Reflecting on the mental ecologies of digital life and the crisis of spirit in the contemporary era, this article principally addresses the question of the possibility of epokhē (ἐποχή), the crisis of formation or self-cultivation (Bildung) and the possibility of a “third world,” which can be opened up by the phenomenological practice of epokhē. This will be undertaken idiosyncratically through a comparison between the thoughts of the British novelist and professor of contemporary thought at Brunel University in London, Will Self, and the late French philosopher Bernard Stiegler (1952–2020). Both thinkers, albeit in different ways and with different emphases—one literary, one more philosophical—address the psychical and traumatogenic consequences of epokhē. We can understand this as a suspension of disbelief in the present as we live through an “epoch without epoch,” a time witnessing the seizure of the symbolic by industrial technologies of the spirit. This is the time of the simulacrum of the real and the circulation of symbolic exchange and death. Both thinkers are interested in reinterpreting the concept of epokhē to consider psychic individuation or the psycho-pathological effects of technology upon the embodied human sensorium. I proffer some original thoughts drawn from the paradigm of critical postmedia philosophy and ecosophy on how to take the best elements from these thinkers to mount a sustained critique of technical life in the traumatized present that is without epoch.

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