The finite is always false, but we can never see this! The finite is most surely false, but all the so-called ‘evidence’ points towards the contrary. We live in a world in which it is all but impossible to see through the opaque veil of what seems to be real but which is not, to the unfathomable reality that lies behind it.
The finite can always be found to be false if only we were to take the trouble to look at it closely enough, if only we were actually able to take the time (or have the interest) to question it. This proves to be an obstacle however – there is something about the finite world that discourages us through looking at it too closely. Our ‘natural inclination to question’ (our natural child-like curiosity) is somehow quashed, and so we remain trapped.
One way to look at how we are discouraged from taking too much of an interest in the actual (infinite) nature of the world we live in is to think in terms of ‘the unique versus the regular’. Clearly the unique is of far more interest than the regular – but from a purely practical point of view – it has no actual utility. Reality as it is in itself never does have any ‘utility’. We can’t exploit it, in other words – we can’t put it to any use whatsoever.
This is what Oscar Wilde meant when he said that ‘all art is useless’ – art is the thing itself rather than being ‘a convenient means to something else’. It is not a bargaining chip; it’s not something we can be used as a handy stepping stone to some other, more important, thing. Art is not a currency that can be used buy something, in other words. A currency – in order to work as such – has to be standardised, after all. All pound coins are the same; if you try to pay for something with a pound coin that isn’t the same as all the rest, with a pound coin that is somehow unique, then it simply won’t be accepted. If you persist in trying to do this you will probably end up in jail!
When we are talking about a very large collective of people (as we are when it is society that we are talking about) and then everything has to be standardised – that’s the only way it’s going to work. The system has to be agreed upon, and once it has been agreed upon then the next step is that we all have to fit into it. Rules have to be adhered to, for – as we have just said – very pragmatic reasons. What this means therefore is that we have to orientate ourselves towards the generic, and away from the unique, away from the individual.
This is going down a very dangerous road however, as Jung as pointed out. Forsaking the individual for the sake of the generic is dangerous in a ‘psychological’ sense, and what is dangerous in a psychological sense rapidly becomes dangerous in every other sense as well. The is what Jung calls ‘the leprosy of collective thinking‘ Losing the individual for the sake of the well-being of the collective is a ‘psychic catastrophe’ of the very worst proportions; it’s a catastrophe of the very worst proportions because the only thing that truly matters has now been lost – the actual individual. The actual ‘carrier of life’, as Jung puts it, has been sacrificed for the sake of so-called utility, so just what is the insane circus that is society all about? Who does it serve?
The problem is that the only aspects of us that society is interested in are the generic aspects. We are only useful or valuable to society when we have generically applicable skills; ‘unique abilities’, the abilities that don’t relate to the standardised needs of the system, are actually without value to the system. Uniqueness, to the system, is nothing more than an irritation, a nuisance, an annoyance. To the system – to any system – uniqueness can only ever be seen as ‘error’, something to be eliminated.
In the same way, individuality is an irritation to society, just as an unruly inmate (i.e. one who doesn’t obey the rules) is an irritation to a well-run institution. The only time individuality is valued is when it can be termed into a commodity and sold (as in the case, for example, with a film or sports star, or some other celebrity); when this happens however (when individuality is packaged and sold on a mass scale) then the unique has been turned into the generic, and thus ‘defused’ with regard to its capacity to inspire radical change. Celebrities don’t catalyse change in society, after all; they do the complete opposite – they confirm the existing order. The ‘cult of celebrity’ is a conservative factor – it serves to distract attention (even more than it already has been) away from one’s own actual unique individuality. The spot-light is directed elsewhere.
There are two ways an equilibrium system can deal with random fluctuations (or ‘errors’):  it can damp them out (i.e. extinguish them), and  it can ‘enshrine them as the new norm’ and set them up as the standard to be adhered to from now on. When ‘the error’ becomes ‘the new norm’ then nothing has changed; it is like a revolutionary movement overthrowing the corrupt dictatorship that it opposes and then straightaway becoming the very same dictatorship. The system wins out in either case!
The system – just to remind ourselves of what we talking about here – is the ‘generic’ or ‘regular’ version of reality and the thing about the generic/regular version of reality is that it is just a repeat of the same old thing over and over again, like a polymer. That’s what ‘regular’ means, of course. It is in essence a ‘cheap and cheerful’ simulation of the real thing, only actually it’s not so cheerful! It would be closer to the mark to say that the generic reality is depressogenic; it is depressogenic precisely because it never offers us anything but ‘more of the same’, and ‘the same’ was never actually nutritious in the first place.
Because this polymer-like reality-substitute is the same old unit repeated ‘over and over again’, and because this unit is a definable or knowable thing (i.e. because it is not complex) what we have here is what we have called ‘a finite world’. It’s a modular world, and a modular world is always a finite world. The generic world is made up of defined units and it never goes beyond these units – a defined unit – even if is repeated 10 trillion times – is never going to go any further than the original unit did. A dull ‘literal fact’, stated repetitively a quadrillion times, still says nothing different to what it did the first time it was stated, which is nothing.
This is why the finite is always ‘false’, therefore. It is always false because it can never go anywhere. In order to go somewhere it would have to have different character, it would have to not be a defined unit, and if it wasn’t a defined unit but we wouldn’t be able to repeat it, we wouldn’t be able to ‘turn it into a polymer’. The same is just as true for society, which is a polymer just as polystyrene is, just as polyethylene is, just as starch or collagen is – if we started out from the basis of the ‘unique’ individual, then we wouldn’t be able to go ahead and create society. The only problem being however is that this ‘starting-off point’ isn’t real. The generic person isn’t anybody, just as the ‘defined unit’ isn’t anything, all generic entities (i.e. all defined units) are abstractions. Anything that is defined is an abstraction.
If something can be defined (and therefore regulated or repeated) then it isn’t real. That’s the long and the short of it. If our basic unit (which we which we use to construct everything) isn’t real then the world we construct out of it can’t be real either, obviously enough. But then despite the fact that the system we are adapting to isn’t real, we carry on adapting to it as best we can. We stick at it. We feel good when the feedback is that we are adapting successfully, and we feel bad when it seems that we are failing to do so, and so – one way or another (as Jung also says) – we are so preoccupied with the never-ending task of adaptation that we never get time to question what we are doing. We said right at the beginning of this discussion that there is some factor which acts on us so as to prevent us from looking closely at what it is we are adapting to and this factor can be traced back to the properties of ‘the regular’ as opposed to ‘the unique’.
We have touched upon this already when we said that the regular always relates to something else, or always refers to something else. In itself the regular unit is of course not particularly fascinating – actually, it isn’t fascinating at all! We know this of course and so it’s not actually the regular unit itself that we are paying attention to – it’s what the regular unit is hopefully leading onto. The RU is a stepping stone to something else (something more interesting!) and so of course we aren’t going to be particularly interested in it for what it is in itself. If we were, then (as we keep saying) we would see through the whole endeavour and see it to be a hoax, but because we’re always so greedy to get to where we’re going (or so keen to run away from whatever it is that we are afraid of) we never do see it to be such. As we enthusiastically pursue our goals or fearfully flee from what terrifies us we ourselves become more and more generic (i.e. more and more ‘defined-by-the-game’) and this makes it ever more unlikely that we will ever examine what it is that we are either greedy for or fearful of, and this therefore is how we get trapped in the serial banality of ‘the false finite world’ and sadly miss out on what is truly of interest…
Image: taken from wallpapercave.com