The ‘Trick’ of Creation

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Oddly enough perhaps, we can say that the world – or at least the familiar world of definite forms and shapes which is for most of us the only world we know – is only there for us in the way that it very much seems to be because we have made an issue of it. If we hadn’t made it into an issue for us then it simply wouldn’t be there!

 

 

This can be most clearly seen in the case of anxiety – if I am suffering from anxiety then what this means (in the most general of terms) is that I am exclusively interested in or concerned with possible threats or risks to my well-being. My mind – like some kind of a super-computer gone into terminal overdrive – scans ‘possibility-space’ and highlights all those possibilities that stand out as having particular relevance to my anxious (or risk-noticing’) frame of mind. There are of course any number of other possibilities I could contemplate but because they are gloriously irrelevant to the particular angle I am caught up in they simply do not exist for me. The only details that do exist for me are details that have a bearing on my compulsion to avoid the risk of the ‘bad thing happening’. That the bad thing might happen is what constitutes ‘the issue’ and the whole thing about issues is that they are composed of a right way for things to go, and a wrong way. We are ‘hung up’ on this as much as we are because it matters very much indeed for us that things go the one way and not the other!

 

 

Issues always involve this sort of basic partiality (or inequality) and because of this ‘one way not being the same as the other way’ we end up constantly struggling to make sure things happen the right way and not the wrong way. Even if we can’t do anything about it we still struggle away – our struggling consists of our mental resistance to the one outcome and the mental affinity to the other. So even if ‘the bad thing’ has happened we struggle against it by saying or thinking that it should not have happened, that it is not ok for it to have happened, that it is terrible, and so on. Whilst the business of getting caught up in issues seems messy and confused – especially when it is actually happening to us – it directly corresponds to the beautifully clear and precise business whereby a bounded and defined set is pulled out of the unbounded and undefined Universal Set. This is not to say that it is only the anxious mind that operates in exact accordance with classic set theory – everything that the rational-conceptual mind does comes down to set theory. If wecan  understand Set Theory then at the same time that we grasp this we can also grasp the workings of the everyday mind!

 

UNDERSTANDING THE EVERYDAY MIND

 

The everyday mind might be said to be based on the comparison of the unknown with the known. Back in the early days of the metric system all measurements were tied in with some sort of actually existent physical standard. So distance, measured in metric or S.I. units, was based on a particular platinum bar kept under the most rigorously controlled environment, under strict lock and key, somewhere in France, the home of the Systeme Internationale. Obviously, the length of this platinum bar could have been anything – the important thing is not (as one might naively think) what the actual length of the platinum bar was, but that once a particular length was hit upon absolute fidelity should be maintained with regard to that previously arbitrary length. Here again, therefore, we have the principle of ‘issue formation’ at work. Beforehand any length would have done to found a system upon, but once a particular length has been chosen then there is nothing ‘arbitrary’ at all about that length. Beforehand there was freedom to choose any length; afterwards it is vitally important for the whole endeavour that there must be no freedom of choice whatsoever. If there was any freedom of choice at all the whole thing becomes quite meaningless – everything will fall apart in this case since different people can assume different standards and so the common framework, which was the whole point of the system, will be lost. Beforehand we had the transparent situation of ‘all lengths are equally good’ which is the symmetrical situation, and afterwards we have the opaque, asymmetrical situation of ‘only one length is right and all others are wrong’. Later on this physical basis for the measurement of distance was abandoned in favour of the wavelength of the electromagnetic radiation emitted when the electron of a particular element falls from one energy state to the one immediately below. This standard has the advantage of not needing to be kept safe under controlled conditions, being one of nature’s own constants, but the principle remains the same since any naturally occurring constant could have initially been chosen.

 

 

There exists a direct parallel in what we have just been talking about to the operation of the rational mind. Before the rational mind can function as a self-consistent system a standard must be chosen. In purely abstract terms, what this comes down to is ‘selecting a rule’. It might seem hard to understand what exactly this means but all that we are talking about is increasing the amount of entropy in the system so that one way of looking at the world is brought in sharp relief as ‘the way,’ and all other ways become invisible. The entropy debt incurred at this point can be thought of in terms of an assumption that is made and then instantly forgotten about. So what I am really doing is that I am ‘running a toy universe’, under strictly defined conditions. The moment of information collapse occurs when I say “Let me suppose that this is the way that the universe is run…” Beforehand the universe was undoubtedly running, but in a way that is completely incomprehensible to me, since the possibilities inherent in it are unspecified and therefore unbounded. When I actually say what the rules are that the universe runs on then straightaway I have a positively defined situation – if there is something that I haven’t defined or specified about the set-up then it doesn’t exist. I make the rules and if I didn’t make a rule then that rule can’t be there. This sort of positively defined universe is in completely contrast to the ‘negatively defined’ universe which has nothing to do with me at all. I am an utter irrelevance to the negative (or revealed) universe, whereas I am essential, as a creator is essential, to the positive universe.

