What is it like? It is like an unthinkably vast amoeba, a planet-sized metaphysical protozoan which is at one and the same time both ludicrously simple in its operation and awesomely sophisticated. The modus operandi of this thing is that that it absorbs absolutely everything it comes across, and having co-opted whatever it was into its own greedy self it produces its own synthetic (or ‘tame’) version of what it has just eaten and then replaces the original with the artificial copy.
This old amoeba has been around for a while and it is wise in its tactics. Instead of fighting to eradicate its competitors (and anything that is not it automatically constitutes a competitor to the rudimentary viral logic of the giant metaphysical amoeba) the thing that we are talking about learns all about its enemies, woos them, absorbs them into its self, and then manufactures a copy that – superficially-speaking at least – exactly resembles the original article. Then – and only then – does it dispose of its competitor.
This type of modus operandi does not attract attention to itself. If I were to denounce you, attack you every time I meet you, mount an outspoken campaign against you and so on then my activities would be clearly visible to everyone. If I were to assassinate you, no matter how sneakily I do it, then people would miss you. They would smell a rat because everyone knows what a rat smells like. Everyone has a sixth sense as far as sneakiness and dirty tricks and covert operations go. So what I do – if I recognize you as a serious threat – is to meet you as a friend, welcome you in, pretend to be interested in what you have to say, and then create a copy of you that looks and sounds like you, but which ultimately serves my own interests. Then you can disappear, when the time is right, when everyone is busy ‘celebrating the duplicate’, or ‘courting the counterfeit’, and no one will ever spot the difference.
It is as if I am a thief, but a very subtle sort of a thief. I am ‘the thief of life’. I steal your life away from you. I steal it slowly, by degrees, replacing it with an inferior copy as I go so that you never spot the difference. You end up being robbed blind but never really knowing it. I am the eroder of life: I erode everything of value and because I do it so gradually you never see it happen. It’s invisible erosion, invisible degeneration. It’s entropy.
You have something valuable, something beautiful and precious, and I am profoundly threatened by it. The reason I am so threatened is simple – I don’t have anything that can come anywhere close to matching it. I could never come up with anything even a fraction as good as the treasure that you have (which may be nothing more than a smile, a look in your eyes). My products are all terribly shoddy, terribly third-rate, terribly uninspired. After all, they are all cheap copies, they might look like this or look like that, they might glitter and sparkle, they might have a glamorous air to them, a certain type of kudos, but really they are all just ‘products of the crappy old system’. They all have the same taste once you take the wrapper off, and that is a taste that you very soon get tired of. A taste that very soon sickens once the sweetness wears off. The unwrapping of the product is exciting but that is where the excitement ends…
The system produces many things, many articles, but when it comes down to it everything it produces is really just a disguised form of itself. Everything it produces is really just ‘the system’. That is the whole point of the exercise, after all! That is what ‘viral logic’ always comes down to – self-replication at the expense of anything that isn’t the self. Filling up all the available space so that nothing else can get a look in.
The system (the metaphysical amoeba that we have been talking about) is like a vast ubiquitous corporation – it may employ many tens of thousands of employees, each looking like a separate or distinct individual, but really each employee is merely an arm (or a tentacle) of the metaphysical corporation behind it. Each and every employee, even though they might be ‘flying the flag’ of being an actual living, breathing, walking, talking, honest-to-goodness autonomous individual, is only ever a mouth-piece for the organization that pays their wages. They represent the ‘acceptable face’ of an inhuman or ‘inorganic’ entity. They wouldn’t be paid any wages if this were not the case; they would be out of job straightaway if they stopped serving the corporation’s interests. So the system creates endless false diversity in order to camouflage the dreadful sterile ubiquity of itself. This is its ‘strong-point,’ its trump card, its ‘supreme skill’ – its ‘never-failing’ gimmick.
So the reason I steal the precious thing away from you is because it shows me up. I can’t afford to have anything that is not my own product on view anywhere because that instantly highlights the fact that my own products are appallingly inferior. It brings attention to the fact that my entire catalogue is made up of useless crappy dismally-uninspired third-rate imitations. I cannot produce anything that is not simply myself, and ‘myself’ is just a trick, just a gimmick. It is all presentation and no content. I don’t have anything real, anything worthwhile to offer – that isn’t my strong point at all, it never was.
Quality isn’t my strength, my strength lies in selling, in manufacturing showy images, in ‘dressing up mutton so it looks like lamb’. I don’t do quality, I do quantity, and via the sheer unending volume of my products I manage to successfully distract everyone from seeing that there isn’t any genuine quality to them. I dilute the opposition! My strong point is in creating a certain superficial appearance of value, and the reason I have to have this strong-point is because it is the only card I have to play. My skill, my forte, my strong-point, is deception, and I am a past master at it. Very few people can beat me at my game – perhaps one in a million, perhaps one in ten million, perhaps one in a hundred million.
