What happens in life is that we get caught up in loops. What happens is that we start ‘looping’ without knowing that we are. We start repeating ourselves whilst being under the impression that we are saying something new! This is a much more interesting phenomenon than we might think – the point is that when we go into the loop, when we repeat ourselves, then we are no longer in reality. We seem – to ourselves – to be, but we aren’t.
Reality is a constant unfolding. It can contain tautologies, or ‘loops of meaning’, but it itself is not one. Reality is not a tautology, it is not a loop. When James Carr says that the infinite game can contain any number of finite games, but a finite game cannot contain an infinite game, this is what he means. Reality can give rise to simulations, but no simulation can ever give rise to reality. No matter how thoroughly we describe something, the description can never become the thing! Who could argue otherwise?
So the phenomenon that we are talking about here is the phenomenon in which we get lost in the tautology, lost in the simulation. Simulations are always tautologies because they always agree with themselves. They are tautologies because they never go beyond ‘their own ground rules’, so to speak. How can a simulation ever go beyond its own ground rules? A simulation IS its own ground rules – there’s nothing else in it! Because a simulation never transcends itself, it is not reality. Because it’s a closed system, it can never be real.
It’s not just that we are repeating the same old stories without realising that we are (although this is one example of what we’re talking about) but rather that we’re not ‘updating our model of reality’, as Robert Anton Wilson puts it. The moment we stop updating our model of reality is the moment we have departed from reality; the moment we stop updating our model of reality we have entered into our own private version thereof, our own tailor-made ‘private universe’. We’ve ‘checked out’ of the real world, without ever realising it. We never notice the fact that we have ‘exited reality’…
According to Heraclitis in Fragment 26,
The dead (the completely private ones) neither see nor hear; they are closed. No light (fire) shines in them; no sound speech sounds in them. And yet even they participate in the Kosmos.
Heraclitus speaks of these ‘private ones’ as being dead. He also refers to them as ‘the extinguished ones’. They are dead or extinguished because they subscribe only to their own private understanding of the world, even though the world (or Kosmos) is common to all. Hence, in Fragment 2, Heraclitus says,
One must follow what is common; but, even though the logos is common, most men live as though they possessed their own private wisdom.
The reason we follow not what is common but our own private version or interpretation thereof is because we have – to use for Robert Anton Wilson’s terminology – stopped updating our model of reality. Updating our model of reality means (to put it the simplest possible terms) that we let go of ‘old models’ when information comes along that invalidates them. This happens to be something that we are very bad at indeed! Once we settle upon a schema, once we settle upon a theory or model, then our overwhelming inclination is to ignore all contradicting information, the matter what the consequences to this ‘wilful ignorance’ might be.
Our ‘private wisdom’, therefore, might be said to consist of the schema, models and theories that we have deliberately refrained from updating! And it’s not just that we deliberately don’t update them either – we put a huge amount of effort into validating our schemers without any regard at all for the distorting effect this has on our view of reality. To have a distorted view of reality doesn’t seem to matter to us – whether our view is terribly distorted or twisting is of less importance to us than having a schema or model that we don’t have to ever question, clearly!
If our understanding of the world never goes beyond the schemas and models that we refuse to update, he stale old ideas that we won’t let go of, then this traps us in a loop. There’s nowhere else to go and if there’s nowhere else to go and we have to keep on spinning around and around in our tautologies, in our ‘closed loops of unreality’! ‘Holding on’ always results in us being caught in tautological loops of reality, and ‘holding on’ is what we always, always do! We are always holding on because we are always afraid – we’re afraid of any world that might prove to be bigger than our own stale tautological loops! This is what fear is ultimately all about – we fear finding ourselves in a world that is bigger than we are! We are terrified of being in a world that is bigger than our ideas of it are! This might sound ridiculous, but it happens to be our most basic psychological truth…
The thing is that when we let go of our ideas (when we update our schemas, models and theories about the world) then we also update (or ‘let go of’) our idea of ourselves and this is where the big challenge lies. This isn’t really ‘a challenge’ either – it’s more like ‘something we have to fight against with every last little bit of strength that we have’. We have this ‘backwards-type’ of orientation in life – everything is done for the sake of the self-construct and this means that we are fundamentally orientated against the ‘continuous unfolding’ that is reality. Our ‘reverse orientation’ means that we are fighting tooth and nail against ‘non-tautological’ reality, reality that does not unfailingly confirm our expectations.
We would argue against this of course. We like to present ourselves as if we are very much in favour of developing ourselves (or ‘updating our view of reality’) but this is purely and simply a hoax. It’s window-dressing. When we talk about ‘self-development’ (or anything of this sort) what we really mean is ‘polishing up’ the self-construct so that it no longer appears to be as frighteningly regressive or conservative as it actually is. We have to ‘dress it up’ in other words; we have to make it more palatable to us. We have to teach at the right type of lingo to speak, the right type of camouflage to wear. This is the rather like being an out-and-out racist and trying to pretend that one is not, because ‘being a racist’ is – as we all know – extremely politically incorrect. This act of pretence doesn’t cure our ingrained racism however, even if we do manage to fall for it ourselves. We don’t ‘banish the darkness’ this way – we actually feed it! Our efforts simply perpetuate the lie because no one can see it.
What helps – the only thing that ever can help – is to live life honestly, as we actually are, in full awareness of what we actually are (rather than constantly validating what we are and pretending to ourselves that it’s ‘the right way to be’). When we see the lie for what it is then it ceases to be a lie; when we see the tautology as such then it is no longer tautological. When we see our private bubble of reality as being private then we have ‘checked back into reality’; we are once more ‘following what is common’. Then we see that we are looping, then we are no longer looping. Loops only work when we can’t see them – that’s the only way they can work…
Art: I DREAMT I WAS A HUMAN… IT WAS A NIGHTMARE, by Herakut