 

 

It can be seen from this that the act of creation involves screening out the vast unknown, and only allowing what I say is allowed. Because stuff only gets to exist if it accords with my rules, with what I say can exist, this results in a fantastically over-simplified or diminished universe. No matter how great a creator I might be, I can only get what I am capable of defining in principle – I can get that an not a smidgeon more – and so inasmuch as the defined is always the limited (and this is a very big always, since definition cannot exist without limitation) I am always trapped in an infinitesimal portion of the whole. Although ‘being the boss’, being the ‘one who says what goes’, sounds great it isn’t.  I can never be surprised, I can never see beyond my own assumptions, I can never find out that the universe is a bigger place than I thought it was because I am making my own understanding the critical, all-important factor –

 

On the face of it ‘the power of deliberate creation’ sounds like a marvellous freedom but it is in fact a total, stupendous, implacable absence of freedom and the reason we don’t see this to be so is because of the necessarily inverted viewpoint of the self.

 

THE ‘TOP-DOWN’ APPROACH

 

It is worth persevering with this point because it is such an extraordinary ‘eye-opener’ when it comes clear. Normally, we look at the world from what is sometimes called a ‘bottom-up’ fashion. In other words, we take it very much as read that if there is going to be something then that something has to be laboured for and produced – without someone or something creating it, it won’t be there. The production of a something is very much seen as an improvement upon the situation that prevailed beforehand, which was when there was the absence of that something. In the bottom-up paradigm we start off with nothing, which is seen as being the ultimately sterile or useless situation, and we progress painstakingly to the more worthwhile situation of producing something that is ‘more’ than nothing. Zilch, nothing, nada – the lack of substance or reality – is the default setting of the universe and in the absence of a potent creative agent this uninspiring state of affairs is how things stay. The classic example of bottom-up-ism is of course the creation story in Genesis – “In the beginning there was nothing…

 

GOD AS SUPERHERO

 

This wholeheartedly positivist way of looking at things hardly needs any explaining because it is the way we all see things anyway! It does not need promoting any more than we would need to promote the theory of the free market to the Chief Executive of ICI. The top-down approach, on the other hand, needs a hell of a lot of explaining. To explain the top-down approach is harder work than explaining Boolean algebra to someone who doesn’t like maths – at least such a person is likely to agree in principle that there is such a thing, and that it might have some sort of use to someone or other. The thing about the top-down paradigm however is that we are fundamentally opposed to the very principle of it – if you pick someone at random and try to explain the idea the chances are that the person you have chosen will dismiss the top-down approach out of hand the second they start to get a whiff of what you’re on about. And yet, from the point of view of set theory, the top-down is intuitively obvious. In set theory the starting off point is not nothing but unreservedly, all-inclusively everything. ‘Everything’ is the default situation here and any sort of interference or manipulation or intervention without exception inevitably results in a lessening, an impoverishment of this original situation. This is interesting because we can see straight away that this gives us a radically less flattering picture of the agent – the one who initiates the change from the original situation. In the bottom-up paradigm the agent of change is the most heroic figure possible – He is in fact God Almighty, and you don’t get much more heroic than that! God Almighty – in the type of crudely positivistic Christianity that we are familiar with – is a kind of a Super-Superhero – like Superman taken up half a dozen levels or so. It’s the same principle only magnified – our attitude towards Superman when he saves the city from a super-villain is like our attitude to positivistic figure of God for creating Everything, only more so! One couldn’t possibly praise the positive Creator Deity enough since what He has done (and this sort of positive creationism is invariably masculine in tone) is so fantastically, unprecedentedly marvellous. Needless to say, the degree of respect we feel goes right off the scale…

 

WHEN ‘NOTHING’ IS ‘EVERYTHING’

 

From the perspective of the top-down approach however the omnipotent agent of change comes across rather differently. In this case the Creator Deity of the Old Testament is not the author of marvels but – in the Gnostic fashion – we see him as the author of the Great Lie. Rather than creating something that is real and good, he has tricked everyone by replacing the original perfect state with some sort of ridiculously scurrilous sham which we – because of our backwards or inverted way of looking at things – perversely view as the most marvellous of accomplishments. This way of radically reappraising the creative agent in the Old Testament might seem rather outrageous but it is of course the basis of the Gnostic counterpoint to orthodox Christianity, a heretical view which has, unsurprisingly, been relentlessly persecuted by the established church down through the centuries. One might be forgiven for supposing that if the Church had put as much initiative and drive into delivering humanity from its ancient afflictions of ignorance and malice as they did into persecuting and exterminating the Gnostics, we would all now be living in an age of unexcelled enlightenment – instead of going to hell in a handcart, which is probably the fairest way to characterise our present dystopian situation!

