What happens when we reach equilibrium point? What happens when we allow ourselves to be sucked in by the Big Magnet (whatever that may be) and get pulled into the deadly ‘equilibrium zone’? Or to put this another way, what happens to us when we ‘conform to the rules’, whatever those rules may be?
One very straightforward answer is to say that everything then gets defined for us – to move into equilibrium is to move into definition. When we get pulled into equilibrium we move into congruence with a fixed frame of reference and such that this fixed FOR becomes our mind, becomes our unquestionable basis for understanding the world. What ‘coming into congruence with a fixed FOR’ means is that everything becomes certain. As a result of adaptation to a fixed framework of reference all the uncertainty gets taken out of the world. Any ‘uncertainty’ that we might imagine to be there, in the E-System, is simply a matter of data that hasn’t been accurately measured yet – as soon as we can get to it with our measuring device then we’ll convert it into certainty faster than you can say ‘Theory of Everything’.
When we do reach the equilibrium level two things happen – one is that the world becomes sharply defined, and the other is that we do too! In short, in the equilibrium world I become a defined self living in a defined environment. I become a thing in a world of things. Everything has become ‘reified’ or ‘literalized’ – the whole of reality has become ‘solid’, ‘opaque’, ‘fixed’, and ‘final’. What the consequences of this state of affairs might be is something that we don’t tend to appreciate. We very much don’t tend to appreciate it and the reason for this blindness is that it is so very much what we’re used to, so very much what we have come to expect. This defined state of affairs is very much the norm – it is simply ‘life as we know it’. What is peculiar about the equilibrium state of affairs is precisely that all actions are now subject to invisible constraints. The constraints in question have to do with the way in which only certain actions are legitimate (or ‘lawful’) with respect to the system. This is of course a notion that we all understand (on an unconscious level) very well – we know that we can’t walk through a brick wall for example, we know that we have to find a door or a way around it. We know that we can’t occupy a space that is taken by another solid object, another physical body (such as a tree or a lamp-post or a chest of drawers or another person). We know that apples can only fall down from the apple tree, we know very well that they can’t fall up…
The ‘invisible restraints’ that we are talking about here are simply rules therefore and the reason they are invisible is because we’re so very used to them being there that we take them entirely for granted. We never pass comment on the fact that we can’t walk through walls, or that apples can’t fall upwards and reattach themselves to the apple tree. We see these constraints as being inseparable from the nature of reality itself – we see them as being reality, in fact. The point that we’re making here is that E-states are in equilibrium precisely because of the rules that are acting on it. The ‘equilibrium’ in question comes about because of the way in which these rules are always obeyed. What we don’t see when we are adapted to the E-state are all the ways in which things could have happened differently if the rules didn’t happen to be there. We are in other words blind to the constraints that are acting within the system – all those ‘potential possibilities’ have been lost, but we are quite oblivious to this. We are entirely oblivious to it. It is as if we have been robbed of most of our possessions and yet – for some strange reason – after the event we remain unaware that anything has happened. It is as if we never were robbed and so the question of us missing the possessions that we have been relieved of never arises in the first place. It is exactly as if the event that has just happened (the ‘data-collapse’) hasn’t happened at all…
What we have been robbed off in the equilibrium state is freedom! We’ve lost a huge big chunk of freedom and yet because the formatting of our mind, our way of seeing things, exactly matches reflects or corresponds to the formatting in our environment (the equilibrium world that we have become adapted to) we have no way of knowing that it has been taken away. The general sort of thing that we are talking about here (i.e. the business of a system that is made up of ‘invisible constraints’) becomes a lot easier to understand when we consider an extreme case. Let us suppose therefore that our E-system consists of a little solid cube that can move about in a brand of formatted space that only allows certain types of movement. This cube can only move – we shall say – in six perpendicular directions and only in straight lines. Furthermore, we can say that the cube can only travel in jumps of 5 centimetres. We could also stipulate that the cube can only move once ever fifteen minutes, or that it can only move when something happens in its environment – when another cube has made its move, for example. Straightaway, then, this scenario becomes very familiar to us as a sort of a game. We all straightaway recognize the sort of a thing that we’re talking about here. We might be talking about Ludo or noughts-and-crosses or chequers or chess or any sort of game like this, all of which are examples of formal systems with an awful lot of constrains built into them – constraints that we don’t actually notice when we are playing the game. We don’t notice the lack of freedom because we have adapted our mind-set, our outlook, to the game that we are playing. What chess player would ever find it odd that a bishop can only move in diagonals whilst sticking religiously to the same colour square, for example?
