The result of the collapsing of the complex universe, or the Universal Set (which is not representable in terms of ‘dimensionality’ or ‘categories’) into finite dimensionality is that a non-polar (or ‘non-dual’) reality is represented in terms of a closed polar system. This doesn’t just mean that reality is crudely oversimplified, it means that information, W, is expressed in terms of a disguised tautology or camouflaged redundancy, since descriptions or statements of fact that are couched in terms of the linear +/- framework only contain information when we forget that the two terms of [+] and [-] are mutually-creating, or ‘mutually conditioning,’ and take them instead to be independent things. In other words, the collapse of reality into the system of thought means that reality (which is the same thing as what we are calling ‘information’) is transformed into no-information-which-appears-to-be-information’, i.e. entropy.
If everything is loaded onto just the one dimension then that dimension represents the whole complex universe. Even if there are more than one dimensions (and we only took one dimension as an example) we are still talking about an ‘abstract surface’ since any situation that can be defined, even if it is constituted by sixteen dimensions rather than one, is still no more than a collection of abstract surfaces – that this should be so ought to be entirely obvious since anything we can define (anything we can locate within a framework or continuum) is bound to suffer from the terminal malaise of redundancy and the only thing that doesn’t suffer from the malaise of redundancy is the discontinuity, which is by ‘negative definition’ not susceptible to being meaningfully related to any logical system. Whenever the discontinuity is missing – as it always is in literal or positive systems of thought or communication – then the type of distortion that we have called inversion is inevitably going to be taking place. One way of talking about this inversion is to say that it involves the substitution of virtual information for genuine information, the replacing of the real by the ‘hyperreal’ and the other way is to say that this process automatically results in unconscious tokenism, which is where the abstract, and therefore sterile, elements of our conceptually mediated experience take on a sort of pseudo-life or pseudo-significance that does not belong to them at all but which is sneakily (or dishonestly) borrowed from the ‘non-abstract Whole’, the reality of which we are unconscious, or unaware. This, obviously enough, is just another way of talking about the transformation of non-information into shiny, alluring (or terrifying) virtual information – which is the only sort of ‘information’ that we deal in whilst under the sway of the system of thought. In other words, the whole point of being in the state of ‘psychological unconsciousness’ is that we never have anything to do with reality, but concern ourselves instead exclusively with a system of tokens which ‘stand for’ something outside of the system which we are determined not let ourselves know about. The way in organizationally closed system operates is by taking it for granted that there is nothing outside itself, an assumption which carries the unstated implication that that it is not closed at all.
From a psychological point of view, what all this means is that the exhaustively defined goal, the unambiguous logical aim or purpose, takes on more significance than it really possesses. It can’t actually possess any significance by itself because its significance is a function of its relatedness and saying that it has been exhaustively defined is the same thing as saying that it is being considered as an independent isolated entity – definition relies as we have said upon a ‘cut-off point’ to our interest, a limit beyond which (and at which) we will not look. Of course, our logically defined goals, along with the methods we use to reach them, and the models of reality which we use to construct both goals and methods, are all interrelated but this ‘rational interrelation’ is the relationship of elements within the same continuum of logic, and so it is a tautological relationship, which is not relationship at all since there is nothing outside of one’s premise, one’s ‘assumed position’, to relate to. Our goals do not look hollow or empty to us however; on the contrary they either glitter with a potent power of attraction, or threaten with us with an equally potent aversive quality. In short, our rational goals (or concepts) represent to us a wholeness that our rationality necessarily excludes, and so when a pursue a goal, no matter how modest, a fever can grip me so that the strength of my desire becomes disproportionate to the gain that I actually stand to make if my goal-orientated activity is successful. [This is equally true for fears as anyone who has ever suffered from a phobia or anxiety knows – a mildly or moderately threatening object or situation can take on a terror-inducing quality far in excess of what on the face of it ought to be the case.]