 

 

Coming back to the less contentious realm of set theory, we can see very easily that any sort of deliberate change that might be initiated is going to be a reduction rather than a positive production. The starting-off point in set theory is not sterile and unproductive as is our conception of nothing in the sense of ‘zilch, nothing, nada…’ but the exact reverse of sterile – it is endlessly, incomprehensibly fertile. This nothing is the original ‘cornucopia’ – it is an astonishing outpouring of riches, as if from a magical vessel, a vessel without any bottom. From the point of view of our normal, gross categorical perception of things the richness of the original outpouring is invisible and therefore incomprehensible to us, since we can accept as real only that which we can categorize, and the infinite richness of perfect symmetry is forever removed from all possible categorizations and rationalizations. From the standpoint of exclusive, either-or logic we cannot help but reiterate the logical dictum that “if everything is true then nothing is true” since if a statement (or a thought) is not based on polarities and distinctions it is held to be meaningless. For me to be tall there must be such a thing as short, for some people to be accounted good, others must be bad. But this apparent good sense leads us straight into trouble because when we are dealing with the whole of anything there can clearly be no talk of making distinctions. If I talk about the Universally Inclusive Set of All Possible Elements (bar none whatsoever) it does not help me in the attempt to grasp what I am trying to talk about by contrasting this whole with some imagined polar opposite. This is obviously pure nonsense – there is no polar opposite to the Universal Set. But if this is so (which it indisputably is) then by our logic we have to say that this ‘Everything’ is in fact unreal, that it doesn’t exist, that it is empty just like an ordinary, non-magical, finite vessel is empty when no one has put anything in it. But to say this would be to say something so stupid that one wonders how anyone could get put themselves in the position of having to say it, and yet this is precisely the position we find ourselves in when adhering to the good old, tried-and-trusted, common-sense bottom-up perspective. The bottom-up perspective says that infinity equals nothing, nothing in the sense of ‘the absence of everything’. It also says that nothing (the flat, boring nothing of its own inherent impoverishment that is) equals something, and not only just ‘something’, but actually that it equals everything.

 

POSITIVE CREATION REQUIRES ENTROPY

 

When we call a set of logically related elements into being what we are doing is throwing the elements of the set into sharp relief by pushing everything else into the background. We start off with unlimited everything but in order to see what the toy universe pertaining to that set looks like we have to play a game, the game of “What would the universe look like if these were the only elements in it?” An alternative way of saying this is to say “How would the universe proceed if it obeyed only these rules?” In order to find out the answer to this question we have to enter into the spirit of the thing whole-heartedly, which is to say, we have to put ourselves right into that over-simplified universe without knowing that it is an oversimplified (i.e. falsely analogous) universe. In order to play any particular game, therefore, we must of necessity call into being a massive amount of entropy. The size of the entropy content involved is going to be massive because a game by definition involves a known or specifically-defined set of rules, and the Universal Rule-Set from which we abstracted these rules is always going to be inconceivably greater than the rules that have been abstracted. This is question of mere finite proportionality, whether we talk in terms of a ratio of 1 to 10 billion or 1 to 10 to the power of 10 billion. If there was a finite proportionality going on, by which we could say how much huger the Universal Set was than the defined set, then the Universal Set could be logically defined in terms of the defined set, and that would mean that the Universal Set itself would be a defined set – which would mean that it could not be Universal! The idea of a Universal Set that can be defined (in other words, bounded) is obviously nonsense since if the Whole of Everything is bounded or limited then there must be something outside of it, and of there is something outside of it then it cannot be the Whole of Everything after all. What this means is that the amount of information that has to be lost in order for the finite set to be seen in its own terms (which is to say, in absolute terms rather than relative terms) is too big for us to understand. The entropy involved here is therefore incomprehensibly vast – our ignorance is too colossal for us ever to conceive of.

 

From this it is clear that although the act of the mathematical fiat which gives rise to a toy universe looks on the face of it like an impressively positive act of creation, in actuality we are not creating anything at all – we are merely turning a blind eye to everything else apart from the set of elements that the fiat has specified. This is an act of ignorance not omniscience. The fiat is a mere conjuring trick, something to take in the simple-minded and the credulous –

 

It is not that something has been called into existence that didn’t exist before, but rather that everything else apart from this ‘something’ (which isn’t really a something at all) is ignored, and this formidable act of ignoring then has the effect of calling into being a shadow or phantom which looks to us like an actual entity in its own right.

 

THE BAD MASTER

 

A nice down-to-earth way to look at this business of producing definite statements (which is what sets are) out of the uncertainty which precedes them is to think in terms of making assumptions. If I don’t make any assumptions then I don’t have any absolute ground, any fixed platform, and so no definite statements are possible. If I go right ahead and make a really big assumption, and then straightaway forget that I have made this whopping great assumption, then lo and behold a whole self-consistent (i.e. internally coherent) positive universe springs into existence, as if by magic. This is of course what we have been going on about for the past few pages, only expressed in different words. The ingredient needed to create the positive universe isn’t something positive at all – nothing extra is added to the mix – all that is needed to produce a definite statement is a good dose of forgetting. This is what Stuart Kauffman meant when he said that “All knowing requires ignorance”. What I am doing when I make a big assumption and then forget that I have made the assumption, and then go ahead and look at the world on the basis of this forgotten assumption, is that I have incurred an entropy debt. It is the entropy debt that allows all definite statements to be definite – without entropy there is no ‘logical certainty’ anywhere, anyhow, anyway. This is really a redundant statement – we might as well say that in the state of Original Symmetry there are no disymmetries – well, obviously there aren’t or the symmetry of the Original Symmetry wouldn’t be symmetrical.

