The Meditations of Manuel de la Vega

by Cora Cruz (Author)
©2018 Monographs XII, 114 Pages


The Meditations of Manuel de la Vega addresses the "hard" problem of consciousness in a nonreductive way. Which is to say, the question is posited as to why, no matter how much structural or functional explanation we may devise, this does not quite satisfy attempts to grasp the essence, the "what it is like," of being an embodied consciousness. The book’s method aims to be faithful to its subject by its choice of format. It does not intend to offer fully articulated theory, as univocal argument, but to facilitate theory, over the course of several exemplars, and by way of various perspectives which in the end form a whole—albeit not a closed or finalized whole. While fully compatible with certain theories of consciousness, and while yet incorporating much theorizing itself, the book makes the point, by its example, that explanations of consciousness must not necessarily be theories and models, and that the mode in which theories are rendered may be only part, and perhaps not the most important part, of what consciousness "is" or "does." This is much in keeping with phenomenological methods, with the anthropological-genealogical approaches of existentialists, and with certain takes on aesthetics; in keeping also with the insights of post-structuralism, and yet it does not exclude (and may even complement) some current computational or neurophysiological models of consciousness.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • Advance praise for The Meditations of Manuel de la Vega
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Chapter 1. Manuel
  • Chapter 2. Tobler
  • Chapter 3. Claire
  • Chapter 4. One Down
  • Chapter 5. Emiliano
  • Chapter 6. The Transcendentalist
  • Chapter 7. Material Conditions
  • Chapter 8. Radames
  • Chapter 9. Family Happiness
  • Chapter 10. Narcissus and Dionysus
  • Chapter 11. The Visitor

← viii | ix →


I am deeply grateful to Jason Wirth for his stalwart encouragement and support of this project, and the inspiration of his example and work. I am greatly indebted to Kenneth Williford, for the time he has taken to read this manuscript, for his thoughtful comments and insights, and also for the instruction and inspiration that his work continues to be for me. My thanks to Lawrence Bartlett, who’s been such a good sport about reading a book that’s not of his field, taking time from his busy schedule to act as “guinea pig” so I could test out the “general reader.” Likewise to Duncan Alderson for his reading and generous advice. My thanks to Meagan Simpson, acquisitions editor, for her faith and persistence in the face of various obstacles. And to my husband Domingo, whose patient, loving care for me and the children we could not do without. ← ix | x →

← x | 1 →

· 1 ·


My life has changed in certain ways since my death, but in other ways it goes on as before. As before, I lead a solitary existence, roaming about a house that is usually empty, its owners having long since departed to pursue busy lives far from Santiago. I have been left behind. That’s alright; I’ve grown used to it. There was a time when the world had beckoned me, too—glittering with promise. I had been more than ambitious, more than capable. As a teenager in New York, I was better read than anyone I knew by a long shot—I understood concepts in their depth and could expound upon them eloquently. I cared about culture, about refinement—even as a high school kid working evenings as a bus boy, I quickly rose to waiter and then head waiter, having learned French, how to dress and comport myself with rich people, and the delicate art of serving, putting much older career servers to shame. All the important diners asked for me by name—me, a seventeen-year-old immigrant kid from the hills of the Dominican Republic! I was meant for better things. My family did not understand that. They thought I was just stuck up, that I didn’t want to pitch in with them. But this world is not a friendly place for a sensitive, reflective soul; it is for the crass, simple-minded, and domineering. I thought the subtle sophistication of my speech and manners would get me recognition, make me useful in a special way. I thought I was smart enough to get to the ← 1 | 2 → truth at the bottom of things, and that this would be a good thing. I did not last very long.


XII, 114
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2018 (August)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Vienna, Oxford, Wien, 2018. XII, 114 pp.

Biographical notes

Cora Cruz (Author)

Cora C. Cruz is an independent scholar and literary writer in New York. She studied philosophy at Hamilton College and then at the New School for Social Research. Her fiction has been published in 34th Parallel and the Tulane Review. She was a fiction finalist for a New Millenium Writings Literary Award. Her recent article on existentialism appeared in the Comparative and Continental Philosophy Journal.


Title: The Meditations of Manuel de la Vega