In chasing a ‘limited goal’ (wealth, for example) I am, unbeknownst to myself, hankering after the ‘unlimited goal’ of psychic wholeness, which Jung called the Self. This becomes particularly clear in addiction, where one chases one’s goals (which will unfailingly turn out to be useless or even worse than useless if obtained) to the point of one’s own destruction. Gambling is a good example of this – what is wrong with my life that I should, day after day, be willing to throw everything away for the sake of some mere monetary prize, a prize that I will undoubtedly gamble away even if I were lucky enough to win it? This is not chasing after a realistic, down-to-earth goal (even though it may look like it to the casual observer) – it is chasing for the sake of chasing, since what we really seek cannot ever be found within the narrow field within which we contain ourselves. What is true for the concepts (or ‘objects’) that I find myself either attracted or averse to is also true for the ‘me’ which orientates itself towards these concepts – my idea of myself is also a production of the abstract surface of the rational mind and so it too will tend to subsume a degree of significance that it does not possess. Thus, the everyday self (as is well known!) tends to become inflated – it can either become inflated positively, which is of course the type of over-valuation that we normally associate with the ego, or it can ‘over-value’ itself in a negative way, which is to say, one finds oneself looking down on oneself, thinking that one is the worst person in the world, etc.
The exhaustively-defined concept, which as David Bohm says is necessarily partial and fragmentary, has a natural propensity to pretend to be what it is not, to claim to represent what it does not. The part pretends to a wholeness it does not possess – it swallows up and claims as its own, so to speak, all the ‘significance’ that has been denied or discarded in the course of oversimplification process that has taken place in order to give rise to itself as a ‘defined unit’. This process can be described most succinctly as a breaking of symmetry – the production of polarity out of non-polarity. Beforehand there was no winning and no losing, no up and no down, no in and no out. This is the situation of the Universal Set before a set is specified – if I don’t define a set, then very obviously there is no question of some elements being included in the set, and the rest being excluded! Similarly, if I don’t ask a closed question about the universe, the sort of question that requires either a YES or NO answer then the ‘answer’ is neither YES or NO. The original situation, therefore, can be said to be ‘symmetrical with regard to any questions that might be asked about it’, i.e. all questions are entirely irrelevant, entirely ‘beside the point’. In order to get an answer to my simplistic line or questioning, I have to simplify the universe – I have to ignore all those aspects which have no bearing on the assumptions inherent in my closed question. What I ignore is actually the ‘bulk’ of the universe since all I am interested in is that abstract surface which corresponds to the abstract surface which is my questioning mind.
The universe that I get left with after the over-simplification process matches or agrees with the YES/NO polarity of my rational mind and there is a very definite orientation built in to this oversimplified world, the orientation of the polar axis with [+] at one end and [-] at the other. Because of the fact that [UP] is now, in the ‘post-information collapse world, is most definitely not the same as [DOWN], this post-collapse world may be said to constitute an asymmetrical situation. From a psychological point of view dissymmetry automatically results in the establishment of a non-ambiguous motivational system and it is easy to see why this should be so – it is simply because winning is not the same as losing. There is a bias built in the system, a clearly defined ‘direction’ to head in – a rule that we simply need to obey. This is precisely the reason games are attractive to us – because they offer us a ready-made framework. Relieved of the existential necessity to face the inscrutable nature of Original Symmetry, and be subject as a result to the sense of existential vertigo that Kierkegaard referred to as ‘dizzying freedom’, we can busy ourselves instead with the straightforward task of ‘operating within the box’. We ignore the wider picture, since it is not friendly towards the prejudices and biases of our little minds, and work away at the task of winning within whatever game we have chosen to play, and thus ‘winning’ – within the terms of our narrow game – unconsciously symbolizes a meaning that we ourselves have turned our back on. Winning at the game has become a surrogate for life, albeit a terribly unsatisfactory one.
The reason this surrogacy is so very unsatisfactory is not merely because it is hugely limited, and because as a result of this we end up living out our lives in the broom cupboard (or perhaps the socks drawer) of the Father’s ‘Mansion of Many Rooms’, so to speak, when there is in reality no reason why we should not allow ourselves to discover the rest of the house as well, but because the surrogate life which is obtained by slavishly obeying certain rules without ever questioning why we should choose to obey them is essentially an inversion of the true or unconditioned state of affairs. The freedom to obey the rule is an inversion of genuine freedom, which is freedom from the rule. ‘Inversion’ means that what seems right and proper within the context of the game is actually perverse when seen from a wider perspective – we sacrifice the real for the ideal, we throw away life in favour of the abstract token that we have arbitrarily chosen to represent it. As James Carse (1986, P 23) says, when we are playing a Finite Game we don’t live our play, but rather we play in order to live –
There is a contradiction here: If the prize for winning finite play is life, then the players are not properly alive. They are competing for life. Life, then, is not play but the outcome of play. Finite players play to live; they do not live their live their playing. Life is therefore deserved, bestowed, possessed, won. It is not lived. “Life itself appears only as a means to life.” (Marx).
