Moving on from considering ‘logic space’ to ‘linear time’, it becomes clear that everything we have been saying about logically-defined space also holds true for the linear framework we call time. Linear time is the same sort of thing as linear space because it is predicated upon logic, because it is an exercise based entirely on the rules of logic. Everything that happens within the framework of time has to fit within the boxes or squares that are provided by logic for the ‘working out’ of the exercise and so we can say that for any linear time-line (which is where event A is followed by event B which is followed by event C…) it must true that if an event Q happens at a time T then by definition it can’t happen at any other time. Furthermore, Q must be causally related both to the event that preceded it and the event that succeeded it in such a way that both can be logically derived from it, either by inferring it from the former or predicting it from the latter. All of the events making up the time-line must be causally connected in this way – there cannot be any such thing as an event that stands alone and has neither been prefigured by the prior state nor reflected in the subsequent one. If there was such an event, then it would not be anywhere on the time-line, it would be outside of it, and so it wouldn’t be part of the exercise in logic which is linear time – it would be unrelated, and anything ‘unrelated’ isn’t part of the continuum!
An event in linear time has to occur at one particular point on the continuous time-line – if it occurs at time T then it cannot also occur at time V. So if an event is to occur then it must ‘make up its mind’ – it must ‘choose’ to occur at one specific location in the allowed framework and this is the all-determining constraint that is upon it. It actually sounds unnecessary to have to say this because we take it so much for granted, but then again if anything is taken for granted then it seems unnecessary to point it out. The idea that if an object exists in one location it cannot also exist in another (or the idea that if an event occurs at one point in time then it cannot occur at another) sounds so extremely obvious that we shouldn’t really need to make too big a deal of it (or any sort of a deal at all). If on the other hand we could see it as being strange that things or events have to fit into a logical (i.e. rule-based) framework in this way then this would mean that our awareness has become – to some extent – free from this framework, free from the ‘logical introject’ that has possessed us and which is hypnotizing us on an ongoing basis into thinking that this way of looking at the world is the only way there ever could be. It is because we are hypnotized by the introject on an ongoing basis that we see this bizarre state of affairs as being normal!
We could if we wanted make the mental experiment of imagining some sort of a situation – hypothetical or otherwise – that would exist if the framework we’re talking about wasn’t being continually imposed on everything. In this situation things and events would have no constraints placed upon them; they wouldn’t have to obediently fit themselves into some box or other. They wouldn’t reflect the logic of our boxes at all therefore. A thing wouldn’t have to make up its mind as to where it is, or what sort of thing it is going to be, or if it is even going to bother being a thing in the first place, and an event wouldn’t have to make up its mind about when it was happening, if at all. This is a very free or uncontrolled situation therefore – we really aren’t forcing the issue at all! There’s no rules, no determinants, in it at all…
The ‘problem’ here of course is that things only become things when they do make up their mind, and events only become events when they actually happen. Unless we draw a line around the thing or event then it doesn’t get to exist – how can we have a location which isn’t located anywhere, a place that hasn’t been placed anywhere on the grid-work of possible places? What would we call an event that hasn’t made up its mind as to when it is going to occur, or even if it ever is going to occur? What kind of a thing would that be? The difficulty with talking about openness is that our language – our way of thinking about things and talking about things – totally fails us. What we’re trying to do here is to think about what the world would be like if we didn’t put it in a framework, and yet it is precisely by placing the world within a framework that we get to think about it! No framework means no way of thinking about anything, which is actually a shockingly simple and yet at the same time powerful statement…
The reason this is such a powerful statement is because we can easily show that there is nothing fundamental about a framework (i.e. we can easily show that a framework, of whatever sort, is no more than a kind of scaffolding that we put around something in order to be able to carry out some specific job) and so the consequence of this is that we can also show – by the same token – that there is nothing ‘fundamental’ about our thinking. The framework is to do with the task that we are trying to carry out, it is to do with whatever ‘advantage’ it is that we are trying to gain out of the operation, and this of course works just as well the other way too – which is to say, the task or the goal or the advantage is itself only a reflection of the framework – and so neither the mental framework that we have adopting nor the thing we hope to obtain by using the framework have anything to do with the reality that is being framed. So although frameworks seem fundamental – since they allow us to think about things – they aren’t.