 

 

Making a whopping great assumption and instantly forgetting that you have done so is entropy in a nutshell. This is what entropy is all about. Whenever anyone drastically oversimplifies the world and then comes out with a whole load of annoyingly dogmatic and offensively stupid opinions about this that and the other, then entropy is what lies behind it. Entropy gets it done. On an abstract or mathematical level, we can say that ‘every statement depends upon entropy to be a statement’, or that ‘every rule depends upon entropy to be a rule’. Take away the entropy (which is a curious idea since entropy isn’t a real thing anyway) and everything goes straight back to the way it was beforehand. If we say that logical statements or rules are the creases or wrinkles in cotton sheet that has been allowed to become all rumpled up, then the paradoxical act of ‘taking away the entropy’ is like what happens when we pull the sheet flat again, thus removing all the wrinkles (i.e. the disymmetries) as if they never were there. On a more everyday human level, we can say that all of our beliefs and opinions about the world depend upon entropy in order that they should seem real to us. When I become very confident, very sure in myself, very clear in what life is all about and therefore very willing to ride roughshod over any viewpoints that might happen to stand in opposition to mine, then this ‘boon’ is due to entropy and nothing else. My sense of ontological security has been bought at the price of ignorance the existence of which I am guaranteed to remain blissfully ignorant. Given that this reassuring, self-validating sense of ontological security is what – in the unconscious mode – we crave and need above all else, entropy is more than just our very good friend and helper, entropy is the Big Boss. Entropy runs the show – entropy is the puppet master. In a manner of speaking it might be said that we spend our lives grovelling abjectly at his feet, begging for scraps from the illusory banquet on his dining table. Entropy is in fact our God, although given the fact that it is this self-promoting, self-protecting, self-validating ignorance that is responsible for all the insensitivity, intolerance, violence, cruelty, judgementalism and general ‘bad-mindedness’ in the world it would be more accurate to equate the dark force of entropy with the other fellow, who is of course known in traditional Christian theology as Satan, the Father of All Lies, in the ancient Zoroastrian pantheon as Ahriman, the Evil One, and in Buddhist cosmology as the Arch Demon Mara, Lord of Illusions.

 

SNAKES AND LADDERS

 

In studying this whole business of issues and issue-creation, inverted creationism, madly multiplying shoals of red-herrings and shadows and phantoms that appear real, and so on, it becomes clearer and clearer that what we are really looking at is the entropic process. ‘Entropy’ is of course just another word and one that would furthermore generally be regarded as particularly abstract in its connotations. What it means in essence however is straightforward enough – entropy is the naturally occurring process whereby complexity, in all its incomprehensible, indescribable, ineffable glory, gets sadly degraded into regular, repetitive patterns. We could also say that it is the process where the wonderfully unprecedented event gets turned into an everyday boring old routine, or where a unique phenomenon gets transformed into a predictable, standardized, infinitely tedious mass-produced object. A deeply poignant personal story gets processed into a few rows of figures in table of dry statistical data appearing in the appendix to some nondescript article in The Journal of Social Psychology. From this last definition it is apparent that what we are calling the ‘entropic process’ is actually identical with the process whereby we render the universe intelligible or knowable to us; in other minds, the rational-conceptual mind is itself a function of entropy. This is something that doesn’t get mentioned in psychology textbooks, which demonstrates that what we find in such books is not information but just more entropy – ‘more of the same’, in other words, only dressed up to appear as if it is something special.

 

 

The relationship between the original state of symmetry and the innumerable bland swarms of ‘degenerate analogues’ that proliferate so wildly on every side is the same as the relationship between the unprecedented event and the tired old routine, or the relationship between the unique individual and the bland stereotype, and so on. The genuine article gets entropized, it goes down the greedily gaping gullet of some voracious entropic anaconda in the Cosmic Game of Snakes and Ladders, and as a result it ends up as a hideously diminished and enfeebled caricature of how it started off. This is what happens to mighty King Poseidon after he hands himself over to the Sea Witch in Disney’s The Little Mermaid. The arrow of entropy only goes one way and that way is down – it is strictly irreversible. ‘Irreversible’ means – as anyone who has studied thermodynamics knows very well – that

 

A steaming hot cup of tea will inevitably tend towards equalizing its irregular or unprecedented heat content with the rest of the universe and end up as a result vibrating away on an utterly predictable equilibrium level of thermal molecular agitation, but a stone cold cup of tea will never ‘suck heat out of its environment’ and become hot again, no matter how many trillions of eons you patiently sit around waiting for it to do so…

 

IRREVERSIBILITY LEADS TO FALSE ANALOGIES

 

