The world we live in is made up of two elements – viroid impulses and genuine information. Viroid impulses pretend to be genuine information and for the most part they manage very effectively to substitute themselves for the real thing. For all practical purposes we live in a world made up of viroid impulses pretending to be genuine information and the lives we lead are therefore resultants of these viroid impulses, full-scale productions of these viroid impulses.
What then – we might want to know – is a viroid impulse and how exactly does it manage to impersonate information, since information is by definition quintessentially non-viroid? A simple way to answer this question is to say that a viroid impulse is a set of instructions. It tells us what to do. Saying this might sound harmless enough but it represents an inversion of what we might call ‘the natural order of things’ – the natural order of things being where there are no instructions telling us what to do. This doesn’t mean that nothing ever happens – it just means that whatever happens isn’t predetermined by some mechanical format. The reason we can say that ‘the natural order of things’ is where there are no instructions is simply because a set of instructions can’t be the natural order since it isn’t the primary situation. Instructions can only be there if they have been encoded into the system. They can only be there if they have been put there, whereas a lack of instructions very clearly doesn’t need to be deliberately engineered into the system. A lack of instructions can’t be deliberately brought about – how can a rule specify that there shall be no rules after all?
The viroid impulses tell us what to do. They determine what is to happen and we simply go along with this. We fall under the spell of the viroid impulses and unquestioningly enact them; the possibility of questioning them doesn’t even arise because in the viroid world we only ever do what the impulses tell us to do and they don’t tell us to question what they are telling us to do! There is no such thing as a viroid impulse that asks us to reflect on whether we want to obey it or not – this is something that just can’t happen. So when the viroid impulse comes along, we do what it wants us to do, we be what it wants us to be, no questions asked…
What the viroid impulse does therefore (in keeping with its name) is that it hijacks us and makes us into extensions of itself. This is how it ‘reaches out’ – this is how it furthers itself, this is how it extends its field of influence. It remodels us in its own terms – it takes away our freedom not to be it, in other words! This is viroid logic in a nutshell, this is what it’s all about and once we understand that this is what it’s all about then we understand everything there is to understand on the subject. There is nothing else to viroid logic other than this; there is nothing else to understand about viroid logic apart from the fact that it takes away all our freedom apart from the freedom to do what it says.
The only question that remains is how we manage to fall victim to the viroid impulses so easily. How is it that we go along with this business, since it is clearly not in our best interests to do so? If everything about us is remodelled in the terms of the viroid impulses there is clearly no way that this can be said to be in our best interest! We said earlier that the viroid impulses operate by impersonating genuine information. ‘Information’ – we might say – is anything that relates us to reality as it is in itself. Information is that which pertains to the unconstructed reality therefore, rather than any kind of simulated (or viral) version of reality. It might be said that it is in our disposition to be open to information just as much as it is in our nature to be open to reality – what would we do without reality, after all?
What the viroid impulse does however is that it hijacks this innate (and intimate) relationship that we have with reality. It does this by impersonating reality, and then substituting itself for the real thing. Then, we get to be interested in the artificial production in the same way we are innately interested in reality. We become susceptible to the viroid impulses and the world that they create. Instead of being ‘open to reality’, we are now open to the viral version of reality (which has none of the qualities of the genuine article). Our allegiance (our basic orientation) is switched over without us noticing and so we cease to be ourselves (as we truly are) and become mere extensions of the virus-like system that is simulating reality for us. We become inauthentic copies of ourselves.
The mechanism by which the viroid impulse impersonates reality is very ingenious – the viroid mechanism becomes our mind. How can we suspect it in this case? The viroid impulse, acting as our mind, tells us what reality is, shows us what reality is, and we take this to be genuine, honest-to-goodness, bone fide information. Why wouldn’t we? Would we not trust our own mind? We’d distrust anything else for sure, but not our own ‘taken-for-granted’ viewpoint.
The viroid impulse is essentially a closed way of looking at the world. It’s a particular frame of reference, a particular logical framework. As soon as it comes along we jump on board and go for a ride, no questions asked. We hop on board and see life its way. We go where it takes us. We adopt the viral viewpoint as our mind – we utilize this particular frame of reference, this specific logical framework, as our basis for understanding reality, our basis for perceiving reality, and as soon as we utilize the framework in this way we become blind to any other way of looking at the world. We identify with the frame of reference, we become it. We lose the freedom to look at things any other way. We lose the freedom to know that there is any other way.
