Seeing A Second Moon

When we study the business of how issues get created, how games come into being, and how structures and systems are formed, it becomes clearer and clearer that what we are really looking at is the entropic process. ‘Entropy’ is of course ‘just another word’, ‘just another abstract concept’, and one moreover that is generally regarded as particularly esoteric in its connotations. What it means in essence however is straightforward enough – entropy is the naturally occurring process whereby complexity, in all its incomprehensible, indescribable, ineffable glory, gets sadly degraded into the crass banality of regular, repetitive patterns. It is the process where the wonderfully unprecedented event gets turned into an everyday boring old routine, where the unique phenomenon gets transformed into a predictable, standardized, infinitely tedious mass-produced object. A deeply poignant personal story gets processed into a few rows of figures in table of dry statistical data appearing in the appendix to some nondescript article in The Journal of Social Psychology. From this last definition it is apparent that what we are calling the ‘entropic process’ is actually identical with the process whereby we render the universe intelligible or knowable to us. What we’re saying, in other minds, is that the rational-conceptual mind is itself a function of entropy. This is something that doesn’t get mentioned in psychology textbooks, and this in itself demonstrates that what we find in such books is not information but just more entropy – it’s ‘more of the same’, in other words, only dressed up to appear as if it is something special.

The relationship between the original state of symmetry and the innumerable bland swarms of ‘degenerate analogues’ that proliferate so wildly on every side is the same as the relationship between the unprecedented event and the tired old routine, or the relationship between the unique individual and the bland stereotype, and so on. The genuine article gets entropized, it goes down the greedily gaping gullet of some voracious entropic anaconda in the Cosmic Game of Snakes and Ladders, and as a result it ends up as a hideously diminished and enfeebled caricature of how it started off. This is what happens to mighty King Poseidon after he hands himself over to the Sea Witch in Disney’s The Little Mermaid. The arrow of entropy only goes one way and that way is down – it is strictly irreversible. ‘Irreversible’ means, as anyone who has studied thermodynamics knows, that

a steaming hot cup of tea will inevitably tend towards equalizing its irregular or unprecedented heat content with the rest of the universe and end up as a result vibrating away on an utterly predictable equilibrium level of thermal molecular agitation, but a stone cold cup of tea will never ‘suck heat out of its environment’ and become hot again, no matter how many trillions of eons you patiently sit around waiting for it to do so…

IRREVERSIBILITY LEADS TO FALSE ANALOGIES

The tendency for a dynamic, individualistic pattern of activity which miraculously manage to exist in an unpredictable sort of a way in what is sometimes called a ‘non-equilibrium state’ to gradually lose (or forget) whatever it is that makes it different from everything else and thus irreversibly approach the ubiquitous equilibrium level is the same tendency that causes the Original Article to infinitely downgrade into an endlessly proliferating swarm of pestilential ‘lower analogues’. The reason lower (i.e. degenerate) analogues are false representations of the truth is because they are produced by the process of entropy. In other words, they have been produced via a process of recklessly and irreversibly discarding information. The further down the slippery slope of entropic information-reduction we go the further away from the dynamic truth we get, the more literal or self-referential our descriptions get and the less able we become to see that what we are now dealing with is a collection of sterile, static cinders rather than the brightly burning flame of reality. There is no way to retrace our steps because our steps have been erased – we cannot look back at where we came from. There is no way to move back from the flat, useless, terminally-downgraded ‘literal statements’ of the rational mind to living symbols of consciousness which gave rise to them. Put simply, we cannot understand the original masterpiece by studying the crude parody. This is a tremendous, unbearable loss but it is also a loss that we largely unable to feel – at least not directly. Sometimes however, it is undoubtedly true that we do feel the pangs of this unthinkable, incomprehensible loss and at such times we dimly sense that we have forgotten something so tremendous and so important that our petty routine-obsessed minds can’t even come close to grasping it. The dim remembrance of some dim, distant, catastrophic loss is spoken of here in mythological terms by Joyce Collin-Smith (1988, p 211), in a poignant passage taken from her autobiography Call No Man Master:

He wrote of his boyhood, of precognitive dreams when he was a teenager, and added that he had always had a private mythology: “That we are most of us participants in something which is a cross between a great adventure and a grand primeval tragedy. My myth puts itself in science-fictional terms – the crew of a splendid space ship which crash landed on an alien planet. Immediately they were enslaved by the local inhabitants and have now forgotten who they were or whence they came. But occasionally something jogs their memories and they remember the times when they flew through the galaxy on high adventures, or something plucks their heart-strings and they recognize, only for a moment, their trapped comrades. Coupled with this is an indescribable happy-sad feeling. Something is calling. And in their hearts is an aching memory of home. And permeating everything is the impression of infinitely long periods of time. The tragedy is infinitely far distant, the adventure infinitely long. And we are ageless, simply ageless.”

 

I replied that I had a similar mythology as a child. Being before the time of spaceships it concerned being ship-wrecked on an island and enslaved. One was always creeping down to the shore to scan the horizon for a sail. But soon the local inhabitants came and dragged one back to work for them.

Of course when someone comes up to you and demands to know – in typically strict, down-to-earth commonsensical terms – just what the hell you are going on about and what exactly all this quasi-mythological airy-fairy bullshit actually means in the real world then you will find that the elusive but intensely poignant sense of it all slips away very quickly, just like a beautiful but strange dream evaporates in the harsh light of day. In all probability you will be left feeling something of a fool and thus, despite the fact that this strange feeling represents the most vitally important message you could ever hope to receive, the information will be discarded in favour a more brutish reality – the reality of our collective denial, the prison house of the rational mind. Rationality – by which we mean the actual way in which we perceive and understand and think about reality – has the brute force that it does have because it claims to represent the whole of everything. It implicitly claims to speak on behalf of the universe, of life, of nature herself, just as the established church has explicitly claimed down through the centuries of its existence to speak on behalf of Almighty God. The church’s unassailable power and authority was (and to a lesser extent is) of course the direct result of this claim having been successfully made. The very notion of challenging the establishment, the exclusive mouthpiece of God’s Holy Law, shrinks shamefacedly to nothing in the face of such a coup. The Great Lie perpetrated by the established Christian church might seem like an unsurpassed masterpiece of conmanship, but this grand millennia-spanning feat of bare-faced outrageous fraudulence dwindles into complete insignificance before the feat pulled off by rational thought. Whilst it was always possible for certain individuals and groups of individuals to see the church for the grotesquely ignorant tyranny that it was – as evidenced by numerous heretical movements that the church was compelled to stamp out over the past two thousand years – one comes across very few heretics indeed with regard to the grotesquely brutal and ignorant doctrine of the system of thought. There have been a few, but for the vast majority of us the idea of rebelling against our own mind, our own understanding of things, is an idea that never even comes close to coming into existence in the first place. We will challenge and rebel against any other fraudulent authority, but never this – the grand-daddy of them all. Who rebels against their own ingrained prejudices, after all?