The tendency for a dynamic, individualistic pattern of activity which miraculously manage to exist in an unpredictable sort of a way in what is sometimes called a ‘non-equilibrium state’ to gradually lose (or forget) whatever it is that makes it different from everything else and thus irreversibly approach the ubiquitous equilibrium level is the same tendency that causes the Original Article to infinitely downgrade into an endlessly proliferating swarm of pestilential ‘lower analogues’. The reason lower (i.e. degenerate) analogues are ‘false representations of the truth’ is because they are produced by the process of entropy. In other words, they have been produced via a process of recklessly and irreversibly discarding information. The further down the slippery slope of entropic information-reduction we go the further away from the dynamic truth we get, the more literal or self-referential our descriptions get and the less able we become to see that what we are now dealing with is a collection of sterile, static cinders rather than the brightly burning flame of reality. There is no way to retrace our steps because our steps have been erased – we cannot look back at where we came from. There is no way to move back from the flat, useless, terminally-downgraded ‘literal statements’ of the rational mind to living symbols of consciousness which gave rise to them. Put simply, we cannot understand the original masterpiece by studying the crude parody. This is a tremendous, unbearable loss but it is also a loss that we largely unable to feel – at least not directly. Sometimes however, it is undoubtedly true that we do feel the pangs of this unthinkable, incomprehensible loss and at such times we dimly sense that we have forgotten something so tremendous and so important that our petty routine-obsessed minds can’t even come close to grasping it. The dim remembrance of some dim, distant, catastrophic loss is spoken of here in mythological terms by Joyce Collin-Smith (1988, p 211), in a poignant passage taken from her autobiography Call No Man Master:

 

 

He wrote of his boyhood, of precognitive dreams when he was a teenager, and added that he had always had a private mythology: “That we are most of us participants in something which is a cross between a great adventure and a grand primeval tragedy. My myth puts itself in science-fictional terms – the crew of a splendid space ship which crash landed on an alien planet. Immediately they were enslaved by the local inhabitants and have now forgotten who they were or whence they came. But occasionally something jogs their memories and they remember the times when they flew through the galaxy on high adventures, or something plucks their heart-strings and they recognize, only for a moment, their trapped comrades. Coupled with this is an indescribable happy-sad feeling. Something is calling. And in their hearts is an aching memory of home. And permeating everything is the impression of infinitely long periods of time. The tragedy is infinitely far distant, the adventure infinitely long. And we are ageless, simply ageless.”

 

 

I replied that I had a similar mythology as a child. Being before the time of spaceships it concerned being ship-wrecked on an island and enslaved. One was always creeping down to the shore to scan the horizon for a sail. But soon the local inhabitants came and dragged one back to work for them.

 

 

Of course when someone comes up to you and demands to know – in strict, down-to-earth commonsensical terms – just what the hell you are going on about and what exactly all this quasi-mythological airy-fairy bullshit actually means in the real world then you will find that the elusive but intensely poignant sense of it all slips away very quickly, just like a beautiful but strange dream evaporates in the harsh light of day. In all probability you will be left feeling something of a fool and thus, despite the fact that this strange feeling represents the most vitally important message you could ever hope to receive, the information will be discarded in favour a more brutish reality – the reality of our collective denial, the prison house of the rational mind. Rationality – by which we mean the actual way in which we perceive and understand and think about reality – has the brute force that it does have because it claims to represent the whole of everything. It implicitly claims to speak on behalf of the universe, of life, of nature herself, just as the established church has explicitly claimed down through the centuries of its existence to speak on behalf of the Creator God. The church’s unassailable power and authority was (and to a lesser extent is) of course the direct result of this claim having been successfully made. The very notion of challenging the establishment, the exclusive mouthpiece of God’s Holy Law, shrinks shamefacedly to nothing in the face of such a coup. The Great Lie perpetrated by the established Christian church might seem like an unsurpassed masterpiece of conmanship, but this grand millennia-spanning feat of bare-faced outrageous fraudulency dwindles into complete insignificance before the feat pulled off by the every-day, common-or-garden rational mind. Whilst it was always possible for certain individuals and groups of individuals to see the church for the grotesquely ignorant tyranny that it was – as evidenced by numerous heretical movements that the church was compelled to stamp out over the past two thousand years – one comes across very few heretics indeed with regard to the grotesquely brutal and ignorant doctrine of the system of thought. There have been a few, but for the vast majority of us the idea of rebelling against our own mind, our own understanding of things, is an idea that never even comes close to coming into existence in the first place. We will challenge and rebel against any other fraudulent authority, but never this – the Grand-Daddy of them all.

 

 

The system of thought – like any internally consistent logical system – is the result of the entropic process and because it is ‘produced by entropy’ it is a degenerate analogue of its original source. This means that when we orientate ourselves solely on the basis of rational thought we relate to a gross misrepresentation of reality as if it were the most marvellous thing ever. Our post-collapse situation in one of being in thrall to a fraudulent authority – an authority which (like an alcoholic father) promises us everything time and time, again but unfailingly delivers us nothing. The irreversibility of the process whereby the sublime soaring freedom of the Symmetrical State is replaced with the tight, mean, circular little knot which is the ‘issue-obsessed’ rational mind means that we cannot see how badly we have been short-changed. We no longer have the capacity to see that what we are stuck with is a very sorry excuse for the real thing, a grotesque inversion of the real thing. Our situation is like that of the amnesiac crew members of the crashed space-ship in the story mentioned by Joyce Collin-Smith, the intergalactic travellers who have forgotten the glory of their previous station and spend their time doing the uninspired bidding of us dull-witted, crude and unimaginative earth-bound barbarians.