What the viral mind shows us is not reality. Reality is the one thing that the viral mind will never show us! It will show us anything at all, but not this. What the viroid POV shows us is what reality looks like when seen in its terms, which is a different kettle of fish entirely. The viroid POV is made up of boxes, of categories, of rules, and it shows us what the world looks like when it is squeezed through its boxes, when it is slotted into its categories, when it is subjected to its rules. The viroid mind shows us its version of the world and its version of the world is actually nothing other than itself! When we pay attention to what we think is genuine ‘information’ we’re actually only paying attention to the viroid impulses, or rather to the world that is created by the viroid impulses…
The viroid impulse converts everything it meets into itself. It converts us into itself. It cannot rest until it has converted everything into itself – this is its never ending task. We could try to work out why exactly it would want to do this. Where does this viroid tendency come from? Why does this tendency towards ‘universal viralization’ exist in such a pronounced way in the universe? This is a good question. It turns out that the tendency towards viralization that the universe exhibits is the same thing as entropy, which is the tendency for complex, unpredictable and diverse systems to downgrade into simplified, predictable and uniform ones. Entropy, in other words, is the ‘downhill current’ in life, the tendency for systems to settle down comfortably to equilibrium values.
The most un-simplified state of affairs is where there are an open-ended number of ways of seeing the world, understanding the world, describing the world and all of these ways exist on an equal footing. This is the ‘non-collapsed’ state in which all ways of looking at the world exist superimposed upon each other. All possibilities are equally allowed, just as all finite sets (without exception) are ‘allowed’ in the Universal Set. In the Universal Set there are no exclusion criteria, no ‘rules’. This is a paradoxical state of affairs however because ‘if everything is true then nothing is true’ (since our usual way of understanding ‘truth’ is in relation to ‘falsehood’). The Universal Set can also be seen as the Pleroma of the Gnostics, the Creative Void, which, according to Jung in Seven Sermons to the Dead, is –
…nothing and everything. It is quite fruitless to think about pleroma. Therein both thinking and being cease, since the eternal and infinite possess no qualities.
If we simplify down this creative void as much as we possibly can, to make it as predictable and homogenous as possible, what we end up with is literalism. We end up with ‘only the one possibility’, or ‘only the one approved way of seeing at the world’, ‘only the one way of understanding the world’, ‘only the one way of describing (or defining) the world’. One possibility is permitted, all others are denied. One description of reality is true, all others are false. One is emphasized, all others de-emphasized. What we are talking about here is the collapsed ‘black-and-white’ world, therefore – the everyday conceptual world with which we are all so very familiar with. The conceptual world is the entropized world, the viralized world, the world that has been represented in terms of some kind of logical format, in terms of some kind of code.
There is something funny about this black-and-white world too. What is funny about this collapsed world (the equilibrium world) is that even though it portrays itself forcefully (and very plausibly) as being something (i.e. as being ‘concrete’) it isn’t actually anything. The ‘definite reality’ with which we are confronted every day is a hoax, a sham. The definite reality is a sham because there is no such thing as definite! How, after all, can there be such a thing as ‘definite’ when the only way to get ‘definite’ is to say that there is only the ‘one way of seeing the world’ when there isn’t? Things are only definite when we pretend that they are and – this being the case – what’s so ‘definite’ about that?
The Creative Void doesn’t present itself as being ‘something’, and yet it is everything. The black-and-white world very emphatically presents itself as not just being ‘something’, but everything there ever could be, and yet it isn’t anything! The B&W world is an aggressively viralizing facade which is ‘aggressively viralizing’ precisely because it is in the business of hiding its true nature, which is the antithesis of what it says it is. The B&W world claims in the most aggressive manner to have actual content, and yet it is entirely hollow, entirely ‘content-less’. It is empty aggression – it is ‘saying that there is something when there just plain isn’t’. As Wei Wu Wei says, it is ‘an outside without any inside’.
The reason the B&W world is hollow is easy to show – the very fact that ‘only the one possibility’ is allowed expression guarantees the nullity, the laughable nonentity of what is being so forcefully stated. It’s empty bluster. The only way to get ‘only the one possibility’ is to deny all the others and this means creating a closed system. But a closed system isn’t real – it simply isn’t possible to isolate a ‘fraction’ of reality, a bounded portion of reality, a slice of reality and then have that fraction, that portion, that slice remain real. Reality comes ‘all in one piece’ or not at all. It is not dividable. Who said we can divide it up as we please, partition it as we please? Reality isn’t our plaything, to manipulate in any way we want. Reality is reality.
