Reality is the perfect source of randomness, the perfect emitter of ‘random’ or ‘non-rational’ information. If we had to say something about reality then it would be this. The thinking mind on the other hand cannot be a source of randomness – no matter what it does it cannot come out with anything random – and randomness is the only thing that is real!
The thinking mind’s output is only ever itself – strain as it might, it can never give rise to anything that isn’t an extension of itself, a projection of itself. Because it can never give rise to anything but itself it can never give rise to anything. It can only ever give rise to echoes that it sees as being real. When the thinking mind produces itself, via its lawful-logical output, and this is a null event, it’s an event that doesn’t actually happen, but which nevertheless seems to.
Reality never gives rise to itself because there is no ‘itself’ to give rise to! There is no pattern to repeat. What randomness gives rise to is always new, always unique; this is what ‘randomness’ means, it means that there is no precedent to what happens, no prefigurations of it. The random is the new and the new cannot be ‘caused’ by anything – anything that is caused is never new and if it isn’t new then it doesn’t really exist – it’s only an echo, in this case! If it’s not new then it’s not an event – it’s only an apparent event, it’s only a seeming event.
The purposeful mind can only ever operate by causing things to happen – this is its mechanism, the mechanism of ‘cause and effect’. Not only can it not operate in any other way, it cannot conceive that there could be any other mode of operation. How could anything ever happen, unless it was first caused to happen, it asks. This is why, in the Christian faith, God is said to have caused the universe; this is why God is sometimes known, within theological circles, as ‘the First Cause’. Seeing the universe as being deliberately caused by God as this is of course the antithesis of seeing it as being random; being ‘random’ doesn’t mean anything to us – saying that something is random is taking all the value out of it – it’s nothing more than an accident and so there’s no good in it.
To see ‘purpose’ as lending meaning, and ‘randomness’ as been synonymous with ‘meaninglessness’ is a function of our cultural prejudice however – that’s just our peculiar way of seeing things, our peculiar backwards way of seeing things. When we say that an action is purposeful we imagine that this positively distinguishes it from all non-purposeful actions. It is ‘signal rather than just mere noise’. In reality however, it is the other way around – the purposeful action isn’t actually an ‘action’ at all, as we have said. If something is purposeful then it is (clearly) following some kind of precedence: there was some kind of idea there in the first place and the purposeful action is simply the visible manifestation of this idea, this bias. The action isn’t new therefore – it isn’t unexpected, it in no way makes a break with precedence and that means that it is entirely trivial.
What this comes down to is observation that purposeful actions never produce anything new. Naturally they don’t – purposeful actions always follow the purpose that we have in mind when enacting them. This therefore conflicts with our notions about deliberate activity, which we see as being not only audaciously new, but also – crucially – an expression of true volition. Random activity, on the other hand is seen – as we have just said – as being without value in comparison – we don’t see random activity as being either ‘volitional’ or ‘meaningful’. It is (to our way of thinking) as if we have ‘failed to take responsibility’ and have as a consequence just allowed things to happen ‘any old way’ – only willed action is significant to us, we only care about action that are planned in advance by the rational mind and executed deliberately.
Our whole world is ‘rational’, our whole world is ‘purposeful’; nature on the other hand is (of course) neither rationally planned nor purposefully executed but as far as we’re concerned – and we really do think this – what we have produced is an improvement. It might be sterile and ugly (which we don’t admit anyway) but is much more reliable. This is of course the old idea of nature being something that needs to be ‘conquered’ or ‘mastered’; in the same way therefore we can say that our underlying belief is that randomness needs to be conquered or mastered – it might be have been okay as a ‘starting-off point’ but is not really anything until we have tamed it and produced a world that is based on logic, or order instead. That is our ‘improvement’ to the situation, and a very fine improvement it is too, we would generally say.
All this is been said before of course, but that’s not to say doesn’t need to be said again. And what’s more, there is twist to this that we are not aware of, a twist which we have already hinted at. The twist is this: when we produce the Designed World (or any of the logical / rational actions that go to make up the Designed World, then it isn’t really us that are doing this – it doesn’t really come from us. We are, rather, compelled by the thinking mind to produce the DW; we are ‘compelled’ by what we may call extrinsic motivation, which is the motivation that is supplied to us by the System of Thought, as opposed to any sort of impulse that has its origin in our authentic nature. Extrinsic Motivation is not truly volitional and it doesn’t come from us. And not only does the Designed World not ‘come from us’, it actively oppresses us. Not only does it oppress us, it actively and methodically wipes out (if we allow it to) every last trace of vestige of our actual individuality. This is the ‘Dark Father motif’ spoken of by Paul Levy: the Dark father forces us to obey it unquestioningly out of fear; the Dark Father is the corrupt and self-serving king, the power-crazed tyrant – it is masculine energy gone wrong so that it no longer protects us but enslaves us. Our true individuality is entirely lost when we adapt out of fear to the will of the Negative Father and we are made into nothing more than extensions of its will.