What we’re actually saying here is that the uses which we wish to put reality to (which is the very same thing as our ‘mental framework’, or our ‘thinking about reality’, or our ‘description of reality’) ultimately has nothing whatsoever to do with that reality! This is a clearly very bizarre sort of a thing indeed, since the only point for the framework or the thought or the description is that it relates us to reality…
EXTRINSIC AND INTRINSIC ORDER
Our unexamined prejudice is to say that if we can’t think it or say it (i.e. represent it to ourselves) then it doesn’t exist, but saying that ‘it doesn’t exist’ because we can’t represent it in terms of our arbitrary framework’ is therefore getting it all backwards. It’s our framework that doesn’t exist, not the underlying reality! The logical framework is as we have said nothing more than an ‘over-simplification’; it’s an entirely arbitrary over-simplification, which is to say, it’s only there because we choose to say it is there, it’s only there because we choose to impose it. So just because we can’t model something for ourselves in terms of our thinking (i.e. in terms of the digital simulation that we are running of the world, and which we lazily confuse with the world) that doesn’t mean that it isn’t real. Actually – just to repeat this one more time – it is the simulation which isn’t real, not what we are trying to simulate…
In our normal everyday thinking we automatically and unreflectively assume that the arbitrarily imposed set of constraints (which we will call extrinsic order) is more important than the unconditioned or unconstrained reality (the intrinsic order). It’s not just that we assume our framework to be merely ‘more important’ – we take it for granted so much that we don’t ever think about the possibility that there might be another way of looking at things. The possibility never even occurs to us – we just don’t go there. Our arbitrary taken-for-granted framework is EVERYTHING to us, and so seeing it as being only ‘an arbitrary taken-for-granted framework’ is the furthest thing from our day-to-day consciousness. That’s the very last thing we’d ever be interested in finding out about – we might be interested in this, or interested in that, or interested in the other but we’d never be interested in the idea that all the subjects we’re interested in are only ever projections of an arbitrarily assumed (and therefore pointlessly limited) framework of reverence that we have always taken totally for granted!
We somehow assume that our limited and necessarily stilted way of talking about something – which is to say ‘the rational-conceptual mind’ – is primary to what is being talked about, which is clearly putting the cart before the horse in a big way. The only way we can talk about the underlying unconditioned reality is in negative terms, in terms of freedom (which is to say, in terms of how what we are talking about does not have to obey the laws of logic that we are so very accustomed to). The only way we can talk about the underlying unconditioned reality by saying that it is ‘free from any requirement to obey the laws of logic’, i.e. we can talk about unconditioned reality in terms of its freedom from logic, but not in terms of logic itself!
The underlying unconditioned reality is another way of talking about intrinsic order which means that the thing about intrinsic order is that it is totally free from any assumptions that we might make about it. If extrinsic order is ‘the raft of assumptions we make about reality’, then intrinsic order can only be defined negatively by saying that it has nothing whatsoever to do with extrinsic order. Reality is sublimely irreverent with respect to all the conventions that the rational mind takes so seriously; it behaves – we might say – in a thoroughly unruly or rebellious fashion. We imagine that we have it pinned down, that we have an angle on it, that we know something about it, etc, but we couldn’t be further from the truth. We think – with regard to our understanding of the situation – that we have the advantageous position, but we have no advantage at all. We are allowed to imagine that we have the advantageous position but we don’t – reality is making a fool of us, it is having a very good laugh at our expense…
We can’t even begin to talk about this unruly and irreverent principle of reality using the clumsy literal language of the tedious old dogmatic mind but we can discuss it using the subtle, richly symbolic language of mythology. In the mythological mode of talking about things, reality appears to have all the attributes of the trickster archetype. The trickster may be human or he may be a god, but if he is a god then he isn’t a serious Paternalistic god like Zeus or Yahweh sitting on his throne but rather he is a boyish, impish type of a junior deity who by his lack of high status is free from the need to act in a solemn or serious manner. His chief characteristic is that he is light on his feet, extraordinarily nimble and very quick-witted. He is also irreverent and unpredictable, and a trickster/trouble-maker of the highest order. No adversity can stand up to him because he is simply too clever and too quick for them – they play by the rules but he does not. Hermes/Mercury – the Divine messenger – typifies this motif, according to the Wikipedia entry being ‘the god of stealth and cunning’, as well as having other attributes such as being the patron travellers, oneiropompus (conductor of dreams), psychopompus (guide or conductor of souls).