If success within the game represents life to us then unless we succeed at the game, we are not actually alive. But even then, at the moment of success, the life we attain to is fundamentally unsatisfactory because it is linked with a very specific set of contingencies – because it is related to a particular abstract ‘point’ in other words. What this means is that as soon as the goal is reached, it is already gone since life itself is change whilst the goal, like all abstract things, is static. Thus we have the situation where, as the Tao-te-chi says, ‘at the moment of victory, defeat is born’. This is the famous ancient Chinese principle regarding the complementary nature (i.e. the identity) of the opposites – to strive for one opposite is to strive for the other since PLUS and MINUS are at root two ways of talking about the same thing. Once you get to the top there is no other way to go but down – at the very moment the sun attains its zenith it has already ceased its upward movement and is now moving towards its setting. It’s all the same movement, not two different movements. When the minute hand of the clock moves towards 12 O’clock it is at the same time moving to 6 O’clock and if movement in a ‘positive’ direction is the same thing as movement in a ‘negative’ direction then this means that the ‘positive’ goal of UP must be the same thing as the ‘negative’ goal of DOWN (which is definitely not the usual way that we tend to think about it). Actually, the only type of movement or change that is possible within the continuum of logic is circular movement or circular change – the only way in which this would not be the case would be if something new were coming into the picture and if something new were coming into the picture that would have to mean that we have moved out of the continuum.
Moving out of the ‘continuum which is the whole world’ is a paradoxical act since, in reality, there never was and never could be such a thing – the abstract surface of the continuum never was the world, it only appears to be the world when we agree to play this game, and then forget that we have done so. Once in this position, however, we are subject to the irreversibility inherent in all information-loss scenarios – every movement we make has to be couched in terms of YES and NO, movement towards the goal and movement away from the goal, and the ‘goal’ is always going to be formulated in terms of my implicit assumptions about reality. Any goal is always going to be a construct of the system of thought. If I try to move towards the goal of ‘escaping from the system’ I am playing by the system’s rules just as much as I am when I pursue any other goal. Saying NO to the system is as much part of the system as saying YES to it is – the attempt to quit the game is a legitimate part of the game, and as such it perpetuates the game rather than ending it.
All directions are the continuum, even though the direction of UP seems to be entirely different to the direction of DOWN. Actually there is nowhere else to go other than that ‘abstract framework’ which is the continuum and so it has to be the case that going UP takes us DOWN just as going DOWN takes us UP. In terms of the way we normally think the assertion that YES equals NO, that [+] equals [-], looks like total nonsense to us. The statement is flatly self-contradictory. But the continuum of logic itself is flatly self-contradictory, along with all the logical (or ‘literal’) statements that might possibly be made within it. The self-contradicting nature of all positive statements is how their inherent redundancy shows itself to us – paradoxicality demonstrates in the plainest, most straightforward way imaginable that the statement in question is meaningless, that it simply ‘doesn’t contain any information’. The reason that we, when maximally adapted to the system of thought, as we almost always are, don’t see this is because the redundancy inherent in the realm of rationality is invisible to us, because it is effectively concealed. This doesn’t mean that it isn’t there, or that it doesn’t manifest itself in terms of self-contradiction (or self-negation), it just means that there is a bit of a ‘time-lag’ built into the system that allows us to build castles in the air, and fondly imagine that we are impregnably secure in them. This ‘time-lag’ – for want of a better word – is produced by separating the opposites, which is, as Jung has said, the quintessential operation of the rational mind. Inasmuch as YES and NO, UP and DOWN, WIN and LOSE can be treated as separate entities, such that we can possess one and exclude the other, then we are secure within the castle walls of our rationality – the only fly in the ointment being that we can’t really treat the opposites as being separate at all since this is frankly absurd. In general, however, we are granted just a little bit of slack in this regard, just enough to enable us to continue living as fully paid-up members of Illusion Unlimited, unexcelled purveyors of fine fantasies, illustrious illusions and high-class hallucinations to the discerning customer.
