV) expanse with the cup of one multinational coffee chain or another (it once mattered?), pawing at a frameless smartphone with the freed thumb of another. The ‘day-glo’ silk tie too, exemplifying another allegiance to one emerging micro-trend or another. All the while, confident that it could last forever.

He returned to the golden Miller-time hues of his small, brick-bared room. The phone was ringing. It was her.