The Movement Into Freedom

There are only two types of movement that are possible, one is the type of movement that we hanging on to, and the other is the type that we are letting go of…


This is true both in the physical world and in the ‘psychological’ one. The first type of movement is controlled, it is therefore an expression of something that has already been decided – which is rather an odd notion. Movement should fly, it should be a release, it should be a ‘letting go’ and these are all things that Type-I movement isn’t. Type-I movement is motion that is always in orbit around an equilibrium value of some type; it can go as fast as it likes, but it is never going to escape from the fixed point it is rotating around. Type-I movement is circular movement and the reason circular movement is not movement is of course because it always comes back to exactly where it started from! This is ‘trapped movement’, therefore.


Type-2 movement is freedom from restraint -it is not a slave to any fixed point and does not obey any rule, any equation, any formula. It is independent of any equilibrium value. This sounds straightforward enough, but do we really understand what this means? Type-2 movement is movement that is real – it travels through a space that is genuine, a space that is actually real, whereas Type-I movement travels through a peculiar ‘version’ of space that doesn’t actually have any space in it, although it very much seems to. Type-I movement is movement that travels through ‘closed space’ – if we may say that there is such a thing. It travels through a closed analogue of space that bends back on itself and which doesn’t – on this account – ever get anywhere. How can there be such a thing ‘space that doesn’t actually get anywhere’ (or ‘space that doesn’t have the possibility of there going somewhere else in it’)? The only way that this could happen – we might say – would be if an element of unreality has crept in – unreality that cannot be seen as such. Some sort of deception has to be involved, in other words.


This turns out to be an interesting way of looking at it. There is a way in which unreality (or deception) can creep imperceptibly into the picture – reality can (in some way) get corrupted, degraded or subverted and as we adapt to this corrupted, degraded, subverted version of reality we will lose the capacity to see that we have been short-changed. And this ‘degradation’ process can continue indefinitely since as it degrades so too does our capacity to see what’s going on also degrades. It’s all the same process! If we didn’t know that this process of degradation occurs, it might be hard to imagine that such a thing could exist, that such a thing could actually happen, and yet we know very well that it does happen – we know from our everyday experience that it happens all the time. It’s a regular occurrence – more than that, it’s ‘the order of the day’. It is – we could say – the most’ visible’ tenancy existing in the universe. We are of course talking about the tendency for the entropy content of a closed system to increase, we’re talking in other words about the famous ‘second law of thermodynamics’.


It’s not usual to hear of the second law of thermodynamics being represented as being responsible for the way in which things drift into being unreal (when we’re caught up in it) without us being able to see this process occurring. Somehow, it doesn’t seem very scientific. The idea of ‘unreality that doesn’t seem like unreality from its own point of view’ isn’t one that we were traditionally associate with ‘increasing entropy content’. And yet this is a very straightforward kind of a thing to discuss – what we talking about here is simply increasing self-referential reality. Type-I movement (or Type-I change) is all about self-referential reality – on the one hand we have the fixed centre and on the other hand we have the movements that is being controlled, so to speak, by that fixed centre. (We have the fixed centre and we have the movement that is being defined by that centre.) This is a course inherent in the idea of control – when we are controlling a process we want that process to match what we have already been decided for it! This is more than just obviously true, it’s tautologically true – that’s what’ control’ means.


The notion of ‘tautology’ is at the very heart of our argument – if I am controlling the process and that process ends up matching my intention for it, my specifications for it, then this is the tautology. If I have a goal, a plan, a desired outcome, and I then manage to arrive at this goal, plan, desired outcome, then I have arrived at a tautology! We are looking at the movement that is going on as occurring in the direction of ‘something different’, ‘something separate’, when really it is nothing of the sort. The movement is never at any point any more than a reflection or restatement of the fixed centre of the fixed point in question. There is nothing new happening here – there’s no information in the final state that wasn’t there before and if there isn’t any information in the final state that wasn’t there before then that means that the final state (as a ‘final state’) isn’t real. It’s a redundancy. It isn’t anything different, even though it claims to be. A different end state would contain information, ‘newness’, the surprise factor but it doesn’t. And yet we are observing it as if it were a new development, as if it were ‘a surprise’ rather than the expected confirmation of what we always knew was going to happen anyway. The ‘unreal development’ seems real to us, in other words. It becomes a genuine currency.