What all of this comes down to is the well-known idea that you ‘don’t get something for nothing’, i.e. if a guy comes along with a flashy suit and a smile to go with it offering you an amazingly attractive deal, then you know that there is a snag in it. We wish to simplify life because that allows us to escape a particular type of difficulty, in other words, we opt of this business of ‘living in the abstract’ (which is conditional living) because it is easier. However this avoidance comes with a price-tag as does all avoidance, and that price-tag is that there are hidden defects in the product that we have bought, it contains a very serious snag that neatly counterbalances any advantage that we thought we might obtained. The snag has to do with the fact that we are on a leash. The leash is the limitation that arises from the very nature of the logical continuum – the continuum of logic allows us the freedom to move anywhere we want as long as we don’t leave the continuum, it allows us to change in any way we want, just so long as we follow the laws of logic. That is the advantage. The disadvantage is that the spaciousness offered to us by the system is virtual not real – it is tautological space and so really we don’t have the freedom to go anywhere new, we don’t have the freedom to move out of the ‘static frame’ which is the continuum of logic. Within the terms of the system itself, the sky’s the limit and we can do what we want and go where we want. This is pretty much the same thing as the capitalism which lures us on with promise that any one of us can be the ultimate success story if we try hard enough, the only (hidden) problem being that one has to be a ‘success’ within its own crappy terms, which are – in the broader picture of things – utterly banal and meaningless. Although the leash that we are on has no length to it at all and therefore effectively chokes us, it does have virtual length. It does cut us some slack this way, in the form of ‘imaginary leeway’. This can be seen in terms of a time-lag – we have the freedom to head off in a particular direction and do whatever it is that we want to do, but at some point in the future there will come a backlash which will take away what we have apparently been given. Here we can envisage the leash suddenly ‘cutting in’ and pulling us backwards, irrespective of our wishes in the matter.
In reality, both the forward movement of goal-orientated action and the pull on the leash that yanks us back again occur simultaneously. The conflict, the contradiction, the self-negation is instantaneous and there is no time-lag whatsoever. An obvious example of this would be a paradoxical statement, such as the famous ‘liar paradox’, “Everything I say is a lie.” Whilst this is not a statement that generally torments us very much in day-to-day, there are thoughts which we might have going through our heads which are equally self-contradicting, such as “I am a bad person for blaming myself.” In day-to-day life we are not caught up in overtly self-contradictory thinking, but in neurosis we drift more and more in that direction, as our ‘slack’ runs out, the leash gets tighter, and we are trapped in ever decreasing circles. [Classic examples of neurotically self-referential thoughts – thoughts that feed off themselves, and spiral ever-inwards into unremitting neurotic hell – would be “I must not be anxious” and “It is terrible that I am depressed”.]
Within such thoughts (e.g. “Evaluation is wrong.”) there is simply no leeway to get anywhere else, even though ‘where one is’ is completely unacceptable by the terms of the game one is playing. I am ‘getting it wrong’, but because the rule or method I am employing to correct the situation is self-contradictory my desperate attempt to ‘get it right’ just makes things worse. I am going around in very tight circles indeed and there is no spaciousness at all, not even the tiniest teensiest little bit. My attempt to escape the problem creates the problem, and yet all I can do is to keep trying to escape, since ‘where I am’ is so terribly painful, and feels so terribly wrong. We can all understand, with a bit of imagination, how this process works in neurosis but what we can’t see is that all positive statements, all literal thoughts, all purposeful actions are necessary flatly self-contradicting. The reason we are not confronted at every turn with this flat self-contradiction is because, as we have said, there is a certain amount of slack in the system, a certain amount of leeway which allows to go ahead and build castles in the sky.
With regard to the system of thought, which is the same thing as the ‘continuum of logic’, we can see from our discussion in the preceding pages the process whereby this could happen. To start off with we have the singular point which is the original rule and this gets blown up, inflated like a balloon, so that the zero-dimensional point ends up having an actual ‘surface area’. Just as point on the skin of a balloon that is being inflated get further and further apart as a result of the inflation, so too do ‘different positions’ in the continuum of logic end up pragmatically separated by what we might call ‘virtual distance’. What actually enables the inflationary process is the one-sided boundary – it is, as we have been saying, the mechanism of the one-sided bounded which permits the (apparent) existence of such oddities as ‘a plus without a minus’ or a ‘minus without a plus’ and it is upon these remarkable ‘monopolar statements’ that we build the edifice of our positive knowledge upon. All positive statements are monopolar, no matter how apparently or eminently reasonable they might be – this is obviously so since if they were not then at the same time as uttering the statement, the ‘literal description of fact’, I would be uttering the exact antithesis too, and if I was overtly doing this then clearly there would be no ‘net positive statement’ there to make a fuss about! Dissymmetry is a necessary condition for all positive statements, for all ‘definitions’, and yet – without the connivance of this peculiar commodity called entropy (which strictly speaking only ever has a ‘local existence’) there is actually no such thing as ‘dissymmetry’ anywhere to be found. [And if we are to continue being rigorous we would have to note that this statement is itself redundant since ‘anywhere’ implies the existence of a fundamental dissymmetry, which is to say, without a lack of symmetry the idea of there being a ‘here’ and a ‘there’ is quite meaningless.]
