Everything comes down to ‘this trick that is being played on us’ – the ‘archetypal trick’ where open-ended reality is replaced with a ‘closed’ or ‘deterministic’ version. It isn’t that anyone is playing the trick on us; if anything, it’s that life itself is playing the trick, and we’re colluding. Life itself is the trickster! As Heraclitus says, ‘It is the nature of the universe to appear to be what it isn’t’.
We could say that the universe initially shows us very simplistic cartoon-like version of itself so that – if we just go along with this – we are, by our own inattentiveness (or by our own mental laziness, perhaps) conspiring against ourselves to trap ourselves in an oversimplified universe. We don’t look any further than this, so we don’t get anything more than this. Alternatively, we could say that because our modalities of perception of are necessarily pragmatic orientations to life, this predisposes us to only paying attention to those aspects of the world that are practically useful. Since the world is not really there to be of practical use to us, we can assume therefore that this pragmatic orientation of ours predisposes us to remain utterly oblivious to the world as it actually is in itself.
As biologically determined creatures it is of course the case that our attention is dominated by practical considerations just as a caterpillar has to chomp away and leaves all day and just as a co-host eat grass so too do we have to busy ourselves with all the self maintenance tasks and attend the existence of being a biologically determined organism engaged in ‘the game of life’. Our very existence is, in other words concerned almost exclusively (if not entirely exclusively) with an oversimplified version of reality. In one sense, therefore, that is our identity – a player in a game, a narrowly defined creature that lives, and tries to survive in, an oversimplified world.
As soon as we start talking in terms of ‘the game of life’ we are straightaway looking at this notion this key notion of oversimplifying reality. That’s what a game is – an oversimplification. A game can be defined as’ activity that takes place around a fixed set of rules’. Rules are themselves an oversimplification of reality, even though this may not be immediately apparent to us. A rule is black-and-white after all, and’ black-and-white’ doesn’t really exist!’ Black-and-white’ is just a way of looking at the world which we adopt for the sake of convenience.
This black-and-white view of things is itself’ the trick’, therefore – it doesn’t exist, yet we act as if it does. We don’t just’ act’ as if it exists either, we firmly believe that it does. We couldn’t be any firmer in our belief – we completely unyielding. Our belief in the absolute nature of the rule means that reality cats’ squeezed’ out of shape and the most ridiculous way – our situation straightaway becomes very crudely defined for us. Either we obey the raw, in which case’ everything is good’, or we fail to obey the rule, in which case’ everything is bad’.
This is a ridiculous misrepresentation of reality if ever there was one. Reality isn’t a fixed or determinate kind of a thing. We know intuitively. Even if we don’t know how to’ prove’ it. Reality (or as we would also say, space) is that fields within which vents events take place. An event can be defined (if you take a narrow enough view, that is) but the space within which the event takes place cannot be. Doesn’t need to be. It’s not just that it’ doesn’t need to be’, either, it can’t be. If we define space stops being space; there is no longer any’ room’ in it for anything other than the theme that matches it’ like a square peg matches or fits into the square hole). Space can’t be defined – that would be a contradiction in terms it’s a contradiction in terms to suggest that it can be.
The might of course entertain the notion of a defined space that has an inbuilt capacity to accommodate any number of different shapes, but this is an spacey the con, the matter how many predetermined configurations it may contain. This is not to say that the’ mechanical or rule-based version, space can’t simulate the real thing – it can. An array of black-and-white cells that could be turned on and off at will can simulate fluid movement very convincingly, even though there’s nothing fluid about square cell or an array of square cells turning on and off sequentially. In the same way’ preconfigured space’ (or rule-based space) can simulate non-rule-based space which is (of course) the only type of space they could be (for reasons we have already gone into).
A rule split space into two halves, into two opposites – on the one hand there is’ right’ (or’ yes’) and on the other hand is wrong (or’ no’). This is the’ law of the excluded middle’; either it’s a one way in which the other – there’s a nice crisp boundary that we pass over, a’ switch’ that reflect, and this on/off situation has nothing to do with space. Not only does it have nothing to do with space’, it’s actually the’ inverse’ space, it’s the’ antipathetic principle’. Space is all allowing, imposing no criteria, no qualifications, no agenda, whilst a rule is the very quintessence of’ not allowing’ – it doesn’t give any leeway, any freedom any’ space’ whatsoever, not even a tiny little bit of it. So here we have the phenomenon whereby the principle of ‘unfreedom’ (the principle of ‘fixation’ or stasis’) gives rise to apparently free movement, to fluidity.
So, just to summarise what we have just said: a game is an oversimplification of reality and the reason we can say that it is an ‘oversimplification’ is because games are governed by rules. Rules can simulate reality (or’ space’) but they cannot actually provide it – a rule cannot provide space because it is itself the very antithesis of space! Rules have no space in them, not even the tiniest little smidgeon of it, so how can they give us any? The bottom line is that a rule can never give us any space, even though it can do a very good job indeed of convincing us that it is doing exactly this. What a rule (or the ‘rule-based space’ which generates) is doing is pretending, in effect, to be reality itself. Reality – as we have said – is the space within which events (any event at all without qualification) can happen. This is not the case at all however in rule-based space (i.e. the simulation). The only events which can happen in RBS are those events which have been set up in advance to happen. There first has to be a ‘rule’ for it, obviously – that’s the whole point of RBS.
An event which has been set up in advance to happen’ is not an event however. It’s not an event because it has already happened – how can the same event happen twice, after all? What we are seeing is just an echo, just a recording. Nothing new is happening and therefore nothing is happening. Recordings of reality are not reality. In a nutshell, ‘the trick’ is to cause us to think something is happening when it isn’t. When we talk about the universe being ‘oversimplified’ this doesn’t mean that there is (to some degree at least) a’ correspondence’ between the’ recording’ and’ what has been recorded’, the’ simulation’ and’ what has been simulated’. Reality cannot be simulated, and yet it is the trick of the rational conceptual mind to get us to imagine that it can be.
Biologically speaking – if we take a narrow enough view of biology, that is – it might be said that we are simply’ survival machines’, operating within the terms of what we have earlier referred to as ‘the game of life’. This becomes tautological true – the whole point of the game is that we are obliged to try to survive, come what may, and it is the game which defines us. Of course we are ‘survival machines’, if we’re playing this game! The game is the only world we know, and we don’t see the rules that govern this deterministic domain to be ‘only rules’. The game is only a game however; it doesn’t really exist – the game doesn’t really exist precisely because it is tautological. When we treat life purely as a practical right/pragmatic kind of thing we are therefore actually negating our true being. We may say that we are being practical and hard-headed (we may in fact take great pride in saying this) but what’s so ‘practical’ about negating our own being? That’s got to be the most ‘unpractical’ thing there is! In the West we pride ourselves on our technical abilities, our scientific knowledge, our ‘know-how’ and expertise – ‘philosophy’ is practically a dirty word to us! We are ‘expert game–players’, in other words. This also means that we are experts in negating ourselves, world-class unexcelled experts at creating a profoundly meaningless and sterile world for ourselves…