Camouflaged Redundancy

Everything in this oh-so-familiar but nevertheless engaging world of ours comes down to camouflaged redundancy. ‘Camouflaged redundancy’ can be very easily explained by saying that something that isn’t new manages to look as if it has only just arrived on the scene, something that has already happened before somehow manages to plausibly presents itself as something that has never happened before. This invisible redundancy (or as we could also say,  entropy) comes down to thought; with regard to the operation of the rational mind, we can say that it is 100% redundant – the operation of the rational mind is 100% redundant because there is nothing that it produces that is ever genuinely ‘new’. As Krishnamurti says, ‘thought is always old’. This is self-evidently true – the thinking mind can only make sense of the world when what the data that it receives corresponds to its pre-existent categories. Otherwise it is – by definition – meaningless, value-less, ‘error’ rather than ‘signal’. What we’re saying here then is that nothing new ever happens in the world that is made up of our thoughts. This presents a rather perplexing problem however – if we live in a mind-created simulation that, by its very nature, contains zero information, zero newness, zero surprise, how then do we manage to keep on finding an interest in this simulation, and not only ‘find an interest’ but  – very often – find it completely gripping, completely absorbing?

 

Simulations – by their very nature – contain zero information. If there was information in a simulation then it would actually be real, not simulated. Simulations can’t contain any information, the virtual world that is created by the thinking mind can’t contain any information, but there is nevertheless a way to get around this apparently insurmountable obstacle to ever getting anywhere within the terms of the simulation, getting anywhere within the terms of the mind-crated virtual reality construct. The ‘way out’ – we might say – is to take a particular viewpoint as being unquestionable valid (i.e. ‘the right one’) and then seeing everything in terms of this viewpoint. What we do, in other words, is to arbitrarily adopt a yardstick and then going around measuring everything with it so that everything becomes nothing more than a reflection of this yardstick, whilst denying that there is anything at all ‘arbitrary’ about what we are doing here.

 

This turns out to be an amazingly effective trick – straightaway we have created what seems to be a whole world of information, a world that is made up entirely of ‘ratios’ of this original yardstick. Everything that can be modelled by the yardstick (i.e. that can be seen in terms of the assumptions that it embodies) gets to be ‘information’, whilst anything else is dropped, discarded, dismissed as being non-information, or mere ‘noise in the system’. What we have just described here is a very straightforward kind of a scheme – easy to understand and easy to implement – but at the same time it is quite outrageous in its audacity because it turns the natural order of things on its head. Our means of determining what is information or not is back-to-front – we’re doing it via an unacknowledged tautology and a tautology is by its very nature ‘information-less’. A tautology is a tautological because it appears to be saying something new whilst in really it is merely repeating the same old thing. The yard-stick of the rational mind reaches out and tries to say something new about the world but – naturally enough – all it can ever do is reiterate itself. The basis of the ‘trick’ is the assumption that the yard-stick of thought can be used to reach out and portray a reality that is genuinely independent of it itself (or ‘essentially different to itself) but clearly this can never be the case. The world that is created by the yardstick of thought is made up by various ratios (or arrangements) of that same yardstick, as we have said, and that – by definition – is all that is ever going to be in it!

 

There is no more fundamental an impossibility than the impossibility of this ever happening – what ‘thought portraying a reality that is independent of itself’ comes down to is ‘the rule specifying something that is not the rule, something that is not itself’. Rules are very good indeed at specifying – they are superlatively good in fact – but the only thing they can ever specify is themselves!  All definite statements only specify themselves; they never point ‘beyond themselves’. For a definite statement ‘not to mean what is so definitely means’ would be a contradiction in terms – this is precisely the one area in which there is no leeway given, the one point that there is no ambiguity whatsoever about. Just as a literal statement can only ever mean what it specifically sets out as meaning, following a rule can only ever result in the defined outcome that follows on logically from that rule – there can never be such a thing as ‘a rule that escapes itself’, a rule that manages in some way to say ‘don’t do what I tell you to do’. This might seem entirely obvious and not worth making such a meal of but that it means is that there can’t ever be such a thing as ‘a simulation that doesn’t faithfully obey the algorithms that drive it’. If something hasn’t been specified in advance by the rules then it can’t happen in the simulation and so this is why we say that there is zero information in the simulation (and it is also why Krishnamurti says that thought is always old). The world of our thoughts (as interesting as it may sometimes seem) is a world in which nothing new ever happens.