 

LITERALISM AS A FALSE ANALOGUE OF CONSCIOUSNESS

 

Another way to look at the way in which what we have called ‘mental entropy’ functions is to say that it works by degrading the subtle intimations of metaphorical thinking into the crude ‘in your face’ assertions of literal thinking. It could be said that metaphorical thinking is the highest flight of which our everyday, earth-bound consciousness is capable. Metaphorical thinking is thinking which is – to some extent – free from itself, free from its own built-in limitations. It is free to move beyond the dire pull of its own gravitational field – the field which is automatically created by information-collapsing self-referentiality of the closed system. Because of this freedom to move beyond the interminable tautological sameness which is the continuum of thought metaphorical thinking can approach the ‘absolute other’ – which can defined negatively simply by saying that it is not continuous with the system of thought. The system of thought points only one way (which is of course to itself, albeit in disguised form) and so as long as we follow it we will miss everything that is discontinuous to it. The automatic impression that we receive as habitual dwellers within the realm of rational thought is that there simply isn’t any such thing as ‘a reality that is discontinuous to our thinking,’ that such  idea that such a reality could also prove to be infinitely greater than the ‘postage stamp-sized’ remit of rationality certainly never occurs to us.

 

 

The lowest and most trapped form of consciousness, on the other hand, might be said to be literalism – which is where we always look at where our rational thinking is pointing, and never look anywhere else. Literal thinking is therefore thinking that is hopelessly ‘stuck to itself’; it adheres like the most determined of limpets to the surface of its own provisional assumptions and so it is guaranteed never to approach – even to the slightest degree – anything not continuous (i.e. anything inconsistent) with itself. Literal thinking inevitably follows the gravitational ‘field-lines’ of the system of logic which has been produced by the entropic process. This process can be seen as a sort of tidal effect, a grand ‘ebbing’ whereby the ocean recedes into the distant horizon, leaving behind innumerable isolated pools of water, each of which is ‘a universe unto itself’. Each tidal pool takes itself to be the Entirety of Everything – it cannot see itself as being just a tiny nondescript pool, an infinitesimal remnant of the inconceivably mighty ocean, for the simple reason that it has nothing else to go on other than itself. Because it is limited to knowing itself and nothing outside its own hermetically sealed micro-universe, it naturally takes itself to be the actual ocean itself, and the colossal absurdity of its presumption in this matter is something that it has no means of appreciating. Jumping from the tidal metaphor to the possibly less poetical realm of set theory, we can say that when a rule is set above all other rules, so that any elements within the Universal Set that it does not specifically agree with are irreversibly discarded, the rule that has been chosen to rule has no way of knowing about anything other than itself, and so it takes itself – quite understandably – to be the Entirety of Everything. What is produced by this process of self-agreement is a ‘sealed-off micro-universe’ in which all the field-lines of logic curve smoothly and very logically back around on themselves and meet up back where they started (only of course they never did start anywhere really because a circle has no beginning). To say that literal thinking never deviates from the path laid out so neatly by the field-lines of the self-agreeing, internally-consistent logical system is not stating the matter plainly enough –

 

Literal thinking is the same thing as the field of the self-agreeing, internally-consistent logical system, and so of course it can never deviate, or go anywhere else.

 

THE OCEAN OF INFORMATION

 

The ‘metaphorical ocean’ may be said (in a manner of speaking) to be characterized by its discontinuity – it doesn’t agree with itself, in other words. This is just another way of saying that the Great Ocean from which all tidal pools are derived from is information – it is a state of ‘constantly unfolding newness’. One way to envisage this Information Ocean is to picture it as an infinite amount of logical field-lines packed infinitely close together, side-by-side like meteorological contour-lines (better known as isobars) would be if they were denoting an astonishingly dramatic pressure gradient. Because the W-contour lines are packed together without space between them even the slightest bit of movement will, as long as it proceeds at right-angles to the direction of the lines, will cut across an infinite number of them. Each W-contour, rather than linking a region of equal barometric pressure as an isobar would, is in fact a sort of ‘field line of logic’ which links logical statements that can be related to each other in a linear fashion. Instead of talking about regions of the atmosphere that are isometric with regard to pressure therefore, we are referring to regions of the Ocean of Information that that ‘logically agree’ with each other. Expressed more carefully, the W-contour lines link elements of the Information Ocean that belong to the same logical set, they link elements that are ‘isometric’ (so to speak) with regard to specific underlying mathematical rules. Clearly, then, any sort of movement that cuts across the lines instead of going along with them will be a movement into ‘discontinuity with regard to rules’. More colloquially, movement across the W-contour lines will represent a journey into never-ending ‘newness’.

 

THE ‘INFORMATION CONTOUR-LINE’ MODEL

 

This might sound like a bit of an awkward model to work with but there is a lot of mileage in it. The idea that Reality itself – the Mother of All Things – can be expressed simply as an infinite number of information contour-lines bunched infinitely close together appears at first glance rather odd and not entirely elegant. Instead of abstruse philosophical treatises or fine verses, all we are offering is a model that says reality is like a lot of lines squashed together side by side! On the other hand this crude contour-model relates linear and non-linear change intimately to each other in a nicely visual manner, and this in turn means that it also relates the world as it is represented to us by the ubiquitous system of thought with the elusive ‘deeper level of things’ that we can’t help suspecting to be there somewhere underneath all the logical categories. It is possible to refine the topology of the information contour-line model further if we consider that all the lines must of necessity eventually loop back up onto themselves. W-contour lines have to be closed just as all defined instructions or rules have to be closed – defined means closed.

