The Psychological Theory of ‘Inverted Reality’

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The world we know and interact with on a daily basis is made up of ‘positive holes’ – positive holes are the building blocks out of which our everyday world is made up of. A ‘positive hole’ is the absence of something that looks like an actual thing in itself. One easy-to-understand example would be a shadow, a shadow being of course the absence of light! A shadow isn’t anything in itself – it is only the absence of something – and yet it can very easily look like an actual thing in its own right. Another example would be silicon when it has been ‘doped’ to turn it into a semiconductor. If pure silicon (an insulator) is doped with boron or gallium this produces P-type semiconductor, a semiconductor that conducts current by utilizing positive holes.

 

If we look at the page on Conductors, Semiconductors and Insulators taken from the Website of the Materials Science and Technology Teacher’s Workshop, Dept of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Illinois, (MAST) we can read the following account:

 

Pure silicon is an insulator which is not especially useful. However, if we add certain elements (technically, impurities) to silicon – a process known as doping – we can increase the number of free charge carriers (charged particles that are free to move about within the silicon), and are hence enable it to carry an electrical current. The result of this is that silicon becomes progressively more conductive (i.e. becomes a semiconductor) the more impurity is added.

 

 

The type of impurity affects the type of charge carrier. Some doping impurities generate free electrons – negative charge carriers. Such doped silicon is called n-Type. Others generate holes – spaces where electrons should be. Although not strictly `particles’ these holes behave like positive charge carriers.

 

The type of ‘positive holes’ that we are talking about in this discussion are not created by the absence of light or negative electrical charge but by the absence of information. They are informational holes – vacuoles in reality which we perceive as being substantial units. Our usual way of understanding information precludes us from understanding this since we see the ‘backdrop of everything’ as being an absence of information into which information arises as a result of a positive creative process (however this might come about). This is the ‘Bottom-Up’ paradigm where we start with an absence and have to work our way up. So if we are building a house we start with an empty field and have to slowly and arduously build the house, brick by brick. The empty field is the starting point, and we work ‘upwards’ from this. Needless to say, this is our default way of looking at things. In Genesis – just to give another example – God created the universe ex nihilo, i.e. out of nothing.

 

In order to understand the model that we are talking about here we have to use a ‘Top-Down’ paradigm. In the Top-Down paradigm everything is already there, but we create the appearance of forms by removing information. The starting-off point is infinite information (which is necessarily formless, since form requires boundaries, which require entropy) and we work down from this. A good example of what we might call ‘Top-Down thinking’ is provided by Carl Jung in Sermo 1 in his ‘Seven Sermons to the Dead’ or (Septem Sermones ad Mortuos) –

 

The dead came back from Jerusalem, where they found not what they sought. They prayed me let them in and besought my word, and thus I began my teaching.

 

Harken: I begin with nothingness. Nothingness is the same as fullness. In infinity full is no better than empty. Nothingness is both empty and full. As well might ye say anything else of nothingness, as for instance, white is it, or black, or again, it is not, or it is. A thing that is infinite and eternal hath no qualities, since it hath all qualities.

 

This nothingness or fullness we name the PLEROMA. Therein both thinking and being cease, since the eternal and infinite possess no qualities. In it no being is, for he then would be distinct from the pleroma, and would possess qualities which would distinguish him as something distinct from the pleroma.

 

 

In the pleroma there is nothing and everything. It is quite fruitless to think about the pleroma, for this would mean self-dissolution.

 

 

CREATURA is not in the pleroma, but in itself. The pleroma is both beginning and end of created beings. It pervadeth them, as the light of the sun everywhere pervadeth the air. Although the pleroma pervadeth altogether, yet hath created being no share thereof, just as a wholly transparent body becometh neither light nor dark through the light which pervadeth it. We are, however, the pleroma itself, for we are a part of the eternal and infinite. But we have no share thereof, as we are from the pleroma infinitely removed; not spiritually or temporally, but essentially, since we are distinguished from the pleroma in our essence as creatura, which is confined within time and space.