The system of thought – like any internally consistent logical system – is the result of the entropic process and because it is ‘produced by entropy’ it is a degenerate analogue of its original source. This means that when we orientate ourselves solely on the basis of rational thought we relate to a gross misrepresentation of reality as if it were the most marvellous thing ever. Our post-collapse situation in one of being in thrall to a fraudulent authority – an authority which (like an alcoholic father) promises us everything time and time, again but unfailingly delivers us nothing. The irreversibility of the process whereby the sublime soaring freedom of the Symmetrical State is replaced with the tight, mean, circular little knot which is the ‘issue-obsessed’ rational mind means that we cannot see how badly we have been short-changed. We no longer have the capacity to see that what we are stuck with is a very sorry excuse for the real thing, a grotesque inversion of the real thing. Our situation is like that of the amnesiac crew members of the crashed space-ship in the story mentioned by Joyce Collin-Smith, the intergalactic travellers who have forgotten the glory of their previous station and spend their time doing the uninspired bidding of us dull-witted, crude and unimaginative earth-bound barbarians.

LITERALISM AS A FALSE ANALOGUE

Another way to look at the way in which what we have called ‘mental entropy’ functions is to say that it works by degrading the subtle intimations of metaphorical thinking into the crude ‘in your face’ assertions of literal thinking. It could be said that metaphorical thinking is the highest flight of which our everyday, earth-bound consciousness is capable. Metaphorical thinking is thinking which is – to some extent – free from itself, free from its own built-in limitations. It is free to move beyond the dire pull of its own gravitational field – the field which is automatically created by information-collapsing self-referentiality of the closed system. Because of this freedom to move beyond the interminable tautological sameness which is the continuum of thought metaphorical thinking can approach the ‘absolute other’ – which can defined negatively simply by saying that it is not continuous with the system of thought. The system of thought points only one way (which is of course to itself, albeit in disguised form) and so as long as we follow it we will miss everything that is discontinuous to it. The automatic impression that we receive as habitual dwellers within the realm of rational thought is that there simply isn’t any such thing as ‘a reality that is discontinuous to our thinking,’ that such  idea that such a reality could also prove to be infinitely greater than the ‘postage stamp-sized’ remit of rationality certainly never occurs to us.

The lowest and most trapped form of consciousness, on the other hand, might be said to be literalism – which is where we always look at where our rational thinking is pointing, and never look anywhere else. Literal thinking is therefore thinking that is hopelessly ‘stuck to itself’; it adheres like the most determined of limpets to the surface of its own provisional assumptions and so it is guaranteed never to approach – even to the slightest degree – anything not continuous (i.e. anything inconsistent) with itself. Literal thinking inevitably follows the gravitational ‘field-lines’ of the system of logic which has been produced by the entropic process. This process can be seen as a sort of tidal effect, a grand ‘ebbing’ whereby the ocean recedes into the distant horizon, leaving behind innumerable isolated pools of water, each of which is ‘a universe unto itself’. Each tidal pool takes itself to be the Entirety of Everything – it cannot see itself as being just a tiny nondescript pool, an infinitesimal remnant of the inconceivably mighty ocean, for the simple reason that it has nothing else to go on other than itself. Because it is limited to knowing itself and nothing outside its own hermetically sealed micro-universe, it naturally takes itself to be the actual ocean itself, and the colossal absurdity of its presumption in this matter is something that it has no means of appreciating. Jumping from the tidal metaphor to the possibly less poetical realm of set theory, we can say that when a rule is set above all other rules, so that any elements within the Universal Set that it does not specifically agree with are irreversibly discarded, the rule that has been chosen to rule has no way of knowing about anything other than itself, and so it takes itself – quite understandably – to be the Entirety of Everything. What is produced by this process of self-agreement is a ‘sealed-off micro-universe’ in which all the field-lines of logic curve smoothly and very logically back around on themselves and meet up back where they started (only of course they never did start anywhere really because a circle has no beginning). To say that literal thinking never deviates from the path laid out so neatly by the field-lines of the self-agreeing, internally-consistent logical system is not stating the matter plainly enough –

Literal thinking is the same thing as the field of the self-agreeing, internally-consistent logical system, and so of course it can never deviate, or go anywhere else.

THE OCEAN OF INFORMATION

The ‘metaphorical ocean’ may be said (in a manner of speaking) to be characterized by its discontinuity – it doesn’t agree with itself, in other words. This is just another way of saying that the Great Ocean from which all tidal pools are derived from is information – it is a state of ‘constantly unfolding newness’. One way to envisage this Information Ocean is to picture it as an infinite amount of logical field-lines packed infinitely close together, side-by-side like meteorological contour-lines (better known as isobars) would be if they were denoting an astonishingly dramatic pressure gradient. Because the W-contour lines are packed together without space between them even the slightest bit of movement will, as long as it proceeds at right-angles to the direction of the lines, will cut across an infinite number of them. Each W-contour, rather than linking a region of equal barometric pressure as an isobar would, is in fact a sort of ‘field line of logic’ which links logical statements that can be related to each other in a linear fashion. Instead of talking about regions of the atmosphere that are isometric with regard to pressure therefore, we are referring to regions of the Ocean of Information that that ‘logically agree’ with each other. Expressed more carefully, the W-contour lines link elements of the Information Ocean that belong to the same logical set, they link elements that are ‘isometric’ (so to speak) with regard to specific underlying mathematical rules. Clearly, then, any sort of movement that cuts across the lines instead of going along with them will be a movement into ‘discontinuity with regard to rules’. More colloquially, movement across the W-contour lines will represent a journey into never-ending ‘newness’.

This sounds like a bit of an awkward model to work with, but at the same time it is intriguing. The idea that Reality itself – the Mother of All Things – can be expressed simply as an infinite number of information contour-lines bunched infinitely close together appears at first glance distinctly preposterous and not particular elegant either. Instead of abstruse philosophical treatises or fine verses, all we are offering is a model that says reality is like a lot of lines squashed together side by side. On the other hand this crude contour-model relates linear and non-linear change intimately to each other in a nicely visual manner, and this in turn means that it also relates the world as it is represented to us by the ubiquitous system of thought with the elusive ‘deeper level of things’ that we can’t help suspecting to be there somewhere underneath all the logical categories. It is possible to refine the topology of the information contour-line model further if we consider that all the lines must of necessity eventually loop back up onto themselves. W-contour lines have to be closed just as all defined instructions or rules have to be closed – defined means closed. So rather than envisaging the contour lines as branching out all over the place like an infinitely untidy mass of spaghetti we can picture it as being made up of loops. The image that immediately presents itself here is that of planet Earth as it is pictured in terms of its magnetic field. In such a representation, magnetic field lines are shown as densely clustering at the North pole, shooting out profusely into space, spreading out as they do so, and then re-clustering again before re-entering the planet at the magnetic South Pole. At the core of the Earth these magnetic field lines are ‘squeezed in,’ as it were, and arrange themselves very tightly in a parallel fashion in-between the two magnetic poles of North and South. In order to adapt this visual representation so that we can use it for our information-based model all we have to do is to say that the field lines link all those points (or locations) in an abstract ‘rule space’ that are linearly connected with each other. ‘Rule space’ – in this context – is simply another way of talking about ‘The Universal Set of All Possible Logical Statements’. As a final adjustment, instead of having magnetic North and South poles at the ‘top’ and bottom of the tightly bunched core of field lines we have the two poles of logic which are [YES] and [NO].  Each pole gives the logical statements (or rules) they refer to either an affirming or denying slant. Any given logical statement has to have either a [+] slant or a  [-] slant since without one or the other it is not saying anything definite, and a statement that does not say something definite is not a statement at all! No slant means no rule, since a rule that is not prejudiced (i.e. one-sided) is, by definition, simply not a rule. Affirmation and denial, PLUS and MINUS, are also of course the two complementary faces of any rule, since rules by their affirming deny, and by their denying affirm.