 

 

So rather than envisaging the contour lines as branching out all over the place like an infinitely untidy mass of spaghetti we can picture it as being made up of loops. The image that immediately presents itself here is that of planet Earth as it is pictured in terms of its magnetic field. In such a representation, magnetic field lines are shown as densely clustering at the North pole, shooting out profusely into space, spreading out as they do so, and then re-clustering again before re-entering the planet at the magnetic South Pole. At the core of the Earth these magnetic field lines are ‘squeezed in,’ as it were, and arrange themselves very tightly in a parallel fashion in-between the two magnetic poles of North and South. In order to adapt this visual representation so that we can use it for our information-based model all we have to do is to say that the field lines link all those points (or locations) in an abstract ‘rule space’ that are linearly connected with each other. ‘Rule space’ – in this context – is simply another way of talking about ‘The Universal Set of All Possible Logical Statements’. As a final adjustment, instead of having magnetic North and South poles at the ‘top’ and bottom of the tightly bunched core of field lines we have the two poles of logic which are [YES] and [NO].  Each pole gives the logical statements (or rules) they refer to either an affirming or denying slant. Any given logical statement has to have either a [+] slant or a  [-] slant since without one or the other it is not saying anything definite, and a statement that does not say something definite is not a statement at all! No slant means no rule, since a rule that is not prejudiced (i.e. one-sided) is, by definition, simply not a rule. Affirmation and denial, PLUS and MINUS, are also of course the two complementary faces of any rule, since rules by their affirming deny, and by their denying affirm.

 

FORM AS AN OVERSIMPLIFICATION OF THE FORMLESS

 

The visual is always a cartoon, an oversimplification, of the invisible. Form is always a cartoon, an oversimplification, of the formlessness from which it was abstracted. ‘Form’ essentially means that there are ‘defined structural relationships’ involved. Another way of putting this is to say the following –

 

Form essentially involves ratios, i.e. ‘specifically defined quantitative relationships’.

 

For there to be specifically defined quantitative relationships there has to be an overall self-consistent framework and so whilst we can say with complete assurance that form is all about ratios,  on a deeper level it must be the case that form is all about self-consistent logical frameworks. If the measuring stick is not absolutely standard, right across the board, then there can be no ratios. This is another way of saying that this essential mental operation of ‘comparison of differences’ can only take place when the things being compared are essentially the same, which seems more than just a little bit ridiculous when one gets to thinking about it. Given that the rational-conceptual mind works by registering and cataloguing differences within the over-arching context of a universal self-agreeing framework of interpretation, what this means is that we make an awfully big deal of what are actually only ‘virtual distinctions’ – the distinctions we get all hot and bothered about are only ‘distinctions with regard to our very narrow outlook’. This kind of takes all the seriousness out of what we spend all our time doing (i.e. thinking), but since we are very fond of being preoccupied with our thinking we are not overly keen on having this seriousness taken away from us.

 

 

‘Form’ means something like ‘shape’, and when we talk about the realm of form what we referring to is the realm which is made up of defined shapes or rigidly outlined figures. What form really comes down to however is self-consistent system of logic – the forms which this system grants ‘validity’ are merely the visible tokens of itself, and inasmuch as the system doesn’t have the genuine validity that it implicitly claims for itself neither do its productions. We can say that the objects which attract and capture our attention are decoys because they effectively distract us from seeing that the reality of the figures we are focussing on exists only in relation to a viewpoint that we have taken and then ignored. As a result of this ignorance of the choice that has been made therefore we relate to the figures as if they were absolutely and not relatively real, and the authority that this imbues them which means that we are in effect ‘in thrall’ to them. They represent a final reality for us – beyond them there is nothing, and so it becomes all-important that they are configuring in the right and not the wrong way. This is another way of saying that we get caught up in ‘issues’.

 

 

The ‘thing’ seems to be the issue that we have got caught up in, but actually the thing is the self-consistent system of logic. Using psychological language, the clear-cut +/- issue is a projection of the system of logic – it is the way that the ‘unconscious system’ becomes aware (in an entirely deceptive way) of the assumptions implicit in its own nature. It is appropriate to talk in terms of ‘unconsciousness’ for such an abstract thing as a self-agreeing system of logic because for this system to be what it implicitly presents itself as being, it has to be profoundly oblivious to any other, non-agreeing point of view. When this is the case (i.e. when all other ‘contenders’ have been wiped from the map) then the self-agreeing system of logic has the universal, unconditional validity that gives it what it needs to be able to go ahead and explore the ‘make-believe reality’ in which it is the ultimate, one-and-only authority. If we can see the system of logic (or system of thought) for what it is, i.e. a particular viewpoint, one of a boundless set of viewpoints, that excludes all other angles and creates a self-consistent logical universe on this basis, then the attention-grabbing issues that it throws up in such never-ending profusion dwindle in significance to a purely ‘virtual’ level. When the conditions behind the existence of the rational mind are made explicit, then all its productions are seen to be empty. If I take ‘such-and-such a proposition’ were to be taken as true (just to see what it would feel like if it was, even though it isn’t) and then as a result of my arbitrary assumption certain issues immediately arise as being problematic, then just how real does this make the so-called ‘problems’ that I am talking about? They are of course purely academic problems – mere semiotic phantoms that are dependent for their apparent reality upon certain limiting conditions being in place that I have actually had to cause to be in place.  We can summarize this in an equation –