A development of this motif is found the spirit Mercurius who we hear so much of in the Western alchemical tradition. Here Jung talks about Mercurius in this quote taken from Psychology and Alchemy –
When the alchemist speaks of Mercurius, on the face of it he means quicksilver (mercury), but inwardly he means the world-creating spirit concealed or imprisoned in matter. The dragon is probably the oldest pictoral symbol in alchemy of which we have documentary evidence. It appears as the Ouroboros, the tail-eater, in the Codex Marcianus, which dates from the tenth or eleventh century, together with the legend ‘the One, the All’. Time and again the alchemists reiterate that the opus proceeds from the one and leads back to the one, that it is a sort of circle like a dragon biting its own tail. For this reason the opus was often called circulare (circular) or else rota (the wheel). Mercurius stands at the beginning and end of the work: he is the prima materia, the caput corvi, the nigredo; as dragon he devours himself and as dragon he dies, to rise again in the lapis. He is the play of colours in the cauda pavonis and the division into the four elements. He is the hermaphrodite that was in the beginning, that splits into the classical brother-sister duality and is reunited in the coniunctio, to appear once again at the end in the radiant form of the lumen novum, the stone. He is metallic yet liquid, matter yet spirit, cold yet fiery, poison and yet healing draught – a symbol uniting all the opposites.
Paul Levy has this to say about Mercurius –
A divine messenger, Mercurius is itself the message, as the medium is truly the message. Though appearing to be a trouble-maker, Mercurius, like Christ, was considered to be a peacemaker, a savior, a guide through the underworld, a server of humanity, the mediator between the warring elements of the psyche, as well as the producer of unity. Mercurius is the figure who acts out the marginalized role, presides over the borderline, the places of transition, and the cross-roads.
Though not existing objectively, separate from the creative imagination of the alchemists, it is a mistake to write off Mercurius as being merely a figment of the alchemical imagination. Through the figure of Mercurius, the alchemists had discovered what Jung calls the “reality of the psyche.” By saying the psyche is “real,” Jung is pointing out that the psyche in-forms our experience of ourselves and the universe in the most fundamental of ways. It is through the medium of the psyche that we give shape to both ourselves and the world around us. When we recognize the reality of the psyche is when we begin to enter the dimension of experience where our imagination and our experience of ourselves intersect, interpenetrate, and mutually influence each other in a conscious and consciousness-generating way.
As his name implies Mercurius is impossible to catch – he is impossible for the mind to catch. Because of his mobility (he can be here and there at the same time) Mercurius can easily outrun whatever constraints we may wish to place upon him – he baffles, bamboozles and defies the expectations of logic and for this reason any description of him is always couched in paradox. Of course we can huff and puff about this suggestion and loudly declare that no one can disobey the laws of logic, we can dogmatically insist that ‘rules are rules’ and so on. We can claim that these laws are intrinsic and inviolable and non-negotiable and all the rest of it – but when we say this we say it on the basis of the logical mind, when we make this claim we make it using the instrument of logic, and so of course we’re going to be seeing things this way. We are constrained by our way of looking at the world, and at the same time we refuse to admit that we are constrained or limited and so instead we make a big noise about ‘the way things are’, etc. We make the choice to look at the world through these limiting spectacles and then insist – in true comedic fashion – that we aren’t wearing them.
Mercurius can no more be caught by the prosaic thinking mind than a doddering old buffoon of a headmaster can bring to heel a wily and unruly street kid who has long since learned not to trust or heed any adult, no matter what they say to him. There is no contest – one is slow and predictable, the other sharp and very fast indeed. The over-valued logical mind is like the blustering old wind-bag of a headmaster who relies solely on his ponderous over-blown authority to get what he wants, it is like the pedantic bureaucrat who carps on and on about the slightest infringement of the rules, or a crotchety old librarian who is cross because a book is brought in two days late. When it is granted too much power the logical mind becomes a rigid autocrat who, whilst it has all the control, has no good reason for having this control – the autocrat of the mind doesn’t really know what to do with the control that it has, but it wields it all the more tyrannically for all this!