The tactic of substituting quantity and superficial diversity for actual quality only works when all possible ‘giveaways,’ all possible discrepancies, are removed. All it takes is one little example of a genuine article in a world that is made up of wall-to-wall counterfeits to expose the conspiracy – the ‘conspiracy of the mediocre’. For this reason nothing authentic, nothing possessing true originality, can be tolerated. Genuine originality, genuine individuality, genuine creativity, are all toxic to the system and have to be neutralized and brought under control wherever and whenever they arise.
The Old Amoeba is immensely conservative in its nature – it represses change as a matter of course and the way in which it does this is by generating endless distractions, endless trivial variations on a theme that never changes. It promotes an idea that it calls ‘progress’, which really means ‘getting better and better at playing the same old game’. We are kept so busy at ‘optimizing our performance’ that we never see the foolishness and inanity of what we are actually doing. We never see that we are working hard at doing nothing. We never see that we are racing around in ever-decreasing circles. We never see that we are running fast to get nowhere and in this way superficial mechanical ‘busy-ness’ successfully replaces the infinite profundity of life.
The amoeba operates by transforming ‘novelty into confirmation’. Novelty is the same thing as information – information means that I am hearing something that was not produced by the ubiquitous all-controlling all-determining system, it means something that is genuinely new. Confirmation on the other hand means something that confirms our pre-existing prejudices; it means something that matches the categories that we use for understanding the world. It means something that will not upset the apple-cart, something that does not threaten the immensely conservative (or ‘neophobic’) system which is our way of interpreting reality..
Confirmation is ‘information’ that is useful in terms of allowing us to play the same old game better than before; it is data that relates to my pre-existing way of seeing the world. It seems like information to us, and we are constantly tuning into it as if it were genuine information, but actually it is the complete antithesis of information. It is the false impression of ‘new-ness’. Information can be known as such by its result and its result is genuine change. Information is what changes us and confirmation is what enables us to stay the same.
So now we can say a bit more about this all-consuming information-degrading metaphysical amoeba. We can say that the body of the amoeba is made up of confirmation, which is ‘false information’. We can say that it eats information, or newness, and then transforms that information into something that looks like information but which is really the complete opposite. We can say that it creates within its body a virtual world made up of trivial change, trivial movement, which operates by exerting a powerful type of magnetic influence over our attention, causing it to be wholly caught up in whatever drama, whatever illusion of ‘progress’, is going on. We haven’t the time for anything else – we are too pressurized, too driven, too ‘caught up in the bullshit’. We’re on the wheel and we can’t get off.
We can say that the virtual-reality show that the amoeba puts on for us distracts us from seeing that actually nothing at all is happening, that we are simply going around in pointless circles – doomed to repeat forever the same sterile sequences, doomed to keep on duplicating the same tired old thoughts. Doomed to keep on thinking the stale viral-type thoughts which the amoeba has given us to think. Chewing them over like ancient tasteless chewing-gum.
In times past this metaphysical amoeba was known by many names. It has been known by names such as The Adversary, The Deceiver, Satan the Father of Lies, Shaitan the Whisperer, Ahriman the Dark, Mara the Spinner of Illusions. In these times those names have all but been forgotten. They have passed into obscurity. We no longer have any understanding of who the Adversary is and how he works and as a result we are his helpless playthings. We are his fools, his gimps.
But perhaps new names are needed to help us wake up. We could for example use modern sociological language, in which case we might say that the Adversary is the ‘social system’ that we all adapt to. We could say that it is the ideology, the belief-structures we have internalized. We could say that it’s the group mind that we conform to without knowing we have conformed to anything. Or we might use a more psychological language and say that this all-consuming amoeba – this ubiquitous illusion-spinning conservative system which operates by ceaselessly transforming novelty into conformation – is the ‘conditioned mind’ which we use just about every second of our waking lives, the limiting instrument which we utilize without ever questioning, without ever challenging, without ever looking at.
We could say that what we are talking about is like the society which shapes our lives. We could say that it is like the taken-for-granted everyday mind, which whispers ghostly thoughts in our head.
We could say that the ‘thing’ we are talking about is like the teacher who taught us at school, the newsreader on the six o’clock news, the bestselling book we pick up in the newsagent, the prime minister making a speech in parliament, the DJ on the radio program we are listening to, our boss at work, the post we read on Facebook, the guy in the car in front of ours in the traffic jam, the guy shooting his mouth off in the pub, the friend we meet for coffee on Saturday morning…
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.