 

 

Yet because we are parts of the pleroma, the pleroma is also in us. Even in the smallest point is the pleroma endless, eternal, and entire, since small and great are qualities which are contained in it. It is that nothingness which is everywhere whole and continuous. Only figuratively, therefore, do I speak of created being as a part of the pleroma. Because, actually, the pleroma is nowhere divided, since it is nothingness. We are also the whole pleroma, because, figuratively, the pleroma is the smallest point (assumed only, not existing) in us and the boundless firmament about us. But wherefore, then, do we speak of the pleroma at all, since it is thus everything and nothing?

 

 

I speak of it to make a beginning somewhere, and also to free you from the delusion that somewhere, either without or within, there standeth something fixed, or in some way established, from the beginning. Every so-called fixed and certain thing is only relative. That alone is fixed and certain which is subject to change.

 

A ‘Top-Down cosmological paradigm’ starts with Fullness, therefore, and proceeds downhill via a process of ‘emanation’ (or ‘degenerative transformation’) to create the lower realms, which are worlds that are created out of the depletion of information. Such worlds are but ‘pale copies of heaven’s original’, in the same way that everything in this world is said by Plato to be only an imperfect copy of what has since come to be called the ‘Platonic Ideal’. We are unfamiliar with Top-Down thinking because it has been ‘crowded out’ by the prosaic Bottom-Up way of looking at things, but it would nevertheless be well-known to any student of Gnostic or Qabbalistic thought (for example). To say that ‘the physical world is constructed out of positive holes’ is therefore just a restatement of what Plato was saying in his Allegory of the Cave. In this discussion we are going to be looking at how an understanding of ‘information versus entropy’ can provide a way of talking about this ancient principle that makes sense in modern scientific terms.

 

What we are essentially going to say is that predictability (or certainty) can be understand (has to be understood, really) in terms of lack of information. If an event is predictable then there is – by definition – no information associated with it. There can’t be since information (as the Shannon-Weaver model of communication states) is a measure of the unpredictability of a message!

 

Straightaway, therefore, we can see something tremendously interesting – we can see that information is not something that can ever be ‘made’. It can be covered over, or obscured, but not made. If information is a measure of the uncertainty (or unpredictability) of a message, then this means that there can be no way to ‘technically produce’ it. We can’t ‘technically produce’ uncertainty and more than we can technically produce a random number. A random number is a number that has no logical connection with (or relationship to) the steps that preceded it – if there was a connection (i.e. some kind of predictable pattern) then the number would by definition not be random! Random numbers are quintessentially autonomous, like the archetype of the Self. They do not ‘belong’ to anything else, they do not come about as a result of following rules. So, to go back to our argument, the only way we can ‘make’ things is by specifying them – we say what the things in question should be and this means that the things we have made are predictable, are not ‘surprising’ to us. They are no more surprising than regular (i.e. non-random) numbers are. How could we ever ‘make something’ that was a surprise to us? How could a deliberate or purposeful action – if it goes to plan – ever result in unpredictable outcome? When we are talking about making things we’re talking about rules and so what we’re saying here is that a rule cannot ever generate uncertainty. Nothing surprising ever comes about as a result of following rules. It is redundant to say this since the whole point of ‘rules’ is that they specify, is that they produce certain outcomes! Information cannot be ‘made’, it cannot be coded for’, it cannot be programmed into a situation, therefore. Another way of putting this is to say that creating information is a Top-Down process…

 

Every time we act deliberately, do something purposefully – in accordance with our logical minds – we are moving away from Wholeness, we are moving in the direction of increasing isolation, abstraction and fragmentation from the Whole. Every time we think we are moving in the direction of increasing isolation, increasing abstraction and fragmentation. And yet we perceive otherwise! We perceive ourselves to be moving in a ‘positive’ direction, we perceive ourselves to be progressing towards some real goal. The reason for this skewed (or ‘inverted’) way of looking at things is simply that we are perceiving the absence of information as the actual presence of it; we are perceiving ‘holes’ as being positive or substantial units, in other words. So although we are moving via our purposeful activity and rational thought in the direction of greater and greater abstraction (and therefore alienation) from reality (which is as we have said ‘pure information’) we see things the other way around. We see ourselves as ‘getting somewhere real’ (as opposed to ‘getting somewhere unreal’, which is the true state of affairs). This inverted way of seeing things is inherent in rational thought itself. As David Bohm says,