BOTTOM-UP AND TOP-DOWN

The visual is always a cartoon, an oversimplification, of the invisible. Form is always a cartoon, an oversimplification, of the formlessness from which it was abstracted. ‘Form’ essentially means that there are ‘defined structural relationships’ involved. Another way of putting this is to say the following –

Form essentially involves ratios, i.e. ‘specifically defined quantitative relationships’.

For there to be specifically defined quantitative relationships there has to be an overall self-consistent framework and so whilst we can say with complete assurance that form is all about ratios,  on a deeper level it must be the case that form is all about self-consistent logical frameworks. If the measuring stick is not absolutely standard, right across the board, then there can be no ratios. This is another way of saying that this essential mental operation of ‘comparison of differences’ can only take place when the things being compared are essentially the same, which seems more than just a little bit ridiculous when one gets to thinking about it. Given that the rational-conceptual mind works by registering and cataloguing differences within the over-arching context of a universal self-agreeing framework of interpretation, what this means is that we make an awfully big deal of what are actually only ‘virtual distinctions’ – the distinctions we get all hot and bothered about are only ‘distinctions with regard to our very narrow outlook’. This kind of takes all the seriousness out of what we spend all our time doing (i.e. thinking), but since we are very fond of being preoccupied with our thinking we are not overly keen on having this seriousness taken away from us.

‘Form’ means something like ‘shape’, and when we talk about the realm of form what we referring to is the realm which is made up of defined shapes or rigidly outlined figures. What form really comes down to however is self-consistent system of logic – the forms which this system grants ‘validity’ are merely the visible tokens of itself, and inasmuch as the system doesn’t have the genuine validity that it implicitly claims for itself neither do its productions. We can say that the objects which attract and capture our attention are decoys because they effectively distract us from seeing that the reality of the figures we are focussing on exists only in relation to a viewpoint that we have taken and then ignored. As a result of this ignorance of the choice that has been made therefore we relate to the figures as if they were absolutely and not relatively real, and the authority that this imbues them which means that we are in effect ‘in thrall’ to them. They represent a final reality for us – beyond them there is nothing, and so it becomes all-important that they are configuring in the right and not the wrong way. This is another way of saying that we get caught up in ‘issues’.

The ‘thing’ seems to be the issue that we have got caught up in, but actually the thing is the self-consistent system of logic. Using psychological language, the clear-cut +/- issue is a projection of the system of logic – it is the way that the ‘unconscious system’ becomes aware (in an entirely deceptive way) of the assumptions implicit in its own nature. It is appropriate to talk in terms of ‘unconsciousness’ for such an abstract thing as a self-agreeing system of logic because for this system to be what it implicitly presents itself as being, it has to be profoundly oblivious to any other, non-agreeing point of view. When this is the case (i.e. when all other ‘contenders’ have been wiped from the map) then the self-agreeing system of logic has the universal, unconditional validity that gives it what it needs to be able to go ahead and explore the ‘make-believe reality’ in which it is the ultimate, one-and-only authority. If we can see the system of logic (or system of thought) for what it is, i.e. a particular viewpoint, one of a boundless set of viewpoints, that excludes all other angles and creates a self-consistent logical universe on this basis, then the attention-grabbing issues that it throws up in such never-ending profusion dwindle in significance to a purely ‘virtual’ level. When the conditions behind the existence of the rational mind are made explicit, then all its productions are seen to be empty. If I take ‘such-and-such a proposition’ were to be taken as true (just to see what it would feel like if it was, even though it isn’t) and then as a result of my arbitrary assumption certain issues immediately arise as being problematic, then just how real does this make the so-called ‘problems’ that I am talking about? They are of course purely academic problems – mere semiotic phantoms that are dependent for their apparent reality upon certain limiting conditions being in place that I have actually had to cause to be in place.

To express this in the form of an equation –

“All-encompassing self-consistent logical system” + “unawareness that there isn’t actually any such thing as an ‘all-encompassing self-consistent logical system’” (i.e. entropy) = “the production of the realm of form”

THE INVISIBLE EDGE

‘Form’, in essence, comes down to a figure or shape that is made by a 2-dimensional line, and a line is simply a graphical representation of the divide between ‘what follows’ and ‘what doesn’t follow’ with regard to a particular logical statement (i.e. what is ‘included’ and what is ‘excluded’ by a rule). A line is basically what a rule looks like when it is mapped out onto a surface. It might be thought that a line separates YES and NO, with the YES applying to what is to be included in the set and the NO applying to what is to be excluded from it. However, both YES and NO necessarily refer to specifics – specifics that have been specified by the rule whose job it is to do the specifying. If the system of logic can specify a particular element, even to say a definite and resounding NO to it, then obviously that element must be accepted as being a valid concept – it must be an issue to the system of logic, it must have been granted the status of being worth consideration. Normally when we think of sets and what lies inside and outside the set we are thinking in terms of known and readily understandable elements across the board. So for example if I tell you to draw what the set of {yellow flowers} looks like as a subset of {all flowers} then you will draw a smaller set within a larger set. The boundary of the subset of yellow flowers may be said to be consist of a YES on the inside and a NO on the outside – the former representing the positive answer to the standardized question being applied across the board to the set of all flowers “Is the element a yellow flower?” and the latter representing the negative answer. In this case the line describing the subset of yellow flowers can be said to be made up of a [+] and [-] – two complementary faces of the same geometrical thing. Just as a line can’t include without excluding, so YES cannot exist without NO.

