The Violence of the Rational Mind


It might sound odd to say it perhaps, but the rational mind is violence. Whenever the rational mind comes into the picture, there is violence. It sounds odd to say this because the rational mind is the order of the day – to have everything rationally structured is normal – it’s all we know. The rationally-constructed world is the only world we know.


The other state of affairs (which is the state of affairs in which everything isn’t rationally structured or constructed) is completely unknown to us. It is completely unfamiliar to us. Because it’s so unfamiliar to us we see it – inasmuch as we see it at all – as being a thoroughly unruly (and potentially very dangerous) kind of a thing. We don’t quite know what it is, but we know that we don’t like it! We know that we need to keep it under control. We have it pegged as the sort of thing that needs to be guarded against. What we’re talking about here is pure chaos, we say, and chaos is a notorious scourge. Nobody likes chaos. Chaos is the undoing of everything…


This isn’t what we say so much as it is what the rational mind says. Of course the rational mind says this – the rational mind believes only in itself. It trusts only in itself, it values only itself. If there’s one thing we should be very clear about with regard to the rational mind, it’s that it values only itself. This is like saying that the Bank of England values only those banknotes that it itself has printed as legal tender; anything else simply won’t do! If you come along with banknotes that you yourself have printed that will not be acceptable at all. You’ve actually committed a crime by taking matters into your own hands in this way.


The thinking mind ‘prints’ its own version of reality and this is the only legal tender. This is the only thing that is accepted. Anything else is illegal, anything else is unauthorized and therefore instantly suspect. Present anything else and sanctions will be immediately be taken against you. Steps will be taken to curtail your nefarious activities. And yet the key thing about all this is that the printed version of reality isn’t reality at all. It’s the official propaganda. It’s a preposterous outrageous nonsensical hoax that we’ve been browbeaten by the authorities into taking seriously…


Anything that is ‘printed’ is not reality. Anything that is stated isn’t reality. Anything that we ourselves have made isn’t real – it’s only reality if we haven’t made it, if no one has made it. If we have any choice about it at all then it isn’t real and – contrariwise – if it is choiceless, if it isn’t the result of any choice, then it must be real. Or to put this another way, if we say that something is ‘definitely true’ then it isn’t. That’s a Porky Pie. Reality is neither true nor untrue. It’s neither right nor wrong.


When things are free simply to be what they are then this is not chaos – not in the pejorative sense that we use the word, anyway. When things are free simply to be what they are then this is harmony, this is the Dao. And if there is one thing that the thinking mind does not understand it is harmony, it is the Dao. If there is one thing the thinking mind does not understand it is the secret connectedness of all things. The ‘secret connectedness of all things’ is the enemy, as far as thought is concerned…


The thinking mind has its own version of the Dao, and there is no harmony in it! The thinking mind’s version of the Dao is violence rather than harmony; it is the violence of the logical system against everything that is not the logical system. The Dao is inclusivity whilst the system is the very essence of exclusivity. That which accords with the system is upheld and exalted, whilst anything that doesn’t is denied and thrust ignominiously out of sight. Anything that doesn’t accord with the authorized version of things is branded anathema, is regarded as scurrilous chicanery – if not the work of the devil. Anything that is not the system is despised. Just as it loves and cherishes itself, the logical system despises and rejects all else.


The reason the thinking mind is violent (and actually knows no other way than violence) is because it is always exalting the unreal over the real. That is its modus operandi. The unreal has to be violent – this is the only card it has to play and it plays it all the time. Or as we could also say, the unreal is playing a game of bluff since this is the only game it can play. Reality doesn’t need to be aggressive, reality doesn’t need to bluff. It doesn’t need to bluster and shout, to roar and to bellow, to threaten and cajole. Reality doesn’t need to ‘lay down the law’ – only the lie needs to do this. If we’re not invested in propping up the superannuated lie, then we don’t need to get all defensive. We can – on the contrary – relax about things and enjoy life!


The thinking mind always has to have an enemy; it always has to have something to fight against. The thinking mind has to have an enemy and the enemy it is against is nothing other than reality (even though it will of course never admit this). Once we’re fighting, once we’re busy attacking and defending then we’re not really looking at what we’re doing – our focus has narrowed down so that we’re only looking at the ‘how’ and never the ‘why’. We’re too caught up in defending to notice what we’re defending in other words; our violence is seen as acceptable (more than merely acceptable, it is seen as positively commendable!) because what we’re defending justifies any measure that might be taken. The ends justify the means. Even though – ludicrously – we don’t actually know what we’re defending because we’re too busy defending it! In reality we’re only struggling because we’re struggling, we’ve lost sight of the why. We’re controlling for the sake of controlling. We’re controlling because we’re afraid to let go. In reality, we’re struggling to protect an illusion that we have never examined and never will. ‘Examining’ isn’t our game, after all – automatic risk-avoidance is.


The ultimate act of violence that the rational mind is engaged in is the act of portraying reality in crudely misrepresentative terms. The thinking mind ‘represents reality in crude terms’ without acknowledging that it is doing so, and this is violence. This (which Baudrillard calls ‘the murder of the real’) is the most violent act there ever could be. What could be more violent than murdering reality? The world we live in is a crudely limited version of the real thing and the one living in this world is also a ‘crudely limited version of the real thing’, and we don’t know this. We don’t have a clue. We don’t know this because we are taking the output of the rational mind at face value; because we don’t know anything else apart from the output of the rational mind.


This then raises the question – what would the world be like if it wasn’t being (mis)represented by the rational mind? What would we be like? What an interesting question! Straightaway, the thinking mind trips over itself in its rush to answer this question. It falls over itself in its heedless rush to do violence to reality, to scrawl its crass nonsensical comments all over the face of reality. The thinking mind is always crass. What can it ever say about reality that is not a crass misrepresentation?


If we don’t get stampeded into trying to say what things are (or what we are) then we can see for ourselves. We don’t have to analyse, we don’t have to ask all sorts of probing questions. What we see is a play of possibilities where no one possibility is any more important (or ‘true’) than any other. A ‘logical system’, on the other hand, is (as we have already said) a situation where one linked set of possibilities is seen as being more important, more ‘true’, than any others. In order to maintain this fiction, violence is necessary. The fiction can’t be maintained in any other way!


One way to talk about what the world would be like if it wasn’t being (mis)represented to us by the thinking mind is to say that it is like a work of art rather than a bunch of code, rather than a set of black-and-white ‘literal statements’. The world – as it is in itself – is ‘poetry in motion’. It’s not meant literally. The world is poetry in motion and so are we. The rational mind does violence to this poetry in everything it says because it turns it into black-and-white (or unquestionable) conclusions. The world then becomes a black-and-white unquestionable conclusion and so do I! And yet in reality there are no conclusions – in reality nothing is ever concluded…





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