The Closed World

Reality is openness. Whether we look at this from the point of view of physics, or the point of view of philosophy, this is as clear as clear can be. To argue otherwise is a joke…


Why can’t reality be closed, we might ask? Or another way of putting the question would be to ask why there can’t be such a thing as closed, why it is that this is a meaningless proposition? This turns out to be a very interesting question. It’s an absolutely massive question, which is why we never ask it. We don’t like questions like this because to ask a question like this is to open Pandora’s Box; we prefer the petty, superficial type of questions – questions of a ‘non-philosophical’ nature. One answer we could give however (if someone did ask such a question) would be to say that there can be such a thing as ‘closed’, but only if we ignore the irresolvable paradoxicality inherent in all closed systems!


Why are closed systems inherently paradoxical? Simply because they (necessarily) provide their own context. This isn’t particularly hard to understand – if a system is closed then there is (by definition) nothing else apart from it, nothing else ‘outside of it’. If there is nothing outside of the system then it has to provide its own context – what else can it do? Straightaway, therefore, we have a fully-fledged paradox on our hands. We have ‘the paradox of a statement that agrees with itself’ (which is the hidden paradox behind all logic, since all logical statements agree with themselves). Linguistically-speaking what we’re looking at is a tautology – a tautology being of course a word that explains (or defines) itself. A tautological explanation appears to be explaining something, when – as we all know -it isn’t.


The glitch arises, then, because this (the tautological statement) is a perfectly meaningless operation that implicitly regards itself as being not meaningless. If it didn’t regard itself as non-meaningless then it wouldn’t bother being there, clearly. A meaningless operation that can be seen as meaningless isn’t paradoxical; it isn’t anything – it simply has no reality and it doesn’t pretend to have any! A meaningless operation that implicitly claims to be meaningful IS glitched however because when we take it at face value it takes us around and around in circles rather than taking us anywhere real. The glitch then is the ‘going around in tight circles’, and the ‘going around in tight circles’ is the tangible or visible manifestation of the essential meaninglessness of the tautological explanation, which we didn’t see to start off with. We may not have spotted the tautology, but in time we will eventually notice the tiresome circularity that sets in because of it…


By not noticing or taking on board the meaningless (or null) nature of the operation we put ourselves in line for the ‘manifested paradox’ therefore, which is ‘the glitch’. What essentially happens in the glitch is that what we happily took to be a ‘green light’ shows itself before long to be in fact a ‘red light’; what we understood to be a YES (and felt correspondingly good about) turns out to be a resounding NO (which we then of course feel very bad about). Psychologically speaking then, what we are talking about here is neurotic suffering, or ‘fundamental existential frustration’. We’re consistently following the road that brings us pain because we think that it’s going to be ‘the helpful thing to do’. Our ‘strategy’ is consistently back-firing on us!


What’s happening is that we’re getting the go-ahead (which feels great, which feels marvellous, because we’re putting so much stock in it) and then the next thing is that the ‘go ahead’ turns out to be a big fat ‘no way Jose’ and this  neatly reverses (or flips) our good buzz into a very bad buzz indeed. All the euphoria we experienced to start off with is neatly and precisely cancelled out by an equal and opposite amount of dysphoria. This is like being praised and then being roundly condemned for the very same thing that we were just a minute ago being praised for! It’s ‘swings and roundabouts’, it’s ‘one step forward followed by one step back’ – the thing we’re doing right is also the thing we’re doing wrong…


Just as long as we’re living in a closed system – and the thinking mind can produce nothing else but closed systems! – then we are going to be living in the space between being ‘praised’ on the one hand and ‘roundly condemned’ on the other. And yet we’re being praised and blamed for one and the same thing! Just as long as it is this thought-constructed world that we are living in we are going to have to ‘make it work’ in the space or gap that exists between right and wrong, winning and losing when the inconvenient truth of the matter is that there actually is no such space, no such gap. There’s no space because being praised and being blamed are one thing not two, and this is the paradox that we are ignoring in everyday life. A paradox is when what we take to be two conflicting statements turn out to be the very same statement, just seen different ways. YES turns out to mean the same thing as NO – the crest of the wave turns out to be the mirror-image-transformation of the trough.


When we’re living in the realm of the mind (the thought-created world) then we are forever trying to live in the space that is no space, the space between the two definite answers of YES and NO. This virtual or tautological space is therefore ‘the realm of neurotic suffering’ – just so long as we are living on the basis of the neurotic mind we are neurotic, we are contradicting ourselves without knowing it. The only way to be ‘non-neurotic’ is to stop being rational, which we are not at all inclined to do. We don’t want to move away from the YES because we can’t see that it is the same thing as the NO. We’re very fond of the praise (or ‘reward’) that the closed system gives us and we don’t realize (don’t want to realize) that this fondness makes us equally attached to the condemnation, the ‘punishment’. This is like being inordinately fond of a high that a euphoriant drug like methamphetamine gives us, so fond that we don’t want to face the fact that using the drug is also going to put us in line for the downswing, the deadly dysphoric ‘come down’.


The apparent space between YES and NO is created by us not ‘joining the dots’, not ‘connecting the UP and the DOWN’. This so-called space is our ignorance, our lack of insight, our ‘unconsciousness’ in other words. It is the hopeful/despairing virtual reality that exists as a result of us ‘not facing facts’, so to speak, and this hopeful/despairing (or euphoric / dysphoric) reality is just another way of talking about the self! It is not however that we – in our normal mode of being – have the option to face the truth and see that YES and NO are the same thing; the thinking mind itself (we could say) is ‘the act of denial’. Rationality (or logic) is the denial that creates the contradiction that we can’t perceive to be a contradiction. So the ‘space’ that we are talking about is a subjectively-existing realm that is created and maintained by our constitutional inability to see that the two poles of POSITIVE and NEGATIVE are completely inseparable. It’s the ‘space’ that is created – we could say – as a result of us not seeing the full picture, of us not seeing that the positive displacement of the pendulum is the same thing as the ‘reverse swing’.