Whilst the rational mind may be said to consist of subsets (i.e. categories, or ‘differentiations between known elements’) the boundary around the rational mind itself has YES and NO on the inside and [?]. The logic of the reasoning, conceptualizing mind is made up of the two terms YES and NO; it is constitutionally incapable of going beyond these two terms – its integrity as a processing unit depends upon its flat inability to see that the operation of inclusion and exclusion are only meaningful inasmuch as the original criterion for inclusion/exclusion is meaningful, which is what the third term (corresponding to Robert Anton Wilson’s MAYBE term) is all about. MAYBE does not mean maybe the flower is yellow and maybe it is some other colour. That is a weak and feeble use of the term MAYBE, a trivial impostor for the real thing. What MAYBE means is “Maybe our criterion doesn’t have any valid applicability in the first place?” This is clearly a ‘non-trivial’ question, which is to say, it is a decent honest-to-goodness philosophical question as opposed to a mealy-mouthed, obfuscating, conniving excuse for a question. A genuine philosophical question opens doors where before there were none – it reveals our limiting assumptions and offers new possibilities of thinking about things, whereas the latter mires us ever deeper in them and adds extra confusion on top of the confusion we are already suffering from. From a philosophical point of view, the second type of question is worse than useless – it puts us further in the dark whilst claiming to throw light on the matter. The weak and feeble version of MAYBE might be said to be the stock-in-trade of the everyday mind, that instrument which so thoroughly rules our lives. It points splendidly forward to some supposedly glorious promised land whilst all the time leading us deeper and deeper into the tired old tautology of itself. This type of MAYBE is simply another way of referring to <YES/NO> which are the two terms of the spuriously all-encompassing logical instrument within which we are unknowingly trapped. The other type of MAYBE is a ‘maybe’ that points towards a world in which our logical criteria have no applicability – this worlds cannot be defined or categorized and so all we can say is that the finger of RADICAL MAYBE is pointing towards a tremendous luminescent question mark in the sky. It is this [?] that lies on the other side of the boundary of the rational mind, only because the rational mind does not point at it (because it can’t) this is a world which we are profoundly oblivious to.

The ‘difference’ between the two terms of YES and NO constitutes the ‘freedom’ which the system of thought offers us and as long as we believe in this freedom then it is impossible for us to even get close to suspecting that there might be another dimension in which to travel, a dimension which lies – in a manner of speaking – at right angles to the plane of rational thought. No matter where we might happen to be on the chess board of the everyday mind, no matter what complicated games we are caught up on, we are always on the interface between the flat, cartoon-like reality of YES/NO and the endlessly deep, inexhaustibly rich reality of [?] only because this mind does not acknowledge that there is a third term this remains a boundary that we cannot see. We are forever living on the very edge of what Jung called the numenosum and yet have no inkling that there even could be the slightest possibility of there being such a strange ‘edge’ to our so-familiar world. For us, the normal run-of-the-mill everyday-type reality which we spend almost all of our lives in has no edge – we take it for granted that this ‘tyranny of the familiar’ is all there is, was and ever could be.

THE DISCONTINUITY MODEL

Coming back to the subject of W-contours now, we can relate what we have just been saying to aspects of the ‘magnetic-core model’ that we were playing around with earlier. This model is useful because it represents in a straightforward visual fashion the key ideas that we have been looking at so far in this book. The most striking feature of the ‘magnetic core model’ is the profusion of field-lines that shoot out densely from the North pole, expand wildly into space all around the core, and then somehow cluster back together again in a thick bundle before disappearing into the South Pole. In our model the field lines have nothing to do with magnetism but rather represent ‘statements in rule space’ that can be related to each other in a linear fashion. In organic chemistry molecules which represent different ways of organizing what is essentially the same molecule are called ‘isomers’ and so in pretty much the same way the field lines in our model may be said to connect regions of ‘informational isomerism’. The fact that the W-contour lines loop back on themselves is only a way of showing – in graphical form – that [+] equals [-]. So instead of thinking of the North Pole as being North, we can think of it being YES or [+]. Thus, each and every logical statement in the bundle starts out as being affirming in nature, and ends up being denying. The apparent difference in polarity is resolved as the field lines shoot out into the surrounding space from the top of the core (which is the [+] Pole) and then change direction and make their way back to the bottom of the core (which is the [-] Pole).

The paradoxical statement [+] = [-] is really just a way of saying that there isn’t any such thing as PLUS or MINUS. It could of course be said that each opposite exists in relation to the other – that they have relative reality, that each has reality in relation to the other. This is the same thing as saying that UP and DOWN are both meaningful terms within the context that they assume – and this too is undeniable. However, if ‘UP’ does not have any independent existence of its own, and if there is also no such thing as ‘DOWN’ (on its own, that is) then just what the hell are we proving by saying that UP exists in relation to DOWN and vice versa? Neither UP nor DOWN partake in reality, even to the slightest degree, but if we take them both together then we can say that the two terms exist in relation to each other. But, if we do take them both together (which is the only way they can provisionally partake in reality) then the result of taking both complementary terms together is that they perfectly cancel each other out. Thus, although we can legitimately argue that the two opposites taken together ‘partake in reality,’ actually the two opposites – taken together  – neatly erase each other, just as a step forward and a step back neatly erase each other, and so once again we are left wondering what exactly it is that we are trying to prove. The statement [+] = [-] isn’t really saying anything really; it is actually a kind of mathematical joke  – after all, why would we go to the trouble of stating something when we neatly erase with the second half of the statement what we took such pains to say with the first half?

‘Closed’ (or ‘circular’) is self-erasing; it is a way of saying that “Such-and-such never happened”. It never took place, which makes us wonder why we mentioned it in the first place. There must be an infinity of other events that never happened, and we didn’t mention them, and so why do we mention this particular one? This is a good question because it draws our attention to the colossal degree of arbitrariness involved. If we fail to see this – the single most salient point about the whole exercise – at the very outset then everything switches around and, rather than seeing how absurdly out on a totally preposterous limb the whole thing is, we see something very different, we see how ‘it couldn’t have been any other way’. The inversion that we are looking at here therefore is the inversion of ‘getting sucked up into a particular rule’ so that what is utterly arbitrary and ‘light’ ends up sitting on top of us and crushing us under the immense weight of its immutable inevitability. Instead of the essential freedom of ‘I can see things like this but I don’t have to…” I end up with the inverse proposition which is so unquestionable, so ‘un-examinable,’ that I can’t even frame it in terms of “I have to see things like this…” since if I could frame it thus then because I was aware of the rule I would already be free from it. If I can see that the rule is a rule then I must by definition be outside of its influence, whereas when I am within its zone of power it isn’t ‘a rule’ at all but the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end – it isn’t part of the picture but The Picture itself.

