When we look from a less into a more complex world then we feel at risk of what R.D. Laing calls ‘implosion’ – our environment cannot be more alive and more vivid than we are. If it is then we will not survive the encounter!
If our environment is more alive and more vivid than we are then we lose that necessary contrast that makes us active and alive and the world around us passive dead. We lose the one-sided relationship that we need – the relationship of control, the relationship of not letting the world do what we don’t tell it to do! We stop being the doer and the thinker, and it is as if the world does and thinks us. It is as if it is the world that is alive whilst we are nothing but a pale shadow.
How then can we say that it is us who lives, and that the world does not? How then can we see the world as no more than our plaything? The lie is no longer tenable, the lie can no longer stand up to scrutiny. We had reversed the truth, and managed to get away with it in some incredible way, and so now we discover that it had all been a trick that we had felt ourselves to be the ‘alive one’, the ‘active and creative one’, the ‘all-important’ one.
Really, we are nothing – we cannot compete with all this aliveness. There is no question of competing – how, after all, am I to manifest ‘aliveness’? To ask me to do so is to taunt me – it’s not in me to manifest aliveness. There is nothing in me – I feel shame at my emptiness, my poverty. Where does the impoverished shadow go in the presence of so much light? What has it to say for itself?
This is not so much to be annihilated as it is to discover that one never did exist – there was only the impoverished dream which took itself to be real because it knew nothing else. There was only this ridiculous untenable private fantasy that feeds on itself, makes love to itself, celebrates itself. For reality to look in at this private fantasy – for the abyss to stare back at me – this is a contest I cannot win.
This is why we prefer to have it the other way around. This is why we need to have it the other way around. We need to be looking out at an environment that is inactive, non-complex, non-challenging. We don’t want a living world, an aware world, and so we don’t see one. In our superiority, we laugh at the suggestion. We don’t want vividness, we don’t want beauty – and so there isn’t any. We do away with it, we bury it with our banal productions, with our garbage…
We create a crass environment, an environment made up of cheap toys and momentary two-dimensional marvels! We replace the world with our own tawdry generic productions and that way we can have a place in it, that way we can ‘strut our stuff’ with impunity. We don’t want to be challenged by anything that exceeds our expectations, or challenges our appallingly narrow view of reality, and so we never do. We can’t afford to see anything that isn’t dreadfully dull and miserably mediocre, and so we make very sure that we don’t…
Art: Karl Sebire, Life is Dull