We can see a game to be a game (i.e. a hugely over-simplified version of real life) because it is so very simplistic, so very constrained, but what we don’t see is that everyday life in the material universe is also a game, is also an artificial situation that is defined by lots of rules that we are too familiar with to pay any heed to. The physical universe is a game (or an E-state) precisely because it is made up of a whole load of rules that we don’t notice being there. That’s what makes a game – invisible restriction. If physical reality is an equilibrium state (at least to a degree, since physical reality is never wholly defined or governed by rules, as both quantum and chaos theory show) then this would of course tend to prompt us to wonder what a Non-E state would look like. What does pure 100% freedom look like? What exactly does it mean to talk about a state in which there are no constraints operating, a state in which no freedom has been surreptitiously taken away? How would we go about envisaging such a thing? We might wonder if this would be a universe where apples can fall up just as readily as they can fall down, where we can walk through walls just as easily as we can walk around them? Is that what a universe with no rules would be like?
The first image that we might possibly come up with is one where everything is behaving extremely chaotically, a world in which everything that can happen does happen, but not in any predictable way. And not only that (which would be bad enough) but we also have to bear in mind that the number of possibilities available to us have now gone through the roof since absolutely no possibility at all can be out-ruled. No rules means anything can happen. How many possibilities are there out there when we really do take the lid off, we might wonder? When no possibility at all has been marked as ‘prohibited’ or ‘unlawful’? The degree of chaos involved here must surely go beyond anything we could even begin to imagine. We might for example think of Douglas Adams’ whimsical account of the Infinite Improbability Drive, the side-effects of which involve two distinctly grim thermonuclear missiles spontaneously (and unpredictably) mutating into a sperm whale and a pot of petunias falling out the sky.
A frenzied Brownian Motion of all sorts of surreally improbable possibilities flickering randomly in and out of existence is only our vain attempt to grasp hold of something that fundamentally cannot be grasped hold of. The point is however that there is no ‘seething chaos’ of the sort that we are envisaging because the basic units (cubes, flower-pots, blue whales, or whatever) don’t exist in the first place. Forms need rules in order to be forms and so it’s not just the ‘rules of action’ that are missing in the Non-E scenario, it’s the ‘regular old objects’ that are subject to these rules. There’s no subject and no object. We have already said that when we move towards equilibrium this means that both ourselves and the world around us become more and more definite (until they eventually become 100% definite) and so the converse of this must also be true – that as we move out of equilibrium both who we understand ourselves to be and what we understand the world to be become less and less definite, eventually to become not definite at all. To put this another way, both the ‘object’ and the forces (or rules) that are acting upon the object become less and less defined until we reach the undefined situation which is that situation in which there is neither an object (of any description) nor any defined possibilities of action for that object (which doesn’t exist). It’s an ‘empty transaction’ – there’s no one there selling the insurance police any more than there is someone there to buy it!
The situation where all transactions are empty (because there is no buyer and no vender, no subject and no object) is the situation that comes about (or resumes) when all the freedom that had been robbed is returned again. What we never realized that we had lost is returned to us, much to our surprise! And what a surprise this must be – to be suddenly given back all this freedom that we didn’t even know existed, that we didn’t even have any way of guessing could exist. Described like this, the scenario in which all transactions are very clearly empty since there are no boundaries for them to occur across (i.e. the ‘maximum freedom scenario’) sounds rather disappointing. It inevitably comes across as more than just a bit of a let-down. The state of ‘maximized freedom’ doesn’t sound that exciting to us – it doesn’t really seem to amount to very much! The reason we can’t see anything to get excited about is because our basis for seeing things (which is the ‘defined self’ or ‘black-and-white mind’) is the very thing that has been taken out of the equation. The ‘comparing mind’ is now thoroughly redundant, so it rather goes without saying that it is not going to be particularly impressed with this.
