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'A Panting Consciousness: Beckett, Breath and Biocognitive Feedback'

Bernini, M. (2021) ''A Panting Consciousness: Beckett, Breath and Biocognitive Feedback'.', in The Life of Breath, Classical to Contemporary: Literature, Culture, and Medicine. , pp. 435-459. Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine.


Booming Western interest in mindfulness and meditation has significantly mainstreamed breath and breathing practices, where focussed breathing is taken to be conducive to novel psychological states. Thanks to the regulation of breathing patterns, patterns in our thinking are not just affected but revealed, together with their entanglement with respiration (in a variety of looping effects here considered as ‘biocognitive feedback’). What makes this reciprocal feedback possible is the structural intimacy and co-dependency of breath and consciousness—a dyadic and dynamic relationship already conceptualised by William James, and today reappraised by contemporary, Buddhist-inspired cognitive sciences. Critically integrating psychological, cognitive, phenomenological, and narratological frameworks, this essay investigates the co-dependent intimacy between breath and cognition as represented, explored, and complicated in the narrative work of Samuel Beckett.

Item Type:Book chapter
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Publisher statement:© The Author(s) 2021 D. Fuller et al. (eds.), The Life of Breath in Literature, Culture and Medicine, Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine,
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:29 October 2021
Date of first online publication:02 October 2021
Date first made open access:29 October 2021

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