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Adventure seed for CoC: Heidegger’s Necronomicon

November 22, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Fourteen deaths on campus and the semester hadn’t even started yet. The only thing that linked the victims was that they had all responded to the following post-doctoral grant proposal:

It has often been observed that the works of Martin Heidegger (most notably Being and Time) are absolutely incomprehensible, if not actually gibberish. Two hypotheses have been put forward to explain this observation: (1) that Heidegger was trying to express something for which common communication strategies are inadequate; (2) that Heidegger just wasn’t very good at communicating.

Further, it has come to the researchers’ attention that prolonged exposure to Heidegger’s works appears to significantly degrade the ability of his readers to communicate. Attempts to explain Heidegger – notably the famous works by Hubert Dreyfus and Wrathall & Critchley – all end up pretty much as incomprehensible as the original, while works that merely cite Heidegger are frequently less comprehensible around the locus of citation. Following this observation a third hypothesis is proposed: that some aspect of Heidegger’s works has an active effect on readers’ cognitive and communicative faculties.

The researchers propose to investigate this apparent phenomenon. One group of researchers will attempt an interpretation of Heidegger’s works similar to that used on the celebrated, and comparable, Voynich Manuscript, approaching his writings as artifacts of unknown meaning or purpose and undertaking a detailed textual and non-textual, symbolic analysis of them, in the hope of uncovering patterns. Simultaneously, a second group of researchers will observe the interpreting group closely for signs of degradation in their abilities to communicate, analyze or think rationally without, themselves, coming into contact with Heidegger’s works. Finally, both groups will be continuously monitored by video surveillance equipment and behaviour-analysis software, which will notify a third group in the event of a significant change in the behaviour patterns of either or both of the first two groups.

To avoid self-selection biases or contamination of the data or groups by previously-exposed scholars, the three groups will be drawn at random from incoming freshmen in the academic new year, who will have to demonstrate ignorance of Heidegger’s works in a double blind test.

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  1. November 22, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    Awesome.
    I read a little Nietzsche and Camus before deciding to major in philosophy in college and they really spoiled me (those two could actually express themselves in a way that was interesting and literate). Hegel and Heidegger were some of the worst offenders IMO, although I also had to force myself to read Deleuze & Guattari, Alteizer, etc. I always preferred the Anglo-American analytic philosophers over the Continental phenomenologists because of clarity, even though I was more interested in stuff like existentialism than logic.
    FWIW I am told that at least one grad student in my program went crazy while working on a thesis on Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, and everyone agreed that this was a normal reaction.

    • richard
      November 22, 2011 at 1:38 pm

      Thanks! I wasn’t sure how this would play on this venue… wondering what the overlap is between Heidegger readers and OSR bloggers – but it’s pretty easy to see where Petersen (and Lovecraft) got the whole reading-into-madness thing from.

      …well, that and, in Petersen’s case, reading James Mellaart, who obviously was perfectly sane at some point.

  1. January 21, 2012 at 12:27 am

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