The question we’re looking at here is therefore ‘How does a tautology get to seem real?’ How does the movement that doesn’t go anywhere (movement that chases its own tail) get to look as if it really does go somewhere? How does closed space (positively-curved space, space that bends back on itself) get to look open? How does reality get to be subverted (or ‘degraded’) in such an extraordinarily effective way?


It turns out that this is a rather straightforward question to answer, even though it doesn’t sound as if it’s going to be. The way space gets downgraded (or degraded) so that it gets closed in on itself without us being able to see that it’s closed, so that it gets to be tautological without us being able to see that it is tautological, is by undergoing polarisation, by being split into plus and minus. It is as simple as this – as soon as we split space into ‘plus and minus’ we create the possibility of ‘movement that is actually not movement at all’. We create the possibility of moving from – 1 to +1 (or from +1 to -1) and this is movement only in terms of our artificial framework, only in terms of our ‘system of accounting’. It’s ‘circular movement’, obviously enough; moving from <negative> to <positive> and then from  <positive> back to <negative> again is the very definition of circular movement!


The movement from a negative value to a positive one (or vice versa) looks like a straight line flying off bravely into infinity but it is not. The straight line that we are looking at here isn’t ‘flying off’ anywhere – the infinity it seems to be heading out towards is a false infinity! It’s a ‘false infinity’ because the movement from one opposite to another is as we have just said the archetypal example of circular movement. It is circular movement in nutshell. Our splendidly progressive looking ‘straight line’ is in reality in orbit around a fixed point; it is in orbit around a fixed point (which is its point of origin) because it never really leaves or departs from this point. It can’t ever depart from because if it did then it would be departing from its own formula, it’s own rule, it’s own algorithm, and that formula or rule or algorithm is what makes it into a ‘straight line’. To deviate from the formula that defines us is to depart from the realm of logic. [From a psychological angle, therefore, we can say that ‘never departing from one’s point of origin’ means ‘never departing from one’s fixed assumptions’.]


In ‘non-abstract (i.e. real) space’ there are no fixed points. There are no fixed points in space because space itself is a movement, and if space itself is a movement then how can it be possible to nail down a particular point and say that it is ‘fixed’? We can say this for sure but it’s meaningless to do so. We can talk about fixed points in space as if there really are such things but as soon as we say this we step out of the movement that is reality and into the static abstraction which is the domain mapped out by the thinking mind! The domain mapped out by the thinking mind has the appearance a husk of reality, but without anything behind it and the ‘hollowness’ of our abstract representation shows itself up very clearly in the contradictory nature of all the fixed points (or definite statements) that are to be found within it.


This subject – the subject of the self-contradictory nature of all fixed points or definite statements – is a particularly difficult one to talk about because it is necessary to step out of the abstract framework of thought in order to do so! If we don’t ‘step out of the abstract framework’ any talk such as this will simply not make any sense. In order for us to see the paradox of polarity (the ‘self-contradictoriness’ that we are talking about) we would need perspective and perspective is the very thing that is missing when we are seeing things from within the terms of the static framework. The framework never contains any perspective!


‘Perspective’ means that means seeing that plus equals minus, or seeing that YES equals NO. It means seeing things ‘from above’, so that we don’t get trapped in the apparent contradictions.  Lack of perspective is when we can’t understand movement in the direction of the positive pole to be the very same thing as movement in the direction of the negative one. The whole point about ‘collapsed space’ is that we perceive the movement from one pole to the other, from one opposite to the other, to be genuine movement. The point here is that we see YES and NO as being different things, not the very same thing. There is a tautology going on, but we simply can’t see it. We never will see it either – not as long as we stay within the bounds of the framework.


One way to draw attention to the tautology that we’re talking about here is to look at YES and NO as being answers to a particular question – as they clearly are! We can answer YES to the question or we can answer NO, but it’s the very same question that we are addressing in both cases. We aren’t getting any further from the question being asked with a YES answer then we are the NO, for all that we think that YES and NO are so very different.


‘YES’ equals the question’ and ‘NO’ equals the question, which means therefore that ‘YES’ equals ‘NO’.  When we take the question totally for granted (i.e. if we assume the question to be of absolutely fundamental importance) then YES and NO will seem to be worlds apart – they will be worlds apart as far as we are concerned. The tension between one and the other will be tremendous. But if on the other hand we don’t take the question so very seriously (if in fact we realise it to be entirely arbitrary and therefore quite unimportant in the bigger scheme of things) then the perceived difference between the affirming and the denying answer will shrink away to nothing. If the question itself is meaningless, then so too is any answer to it! If the question doesn’t matter in the slightest then who cares whether the answer is YES or NO? This then is the difference that ‘having perspective’ makes – it gets rid of the apparent difference between the affirming and the denying of a definite statement.


Instead of looking at all of this in terms of ‘a question that we take for granted’ we can also (and equivalently) think of it in terms of a rule that gets set up in such a way that all of our attention gets displaced onto the question of whether the rule is either being followed or not followed. Because the rule has been assumed the wide open space of radical uncertainty (which is where there is no rule saying that there has to be a rule) is replaced with the closed world of trivial uncertainty (which is where the only question that matters is ‘Is the rule being obeyed or not?’). Awareness of radical uncertainty precludes the existence of this closed world of trivial uncertainty – if I can question the existence (or relevance) of the rule, then the closed world which this rule goes on to generate never makes the grade as ‘a world being worth being interested in’. But if there is no possibility of questioning the rule (i.e. if we don’t have the perspective to see the rule for a rule) then radical uncertainty is replaced by trivial uncertainty and the burning issue of the day becomes ‘Is it RIGHT or is it WRONG?’


‘YES’ and ‘NO’ seem as we have said to be worlds apart – YES on the one hand and NO on the other define the limits of the world. RIGHT versus WRONG define the limits of the world. YES versus NO (or RIGHT versus WRONG) is the world – there is no other world than this. This is what is sometimes called the world of duality. It is the fact (or rather apparent fact) that there seems to be this tremendous difference between the two poles that allows for the possibility of a world can exist between them. In reality, as we have already said, both YES and NO equal ‘the rule’, which means that ‘the rule equals the world’; this is however an utterly preposterous situation as much as the rule is entirely arbitrary (all rules are entirely arbitrary that being the nature of rules). It’s only there because we say it is. So here we are – in this world of duality – living in a world (an apparent world) that is created by the supposedly difference between the two poles of YES and NO – since however the one equals the other this means that the world we are living in is actually not a world at all. It’s not anything.


It’s no good someone coming up to me and telling me this however – it’s no one is no good someone coming up to me and telling me that YES versus NO doesn’t create a world because YES equals NO ( means there’s no room for there to be a world there) because this just won’t make any sense at all. It doesn’t make any sense to me because I simply don’t have the perspective to see the rule for a made-up thing. When we see that a rule is a ‘made-up thing’ then it isn’t a rule! Rules only get to be rules when we have no perspective on them words. When we have perspective then we see – as James Carse says – that ‘there is no rule saying that there has to be a rule’. Perspective equals radical uncertainty therefore, and radical uncertainty equals openness (or (genuine space). Collapsed space (i.e. space that is made up of YES versus NO) isn’t space at all – it only looks like space to us when we can’t see the rule to be a ‘made-up thing’, but instead take it to be the absolute unquestionable basis for everything. Collapsed space, on the other hand, is trivial uncertainty and because we have no perspective we cannot appreciate just how trivial this so-called ‘uncertainty’ is! We can say that the world of trivial uncertainty is simply ‘the rule’, or we could say that it is reality that has been ‘conditioned by the rule’. Conditioned space (or conditioned reality) can be simply defined by saying that it is reality that contains no radical uncertainty. Absolutely everything has been defined and so what we looking at here is reality that is ‘closed’ (so to speak). Or to put this another way, what we are looking at is reality that doesn’t ever get a chance to happen.