So much for purposeful or willed activity – put like this it doesn’t like sounds like so much of ‘an improvement to the original situation’ after all! Since when was being taken over and being controlled by senseless and brutally oppressive mechanical force ‘an improvement’? This is the ‘downside’ of overvaluing the rational-purposeful mind – the ‘upside’ (if we may call it that) is that we have the security of not having to think for ourselves because everything we do is dictated by an all all-powerful external authority that we can’t (or won’t) question. The ‘up-side’ of the deal is exactly the same as the ‘down-side’, therefore! Random activity is thus completely demoted, completely belittled, just as Cinderella is demoted and belittled by the two ugly sisters – which is of course a motif that we are all very familiar with, even if we don’t understand its psychological connotations. The two ugly sisters don’t get rid of Cinderella completely but rather they keep her to do all the donkey work and to be the butt of their inexhaustible contempt; Cinderella’s lowly station affords them the convenient means of exalting themselves. In the story of course we root for Cinderella because we can so clearly see the gross injustice that is being perpetrated. It’s a no-brainer who the bad guys are! But in our everyday lives we side with the two ugly sisters every time…
Random activity isn’t willed, or designed it is true, but it is all the same authentic in a way that purposeful behaviour never can. It doesn’t achieve what the thinking mind wants to achieve, but so what? All the thinking mind wants to achieve is a creation of ‘the prison which is itself’. Purposeful activity is the ultimate dead-end – it will never lead us anywhere. Where can it take us, apart from back to ourselves? And ‘ourselves’ isn’t who we are anyway – it’s only thought’s creation, it’s only a mental construct. We can relate willed, rational, purposeful action to what Philip K Dick calls ‘the Lower Realm’ which, he says:
… is mechanical, driven by blind, efficient cause, deterministic and without intelligence, since it comes emanates from the dead source. In ancient times it was called and was termed astral determinism.
What gets called ‘randomness’ and disregarded as being of no worth can be related to ‘the Upper Realm’ which, PKD says, is ‘sentient and volitional’. What has happened to us therefore is that we have aligned ourselves with the ‘lower deterministic universe’ against the ‘higher volitional one’. It doesn’t actually make any sense at why we should side with the dead universe against the living one. There isn’t any intelligent reason why we should do this – it’s just that our consciousness is being controlled by the lower, deterministic universe. Intelligence doesn’t come into it.
Reality is a perfect source of randomness because it is ‘alive’ and not ‘dead’. Mechanical systems work by filtering the ‘aliveness’ (or ‘randomness’ or ‘unpredictability’) from reality and the thinking mind is a logical/mechanical system. It has no way of relating to life, no way at all. How can the non-living relate to the living? There was of course never any need for a non-living system to be able to relate to a living system anyway – to give a very simple but nevertheless pertinent metaphor, if I am using a screwdriver or monkey-wrench to perform some task then it is not in no way necessary for the tool to understand what it is that I have in mind with regard to this project. This profound ‘lack of capacity’ of the tool to understand the ‘bigger picture’ will not in any way present an obstacle with regards to the proper execution of the project.
The problem is that the instrument itself doesn’t have any way of knowing what is within its remit and what is not – it doesn’t have the capacity to know about or in any way acknowledge anything that lies outside of its ‘mechanical remit’. If it did have this capacity then it would be more than just an instrument, more than just a tool! A machine cannot ever see beyond its own remit and so it can’t see that it is only a machine. This very straightforward principle has two sides to it therefore – on the one hand we could say (as we just have done) that it is perfectly fine that the tool does not understand the Bigger Picture, and that this is in fact ‘the correct order of things’ (so to speak), whilst on the other hand we could also point out (by the same token) that when the machine does ‘take over’ and dictate what should and should not happen, then this is an ‘inversion’ of the natural order, and that the machine (or tool) will then straightaway ‘run amok’ and treat the whole universe as if it were mechanical in the same way that it is. This assumption is one that the machine (or ‘the rational mind’) will always, by its very nature, remain blind to.
Reality – we might say – is a perfect source of randomness because nobody made it. This is deeply disturbing to our everyday rational way of thinking about things – we very much want for there to be some sort of ‘logical explanation’ for reality (whether we are prepared to admit this or not). Traditionally, we have relied on the very familiar idea that ‘God made everything’ to help us escape from this awful awareness; these days (in the Western world at least) we like to imagine that science can fulfil the function of logically explaining how it happens that there is this strange thing that we call ‘existence’. We hope to use science to ‘rationalize away the conundrum’, in other words. Either way, there is no ‘irreducible randomness’; either way everything is (supposedly) ‘just as it is supposed to be’, or ‘just as we would expect it to be’. Everything fits into some kind of ‘logical system’, some kind of ‘rational picture’. We absolutely can’t bear to countenance the alternative, which is that there just is no ‘logical explanation’…