 

So all of this is simply a long-winded way of saying that the simulation (which is the virtual reality show that is being constantly created by our thoughts) never contains any information. How obvious is this? How can using the yardstick of the thinking mind interpret reality to us (and give us the ‘measure’ of the world) ever tell us anything that is not that same old yardstick reflected back at us? This explains why – as Alan Watts says – the world ‘measure’ and the word ‘maya’ both come from the same Sanskrit root. To create a world that is made up of our measurements is to create a world that is maya (i.e. illusion). The illusion is precisely that something which is not information, appears to be information, that something which is not new appears to be new. This – as we said earlier – is a very impressive trick and the reason the trick is so astonishingly effective is because of entropy. Entropy is the ‘key ingredient’ that is needed to make the trick work. From a psychological point of view, entropy can be defined as ‘the absence of information that cannot be seen to be an absence of information’. So if we take a particular standpoint or position on things and treat that standpoint or position as if there were something very special about it, something that makes it stand out from all other possible standpoints then the ‘entropy’ in the system is simply this supposed specialness, this supposed difference. It’s not really there but we’re pretending that it is and as soon as we start pretending that it is then the operation of the mechanism means that we can no longer see that we have pretended anything. To think is to become blind to thought’s assumptions, in other words. To think is to become incapable of not taking seriously thought’s productions…

 

As long as we are ignoring something without knowing that we are ignoring it then there is entropy in the system and what we are ignoring is that the supposed ‘difference’ (between the viewpoint we are utilizing and all other possible viewpoints) which we are saying is there, isn’t there. As long as we are looking out at the world from our assumed vantage point then we’re unable to examine what this vantage point is all about, what makes it so ‘special’. That assumption – the assumption of our viewpoint’s unique validity – has now been hidden from us and will go on to be perpetuated faithfully in whatever transformations the system undergoes. Because we can’t see that we have arbitrarily said that there is a difference between our position and all other possible positions that we might have taken, and that there isn’t really any such difference, we end up seeing the picture or representation of reality that thought produces for us as containing actual information when it doesn’t.

 

When we look out at the world from our ‘assumed special vantage point’ (which, as we have said, means incurring the inability to see that it isn’t really special) then we see all sorts of things. We see an entire world and it is all constructed on the basis of something which isn’t really true even though we assume it to be so – that basis being the ‘special status’ of our POV. If we move away even by a hairsbreadth from the fixed point of our POV then this whole world, this whole Mind Created Virtual Reality, disappears as if it were never there in the first place. It disappears as if it were never there because it never was there – it was only ever a ‘conditioned reality’, it was only ever a pseudo-reality whose apparent existence was conditional upon the existence of the assumed viewpoint as a specially privileged, specially sanctified way of looking at the world, and that was only ever a fiction, only ever ‘an exercise in make-believe’. This is the whole thing about a conditioned reality – that it is dependent upon us sticking like glue to the narrow little groove which gives rise to it, and implicitly denying – therefore – that there are any other possibilities.