The principle of reality, on the other hand, is as we have said like the delinquent child who skips school, who plays tricks on, and pokes fun at, his elders and betters, and never does what he is supposed to. Everything which he is forbidden to do he will do, out of sheer irrepressible devilment. If the over-valued rational mind is terribly slow and ponderous, overbearing and tedious in the extreme so that we can see it coming a mile off, then the mercurial principle of reality is so remarkably, fantastically fast and light that we can never even see it move. It dances for joy as we clomp along seriously and self-importantly in our big heavy size-16 boots. From the point of view of the pedantic legalistic precedent-loving rule-making everyday mind reality (or ‘life’) is a mischief-making imp or demon – it is therefore something to be repressed or extinguished wherever possible, to make way for ‘the important stuff’, to make way for ‘what really matters’, to make way for ‘what the rational mind wants to see happening’. Joseph Campbell points out that the word ‘demon’ comes from the Greek daemon which had originally a positive connotation as being a benign spirit or force of nature. Campbell equates the daemon as the actual dynamic of life itself –
Your demon is the dynamic of your life. And we are so against the dynamic of life in our tradition that we have turned it into a devil.
So the logical mind can say nothing about the mercurial trickster which is unconstrained reality. It can’t lay a hand on it. It has actual antipathy to it. It simply doesn’t ‘get it’ – any more than the crusty old headmaster we were talking about ‘gets it’ in relation to disobedient trickster children. It sees no value in disobedience! The rules are the rules and anything that doesn’t abide by the rules has to be tackled and brought to task immediately. The archetypal authority figure isn’t really interested in the trickster, he reacts with annoyance and condemnation when he comes up against the trickster’s handiwork, but other than this he is totally preoccupied with its own business, his own serious affairs. The trickster’s pranks are for him a pure nuisance and nothing more – he does not delight in the sheer freedom and humour of the mercurial spirit because for him freedom is synonymous with the danger of disobedience and rebelliousness, whilst humour indicates a scandalous lack of respect for what is serious and important. For you to be taken seriously and given respect, you must first play by the established rules of the game – only then will I listen, only then will I grant you the right to speak. This, as ever, is the logic of the framework – if something exists then it must do so within the terms of the system that is already in place, and these terms – when it comes right down to it – are nihilistically simplistic.
LOGIC AS INFORMATIONAL IMPOVERISHMENT
Saying that the terms of the logical framework are ‘nihilistically simplistic’ means that any element represented within this framework is what these defining terms say it is, and nothing more. There are no more possibilities in it than this and so if the system itself doesn’t know about something then neither are you allowed to. The system is a like a bus service that goes to a few stops but nowhere else, so if you were hoping to go somewhere else then you are going to get disappointed. Of course when it is the system of thought we are talking about then what you can or cannot hope for is also a limited service and so you won’t get disappointed because your expectations have been curtailed without you knowing about it. So instead of saying that logic is limited or circumscribed or something like that we could just come right out with it and say that it is so simplistic as to be utterly impoverished in content. It is an abstraction which sets out to do a job that it is wholly inadequate to do (i.e. represent a reality which is not simplistic, not limited and not impoverished) and so the job that is does is always going to be vastly inferior – inferior to the point of outright absurdity. Logic – after all – isn’t real at all, it is simply a formal system; it’s a type of an experiment to find out ‘what happens when all the parameters are tightly controlled’. Logic is in other words a game – but it is a game that very easily, almost inevitably, becomes subjectively real.
Simplifying what was there beforehand by a process of taking away all the dimensions out of it until all that is left are the scant few that are still permitted it ‘takes the good out of it’; the end result is a set up that has nothing in common with the situation that we started from. The process of dimensionally collapsing the open situation until – as a sort of inert or tame residuum – we end up with a closed situation, a situation in which everything which is to happen has to happen within the remit of the framework that has been provided – produces not an honest analogue of the starting-off point but an utterly misleading ‘false version’. This is therefore a principle of ‘fundamental deception’. It is also a kind of mathematically-described version of the primordial Gnostic myth in which the demiurge wrestles the cosmos away from the forces of light, and manufactures in its place a darkened, restricted and impoverished version, a false and deceptive version of the cosmos over which it presides as ‘the Creator’, and in which living beings are held captive, unaware of the trick that has been played upon them. This idea is unmistakeably expressed by Philip K Dick here in this footnote taken from his last novel, Valis (1981) –
# 49 Two realms there are, upper and lower. The upper, derived from the hyperuniverse 1 or Yang, Form 1of Parmenides, is sentient and volitional. The lower realm, or Yin, Form II of Parmenides, is mechanical, driven by blind, efficient cause, deterministic and without intelligence, since it emanates from a dead source. In ancient times it was termed ‘astral determinism’. We are trapped, by and large, in the lower realm, but are, through the sacraments, by means of the plasmate, extricated. Until astral determinism is broken, we are not even aware of it, so occluded are we. ‘The Empire never ended’.
THE PRIMA MATERA
There is an idea or theme in alchemy – itself having some of its roots in Gnosticism – of a kind of ‘hopeless’ (or ‘almost irredeemable’) substance or material which – despite its shocking drawbacks – is nevertheless the starting point for their Opus, for the work. This substance, we may say, has nothing more in common with where it came from; it no longer has any of the finer qualities that may be associated with its source but rather it has every gross quality imaginable all gathered together in the same bundle. The ‘end product’ of which we are talking is apparently irredeemable with regard to these gross qualities – it is apparently unworkable, apparently un-improvable. We can perhaps compare this material to a hopeless addict of some sort, an addict who has gone so far in his addiction that he no longer has the slightest wish to change his ways, nor the strength of character to do so even if he did have the wish. Or it could be compared with a man who (with regard to his moral ‘make-up,’ his integrity as a human being) is an utterly unregenerate scoundrel – the worst and most crudely basic instance of this sort of thing. This man possesses in full measure all of the vices and failings that are possible for man to possess – he is sexist, misogynistic, racist, homophobic, sleazy, lazy, ignorant, and everything else of this kind that you can think of. He is a bully, a glutton, jealous and controlling, quick to anger and very prone to blaming others for his own multitudinous faults. Or we could say that this ‘basic material’ is like a completely hopeless fool, the sort of a person who is guaranteed to make a mess of everything, time after time, over and over again, as predictably as the tide coming in or the sun rising in the morning. He is such a complete pure fool that he hasn’t got the wit (not even the tiniest smidgeon of it) that would be needed to work out how not to be a fool. His own foolishness is his prison, in other words, the steep wall over which he cannot climb. To use David Bowie’s words, he is ‘an obstacle, sad as a cloud’. He is the inveterate offender – the one who will never be rehabilitated. He is simply to stupid to learn, too stuck in his ways to change.