TIME-LOOPS

When the logic lines dramatically splay out from the colossal density of the [+] Pole they really do look as if they are going somewhere but on the other side of the expansion-zone in which they spread out so spectacularly the whole thing goes into reverse  – it is a perfect mirror image of what came before. Although we have defined this contour lines in terms of some sort of isomerism of logic (which is to say, in terms of the linear transformation of the initial logical statement) we can also think of them as being lines of time. It is clear that there has to be a close connection between the two: at the risk of stating the very obvious indeed, we can say that if there is to be such a thing as ‘a linear process of transformation’ then there must be some sort of dimension in which this process can operate. This is not exactly breaking news. However it might be thought that this would be equally true for non-linear processes of transformation, but we will shortly see that this assumption is not correct. With regard to linear processes, processes which follow a ‘straight line of logical development’, it is by definition that the case that the unfolding of possibilities which takes place in time is a ‘pseudo-unfolding’ because any development that we might be observing is actually not a development at all since everything was already stated in the initial frame and, no matter how long we wait, the one thing we know for sure about linear processes is that nothing else other than this initial statement will ever appear – albeit in innumerable disguised forms. Given that no genuine development is taking place (which it isn’t) then we are bound to wonder what exactly we are watching and why exactly we are experiencing the illusion of change.

Although in a practical way we have to agree that linear processes occur in time (which is to say, the apparently different restatements of the original statement are sequentially separated) we also cannot help suspecting that this ‘linear time’ must be as bogus an affair as the linear transformation that is occurring in it. If we – purely as some sort of harmless thought experiment – were to associate linear time with the W-contour lines in our ‘Discontinuity Model’ then we could say that just as all transformations that take place along the W-line as it makes its loop-like passage through the space between the North [+] Pole and the South [-] Pole are ‘apparent but not real’ (since by definition no change in information content occurs when there is no ‘cutting across’ the W-contours) then so too is the ‘change’ associated with time ‘apparent but not real’. We cannot avoid this conclusion since as we have said the whole thing about the W-contour lines is that they are the informational equivalent of isobars – they link points which exist upon the same unbroken logical continuum. The idea that ‘zero change’ is taking place along the W-line is inherent in the idea of the W-contour line in the first place. In a nutshell –

The loop described by the W-contour line contains no information. 

TIME AND ENTROPY

An inordinate amount of philosophical hot air has been expelled on the subject of time and as a result any pronouncement about ‘time being unreal’ is almost guaranteed not to be given very much in the way of serious attention. Given that the relentless passage of time is the just about the most pertinent and most uncompromising ‘brute fact’ of an existence characterized by brutally uncompromising brute facts it is not surprising that arguments to the effect that there is ‘no such thing’ as time fail miserably to impress. To anyone who is sensitive to the meaning of time – the way in which we and our loved ones are doomed to grow old and die, the way in which everything that is precious to us must sooner or later pass away and be lost forever – the suggestion that all of this ‘time business’ doesn’t actually happen at all must seem obnoxiously inane. We will nevertheless persist with the idea that time contains an invisible redundancy and see where this gets us. The first thing that we can look at is the relationship between time and entropy. On a basic intuitive level there does seem to be a close relationship between the two – both are characterized by their irreversibility, by the way in which they go the one way, but not the other.

It is possible to go further than just saying that there must be a relationship between time and entropy – we can state that without ‘loss of information’ there can be no such thing as time. This is not particularly hard to show. When we talk about time what we generally understand by the term is that there is some objective movement that carries on by itself, independent of any perceptual stance we might take on the matter. We do not see time as a function of the way we look at things, in other words. But in order to be able to perceive and measure (which is how we conceptually grasp hold of phenomena) this movement we must have a framework, a vantage point from which we can survey whatever it is we want to make focus on. This is true for any object which we want to focus upon, and it is also true for any measurable (i.e. definable) process that we want to focus on. In essence, it can be said that the perceived objective, definable property of whatever it is we are making the object of our knowing is a function of the degree to which we make us of an abstract (i.e. independent) framework to survey that object. However, abstract frameworks (and the isolated, independently real categories which they make possible) can only exist when we create them by assuming the existence of such as a thing as ‘an abstract or independent framework’. The whole thing is a loop – the process of ‘objectification’ depends upon our commitment to a premise that is only reliable because we choice to take it as being such. In short – the measuring mind, along with the whole of its kingdom, hangs on a thread attached to an unreal hook and the only reason it doesn’t come crashing around our ears is because we cleverly avoid seeing that there is absolutely no basis at all for any of it.

When there is no information loss (i.e. no ‘descent into unreality’) then there is of course no framework and no object, and if there is no framework and no object then very obviously the idea of that ‘object’ being subject to something called ‘time’ is a complete non-starter. Without entropy we are back to the state of Original Symmetry and within this state of perfect symmetry there are no directions. If there are no directions then there can be no ‘movement in a particular direction’ and therefore there can be no time. This tends to sound quite suffocating – we can’t help thinking that the state of Original Symmetry must be like some awful cosmic fly-paper upon which we will be eternally stuck. But this unpleasant image is a construct of our thinking. In the state of Perfect Symmetry there is no self and no place for that self to get stuck. I can’t help taking it the wrong way, as if I have been robbed of something very precious to me. It is as if symmetry is a horrible poison, something which destroys the very foundation of my being. The freedom that I have to move in my habitual directions is taken away from me and I am left with… what?

The freedom for which I lament is however ‘inverted freedom’ and as such it is an obstacle to the genuine article. The freedom to move in a particular direction is the result of the separation of the opposites – the opposites being separate, I am free to move away from one and towards the other. But this is all a fraud, it is all a tautology since UP only has any meaning at all because of DOWN, and vice versa. In other words if I take UP as being a meaningful proposition then DOWN straightaway must be too and if DOWN is meaningful then so is UP, etc. The two therefore support each other, give rise to each other, validate each other, and between the two of them they create a continuum of self-agreement. This is just like a husband and wife who both agree with each other that the other is right and thereby arrive at a position of spurious impregnability. Shameless social collusion isn’t reserved for just for cults and dysfunctional families – this is the mechanism whereby we, via the biggest mega-collusion of all time, create for ourselves the ‘modern world’, which we unreflectively accept as being genuinely real, genuinely substantial in nature, and most definitely not the result of some seedy planet-wide collusion.

So even though my direction, the sense of orientation which seems to give me the possibility of engaging in purposeful movement, has been rudely stripped from me all I have really lost is the illusion-creating collusion between the two opposites, which are themselves no more than an ‘excursion into unreality’ facilitated by the incurring of a huge entropy debt. Without entropy no linear change, no change in a particular logical direction, can take place. No entropy means that there is no dissymmetry – it means that we have arrived back at the state of Original Symmetry, only the truth of the matter is that we never left it in the first place since any asymmetrical state that we might have visited only has any reality in relation to the conditioned viewpoint which arises out of the state. When everything is symmetrical, when no one viewpoint is given precedence over the others, then we have a situation where no measured or measurable change is possible. This does not mean that there is no change, that the symmetrical state is one that is frozen in eternal stasis, it simply means that there is no linear change – there is no change that can be seen to be taking place by reference to an unchanging background. Or to put this another way –

There is no change when by the word ‘change’ we mean that there is a discernable, measurable movement between a [+] pole that lies at one end of an linear axis, and the corresponding [-] pole that lies that the other end of the same axis.