 

I think the difficulty is this fragmentation.. All thought is broken up into bits. Like this nation, this country, this industry, this profession and so on… And they can’t meet. That comes about because thought has developed traditionally in a way such that it claims not to be effecting anything but just telling you the way things are. Therefore, people cannot see that they are creating a problem and then apparently trying to solve it… Wholeness is a kind of attitude or approach to the whole of life. If we can have a coherent approach to reality then reality will respond coherently to us.

 

Thought deals in bits, therefore, (i.e. it deals in partitions or separate units) but in reality there are no such ‘bits’, there are no such partitions. there are no such ‘separate units’. When we see a bit where there is no bit, a separate thing or part or entity where there isn’t any, we are seeing invertedly, we are seeing a ‘positive hole’. The information pertaining to the bit or unit is information about an abstraction, information about something that doesn’t exist, and so it isn’t actually information at all. it is ‘inverted information’, or ‘entropy disguised as information’. The continuum of thought (David Bohm’s ‘system of thought’) is a field of inverted reality, therefore – if we may agree that there could be such a thing (although, of course, there couldn’t really be). When we are functioning on the basis of the rational mind, we never see reality – we are functionally incapable of it. Reality doesn’t figure in our perceptual system – we’re just not orientated that way! We are – on the contrary – orientated towards see the fragment, the part, the abstraction as being a real thing in itself. What does figure in our perceptual system is inverted reality; what we do see is a logically-consistent system that is made up of ‘positive holes’. We see ‘definite stuff’ as being ‘definitely real’ – definite means real to us, it’s a synonym for reality, and yet if something is ‘definite’ (or ‘certain’) then this means – as we have already said – that there no information in it.

 

All definite statements are ‘inverted reality’; all definite statements are ‘positive holes’. A definite statement is only ‘definite-in-relation-to-the-assumed-standpoint-of-the-thinking-mind’ and when we qualify it like this the copper-bottomed reassurance value of the phrase loses its oomph rather! It is no longer an absolute, but only something relative. ‘Every so-called fixed and certain thing is only relative‘, as Jung says in the quote given above. And yet definite statements are what we build the world out of – they are the gold-standard currency upon which our whole economy is based. We build a whole world out of these vacuous pixels, these virtual-reality building-blocks, these ‘positive holes’, and we also build ourselves out of them. So given that this is the case, what then – we might ask ourselves – are the implications of this?

 

 

3 thoughts on “The Psychological Theory of ‘Inverted Reality’

  1. It’s entertaining, but is it enlightening? All I see here is your logic eating itself. Which, quite apart from the possibility that this is your exact intention, is perfectly forgivable, since it follows the current of postmodern times, in which we all live, move, and have our being. But, make no mistake, it’s not saying anything new. On the contrary, it seems you are trying very hard (consciously or unconsciously) to say nothing, at all, and to use as many words as possible in the process. So, I guess, a brilliant success!(?)

    I’m not judging, mind you. I’m guilty of this myself. All of us who enjoy pushing thought to its limits, and beyond, and trying to articulate mystical paradoxes, perchance to forge new synaptic links, in the underground railroad of the brain, are masterminds in this archvillainy. It’s a fun exercise, to pass the time, seeing how many layers of sophistry we can stack, and then unstack.

    You begin with the shadow as an example of this “negative something”. An good, clear example, which we can all understand, to illustrate what ought to be a still more clear example; holes, or space itself, which is given an appearance of form by what surrounds it. It’s apparent existence depends on a context of things which have substantial existence. So far, so good. But you precede to lump all things into this category (while elaborating upon the absurdity of harboring any notion of “categories”, at all, except as a figurative, tentative, and temporary convenience, which permits us to relate to the existing/non-existing, socially-derived fictions around us). The light, no less than the shadow, becomes a negative. Very well.