 

“All-encompassing self-consistent logical system” + “unawareness that there isn’t actually any such thing as an ‘all-encompassing self-consistent logical system’” (i.e. entropy) = “the production of the realm of form”

 

FORM DOES NOT INTERFACE WITH THE FORMLESS

 

‘Form’, in essence, comes down to a figure or shape that is made by a 2-dimensional line, and a line is simply a graphical representation of the divide between ‘what follows’ and ‘what doesn’t follow’ with regard to a particular logical statement (i.e. what is ‘included’ and what is ‘excluded’ by a rule). A line is basically what a rule looks like when it is mapped out onto a surface. It might be thought that a line separates YES and NO, with the YES applying to what is to be included in the set and the NO applying to what is to be excluded from it. However, both YES and NO necessarily refer to specifics – specifics that have been specified by the rule whose job it is to do the specifying. If the system of logic can specify a particular element, even to say a definite and resounding NO to it, then obviously that element must be accepted as being a valid concept – it must be an issue to the system of logic, it must have been granted the status of being worth consideration. Normally when we think of sets and what lies inside and outside the set we are thinking in terms of known and readily understandable elements across the board. So for example if I tell you to draw what the set of {yellow flowers} looks like as a subset of {all flowers} then you will draw a smaller set within a larger set. The boundary of the subset of yellow flowers may be said to be consist of a YES on the inside and a NO on the outside – the former representing the positive answer to the standardized question being applied across the board to the set of all flowers “Is the element a yellow flower?” and the latter representing the negative answer. In this case the line describing the subset of yellow flowers can be said to be made up of a [+] and [-] – two complementary faces of the same geometrical thing. Just as a line can’t include without excluding, so YES cannot exist without NO.

 

 

Whilst the rational mind may be said to consist of subsets (i.e. categories, or ‘differentiations between known elements’) the boundary around the rational mind itself has YES and NO on the inside and [?]. The logic of the reasoning, conceptualizing mind is made up of the two terms YES and NO; it is constitutionally incapable of going beyond these two terms – its integrity as a processing unit depends upon its flat inability to see that the operation of inclusion and exclusion are only meaningful inasmuch as the original criterion for inclusion/exclusion is meaningful, which is what the third term (corresponding to Robert Anton Wilson’s MAYBE term) is all about. MAYBE does not mean maybe the flower is yellow and maybe it is some other colour. That is a weak and feeble use of the term MAYBE, a trivial impostor for the real thing. What MAYBE means is “Maybe our criterion doesn’t have any valid applicability in the first place?” This is clearly a ‘non-trivial’ question, which is to say, it is a decent honest-to-goodness philosophical question as opposed to a mealy-mouthed, obfuscating, conniving excuse for a question. A genuine philosophical question opens doors where before there were none – it reveals our limiting assumptions and offers new possibilities of thinking about things, whereas the latter mires us ever deeper in them and adds extra confusion on top of the confusion we are already suffering from. From a philosophical point of view, the second type of question is worse than useless – it puts us further in the dark whilst claiming to throw light on the matter!

 

THE NUMENOSUM

 

The weak and feeble version of MAYBE might be said to be the stock-in-trade of the everyday mind, that instrument which so thoroughly rules our lives. It points splendidly forward to some supposedly glorious promised land whilst all the time leading us deeper and deeper into the tired old tautology of itself. This type of MAYBE is simply another way of referring to <YES/NO> which are the two terms of the spuriously all-encompassing logical instrument within which we are unknowingly trapped. The other type of MAYBE is a ‘maybe’ that points towards a world in which our logical criteria have no applicability – this worlds cannot be defined or categorized and so all we can say is that the finger of RADICAL MAYBE is pointing towards a tremendous luminescent question mark in the sky. It is this [?] that lies on the other side of the boundary of the rational mind, only because the rational mind does not point at it (because it can’t) this is a world which we are profoundly oblivious to.

 

 

The ‘difference’ between the two terms of YES and NO constitutes the ‘freedom’ which the system of thought offers us and as long as we believe in this freedom then it is impossible for us to even get close to suspecting that there might be another dimension in which to travel, a dimension which lies – in a manner of speaking – at right angles to the plane of rational thought. No matter where we might happen to be on the chess board of the everyday mind, no matter what complicated games we are caught up on, we are always on the interface between the flat, cartoon-like reality of YES/NO and the endlessly deep, inexhaustibly rich reality of [?] only because this mind does not acknowledge that there is a third term this remains a boundary that we cannot see. We are forever living on the very edge of what Jung called the numenosum and yet at the same time we have no inkling that there even could be the slightest possibility of there being such a strange ‘edge’ to our so-familiar world. For us, the normal run-of-the-mill everyday-type reality which we spend almost all of our lives in does not interface with the Radical Unknown – on the contrary, we are obliged to take it for granted that this ‘tyranny of the familiar’ is all there is, was and ever could be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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