Linear change is grounded change; it is change that is fundamentally predicated upon a framework that never changes. If we started to think about how this ‘absolutely independent and unchanging background’ might itself be subject to change then of course everything starts to swim before our eyes (or rather, it starts to swim before our measuring mind) and the nice neat, reassuringly understandable world that we are so very used to dealing with dissolves into the fantastically non-reassuring phenomenon of ungrounded change. The weird and extraordinarily disturbing nature of ungrounded change comes across perfectly in the oft-quoted verse by Fudaishi (Shan-hui, AD 497-469) –

Empty-handed I go, and yet the spade is in my hands;

I walk on foot, and yet on the back of an ox I am riding;

When I pass over a bridge, Lo, the water floweth not, but the bridge doth flow.

In ungrounded change the point is that there isn’t any fixed point of reference and as a result of this ‘lack’ of what we innately think there ought to be all of our neat and tidy truths about the world swirl around and mix together like a palette of different water colours left in the rain. Any fixed point of reference that we do have is the result of a ‘oversimplifying’ the universe (i.e. simplifying the universe in such a way that it is actually grossly misrepresented in the process) in order to illegitimately derive a sense of ontological security. In this oversimplified universe – which is the universe to which all the logical operations that ceaselessly go on in our heads belong and to which they rightfully apply – everything that happens happens neatly and obediently within the all-determining context of an absolutely unchanging and unquestionable framework of reference. This is like cooking soup in a pot – the soup stays in the pot and behaves itself and doesn’t get out of hand in any way, whereas the unsimplified universe might be said to be where the soup is outside the pot as well as inside it, and where both the pot and ourselves are also the soup when it comes right down to it. This situation is clearly right out of hand, and any self-respecting cook would resign from the situation immediately. David Bohm gets at this idea by saying that the universe consists of one whole unbroken movement, which on the one hand (intuitively speaking, perhaps) is a very easy idea to grasp, but which on the other hand cannot be grasped at all, since contemplating this ‘whole, unbroken movement’ immediately takes right out of the realm of the ratio-operating mind and into a realm we cannot even begin to imagine. Linear change, i.e. change that takes place between two poles, is understandable change, it change that corroborates rather than challenges the logical platform from which we habitually survey the world. This is like standing on the bridge and watching the water flow obediently underneath it. Non-linear change is when the bridge itself flows, it is when our logical platform stops being solid and turns fluid. But fluid logic isn’t logic at all, it is in fact the nemesis of logic, and so what this means is that ungrounded change is the same thing as ‘losing one’s mind’.

Again, it is worth stressing that our prejudice is to think that losing the abstract platform of the measuring, conceptualizing mind is a genuine loss, and that when this framework is taken away from us any possibility of seeing anything worthwhile about the world is gone. We have no interest in what might be seen without the mind – we tend either to imagine that it is nothing at all, or that it is some sort of virulent chaos best kept at bay for the sake of sanity. But the platform of the mind only generates the reassuring certainty that it does generate because it is outside of everything that we are looking at (or thinking about). In this it assumes itself to be identical with the fundamental bedrock of reality and because it does this it frees itself from any need to doubt itself, or indeed to have the slightest genuine interest in itself. The integrity of the system of thought’s game depends in taking absolutely for granted its own right to do what it does, and yet this necessary assumption is fatally flawed since it has no right whatsoever to take itself for granted in this way. This, as always, comes down to the time-honoured principle of inversion –

What the system of thought does in order to be the system of thought is to make itself invisible to itself – rather than seeing itself as having the key role in creating whatever reality it is surveying, it takes its own right to take the position that it does take absolutely for granted and the blind-spot thus created endows the reality it perceives a validity that is entirely spurious.

DREAM TIME

The fact that the vantage point which is rationality is abstract basically means that it is unreal or false, it is no more than a deceptive distorting factor and so to lose it is to be rid of something that was causing us no end of unnecessary problems and complications and yet because we over-value the rational mind to the extent that we do, we insist on believing that if there is anything good and worthwhile then that something must be found within the remit of this mind and nowhere else. Such is the curse of the rational-technological culture that we live in. The Aborigine idea of ‘dream-time’ on the other hand is an example of a type of understanding which sees ‘where it’s really at’ as being somewhere completely beyond the sterile clutches of rationality, and the bleak linear dimensions which it inhabits. One doesn’t imagine dream-time to exist anywhere in particular on the continuum of time – it wasn’t there right at the beginning and it won’t be there waiting for us right there at the end. To believe that dream-time exists literally at some point in linear time is absurd, just as the belief that heaven literally exists out there in space somewhere is absurd. Even if we say that dream-time is to be found “way back at the beginning of all things” this is clearly metaphorical – we have to talk about it as if it were to be found within the framework of the mind because that is the only way we have of talking about it. If dream-time were to be found within the continuum of time it would just be ordinary time, just as heaven would only be a place like any other place. By taking the idea literally I seem to gain in that I have made it more real, more accessible, but actually I have lost out big time because I have made something that was genuinely wonderful, genuinely transcendent, into just ‘more of the same’.

Jung’s collective unconscious seems to be pretty much the same sort of thing as the Aborigines’ Dream Time. When we think about the collective unconscious we tend to think along the lines of race memory, of some sort of universal repository of human experience. Jung himself drew a strong link with genetic endowment by drawing a parallel between the archetypes and instincts. Seeing the collective unconscious in terms of coded data in a gene pool seems to miss the point however – reading Jung’s (CW Vol 9(1) pars. 45, 46) account of the universal unconscious the connection with mystical accounts of reality is very clear:

….For what comes after the door is, surprisingly enough, a boundless expanse of unprecedented uncertainty, with apparently no inside and no outside, no above and no below, no here and no there, no mine and no thine, no good and no bad. It is the realm of water, where all life floats in suspension; where the realm of the sympathetic system, the soul of everything living, begins; where I am indivisibly this and that; where I experience the other in myself and the other-than-myself experiences me.

 

No, the collective unconscious is anything but an encapsulated personal system; it is sheer objectivity, as wide as the world and open to all the world. There I am the object of every subject, in complete reversal of my ordinary consciousness, where I am always the subject that has an object. There I am utterly one with the world, so much a part of it that I forget all too easily who I really am. “Lost in oneself” is a good way of describing this state. But this self is the world, if only a consciousness could see it.