When the original point gets blown up like a balloon this inflationary process creates a surface area, albeit a virtual one. This surface area is created by separating the opposites, which is to say by ‘stretching a point’. If we stretch a point what we end up with is of course a straight line and a straight line is all about separating the opposites – a straight line is a system of orientation around two poles, one forward and one back, one PLUS and one MINUS. The whole point of a straight line (if we may be excused for coming out with such an ungainly bit of phraseology) is that it embodies the possibility – and not just the possibility but the measurable, definable possibility – of locating points at different positions, positions that are separated with respect to ‘forward’ and ‘backward’. Using some sort of agreed upon scale, I can then say that the position of point B is four units greater than that of point A, and that the position of point C is two units less, and so on. I have a positive direction and a negative direction and this allows me the possibility both of specifying locations and how to move from one location to the other. All axes, as we know, have a [+] at one end and a [-] at the other and so it can be said to be ‘separating’ these two poles. At first glance this might seem quite straightforward but it isn’t because if we keep chopping the axis into smaller and smaller lengths, we still end up with line segments that have a [+] at one end and a [-] at the other. Continuing this process of chopping smaller and smaller line segments as far as we can go, we can see that we will eventually end up with an infinitesimally short line, which will still have a PLUS pole at the one end and a MINUS pole at the other end. But we have just unwittingly said something ridiculous because an infinitely short line segment doesn’t have ‘ends’ – it doesn’t have any ends because it doesn’t have any length. So in other words, there is nothing separating the [+] pole from the [-] pole. This is of course confusing because if we say that the straight line is composed of an infinite number of infinitesimally short line-segments (as we are quite entitled to say) then what this means is that the line or axis is composed of an infinite number of ‘unseparated’ pluses and minuses. This being the case, how can an infinite number of unseparated pluses and minuses add up – when they all taken together – to a line which effectively separates a big abstract [+] at one end from a big abstract [-] at the other? The whole business starts to take on the look of some sort of scandalous hoax.
The reason it all looks like a hoax is of course because it is – at no time is it ever the case that the opposites are separated. This can never be the case because opposites are fundamentally inseparable, as our analysis clearly shows. And yet, hoax or not, when we draw an X axis with POSITIVE at on end and LOW at the other it is possible to speak of one position on the axis as being ‘negative with respect to the other’ and it is a short step from this (which is a perfectly legitimate relativistic definition in terms of the axis of measurement) to lazily labelling it as the negative position in a way that is absolute rather than relative. What we end up with therefore is one point on the line which embodies one opposite, and another point which embodies the other opposite, and because we are being lazy in our thinking (i.e. we are neglecting to dot all the ‘i’s and cross all the ‘t’s) we implicitly understand the PLUS position and the MINUS position as being separate or independent entities. Strictly speaking, we should have referred to the [+] position as being ‘positive with respect to the [-] position’ but we cut corners and by way of a handy shorthand notation simply called it [+]. This would of course be perfectly fine if we remembered what we were doing as we went and did it but the whole point is that we don’t remember – there is a built-in bias to us not remembering because by not remembering we create for ourselves the boon of ontological security which we are – in our unconscious mode of mental functioning – entirely dependent upon. Thus, by informationally collapsing relativistic terms into absolute terms we provide the conditions that are necessary to for us to build a positively defined universe. In other words, by adopting a system of grid-references and then completely taking that framework for granted – so that we never think about it at all and thus never realize that we are actually using it – we generate a closed virtual reality world in which, as far as we are concerned, the various polar orientations that we use are not relativistic projections of our way of thinking, but are a self-evident property of the universe at large.