    Clever minds have always been attracted to this sort of reductio ad absurdum; we simply articulate the same phenomenon from another, more oblique perspective, and pretend that “Vwalla!” we have made it vanish. A cheap magic trick, which, in the eyes of gullible readers, makes us grand sorcerers. For instance, we could say that heat is not a thing in itself, any more than cold is; it is simply what happens when molecules speed up and create friction. We can carry this to the ends of the eschaton, if we like. Nothing is anything; it is simply an appearance dependent on the relations of other things, which are themselves nothing but relations. And, since The All is related to nothing, the All is the only real thing; it simply is, and cannot be dissected.

    When you get into this idea of information as “a measure of the unpredictability of a message”, you lose me. I confess, I did not explore the link you provided, but, I imagine, some minimal effort to explain this concept, within your article, is advisable. Particularly, as nearly every subsequent statement you make, which we are expected to accept, depends upon it. And the statements, lest we assume the truth of this mysterious premise, are all obviously false. You begin with the postulate that information is, in fact, the opposite of information, and all the bricks fall neatly into place from there, – of course, until the cloud gives way, and the castle falls.

    In any case, an enjoyable puzzle to solve, all the more so as the solution is not only hidden, but made impossible, by a ridiculous inversion of terms, intended to appear ingenious. One solves it by discovering that the emperor has no clothes. “But,” you object, “the emperor does not claim to where clothes! This is his very point! He has made an exhibition of his nakedness.” True enough. But he has he succeeded, as he hoped, in thereby introducing a new fashion, in the formless form of nakedness.

  2. Thanks for that comment Valus. I don’t get many comments and yours is definitely causing me to scratch my head and reflect a bit. I am inclined to argue against the first thrust of what you are saying, my intention was never to participate in the zeitgeist of postmodernism, although I admit that I might inadvertently have done so! I wouldn’t have the energy to write an article just for the sake of empty sophistry – for me the point is a lot deeper than than that. I feel it to be, at any rate.

    Logic always eats itself, I would say. It can’t help doing so. Just as all algebraic expansions or extrapolations can’t help being tautological. Any statement that ‘agrees with itself’ is tautological, all all logical statements agree with themselves and this is how they get to be logical. All logical statements eat themselves just like the Ouroboros eats itself and another way of putting this is to say that YES equals NO. This is a mystical paradox for sure but mystical paradoxes are sophistry, even though they might seem like ‘clever tricks’. What this paradox shows us is what physicists call ‘deep structure’ – saying that YES equals NO means that you can’t get a positive displacement of an underlying medium without simultaneously creating a negative one. The All is the only real thing and it is also nothing, exactly as you say. ‘Nothing’ however is full rather than empty, whilst all defined or stated’ things ARE empty.

    This is the ancient idea of the Pleroma, the ‘pregnant void’, but this has nothing to do with postmodernism. I guess that’s a stupid thing to say, since an idea that is 1,5oo years old (or whatever) can hardly be accused of being ‘post-modern’. But the point I want to make is that this conjurer’s trick which reveals nothing to be everything and all the things we thought to be actually real to be only shadows, like the shadows in Plato’s cave, is the biggest and most dramatic experience of which we are capable. Nothing in life can ever come close to this as an actual experience – it beggars everything else and if it happens to us it becomes impossible to live life in the same way again. It’s not a parlour trick, in other words. It all the OTHER stuff we give credence to, or get excited by, or place stock in, that are the ‘parlour tricks’. It is life as we live it every day that is the empty game, not the Pleroma.

    I agree that I didn’t go into information as being a ‘measure of the unpredictability of a message’ very much. Information is a tricky thing to get a handle on or think about and I need to do a better job of going into it. Another way of expressing the above definition would be to say that anything that doesn’t agree with our model of reality is information and if we take it on board then we have to say goodby to our model. Information always makes us say goodbye to our models or theories – it always falsifies the pre-existing structure and that’s just another way of saying that information is that which causes change. It is ‘the difference that makes a difference’, according to Gregory Bateson, who was a pioneer in cybernetics theory. So what I am saying is that I think this kind of approach IS enlightening! For me it seems to be so, anyway!

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