What stands out in this passage is the symmetry of what Jung is describing, and the fact that the basic subject-object polarity of self and other is reversed, so that the world is no longer my object, but the other way around. It goes almost without saying that this reversal is the single most eerie and disturbing change that could take place with regard to ‘the self’. The self relies on being the subject and everything else being the object – when it ceases to be the subject and instead becomes the object of what we might call ‘non-identified consciousness’ (i.e. free consciousness, consciousness that isn’t attached to a self, to a specific or exclusive locus) then it loses the one thing that makes it what it takes itself to be. After all, if the ‘me’ is merely an object of consciousness, then it isn’t really me at all – or, at least, it isn’t at all what I had implicitly understood a ‘me’ to be all about. When it comes down to it, it isn’t really anything at all. Which is an amazing turn-around considering what a tremendous (if not absolute) weighting we almost always give it. The moment I become free from having to identify with this nothing that takes itself to be everything  – so to speak –  I have gained an incredible amount of freedom (although the question as to who exactly has gained this infinite freedom is of course a question that completely misses the point). Dream time is the original article, everyday sequential or linear the degenerate analogue thereof. The former is genuine endlessness, the latter mere maddening repetition. The former is vast beyond all conceptions of vastness, the latter utterly lacking any spaciousness whatsoever. If we could perceive this utter lack of spaciousness this perception itself would constitute spaciousness, yet because the relationship of the unconditioned self with radical uncertainty has been effectively substituted for by the wholly redundant relationship of the conditioned self with trivial uncertainty, we fail to see how we have been short-changed. Virtual space, to us, seems like a real and viable proposition.

VIRTUAL JOURNEYS

When I am, as Jung says, “utterly one with the world”, and I perceive the old familiar ‘not-at-one-with-the-world-self’ from this profoundly non-partisan viewpoint what I am perceiving is a place that I do not need to be associated with, but which I feel – out of long habit – an inordinately intense attraction. The everyday, alienated self might be described as ‘an appalling prison which I am somehow very, very fond of’. I am so very fond of this prison in fact that any suggestion or intimation that I might be separated from it brings about The Single Most Greatest Terror that it is possible for me to experience. What I am terrified of is the prospect of ‘forgetting who I really am’ – thoroughly crappy and arbitrary though that ‘who I really am’ might be – and dissolving into the inconceivably tremendous and non-arbitrary peacefulness that is ‘The One’, the alchemists’ unus reis. It could be said that the everyday self is our means of escape – our place of refuge – from this unspeakable Terror, but then again the need to escape only arises when we look at things from the inverted perspective which is the everyday self. The self is thus both the refuge and the need for a refuge.

We can also look at this paradoxical solution to a problem that doesn’t need solving in terms of linear time versus what is generally called ‘eternity’. Linear time goes on and on forever, but because it is linear – which is to say, because it is self-consistent – it doesn’t actually go anywhere at all. It partakes in a type of infinity, but the type of infinity it partakes in is a lower analogue of the genuine article, which basically means that linear time doesn’t really partake in infinity at all. Linear time is the type of time associated with the system of thought and the bounded (or local) self which the system of thought creates. Jung’s collective unconscious, just like the Aborigines’ dream-time, genuinely does partake in infinity however, and this is just another way of saying that it partakes in reality.

VIRTUAL LOCATIONS

Coming back to our discussion of the informational contour-lines and the Discontinuity Model, the crux of the matter is that the arrow of entropy (or the arrow of time) never really goes anywhere. Whatever events happened along the way, never happened at all. The whole thing never happened, and us saying that it never happened never happened never happened either, and so on… Information is never lost and can never be destroyed – it only appears that way because of the peculiar nature of the location from which we are looking at things. This location is a kind of pseudo or inverted ‘vantage-point’ – it is a viewpoint which we automatically assume to be a vantage point when actually the ‘advantage’ it provides is more in the line of a terminal disadvantage. The inverted viewpoint from which we understand things is inextricably bound up with irreversibility, which means that it is bound to head in the direction of becoming ever more blinkered, ever more closed-off. In fact it is not simply that the viewpoint which we are tied to in everyday life is bound to become ever more blinkered but rather that the view-point is the blinkeredness and the blinkeredness is it. The only way the time-orientated viewpoint can continue to function (or can appear to continue to function) is by tunnelling ever deeper into ‘unreality’. To sum up –

Information cannot be lost but it can become pragmatically unavailable to us if we choose to look at the world from a type of ‘virtual location’, a location that only exists as a location because of the blind-spot which it ‘unknowingly’ depends upon.

THE EMPTY COMPLICATIONS ENGENDERED BY ‘RAMPANT SELF-REFERENTIALITY’

What we are basically saying here is that time only exists when we look at the world from the closed (or self-referential) vantage point of the process upon which entropy is acting. The whole business is an excursion into unreality, a day-trip into never-never land, and so when we wake up out of it we discover that nothing actually happened. From the moment the divergence from Symmetry first took place (which is a virtual moment, since the moment in question only happened in relation to a set of unfounded assumptions which it needs to take totally for granted in order that it might exist) to the moment when Symmetry resumes (which is also a virtual moment) all the changes that took place were only virtual changes. Change only took place from the viewpoint of the location which itself only exists in respect of its own unfounded assumptions. As soon as the divergence from Symmetry occurs issues spring up everywhere like weeds in an untended flower bed.

Issues are as we have said disymmetries – they are disymmetries because they are essentially made up of the tension between two opposites, two poles. In terms of everyday experience, an issue is when a situation arises in which one outcome is tremendously preferable to the other. Either I win out or I lose big time. Either I hit the jackpot or I go home broke. But in order to be seeing the situation is such a black and white way, in order to get so attracted to the prospect of winning and so averse to the prospect of losing, I need to enter into the virtual world of the polar opposites. From outside of this virtual world I can plainly see that the two opposites do not disagree with each other at all, but rather collude whole-heartedly – just like the members of some sort of stereotypical fundamentalist religious sect collude wholeheartedly (and disgustingly) with each other. From inside the virtual world however it is a very different story because when I am situated on the inside no such insight can occur and rather then seeing that YES and NO are tautological developments of each other, I perceive them to be fundamentally different to each other. From then on in I dwell solely within the ‘virtual gulf’ that exists between the two opposites – taking this to be a genuine rather than a virtual world. Insight reduces the vast unbridgeable gulf between YES and NO to zero, it shrinks virtual space to its proper size, revealing the expansiveness of the world I was so busy inhabiting to be ‘the complete and utter lack of any sort of expansiveness at all’. All of the movement, all of the change that had taken place within this falsely spacious virtual world – movement which had preoccupied me so much at the time – is now revealed to be no movement at all. It is revealed as a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury but signifying nothing.

This is a somewhat perplexing situation, to say the least. The first thing we have to take on board is the idea that there is this tendency for issues to spring up everywhere like weeds in an untended flower bed, for ‘phantom differentiations’ to proliferate madly and completely occlude the unfathomable depth and pristine transparency of the Symmetrical State that underlies everything so instead of seeing all around us ‘the Garden of God’ – as Jung as called it in his autobiography – the untrammelled glory, we perceive only the tawdry trappings of whatever toy universe we happen to be trapped in. From a psychological perspective, we can say that entropy substitutes triviality for profundity, in such a way that the trivial and the banal appears to us to be profound and original. It is as if we spend all our time quite contentedly watching appallingly trashy TV programmes, unaware of the terrible swindle that is going on. We no longer have any capacity to judge what is trashy and what not, and so we definitely don’t have any concept that TV doesn’t have to be this bad. We simply have no way of knowing what we are missing, of appreciating the astonishingly poor quality of what it is that we are being fed on every day.

