Book Cover

The Terrible Unlikelihood of Our Being Here

Susanne Paola Antonetta

248 pp. 5.5 x 8.5

EXPECTED Pub Date: February, 2021

Subjects: Creative Nonfiction

Series: 21st Century Essays

Imprint: Mad Creek

Preorder Paperback $22.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-5780-7

“Susanne Antonetta’s latest masterpiece is a divinely composed ode to the ‘ungovernable emanations’ that are our selves. Gorgeously poetic, deadpan and inquisitive, terrifying and engrossing, The Terrible Unlikelihood of Our Being Here bridges the distance between physics and the occult, psychology and spiritualism. Antonetta’s road trip to a Summerland of the soul is inspiring, unforgettable, and indispensable.” —Mary Cappello, author of Life Breaks In: A Mood Almanack

“In mesmerizing and gorgeous prose, Antonetta tackles nothing less than consciousness and existence, employing an amalgam of science writing and mysticism. It’s hard to imagine another writer who could not only make such a project work but also make it seem natural and necessary.” —Robin Hemley, author of Borderline Citizen: Dispatches from the Outskirts of Nationhood

At their family’s New Jersey seaside cottages, Susanne Paola Antonetta’s grandmother led seances, swam nude, and imaginatively created a spiritualist paradise on earth. In The Terrible Unlikelihood of Our Being Here, Antonetta chronicles how in that unique but tightly controlled space, she began to explore the questions posed by her family’s Christian Science beliefs, turning those questions secular: What is consciousness? Does time exist? And does the world we see reflect reality? In this book, scientific research, family story, and memoir intertwine to mimic the indefinable movements of quantum particles.

Antonetta reflects on a life spent wrestling with bipolar disorder, drug dependency, and the trauma of electroshock treatment—exploring these experiences alongside conversations with some of the world’s leading neuroscientists and physicists, and with psychics. The result is a meditation on the legacy of family, on thought and being, and what we humans can actually ever really know about our world

Author Photo

Susanne Paola Antonetta is the author of Make Me a Mother, Curious Atoms: A History with PhysicsBody Toxic: An Environmental MemoirA Mind Apart: Travels in a Neurodiverse World, a novella, and four books of poetry. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Orion, the New Republic, and elsewhere. She lives in Bellingham, Washington.

Contents

Acknowledgments


Part I   The Summer Land

Unstuck

Who Loved Her

For One

Ars Poetica

Ars Poetica II

Resemblances

Immortal Truth

Spirits

Mortal Error

Stakes

Entangled

Chattel House

Person Details for May Louise Radford

Wasps

A Stellar Key to the Summer Land

In the Summer Land

Girls

7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

The Slow Lobotomy

Immediate Reprogramming

Are You There

Strange

Norms

Face as Interface

Engineering

Night-Swim

Loosed

Cousins

Her Beliefs

Outside the Concert Hall

Mind

Satellite

Pulling Off the Skin

Just Strange

Wandering

Her World

The Prophet of Poughkeepsie

The Univercoelum

Bruce and Me in Summerland, Known as the Summer Land

Teaching

A Sheet of Glass

Meta-Shame

The Origin and Philosophy of Mania

Angels and Demons

Observable Consequences

At the Summer Land

My Grandmother and Madame Blavatsky in Heaven, Known as the Summer Land

Mind

Wendy

Wanted

Vertebrae

Mayism

Point No Point

Aftermath

DIY

A Thought Experiment

Dr. W

Future Tense

Rewinding

Says


Part II  Interrogations: Hard Problems and Harder Problems

The Red Perception

The Problem of the Five Hundred Millisecond Delay

The Jam Thickens

Constructor Theory

The Hard Problem

Views

The Problem of the Observer

The Problem of the Two Paths

Conscious Agents

The Problem of the Past

Phi

Look

The Wave Function Collapse

The Problem of Zombies

The Terrible Unlikelihood of Our Being Here

Phi II

Fallibilism

Another Thought Experiment

Afterward

Getting to Know

Her Return

-Algia

The Art of Conversation

The Luminiferous Ether

The Binding Problem

My Grandmother and Andrew Jackson Davis in Heaven, Known as the Summer Land

No Take Back

Bruce and Me in Sedona, Known as the Summer Land

Girlie: To Begin

Recreational Hiding

1899

Boxills and Binaries


Part III The Terrible Unlikelihood

My World

Would It Matter If I Said It Did?

Even a Man

Command

Angelo-Andrew

Entangled Particles: My Father and My Different Father

Spooky Action

Trying Belief

The Magnetic Sleep

No Matter

Back Door

As Good as Any

Her Practice

Back Door II

The Start of the Rest of the Story


Part IV Smithereens

Barely a Game

That Modernity

Smithereens

Playing

Saw

If a Lady Had Not Forgiven

Playing Categories

A New Game

Louis

Stakes

Maps and Bayonets

Simon

Here Bullet

Matrimony

First

Sponge

Rapunzel, Rapunzel

Ravished

A Thingamajig

Conundrums

All the Fault of the Zombies

Addiction

Advertising

Heaven on Earth

Six Wings, Four Faces, Many Women

Such a Thing

Smithereen

Not There

Endure

What She Carried

Planet Zombie

Blizzacane, S’noreastercane, Frankenstorm

How to Die Knowing That You’ll Live Forever


Part V  Remains

Remains

New Things

The Smile Fades

Apparently I Am Hiding in My Mother’s Room

My Mother, My Grandmother, and Me in Heaven, Known as the Summer Land (A Proleptic)

Question: What is the scientific statement of being?

The Binding Problem, Again

An Endless Feedback Loop

Here Bullet II

There

Superposition/Storm Surge

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