There is a hidden paradox here – the only way we have of determining ‘possibility’ is in relation to the fixed reference-point of the comparing mind, and yet the reality is that there is no such thing, no such fixed reference point and no such mind. Or to put this another way, the only way we have of determining what possibilities there are in any given situation is in terms of some transaction that is being carried out and in the Non-E state – as we have said – all transactions are empty. The only type of freedom that means anything to us is ‘freedom as it can be determined in relation to our fixed point of reference’ (or ‘freedom as it can be discerned from the basis of the rational mind’) and fixed points of reference don’t actually exist in reality (any more than the rational mind does). There is no ‘standard for reality’ – standards are abstractions that exist in mind-space but not in reality, so how can they be used to determine reality? The paradox that we referred to earlier comes about because the fixed reference point of the mind is used to determine how much freedom there is in any given situation whilst there isn’t actually any freedom in that mind. How – we might wonder – is this ever going to work?
It is inherent in the very nature of the thinking mind that there should be no freedom in it – the thinking mind works by comparing everything to a rule (or to a category) and then seeing if there is a match or not. This is the quintessential action of the rational mind. This is essentially all there is to it – rationality is all about sorting the world out in accordance to a bunch of rules. The thing about this however is that there is no freedom in a rule. That’s how a rule works as a rule – by the simple precedent of having zero freedom in it. Either it’s a match or it’s not a match, either it’s a YES or a NO; there is no leeway here at all. Any leeway with regard to the YES/NO boundary would destroy the integrity of the logic-machine; logic can only work when the boundary has no holes, no permeability in it. Certainty means being literal; it means that there is zero freedom for there to be any other interpretation!
There is another way in which we can say that a rule (or a category) has zero freedom in it – a rule is not free because we are not free to question it. This is the mechanism by which the standard gets to be the standard, the mechanism by which the fixed point of reference gets to be the fixed point of reference. The mechanism is us not having the freedom to question that what we have said to be the case really is so. We say ‘let X = ….’ And then we’re stuck with it – we don’t have the leeway to go back on ourselves here. Or rather we can, but if we do there are no more ‘gold standards’, there are no more ‘fixed points’. If we question the basis then there is no more thinking mind. ‘Freedom’ and ‘the thinking mind’ really ought not to be mentioned in the same breath, therefore!
Lack of freedom means more than we imagine that it does. Zero freedom doesn’t simply mean that we are ‘stuck’; it doesn’t just mean that we ‘can’t ever get anywhere new’. It means this but it also means something else too – it means never-ending irresolvable conflict, it means ‘the war of the opposites’. It means flat irreducible ‘self-contradiction’. The thing about the invisible constraints that make up the E-system is that they contradict themselves. The equilibrium system contains what on its own terms appear to be two totally different directions – the right way and the wrong way, error and noise. The guidance system that we are provided with (to keep us safe) is all about telling us how to make sure we go in the right direction rather than the wrong one but where the ‘hidden contradiction’ comes in is that both directions (although on paper totally different) are – in reality – both the same. They aren’t ‘two different directions’ at all…
We could also try to explain the inherently self-contradictory nature of all logical systems by saying that we are provided with two (again nominally opposed) instructions or commands – one being STOP and the other GO. The idea is that if we follow the instructions everything will be all right, that we won’t get into trouble. As long as we follow orders everything will work out, everything will be great. All we have to do is keep YES and NO separate (i.e. all we have to do is make sure that we win rather than lose). When we’re adapted to the system therefore we’re constantly trying to do this – we’re constantly trying to obey the instructions correctly so that we obtain the right outcome rather than the wrong one. Essentially, we are existing in a state of fear with regard to the negative outcome and desire towards the positive one. What could be more different than ‘that which we fear’ and ‘that which we desire’? And yet the inherent self-contraction of which we speak means that when we chase the positive outcome we are (unbeknownst to ourselves) at the same time chasing the negative one. We can’t keep right and wrong (winning and losing) separate (as we’re very seriously supposed to) because they are actually one and the same thing!
When we get pulled helplessly by the Big Magnet into the equilibrium world not only do we find ourselves stuck in a world where both ‘how we see ourselves’ and ‘how we see the world’ are 100% defined therefore, we also find ourselves in a self-contradictory world in which we are constantly at war with ourselves without knowing it….