 

If this then is the trick that is needed to camouflage the redundancy in all our mental constructs (and in the Mind-Created Virtual Reality itself) then – we might (rhetorically) ask – what exactly is the problem with this?  Why wouldn’t we go along with this, if that is how it has to be? This turns out to be the key question, the question that unlocks everything. When everything hinges upon entropy (or camouflaged redundancy) then what this means is that there is some kind of weakness (or ‘flaw’ or ‘problem’ or glitch’) right at the heart of our world that we cannot on any account allow ourselves to become aware of. This being the case, very clearly there are going to be consequences for us later down the line that are very hard for us to deal with, and which – ultimately – we are not going to be able to conveniently deny. This psychological truth doesn’t really need to be spelled out – when our whole psychological make-up is based on repression of those elements which we don’t want to know about because we are afraid of them, then nothing good is going to come from this! When our lives are based – as they are just as long as we are committed to the rational mode of existence – upon ‘the heavy-handed repression of the unwanted truth’ then this is naturally going to colour our relationship with life, our relationship with other people and ourselves. Everything is going to be on a false basis and because of this there is no way that we are ever going to be genuinely happy or at ease with life. We’re ‘out of kilter’ in a very fundamental way and yet – rather than look into this – we opt for the unwise strategy of displacing all our unease, frustration, and unhappiness onto surrogate problems.

 

What we’re saying here is of course something that will be instantly recognizable to anyone who has any familiarity with psychotherapy. As Irving Yalom says somewhere, if we don’t freely feel the pain where it does belong then we will be compelled to feel it where it doesn’t belong. Life then becomes an ongoing drama where all of our issues are red-herrings and we will on this account being controlled by the need to either fix issues that don’t actually matter or chase goals that also don’t matter. We will become embroiled in the never-ending business of ‘pain-displacement’ – we will in other words live our lives in thrall to attractive and repellent ‘red herrings’, surrogate issues which will suck up all of our attention on an ongoing basis. The result of living in a world which is created by our thoughts (and which is on this account made up of ‘camouflaged redundancy’) is therefore that we become the helpless puppets of a senseless mechanical process. This utterly absurd state of affairs is the inevitable consequence of living life exclusively in the ‘rational mode’. Essentially, we’re living under the law of fear and the thing about ‘living under the law of fear’ is that when we do this all integrity is lost. It is absolutely impossible to live under the law of fear and yet at the same time have integrity. This is just another way of saying that when we live life on a false basis then there can’t be any integrity, which is of course blindingly obvious once we say it! If the basis is false then so is everything else…

 

We have organized a situation for ourselves that is based on entirely false principles. We have opted into a mode or seeing the world and organizing the world that is entirely untrustworthy, and yet we’re never allowed to mention this fact. We’re never allowed to even think it – we mustn’t question the status quo because we’re dependent on that status quo for everything. The ‘status quo’ is the basket and we’ve rather unwisely gone and put all of our eggs in it. It’s a case of the Emperor’s new clothes – there’s a hoax being perpetrated all around us but we have to pretend that it’s all bone fide. There’s a trick being played on us but we have to make ourselves dumb so that we can believe in it. We’re afraid not to believe in it and so we’re caught in a trap of our own making. What we have essentially done – just to state again the thesis of this discussion – is to ‘say that there is something there when there isn’t’, and then make this into the basis for everything. What we’re (implicitly) claiming is that there is a special, all-important difference between our way of looking at the world and all other possible ways. We’re saying that there is a ‘specialness’ where there isn’t one; we’re saying that an essential dissymmetry exists where in reality there is a perfect symmetry. The dissymmetry which isn’t there (but which we say is there) forms the foundation for our whole world, and this puts a very particular complexion on things. On the level of superficial appearances – which is ‘the way the rational mind says things are – everything is fine and dandy and there is no hoax going on, no trick being played. On a deeper level – which is the reality behind the gloss – there’s a different flavour entirely. The more strongly we make a statement on the rational, superficial level (or ‘believe in a statement’) the more the undercurrent of things is going to oppose this statement, and act so as to undermine it. Our relationship to the ‘irrational’ reality which lies beneath the surface-level platitudes of everyday life might therefore be said to be one of fear.

