It is easy to think of consciousness as a medium, with two teams of philosophers disagreeing over whether the medium is transparent (Qualia do not exist) or translucent (Qualia exist). G. E. Moore's “Refutation of Idealism” is still enlisted in defense of transparence, and Thomas Nagel's “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” is still used to motivate translucency. I argue against both of these familiar interpretations of these articles and proceed to defend the very first response to Moore's article: James's insistence that consciousness, construed as a transparent or translucent medium, just does not exist. Finally, and quite surprisingly, by refusing to treat consciousness as any sort of medium, James is able to account for how easy it is, and yet how difficult it is, to escape our insipid existence.

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