It is at this point that most of us would probably object that polarity (which is to say, dimensionality) is a very self-evident property of the universe at large, and that far from being some sort of tautological private fantasy that we project on the world, it is an objective reality which we all share. After all, every time I walk across a room, or reach out for the cup of coffee in front of me, I unequivocally demonstrate, in the most practical way possible, the manifest dimensionality of the universe we live in. Polarity is a prima facie feature of the physical world – in fact we could go so far as to say that polarity (or dissymmetry) is what the physical world is made up of. This objection cannot be denied, and yet at the same time it remains the case that polarity is by its very nature self-cancelling and so, because it always ‘adds up to zero’, any apparent ‘non-zero quality’ it might possess must be some sort trick.
Leaving the material universe for a moment for the mathematical universe, we can show that any self-referential statement must be self-contradictory (i.e. we can show that the positive statement must be counterbalanced by the corresponding negative one). So why isn’t this self-contradiction carried through into physicality? Why isn’t every positive manifestation of existential fact immediately annulled by its antithesis? To think about this, we can start by considering a situation where there definitely isn’t any ‘slack’ at all, a clear example of which is the naked paradox of “Everything I say is a lie.” Here there is, very clearly, this sort of cyclically reversing situation where we move forward with the first step, which is to accept the statement at face value and accordingly deduce that since the statement “Everything I say is a lie” is a lie, everything you say must therefore be true.
This is the positive step forward. But the next step is to realize that if everything you say is true, then this statement must be true, and so that everything you say must be a lie after all… One might imagine a computer plodding around in circles– one step forward and then one step back – until hell freezes over, which indeed is exactly what computers will do when saddled with certain types of problems, but on the other hand one might say that the sequence of step and reverse step is merely a consequence of the computer’s linear, ‘one-track’ way of working out problems. In reality, there is no linear time element to consider – there is simply the naked paradox. We might then tend to try to squeeze both the positive assertive movement and the reversing, falsificatory counter-movement into the one instant of time, which produces in our mind the picture of two instantaneously clashing or opposing forces. Aesthetically speaking, this does seem to be rather unsatisfactory. What we have here is a picture of reality that in which two opposing, implacably antagonistic forces are warring it out constantly, annihilating each other in fury every instant. Can this really be the way reality behaves?
We only get this impression however when we identify with one side over the other, putting our money on one side but not the other, which is not something that nature does. The question is, are + 1 and -1 really at war which each other, or are they – as Alan Watts says – secretly in agreement? Clearly, UP and DOWN are not opposed concepts since neither can exist without the other. UP and DOWN get on perfectly well with each other, just as the crests and troughs of waves on the sea get on perfectly well together. In fact it is missing the point to say that the crests and troughs of waves ‘get on together’ – the two together are what makes up a wave. The crests and troughs are the two parts of a wonderfully harmonious whole; as anyone who looks out at an ocean swell can see very well, there is a hypnotic unity to the endless rising and falling.
But suppose we keep on ‘reducing the time-lag’ until rise and fall are simultaneous? What if we keep on reducing the wavelength (which is to say, the distance between two consecutive peaks or troughs, traditionally written as lambda, λ) until we reach the point where λ = 0, what happens to this marvellously harmonious undulation then? At this point, as any physics student will tell you, what we end up with is a flat line, since the positive and negative phases cancel each other out perfectly. In terms of sound, what we end up with is the situation where everything is perfectly silent. But this is not the stillness of inertia or passivity – it is not a dead or stagnant silence that we are talking about but something entirely different. As the wavelength λ of the vibration tends to zero (or, conversely, as the frequency F tends to infinity) then the energy carried by that vibration increases and increases until it reaches an infinite value. This is why cosmic gamma radiation (λ = <10 -12 M) packs a punch of more than 105 electron Volts whilst a cosmic radio wave (for example where λ = ~104 M) only carries an energy of ~10-10 eV. When λ = 0 then the energy content of the flat, undisturbed surface = ∞.