 

This of course is always going to happen when we create a situation where we depend for our security on a narrative that we ourselves have made up. How can this not lead to an atmosphere of fear? The situation that we have just outlined (where there are two levels of ‘reality’, one of which we can control and the other of which we can’t) is a perfect example of a fear-creating scenario – we have a two-dimensional surface-level layer of security-producing narrative (i.e. the black-and-white description of reality) which we cling to for all we are worth without acknowledging the fact that we are clinging to anything, and then we have realty itself, which is not a narrative and which does not have the property of providing us with the sense of security that we are so desperately looking for. Given that the security-producing layer of (apparent) reality is only skin-deep and given that it needs to be constantly maintained, since reality itself (which doesn’t need to be maintained being as it is ‘self-existent’ and quite irrepressible in its nature) has the property of falsifying it at every turn, how is this situation not going to create fear? There couldn’t be a better recipe for creating fear.

 

So – just to go over this point one more time – if the situation which I find myself in is one in which my reality (or rather the pseudo-reality which I am clinging to, and creating with my clinging) is liable to be extinguished immediately, without leaving even the slightest trace behind, the moment I incautiously allow myself to look at things in any way other than the one infinitely narrow and rigid one that I am looking at the world from, and if it is moreover not just the case that my reality (which includes myself) will not just be ‘extinguished instantly’ but rather that it will be demonstrated to have never existed in the first place, which therefore puts me in the position of having to shield myself from the falsifying awareness without of course acknowledging to myself that I am shielding myself then this is the very definition of fear itself.

 

Fear isn’t something we have any real understanding of, even though we imagine that we do. We ‘rationalize’ fear – we say that it is – for example – a biological response to some kind of perceived threat and this is perfectly fine on one level of understanding – it makes excellent sense to say that fear is a kind of biological guidance-system, a mere biochemical motivator. This is only true on the biological level however – fear actually goes a lot deeper than we like to admit. Fear – as we have just intimated – is actually our ‘existential situation’; it defines the nature of our subjective reality! Just as long as we remain dependent upon the Mind-Created Virtual Reality for our sense of safety and well-being fear is always going to be our constant companion. Fear is more than just a ‘companion’ to us – it is the very basis of our existence. It is the ground which we have built our house on. We are obliged by the rules of the game to keep on seeing things in the narrow little way that makes the world make sense to us; we’re dependent upon the world making sense to us in this way and – as we’ve been saying – dependency equals fear.

 

We’re dependent upon the spin that we’ve put on everything, but a spin is – needless to say – a very precarious thing! The spin is what makes our reality for us. Our ‘reality’ is the spin; we live in a world that is made of spin and we ourselves are this spin and so of course we’re depending upon the the success of our spinning. Or as we could also say, we have coped with the existential challenge of reality by creating a kind of ‘time lag’ in the system, a time lag that is made up of redundancy, and we have taken up residence in that time-lag as if this were something that we can legitimately do without there being any consequences. This virtual world is nothing more than a closed loop of information that keeps on recycling and recycling, but the thing about a ‘closed loop of information’ is that isn’t information. It’s not information at all – it’s merely redundancy! The loop – in essence – is simply me doing something and at the same time knowing that I’m doing it. The ‘closed loop of information’ is self-reflexive knowledge; it’s us analyzing or evaluating reality. It’s the standard matching itself, it’s the framework validating itself, it’s me agreeing with myself. It’s the Great Information Collapse, it’s ‘the Fall of Man’…

 

In all of this talk we’re actually saying something very simple therefore: the redundancy which it is so very important for us to ‘camouflage’ is the redundancy of ourselves, which includes both ‘us’ and ‘the defined or positive world that we believe ourselves to live in’. ‘Redundancy’ is simply a fancy way of saying that something doesn’t exist in its own right. So it follows that if we are to continue with the game, if we are to continue to believe in this positive or defined reality of ours (which we have been calling the MCVR) then of course it is vitally important for us to disguise or camouflage that redundancy! That goes without saying, really…

 

 

 

 

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