This rather uninspiring state of affairs is seen by the alchemists as the basic situation, the ‘default setting’ as it were, not just of man but of the world, of ‘stuff’. It is ‘basic’ not because it is natural, or the ‘right way for things to be’, but because it is a hole so deep that if and when we fall in it, we are bound to get stuck. Because of the extreme (if not to say totally overwhelming) difficulty in escaping it, therefore, it is ubiquitous – it is everywhere, it never comes as a surprise because we have seen it so many times before. It is a state of being that is present everywhere in tremendous abundance. This modality of being, this ‘material’ might not be very inspirational but what it misses out in terms of quality it more than makes up for in terms of sheer quantity. This basic material, which is also our everyday mind, is profoundly uncreative. It could be said that all of its other, grosser qualities exist as a sort of a ‘compensation’ for this essential lack. It has no more possibilities in it than itself, as it is, and itself ‘as it is’ is as we have said devoid of anything that might be said to be in any way inspirational. It is no more inspirational than one of the daily tabloid newspapers, or a game-show on TV. It represents ‘the bottom of the barrel’ as far as creative possibilities are concerned. There is simply nowhere for it to go – at least, not within the flat and literal world that it itself takes for granted and refuses to question. Its own lack of curiosity or interest is the hole it cannot climb out of, in other words, and this ‘lack of curiosity or interest’ is a truly cosmic force, equivalent to the deadly gravitational pull of a galactic black hole. It is this ‘lack’ that constitutes the inescapable barrier.The situation we are describing corresponds to the alchemical lead, or prima materia, which is represented by the planet Saturn, the glyph for which is a stylized sickle. This glyph, according to symbolicdictionary.net, is similar to the Hebrew symbol Tau and is associated with time and death. The glyph for Saturn evokes his scythe, symbolic of the harvesting of crops and the culling of life. According to the above source Saturn is associated with ‘qualities such as limitation, protection, and restraint’ so we can say quite uncontroversially that alchemical lead stands for – in relation to our discussion – both time and limitation. Psychologically speaking, we can say that lead symbolizes a heavy and sad state of being, and thus saying that lead is the ‘basic psychological situation’ means that our everyday ‘unredeemed’ modality of existence tends to be one which has these particular qualities in preponderance. Given that our basic psychological situation – which is to say, our mind or self – corresponds to this degenerate state then it must be the case that unconditioned reality (i.e. reality as it is in itself before it is collapsed or constrained) has to be experienced through the distorting lens of this basic perceptual and cognitive modality. This is a corresponds to the statement that in the case of the classic ‘opinionated bigot’ we were talking about earlier, the world – with all its subtle wonders – has to be filtered through the dire introject which is unfortunately in the position of totally governing and thus modifying the ability of our man to perceive reality. This filtering process – naturally enough – does reality no favours at all; it actually reduces what is taken to be reality to a mere reflection or projection of the underlying biases.
So it is with unconditioned space, which is by virtue of the fact that it is unconditioned ‘outside’ of time and space, so to speak. Only it isn’t really outside of time and space because saying this straightaway puts it somewhere in relation to space and time – saying this actually brings unconditioned or intrinsic space back into the framework because it locates it in relation to it and so in this case it wouldn’t be intrinsic at all but extrinsic. With unconditioned space there is no where’, just as there is no ‘when’ – we could say therefore that unconditioned space is nothing other than the ineffable Eternity which we hear spoken of by poets and mystics. This ineffable Eternity gets filtered through – and crucified upon – the cross of the space-time continuum such that the only way it can appear to us is strict obedience to the terms of that continuum. Endlessness – the Ain Soth of the Qabalists – is represented in terms of limitation and constraint, and in this ‘mis-representation’ not only is its essential nature lost, it is actually inverted, which is to say, it is represented backwards.
This inverted version of the endlessness (which is spacelessness that falsely represents itself as being spacious) perversely constitutes for us, therefore, the whole sweep of reality. What is ‘lost,’ then, in our normal everyday perception of reality is any sense of its intrinsic spaciousness, and we are not here by the term ‘spaciousness’ referring to linear space but to something which is better referred to as intrinsic space. Intrinsic space is essentially ‘space that is not and cannot be represented within any logical continuum’. The type of ‘space’ that can be represented with a logical continuum is a tame version of the original, and bears no actual resemblance. We can call this extrinsic space. Extrinsic space is a ‘formal system’, which is to say, it is a type of space in which it is mandatory that each and every point can unfailingly be referred to a set of linear axes, in such a way that the closed set of points which is that conditioned space is ‘equal to’ or continuous with the corresponding defining axes. Thus, there is no part of extrinsic space – however tiny a part it is we might be talking of – that cannot be exhaustively defined in relation to the over-arching framework, the framework of which it is a projection. We might say therefore that extrinsic space is a ‘redundant’ kind of a thing since there is nothing in it which isn’t an extension (or restatement) of what we already know.