This energy is however not expressed in a way that is overt, which is to say, it is from our point of view implicit rather than explicit. It is not discernable to us, or tangible to us, or in any way ‘utilizable’ by us, but this lack of tangibility, it may be said, is not indicative of a deficiency on the part of the ‘undisturbed silence’ but rather it is due to the crudeness of our instrumentation which can only register phenomena that match the dimensions of its cog-wheels, so to speak. If the wavelength of the phenomenon under scrutiny matches distance between the individual teeth of the cog-wheels, then we can interact with it (i.e. there is the possibility of energy interchange) but if the phenomenon being investigated is too ‘fine’ for the teeth to engage with, then as far as we are concerned ‘there is nothing there’. Another way to put this is to say that a wavelength of zero, where there are no ‘features’ to be seen, is akin to the situation where no statements are overtly made, but in which all possible statements are inherent. The silence that we are talking about here is not therefore impoverished, or lacking, but rather it is a like a ‘pregnant pause’ – it is like the Gnostic conception of the ‘fruitful womb of Eternity’, the ‘Pleroma’. If a particular statement is made (a particular rule) then this is all very good and it might look like a ‘step forward’, it might look like an act of creation, like as the positive act of creation whereby God created the world in Genesis, but from the Gnostic point of view this was not ‘creation’ at all but arbitrary limitation masquerading as creation since the particular positive statement can only stand as a particular positive statement if it implicitly denies the existence of any competing positive statements.
If I make a rule, in other words, this rule only gets to be a rule because it excludes all other rules; if on the other hand I forebear to make any particular rule, then no rules are excluded. By saying no ‘thing’, all is said. It is the situation where only one thing is said, and where only one thing is allowed to be said, that is the impoverished situation since in no way does the pure, bull-headed forcefulness of the emphasis on the one way of seeing things make up for the completely unmentioned lack of all other points of view – I can shout as loud as I want, invest my statement with as much authority as I like, or get as many other people to believe it as I want, but all of this hoo-hah does no more than draw attention to the essential hollowness of my position. When we see things this way (which admittedly is the complete reverse of what the world sees as being the right way), then it becomes apparent that the glorious, much-trumpeted ‘positive statement’ is, far from being a tremendous and unremittingly marvellous achievement, actually an utter disaster, as is clearly suggested here in the following quotation taken from consultant psychiatrist Arthur Guirdham’s biography, A Foot in Both Worlds (1973) –
…..the great cosmic disaster of the fall of man was echoed in our own birth. I have felt it in dreams as I plunge through the darkness. The light reaches behind me until it is no more than the memory of a single star. The fall of man is re-echoed in physics. Matter is the slowing down of aeons congealed and inert in what we call the inanimate. And even as we descended in the fall and in our birth, so we ascend after what we call death. Without the impediment of flesh we are more sensitive to the magnetic pull of the spirit. It draws us back, through the seven worlds and the seven levels of consciousness, till we are joined not to a personalised God conceived of as a monument to our own littleness, but to a silence which is immense because it is the extension of our own divinity.
Itzhak Bentov, in his celebrated book Stalking the Wild Pendulum, reminds us that our universe is entirely made up of oscillators – there is nothing that is not oscillating, nothing that is not engaging in vibratory motion, whether we are talking about atoms or galaxies. Vibratory or simple harmonic motion can, Bentov explains, be neatly described in terms of only two phases – ‘ACTION’ and ‘REST’. It is not necessary to worry about which way is UP or which pole is POSITIVE because UP and DOWN, PLUS and MINUS are identical. Bentov uses the image of a simple pendulum to illustrate this. When a pendulum is oscillating back and forth it can be seen to be, at any point in time, in only one of two possible states – either the pendulum bob is in motion, or it has reached the furthest extent of its swing and has (momentarily) come to rest. If we look at the behaviour of the pendulum this was we can see that it goes from REST phase to ACTION phase to REST phase and so on in a circular fashion. In one complete oscillation there are two REST phases and two ACTION phases. Something else that we can see is that the REST phase isn’t actually part and parcel of the oscillatory cycle at all, but rather it represents a discontinuity. Whilst the ACTION phase is made up of continuous change within a fixed framework the REST phase involves no gradation, no continuity of change at all, and it doesn’t exist within a framework. Bentov homes in on the essential strangeness of the REST phase by bring Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle into play. We know absolutely that at the point of turnaround the pendulum its velocity is zero – it has to be or else it could never stop its outwards movement and start the return swing.
But Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle indicates the existence of a trade-off – the more we know about the velocity (or the momentum) of a particle at any one time the less we can know about its position. Because we know everything about the pendulum bob’s velocity during REST phase (i.e. we know it is exactly zero) we can therefore know nothing about its position in space at this instant. So at this precise instant, Bentov deduces, the pendulum bob, the oscillator, no longer actually has a position in space. It is not just that our ability to know the location of an oscillator when it is in the REST phase is confounded, Bentov says, but that, at this instant, the oscillator doesn’t have a location. It is free from all restrictions in terms of locality – free from all constraints, in fact. One could of course say that it is not free from the constraint which says that its velocity has to be zero, that we know this one thing about it for sure and certain (this is after all how we framed the argument in the first place) but the curious thing here is that the notion of ‘REST’ has somehow exploded in our faces because in order to be at rest, Bentov argues, the oscillator has to fly off in all directions, at an infinite velocity, so that it equally covers all possible location in the continuum of space at the same time. Needless to say, this radically disagrees with our normal concept of what ‘rest’ and ‘resting’ consists of.
If it were to be the case – just for the sake of the argument – that the pendulum bob were to be equally or non-prejudicially spread out over the entire continuum of space then this undermines the very notion of space (or ‘locality’). The whole point of locality is that things can only be ‘here’ if they are not ‘there’ – the strict operation of the principle of mutual exclusivity is the only reason that statements about locality have any meaning whatsoever. The whole idea of a continuum of space falls down, becomes utterly redundant and absurd, if it is allowed that something can be equally everywhere. If every answer is the ‘right’ answer then our system of evaluation, our system of description, becomes supremely useless, supremely meaningless or useless. If all statements are ‘TRUE’ then the meaning of the word ‘true’ is lost entirely. If all statements are ‘true statements’ then there is simply no point in having statements in the first place!
It is not the continuum of space that relies on the principle of mutually exclusive statements, but any sort of continuum whatsoever. As Aristotle noted, this exclusivity is the basis of logic itself – there are no logical categories without it, there are no rules without it. A rule is a prejudice, that is what rules are all about; if we talk about a situation which is ‘characterized’ by a complete lack of prejudice then what we are talking about is a situation in which there are no ‘rules’. In other words, the continuum equals ‘locality,’ which equals logic, which equals rules, which equals the dissymmetrical situation; when the pendulum bob is ‘uniformly or non-prejudicially dispersed’, when it is ‘everywhere equally’ then it is no longer within the continuum of space, it can no longer be described in terms of logic or locality, there are no longer rules that apply to it – in short, when an oscillator is in REST phase it has returned to what we have called ‘the state of original symmetry’. Even though we might think we have the pendulum pinned down in that we know its velocity to be zero, and we know that it exists at a precise point in time T, actually it is no longer within the space-time continuum at all – it is outside of space and time altogether. The resting state of zero velocity is therefore revealed (if we were quick enough to see what is happening) as being completely other than what we would have expected it to be; according to Bentov the universe, although it appears to be rule-abiding and predictable, is actually quite ‘wild’.
It is of course the case that Heisenberg’s uncertainty relation doesn’t apply to macro-scale oscillators such as pendulums (although you could arguably apply it to one point on the pendulum bob) but it does apply to atomic and subatomic oscillators and the universe is made up of such oscillators. Everything is vibration, fast or slow – fast oscillations as we have said pack a big punch, slow oscillations pack a very weak punch. And as the frequency F approaches infinity, as we have also said, what appeared beforehand to be hectic motion is now revealed to be to be utter peace; the ACTION phase, which is ½ λ, has diminished until its duration is equal to zero, and at so when this happens there is nothing left but the REST phase, which doesn’t diminish as the wavelength diminished since it never had any ‘duration’ in the first place since it is a point and points don’t have any dimensionality. So when λ = 0 and F = ∞ we have no ‘slack’ left – the virtual space of the linear continuity in which PLUS and MINUS, CREST and WAVE were separated and stretched out has been deflated until the illusion of ‘duration’ has disappeared entirely. All that is left is the only thing that was there in the first place, which is the discontinuity, and the discontinuity, as we can see very plainly from its name, has no duration in any dimension at all. It simply doesn’t exist in space and time, or within any framework of understanding or system of reference whatsoever. It is the one thing we never give any consideration to at all – being 100% engrossed as we are with all the proliferating virtual events going on in the logical continuity. The one thing we don’t care about at all – the thing of no consequence to anyone, the worthless thing, ‘the stone that the builders rejected’ – turns out to be the Whole of Everything…