The space that we’re living in (the world that we’re living in) doesn’t exist in reality therefore, but only in our minds. It only exists in our thoughts, in our expectations and fears, in our limited (or one-sided) view of things. The world we live (pretty much exclusively) in only exists in our minds because the rational mind operates via the device of ignoring what doesn’t fit with its game-plan. It ignores everything that doesn’t agree with its key assumption, the ‘key assumption’ in question being that the two poles of ‘POSITIVE’ and ‘NEGATIVE’ can never meet. One lies at one end of the axis and the other at the other end after all, so how could they not be ‘separate things’? If we draw a graph on a sheet of paper with an X axis and a Y axis we can then plot the polar coordinates for a whole lot of possible points on the graph and all of these points, all of these polar coordinates are obviously different, but the ‘evident difference’ that we’re looking at here only exists because the graph in question embodies the key assumption that the two poles of [+] and [-] do have space between them, which they don’t! Linear axes are made up – by definition – by nothing other than PLUS and MINUS which we have somehow stretched apart like chewing gum, and yet the flaw in the argument is that PLUS and MINUS simply CAN’T be stretched apart! An X or Y axis is nothing more than an exercise in ‘imaginary stretching’, therefore.


So when we ask why reality can’t be closed, or why in reality there can’t be such a thing as ‘a closed system’, the answer is that there can be, but only in our minds, only when we perform an imaginary exercise. There can indeed be such a thing as a closed system, in other words, but only when we ignore the inherent paradoxicality of what we’re doing. ‘Closed’ can only happen when we separate YES and NO – when we separate YES and NO then we can have boundaries, then we can have an inside and an outside, and this is all we need in order to build the world of separate things for ourselves to play about in (as one of these separate things that we have created in our game). Without the polarization of the opposites we can have no categories and if we have no categories then we can’t think about anything! There are no ‘things’ to think about (to compare and contrast) and so thinking itself becomes a meaningless operation…


Categories are a classic example of ‘closed systems’ – a category can’t be a category unless it is closed, unless ‘what is inside the category’ is (somehow!) fundamentally different to ‘that which is outside it’. One thing has to be opposed to another, INSIDE has to be opposed to OUTSIDE just as YES is opposed to NO. The boundaries that are created by the operation of thought are what we might call ‘one-sided boundaries’, even though this may sound like a rather illogical type of a concept. Mental boundaries are ‘one-sided’ simply because when we decide whether some element is to be allowed as properly belonging within the category in question, we have no interest at all in what is being disallowed. What is being admitted (or verified) is of value to us because it matches our ‘discriminative criterion’ – we celebrate it on this account – but whatever doesn’t match our measuring stick is dismissed or discarded immediately with no further ado. Whatever fails to fit our preconceptions doesn’t get noticed, in other words; it doesn’t ‘register’ and so as far as we are concerned it doesn’t exist. This is how we get to abstract regular structures or systems from the ‘irregular’ soup that is reality – we abstract fixed forms by discarding information, by ignoring everything that doesn’t ‘fit’, even though what we are discarding is reality itself. On ‘our’ side of the one-sided boundary therefore we have the world that we know so well, the world that we can talk about and think about, whilst on the other side we have the world that we don’t acknowledge, the world that we are functionally incapable of acknowledging because the thinking mind simply doesn’t have any way of acknowledging it.


The one-sided boundary includes us, but excludes reality therefore! It is ‘one-sided’ because it doesn’t acknowledge that there is anything on the other side, because it doesn’t admit that there IS another side. It’s not that there isn’t anything on the other side but rather that we are profoundly oblivious to it; actually, there isn’t anything on the INSIDE of the one-sided boundary – we just think that there is, we just imagine that there is! The world that subjectively seems to exist for us on the inside of the one-sided boundary is the world that has been created by thought, the world that is constructed by reference to an assumed polarity that doesn’t actually exist in reality. The one-sided boundary is not a boundary that we have any awareness of therefore; it is ‘invisible from the inside’. Everything we know about, everything that we are capable of knowing about, is defined in terms of YES and NO. Everything in this defined realm has to exist by reference to the system of perpendicular linear axes that make up ‘the framework of thought’ and as we have just said every axis is made up of the hypothetical (or  illusory) separation of [+] at the one end and [-] at the other. A linear axis is the denial of paradoxicality therefore, and this is why the (virtual) world that has been created by the framework of thought is a ‘non-paradoxical realm’ (at least as far as we are concerned).


The (apparently) non-paradoxical world that has been created by thought is a closed world, and as we have said this closed world is the only one that we generally know (or care) about. If we ever sense or intuit any other world – a paradoxical world that is not made up of logical / literal statements, a world that baffles and perplexes the staid old ‘everyday mind’, a world of ineffable beauty and poetry, then we quickly discard it, we quickly forget all about it. It is extraordinarily hard not to – the pressure of the conventional mode of apprehending reality is immense and it drives out all the poetry and paradox in life as a matter of course. The closed world drives out openness as a matter of course! But in answer to the question as to whether there could be such a thing as ‘a closed system’ or ‘a closed world’, the only answer we can give is “Only if we choose to pretend that there is”…







Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *