I think, if any doctors or researchers are in attendance, that recursion should be considered a potential symptom of mental illness. It should be in the DSM, is what I mean: do you regularly have recursive thoughts? Or are you constantly meta-tripping? Do you continually thwart the conclusion of a thought by stepping outside of it, attempting to escape the entire human problem —escape what the existentialists used to call “commitment” or whatever— by subsuming everything within a broader system, etc. etc.? Can nothing finish? Does everything seem internally and externally relational? Do you write these sentences? Get yourself checked in, idiot.
i know you have your issues with him, but this sounds similar to dfw’s “marijuana thinking”:
This tendency to involuted abstraction is sometimes called “Marijuana Thinking”; and by the way, the so-called “Amotivational Syndrome” consequent to massive Bob Hope–consumption is a misnomer, for it is not that Bob Hope–smokers lose interest in practical functioning, but rather Marijuana-Think themselves into labyrinths of reflexive abstraction that seem to cast doubt on the very possibility of practical functioning, and the mental labor of finding one’s way out consumes all available attention and makes the Bob Hope–smoker look physically torpid and apathetic and amotivated sitting there, when really he is trying to claw his way out of a labyrinth.
Hal finds himself riveted at something about the degenerating game that seems so terribly abstract and fraught with implications and consequences that even thinking about how to articulate it seems so complexly stressful that being almost incapacitated with absorption is almost the only way out of the complex stress.
…which (“marijuana thinking”) sounds a lot like dfw’s normal, over-anlaytical, hyper-literate, and often/ultimately self-destructive pattern of thought. although maybe his typical way out of the labyrinth was attempting to write about/through the labyrinth, trying to exit into “real,” unironic, uncynical, even sentimental stuff.
talking about problems with meta-fiction (and “meta-meta-fiction”) in his longest interview:
…there’s always a recursive component to utterance. This was important, because language’s self-consciousness had always been there, but neither writers nor critics nor readers wanted to be reminded of it. But we ended up seeing why recursion’s dangerous, and maybe why everybody wanted to keep linguistic self-consciousness out of the show. It gets empty and solipsistic real fast. It spirals in on itself.
and in another interview:
Oh, I think at the time that I was studying philosophy it was the beginning of the infiltration by kind of continental deconstruction on analytic philosophy and the world was full of recursion, and involution, and things bending back on themselves, and various incarnations of Gödel’s proof, and I think some of that kind of affected me at a spinal level. I really like recursions, and I really like contradictions and paradoxes and statements that kind of negate themselves in the middle. But at this point in my life it seems to me to be more of a tic than anything really all that important.
make of all that what you will.