So far we have tried to explain ‘closed’ or ‘collapsed’ space by saying that it is what happens when we take a particular question absolutely for granted, or that it is what happens when we take a particular rule as being fundamentally unquestionable (which is of course what we are supposed to do with rules). We could also say that it is what happens when we take the thinking mind absolutely seriously (which is – again – what we are supposed to do with the thinking mind). Yet another way of explaining this extraordinary phenomenon of how closed or collapsed space gets to come into being as to say that it comes into being as a result of us taking the self absolutely for granted! The self is a rule in other words; of course it is a rule because it is the fundamental basis for discrimination.


So when we take the rule that is the self absolutely for granted then we create a closed or conditioned world which is actually that same self projected outwards. There seems to be an actual world there in front of us, full of possibilities, but this is however (as we have been saying) a perfect illusion. There are no ‘possibilities’ here but only ‘the one possibility’, which is the possibility of the self or rule which drives out all other possibilities. There appears to be the possibility of movement here, what possible movement can there be between ‘self’ and ‘the projections of that self’, between ‘me’ and ‘the closed world that this me believes in’? The only genuine movement is a movement that takes place away from the self, away from the ‘me’. This is the only type of movement there is – the movement into freedom.



Art: Information Overload, by Victor Fota




3 thoughts on “The Movement Into Freedom

  1. This is excellent, exciting.

    I’d like to add a possibility to this. Could we say that there’s the possibility of a “negative fact”? That is, I can’t posit the nature of reality, but I CAN make that very negative observation (that it’s not possible to have static knowledge of the whole of reality). Negative facts release us from enthrallment to circular certainties; they negate a hidden assumption supporting that type 1 movement, flushing tired old certainties from their hiding places and leaving the issue suspended as a broader question (initiating type 2 movement).

    It would also be helpful to confront a potential misunderstanding of what you mean. For instance, many people try to understand what you said through very literal, technical or utilitarian examples. For instance, did I or didn’t I go to the store last night at about 9pm?

    We might say this is a black and white yes or no question. “In a utilitarian context the connection between the useful thing one describes (such as the word “hammer”) and the hammer itself is so close that almost all awareness of the meta-level functionality of words recedes (or never develops)”. (from here:

    But still, my knowledge of having gone to the store last night is in fact (negatively) not a factd at all. It’s a memory, a story, that could be manipulated. There’s no way to be absolutely sure about anything we “know.” We can, however, know this negative fact, because it’s something we don’t need memory to understand. It’s an almost proprioceptive recognition of the limits of thought and fact.

    If I went to the store last night at about 9pm, then it’s far more coherent to say “yes” and be done with it. In the fine print of this utilitarian context we can discover that this “yes” however is not a fact itself. It’s a coherent story about what happened. What actually happened isn’t accessible now as a living fact. Or we could say it’s a utilitarian fact — but here we’re using the word “fact” metaphorically.

    By the way, no, I didn’t go to the store last night at 9pm. I was robbing a bank about then (best time for that by the way). It’s best to know that I’m living mainly on hearsay and memory, and putting my trust in the most likely metaphors of fact available to me.

    Obviously this kind of thing gives philosophers a bad name in grocery stores. Just get the damn peanut butter and come home. Don’t tell me that it’s impossible to know if I visited the store when I’m holding the jar of peanut butter in one hand and the store receipt with the time printed clearly on it in another.

    (But peeking beneath this valid criticism is a significance that lies in wait: If we treat our stores as gospel even here, then we’ll tend to take our ideas as gospel in other less utilitarian contexts too, where the consequences are serious.

    But this doesn’t address the more beautiful aspect of what you meant: That it’s the wider context of whether I needed to go to the store in the first place. Did I really need the damn peanut butter. If not, who cares whether I did or didn’t go to the stupid store.

    I’m blown away by your three blogs. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

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