Anaxagoras says ‘there is a bit of everything in everything’. This is represented in the Hindu and Buddhist story of Indra’s Net. Francis H. Cook gives an account of the Buddhist version of Indra’s Net in Hua-yen Buddhism: The Jewel Net of Indra –
Far away in the heavenly abode of the great god Indra, there is a wonderful net which has been hung by some cunning artificer in such a manner that it stretches out indefinitely in all directions. In accordance with the extravagant tastes of deities, the artificer has hung a single glittering jewel at the net’s every node, and since the net itself is infinite in dimension, the jewels are infinite in number. There hang the jewels, glittering like stars of the first magnitude, a wonderful sight to behold. If we now arbitrarily select one of these jewels for inspection and look closely at it, we will discover that in its polished surface there are reflected all the other jewels in the net, infinite in number. Not only that, but each of the jewels reflected in this one jewel is also reflecting all the other jewels, so that the process of reflection is infinite. The Hua’yen school [of Buddhism] has been fond of this image, mentioned many times in its literature, because it symbolizes a cosmos in which there is an infinitely repeated interrelationship among all the members of the cosmos. This relationship is said to be one of simultaneous mutual identity and mutual intercausality.
The principle of ‘non-division’ (or everything in everything’) is also inherent in the modern holographic model of the universe – if each part of the universe is enfolded in every other part, then how can we separate one part from another part? The only way that boundaries or partitions can be there in the world is if we play the game of pretending that they are, and then take this game seriously. The boundaries that we are relating to in the outside world are projections of our own minds, in other words. The boundaries that we relate to as being real are projections of the viroid point of view, projections of the viroid frame of reference.
The essence of the viroid impulse (which is the impulse that tricks us into identifying with the viroid FOR and thinking that we are it) is that it has no essence. We are buying into the illusion of substance where there is none. The viroid impulse isn’t ‘nothing’ in the sense that the creative void is nothing, but rather it is a blank nothing, a sterile nothing – the type of nothing that doesn’t ever go anywhere because it was never there in the first place. This is the nothing of a road that pretends to go somewhere when actually it doesn’t – if we could see that the road was a dead end it wouldn’t be giving rise to this type of illusion but because we can’t it does. The endless insatiable self-reproduction of the viral reality is therefore how it stops itself seeing that it is going nowhere – the illusion is extended forever in order that the illusion may preserve itself. This then is the reason virality viralizes – it viralizes because that is its only option. This is the only card it has to play, and so it plays it to the hilt.
We might ask what the difference is between the unimpeded mutual reflection of every node in every other node that is going on in Indra’s net and viral self-copying. It is not immediately apparent how radical this difference is. The difference is that Indra’s net is an ungrounded system whereas viral self-copying (of course) never departs from the same basic unit. Self-copying starts off from a fixed point and it never departs from that fixed point, whilst the mutual reflection of everything in everything has no starting-off point. There’s no beginning to a circle, just as there’s no end. It’s an infinitely recursive web, not a linearity – Indra’s net is a phenomenon based on ungrounded mutual interaction (or interpenetration) where everything influences everything else, but no one thing defines anything else.
Mathematically speaking, the difference is akin to the difference between a linear equation and an ungrounded iteration such the one which gives rise to the Mandelbrot Set. The former might be said to be the least complex mathematical object (which can be exhaustively described in terms of a simple equation such as y = 4x + 2) whilst the latter is the most complex object in mathematics, which cannot be exhaustively described even if the entire life-time of the universe were dedicated many times over to the task…
If we say that the un-collapsed state of affairs is where there are no boundaries, no partitions, then the entropic end-product of collapsing this reality is where we get nothing but an endless sequence of ‘generic boxes’, ‘generic units’, repeated over and over again. This is the ‘simplified situation’. The non-collapsed state of affairs – we could say – is Indra’s net, where every jewel is reflected in every other jewel and the collapsed (or simplified) version of this is where there is only the one node, only the one ‘jewel’. The thing about this collapsed situation therefore is that there is no reflection of everything in everything, but instead there is only a viral duplication of the one isolated unit. There is no reflection of other jewels, there is only itself, echoing outwards. Instead of ‘interrelationship’ all we have self-copying, self-replication, self-extension – this interminable self-copying, this endless self-extension is how the viral system mimics (or analogizes) Indra’s net, in its own fashion. Only this isn’t really mimicking – it is parodying….
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.