A literal-minded person will live in a smaller world than a not-so-literal-minded person – that’s fairly uncontroversial. We can see that fairly easily. The question is however, ‘how much smaller?’
This question is actually a bit of joke, as it happens – it’s ‘a bit of a joke’ because the world that we live in when we are being literal-minded isn’t just a smaller world, it’s also a non-existent one! There’s no such thing as ‘the literal world’, and don’t let anyone try to tell you that there is!
As it happens, just about everyone you meet will try to tell you that there is a literal reality, a literal world (whatever ‘version’ it may be that they are promoting). There are lots and lots of ‘versions’ but they all come down to the very same thing – the literal world is the literal world, the literal reality is the literal reality. If you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all! One so-called ‘literal truth’ is no different from any other…
The laughable thing is that we think that there is a difference. We actually think there is a big difference between one literal reality and another, between your ‘literally-understood world’ and mine. As far as we’re concerned, there’s a tremendous difference, an absolutely critical difference. It’s the type of difference that we are generally liable to get very upset about, the type of difference that we’re liable to get very hot under the collar about. It’s the kind of difference that tends to kick off a lot of trouble.
Human history is made up of disputes between different ‘versions’ of the ‘literal reality’. Different versions go to war with each other, and when one version gains precedence we all have to go along with it and forget about the old one. Various programmes vie for the dominant position in our heads – when one regime falls another takes its place. There’s never any ‘interregnum’ – the powers that control our lives don’t allow that. We go straight from one ‘literal truth’ to another and each is as bad as all of the rest of them. All our so-called ‘literal truths’, all of our cherished ‘beliefs’, do exactly the same thing – they all enslave us.
This means that human history isn’t about us humans at all of course; it is rather all about the programmes that run us, the ‘mind-viruses’ that control the way we understand the world. We merely facilitate the ‘mind-viruses’ and if we think otherwise we’re simply deluded. If we think otherwise then we have got an over-inflated view of ourselves!
Mind-viruses can be very easily spotted; they always do the same thing – they always cause us to take a strictly literal view of reality. Without the mind-memes, without the viral self-propagating software that continually infects our heads, there could be no literal reality, so we are indebted to them for this!
All viral/literal realities are the same however, as we have just said. The official narrative is that they are all very different; the official narrative is that ‘one is the right one and all the others are the wrong ones’, but that’s just a joke. That’s actually a con. All possible literal worlds are the very same because there is no such thing as a literal world. How is one brand of illusion different to another? How can one be better than another? It is not possible to meaningfully distinguish between different things that don’t exist, and so it is the most terrible waste of time for us to spending our lives picking and choosing between them (and this is of course exactly what society always gets us to do).
Society bestows definitions upon us in great profusion, and – for the most part – we gratefully accept them. Society is precisely ‘a machine for defining us’ and that’s why we value it. Every definition that we accept robs us of a little bit more of our substance, however, until we become no more than well-defined ghosts. Every definition that society bestows upon us takes us further away from the truth and renders us all the more unreal, all the more pale and ghost-like.
Apart from the fact that it doesn’t exist, (if we can just put this fact to one side for a moment) there is something else we can say about the literal world and that is that it is not possible for us to believe in it and yet be conscious at the same time. Consciousness cannot be fostered in the literal world – consciousness has no place there, it cannot exist there. We can no more find the phenomenon we call ‘consciousness’ present in the literally-defined world than we can find figs growing on a thistle.
So the question is, ‘if consciousness cannot exist in the literal world, then what does exist? What can we find there? What happens to us when we get subsumed within ‘the generic concrete reality’? The answer is of course that we become defined too – we don’t have any ‘independent’ existence, we don’t have any existence of our own. So when the literal world gives us our existence (which is its version of our existence of course) it is actually ‘taking away our existence’ – the real is being replaced by the unreal. Consciousness is replaced by ‘rules’, by ‘mere mechanical reacting’.
We are inherently argumentative and aggressive when we adapt to living in the literally-understood reality – we are forever trying to prove that our way of seeing things is better than the other guy’s way. This is very important to us; it is supremely important to us. The more defined we get, the more we squabble and fight, more cantankerous and down-right vindictive we get. The more unreal our basis becomes, the more forceful we become in our attempt to assert our so-called ‘truth’. The more petty and small-minded we become the more willing we are to fight over absurdly inconsequential details, and there is no more ‘absurdly inconsequential detail’ than one of our so-called ‘literal truths’.
‘You are only as big as the smallest thing that annoys you’, says Robert Anton Wilson, and when we believe in the literal reality anything that disagrees with our ludicrously dogmatic view of things annoys (or even enrages) us; what fuels our irritation, our anger, is of course that the truth that we are asserting so violently is actually an out-and-out lie, and deep down we know it…