Intrinsic space, on the other hand, is wholly uncontained by any framework, wholly discontinuous with any logical system whatsoever, and so there are no statements that can be made about it. No statements can be made about it because all statements derive from the framework, the over-arching ‘system of reference’. The only way we can understand anything about intrinsic space is by understanding very clearly its absolute lack of commensurability with our over-valued apparatus of knowing. It might seem contradictory to suggest that we can learn something about intrinsic space by seeing that it is wholly inaccessible to us from an intellectual point of view but there is nevertheless a way in which the startling clarity of this perception – which is the crystal-clear perception of impossibility – can shock us out of the rational and into the intuitive mode of perception. Another thing that can ‘shock’ us into an intuitive understanding is to glimpse the sheer outrageous contrast between the one thing and the other, the original article and the poor copy. We can perhaps approach this matter by taking the previously-given example of the ‘leaden man,’ the man who is afflicted with a view of the world which is – not to put too fine a point on it – thoroughly scurrilous, abysmally sordid and generally speaking most wretchedly, dreadfully low.
If we take the time to put ourselves in his position and see the world as he does this naturally puts a different slant on what it means to be prejudiced and narrow in one’s outlook. Obviously, our man does not go around seeing himself as a dreadful bigot, he does not go around thinking “I am a bigot and this is a bigot’s way of seeing the world…” He does not think any such thing. He doesn’t think anything about the way he sees the world, anymore than you or I go around thinking about the way in which we see the world, in our own peculiarly biased ways. He automatically and unreflectively accepts what he sees as a result of his own viewpoint as being ‘just the way things are’; naturally he does not see his viewpoint as being ‘one out of many other possible viewpoints’ any more than anyone else ever does. So our ‘leaden man’ does not know that his view of the world is shockingly narrow, that it is distorted by prejudices that he is unaware of, that it is conditioned by factors about which he is wholly ignorant. The question is – therefore – what does it feel like to be this man? The point is of course that we are all this man inasmuch as we living in a conditioned reality without having even the remotest awareness that what we are living in is a conditioned reality, but the point of this exercise is to take things to as much of an extreme as we can, just to create as much shocking contrast as possible. It might seem very hard to answer this question. As the Jethro Tull song goes, “…and your wise men don’t know how it feels, to be as thick as a brick”. We can however make some inroads into the problem.
What we are essentially talking about here is conditioning and the conditioned mind. The world that is shown to us by the conditioned mind (or the ‘introject’) is a vastly oversimplified version of the real thing. It consists of a certain number of ‘black and white features” and whatever possibilities of interaction that are that exist within the context of these non-negotiable features. Alternatively, we could say that the conditioned reality consists of ‘a set of rules’ – which exist invisibly, out of sight – and all of the logical possibilities that arise out of these rules. The conditioned reality is therefore a game, and a game may be defined by saying that it is a world or domain that has been exhaustively defined such that only what has been specified as being in the game is in the game. A game is a completely controlled environment, a kind of an ‘experiment in restricted possibilities’. Change or movement can occur in a formal system, but only the sort of change or movement that is at all times 100% accounted for within the terms of that system. In a nutshell, a game is a formally described world, an exercise in extended redundancy and nothing more.
Furthermore, about a game we can say this, that there are two distinct ways for things to pan out in it, two distinct types of outcome that can come out of it – the right way and the wrong way. The first way we commonly call ‘winning’ and the second ‘losing’. The tension between these two possibilities, one of which is of course highly attractive and the other highly ‘repulsive’, creates the motivation to play the game, and keep playing the game. This motivation is not negotiable; we don’t have any choice – the whole point of a game is that we have to win, just as we have to struggle not to lose. As James Carse says, if we felt we were free to either play the game or not play it, then ‘all competitive effort would desert us’. In order for the game to be game there has to be no freedom whatsoever with regard to ‘playing or not playing’ – the only ‘freedom’ we have is the ‘freedom’ to try our best to win and not to lose. And this – needless to say – is not freedom at all but the exact opposite. But because the game contains no referents within itself to the fact that it is a game – which is another way of talking about the same thing) we have no way of knowing that the conditioned freedom (i.e. ‘the simulation’) we are operating within isn’t actually genuine freedom at all, but its disguised inverse – a parody of the real thing.
Author: Nick Williams
Nick Williams works and writes in the field of mental health and is particularly interested in non-equilibrium states of consciousness, which are states of mind that cannot be validated by standardized experiments or by reference to any formal theoretical perspective.