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December 26, 2023 55 mins
When we find ourselves in a dark place, what if we didn't "lighten things up"? Sean Illing talks with philosopher Mariana Alessandri, whose new book Night Vision offers a new way of understanding our dark moods and experiences like depression, pain, and grief. Alessandri describes the deep influence of what she calls the "light metaphor" — the belief that light is good and darkness is bad — and the destructive emotional cycles it has produced. They discuss the influence of Stoic philosophy, Aristotelian ethics, and contemporary self-help — and explore what new paradigms for emotional intelligence might entail. This episode was originally published on June 29th. Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), host, The Gray Area Guest: Mariana Alessandri (@mariana.alessandri), professor of philosophy, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley; author References:  Night Vision: Seeing Ourselves through Dark Moods by Mariana Alessandri (Princeton; 2023) Plato's "allegory of the cave" from the Republic, VI (514a–520a) The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale (1952) The Encheiridion (or "Handbook") of Epictetus (c. 50 – c. 125 AD) The Dialogues and letters of Seneca (c. 4 BC – 65 AD) The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius (121 – 180 AD) The Tusculan Disputations of Cicero (106 – 43 BC) Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics It's OK That You're Not OK by Megan Devine (Sounds True; 2017) Our Lord Don Quixote by Miguel de Unamuno (1914; tr. 1968) Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria Anzaldúa (Aunt Lute; 1987) Enjoyed this episode? Rate The Gray Area ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Subscribe for free. Be the first to hear the next episode of The Gray Area. Subscribe in your favorite podcast app. Support The Gray Area by making a financial contribution to Vox! This episode was made by:  Producer: Erikk Geannikis Engineer: Patrick Boyd Editorial Director, Vox Talk: A.M. Hall Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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