Philip K Dick used the code ‘Palm Tree Garden’ and ‘Black Iron Prison’ to refer to the state of being that we have been cheated out of, and the wretched reality which we have been given in its place, respectively. In the following passage taking from his novel The Divine Invasion (1981, P 133-4) the main character, a boy who happens to be Yahweh suffering from amnesia, laments the situation in which people find themselves:

…What a tragic realm this is, he reflected. Those down here are prisoners, and the ultimate tragedy is that they don’t know it; they think they are free because they have never been free, and do not understand what it means. This is a prison, and few men have guessed. But I know, he said to himself. Because that is why I am here.  To burst the walls, to tear down the metal gates, to break each chain. Thou shalt not muzzle the ox as he treadeth out the corn, he thought, remembering the Torah. You will not imprison a free creature; you will not bind it. Thus sayeth the Lord your God. Thus I say.

 

   They do not know whom they serve. This is the heart of their misfortune: service in error, to a wrong thing. They are poisoned as if with metal, he thought. Metal confining them and metal in their blood; this is a metal world. Driven by cogs, a machine that grinds along, dealing out suffering and death…  They are so accustomed to death, he realized, as if death, too, were natural. How long has it been since they knew the garden? The place of resting animals and flowers. When can I find for them that place again?

 

   They are two realities, he said to himself. The Black Iron Prison, which is called the Cave of Treasures, in which they now live, and the Palm tree Garden with its enormous spaces, its light, where they originally dwelt. Now they are literally blind, he thought. Literally unable to see more than a short distance; far away objects are invisible to them now. Once in a while one of them guesses that formerly they had faculties now gone; once in a while one of them discerns the truth, that they are not now what they were and not where they were. But they forget again, exactly as I forgot. And I still forget somewhat, he realized. I still have only partial vision. I am occluded, too.

 

   But I will not be, soon. …

The descent from the true state of Grace into the state of deceptive or pseudo-grace is a phenomenon of ‘ever-increasing invisible limitation’ The ceiling of our dwelling is being lowered over time in a step-wise fashion and each time it is lowered we lose the capacity to know that it was lowered, and that there is actually the possibility of that ceiling being higher. Each time it happens we forget how much space we used to have. This is a progressive sort of a thing (if we may use the word ‘progressive’ in this connection) because each crude analogue is succeeded by another, even cruder analogue, in such a way that the relationship of the latter to the former recapitulates the relationship between the ‘original’ analogue and the genuine reality which it was parodying. The process is therefore a ‘negative cascade’, so to speak, of ever cruder analogues, each imperceptibly succeeding the one that came before it. The end point – if there can said to be such a thing – would be the situation where Reality is parodied (or mocked) to a degree that defies anything that we might have imagined possible. There is a tremendous tension implicit in this picture, and the tension – even though the law of entropy determines that this tension remain invisible to us – is bound to act on us, the participants in the unconscious charade, whether we appreciate the colossal extent of our folly or not.

GIVING AND TAKING SLACK

On the one hand, as we were saying, there is this highly aggressive tendency for issues to spring up everywhere, for ‘virtual differentiations’, phantom categories to proliferate, for narrow frameworks of thinking to multiply and impose themselves on us, and on the other hand this very tendency (virulently aggressive as it is) is itself ultimately illusory. The basic idea can be explained or analogized very well by thinking about a sheet of canvas that is a bit slack and which has as a result developed a distinct hollow in it. When the hollow is there in the canvas then rain water can collect in it to form a puddle which in time could even acquire its own ecosystem of algae, may-fly larvae, water beetles, tadpoles and so on. It is the slack which makes this all possible since without the slack the rainwater would have nowhere to collect and would just run off the surface of the canvas as soon as it landed!

Pretty obviously therefore, if the slack were to be all of a sudden ‘taken up’ by stretching the canvas tight, that would be the end of the hollow along with the puddle and the entire mini-ecosystem. The story of the sheet of canvas with a hollow in it which became a mini-aquatic ecosystem is worth the telling because once we understand the (fairly simple) principle involved it is not much of a jump to understanding the much more difficult principle of symmetry-breaking and how this produces the phenomenal universe. The sheet of canvas, when there is no slack in it and no hollows, represents the ‘symmetrical state of affairs’. Symmetry (where YES equals NO and UP equals DOWN) doesn’t mean ‘nothing,’ as we are wont to imagine, but rather it means ‘nowhere for the rainwater to collect and form puddles’, which is clearly not the same thing at all. Symmetry isn’t a synonym for nothingness, but rather it refers to the splendid tautness of the canvas – a tautness which allows not even the slightest of hollows anywhere. When slackness is allowed then straightaway all manner of crinkles and dips and dents can appear all over the place – although really nothing new has come into being. When the sheet of canvas is given a bit slack a hollow can appear (along of course with the corresponding bulge on the underside) but both hollow and bulge are still only just ‘the canvas’ when it comes right down to it. The lack-of-symmetry is still symmetry – oddly enough – and the reason for this is that symmetry is all there ever could be. Nothing else exists. But it is nevertheless possible for us to lose sight of this truth (the truth of symmetry) and when we do lose sight of it all sorts of things suddenly become possible that aren’t really possible at all, that aren’t actually real’ at all since they derive from our limitations of vision rather than autonomous elements that have their proper existence ‘out there’ in the world.

So we have this situation where there is no such thing as this commodity called ‘slack’ and yet slack is what makes our world-view possible. Slack is what makes the world – as we know it (or as we have constructed it) – go round. We have this situation where there is no such thing as lack of symmetry’ – because symmetry is inherent in everything, without exception – and yet it is the lack of symmetry that makes our whole view of the world, and of ourselves, possible. ‘Slack’ and ‘dissymmetry’ are ways of talking about entropy and entropy – as we started off by saying – is a type of decay or degeneration that sets in and then ‘becomes a law unto itself’, devalidating or rubbishing any higher order of reality as it does so. Entropy is an oversimplification of reality and yet no oversimplification of reality is possible. There is only reality – there is (of course) no such thing as a crude or oversimplified version of reality!

This is like saying that there is no made-up or fabricated version of reality. Of course there isn’t – the only reality is the un-fabricated one, the one that was never created. Anything else that appears doesn’t really appear at all – it is, as the line says in The Sutra of Complete Enlightenment, like ‘a man with an illness of the eyes who sees an illusory flower in the sky, or a second moon’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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