It is by the negative that we ‘progress’, not by the positive. What genuinely aids us is discovering (to our great disappointment) that we have gone wrong, that we have gone astray; what helps us is not having our prized illusions confirmed, but the positive always flatters our illusions. The definition of this thing we’re calling confirmation is that it is ‘information’ which feeds our illusions. We live in a positive world, we live in a world that is made up of a great sea of confirmation – confirmation for the biases which we unknowingly hold onto, confirmation for the biases we have but aren’t aware that we have. This ‘sea of confirmation’ is what we take to be the Whole World; as far as we’re concerned there simply is no other. What makes a world into ‘a world’ is the fact that we can’t see any edges or boundaries to it, the fact that it seems to encompass everything, the fact that it seems to go on and on forever, and these are all attributes that the sea of confirmation has. This is exactly the impression we get.
No matter how extensive or how All-Encompassing the sea of confirmation might seem to be, it is nevertheless inherently unsatisfying. It is unsatisfying in a very fundamental sort of way. It fails to satisfy us – we can’t exactly say how or why it does, but it does all the same. To use an old simile, it’s like drinking salty water – the more of it we drink the thirstier we get! There is a good reason why the universe of confirmation is fundamentally unsatisfying that is because it is redundant. Confirmation is always redundant – that’s part of the deal..
The World of Confirmation is built upon what Robert Anton Wilson calls “the ‘is’ of identity” and “the-‘is’-of-identity” is the purest example of redundancy there is. We are forever saying that this is this and that is that – we are in other words always making ‘positive assertions about reality’. And it’s not just that we’re always making lots of little positive assertions either – the world of confirmation is in its entirety one Big Positive Assertion. This entire reality is nothing but one big positive statement, one big positive assertion, and as such it is entirely redundant. The only way it wouldn’t be redundant would be if it wasn’t positive and the whole point of confirmation world is that it’s positive. Our only way of knowing about it knowing anything is via the agency of positive statements and that means that our subjective word is a positive world.
Redundancy means that there is never any ‘progress’. There’s never any progress in the in the confirmation world. There is never any progress and yet there is the very compelling illusion of progress, the very believable perception of progress, and this is the key characteristic of the Confirmation World. This is what makes it what it is – the Realm of Deceptive Change – the Realm of ‘Change that is no Change’. Once we have understood this then we have absolutely no problem in seeing exactly how it is that ‘the universe which is made up of confirmation’ fails to satisfy! It’s not that we can see straight off that there is never any change, never any ‘progress’ – that wouldn’t be frustrating – but rather that there is every impression that there is such a thing but that –notwithstanding this overwhelmingly believable and universally-believed impression – all this apparent change or apparent progress never ever gets us anywhere and that – on some level – we register this. We don’t want to register it but we do.
When everything is a positive statement then of course we are never going to get anywhere. Where do we go from a positive statement? We ought to see this but the exact contrary is true, which is to say, we can only conceive of change as happening from one solid marker-post buried in the ground to another. We can only conceive change as occurring within a fixed framework, despite the self-contradiction that is inherent in this. The moment between one known and another is not movement, says Krishnamurti, but this makes no sense at all to us – unless we have some way of measuring the change (which means that there has to be ‘a common thread’, which means that the journey must take place ‘between one known and another’) then how can we possibly say that any change is taken place?
This conviction that we have that change has to be measurable if it is to be real (or that anything has to be measurable if it is to be real) derives from the nature of the thinking mind, which is quintessentially a ‘quantifying device’. Naturally the thinking mind says this – we could hardly expect it to say otherwise! In order to see the total absurdity of this assumption we would have to escape from the ‘gravitational pull of thought’ and venture beyond its domain – unless we are able to do this than the absurdity to which we are referring will necessarily remain invisible. The point that is so hard for us to see is that all of our fixed ‘marker-posts’ (which are as we have said what we measure change by) come out of the very same place. All of our positive assertions come out of the very same place, and what this means is that ‘all of our positive assertions are the very same assertion’, impossible though it is for us to see this.
All of our positive statements come out of the framework of reference that we are using in order that we might be able to come up with them, and this framework is only the one thing, not two. It’s only one thing and everything comes out of it. All of our measurable journeys (the journeys which take place between a known point of origin and a known destination) take place strictly within the framework, always within the framework. If this were not so then we wouldn’t be able to measure the ‘change’ that’s taking place, we wouldn’t be able to say that a verifiable transition has definitely taken place between defined point <A> and defined point <B>. Now it could be said that the supposedly change which to which we are referring would be ‘real’ if the assumed basis for making the measurements (or making the definitions) is real but this argument – which is valid as far as it goes – doesn’t get it anywhere because no ‘assumed basis’ could ever be true! That’s just not how things work.
This isn’t the way things work because reality isn’t a logical continuity – we might assume that it is but that’s only because we are projecting ideas upon the world and ideas come out of the thinking mind, which very much is a logical continuity! What we are essentially arguing therefore (whether we are prepared to acknowledge it or not) is that reality is the same as our ideas (or our assumptions) about it, and this is a very dubious argument to be making. It is particularly dubious since we aren’t even directly making it, but only unconsciously implying it in a ‘lazy’ kind of a fashion. If reality was actually a logical continuity then this would mean that it itself is a redundancy, which is a very peculiar notion. If we were to be stuck in our thoughts the whole time (and this obviously isn’t anything particularly unusual) then – as we all know – this would be a profoundly unsatisfying kind of thing. When on the other hand we manage to come out of the stale bubble of the thinking process and re-emerge in the real (i.e. the ‘non-thought created’) world then this is marvellously refreshing. It’s marvellously refreshing every time and this is simply because reality isn’t our own protection, isn’t a stale restatement of the same old assumption, isn’t a ‘redundancy’.
In it’s hard to imagine why there is such a pronounced tendency to argue (either explicitly or implicitly) that the universe is a ‘positive phenomenon’ – it is in fact a denial of all that is good in the world when we force ourselves to believe (out of abject fear) that the universe is nothing more than a logical extension of the rules upon which we base our thinking and that, therefore, it can never radically surprise us. What an appalling thing to want to do! And there is this tendency in us, and not only is it the case that there is this tendency, it’s damn near universal! It’s across the board. We might argue that there can be no such thing as ‘change’ unless that change is measurable or quantifiable (which is to say, unless it takes place within the confines of the projected framework) but this is sheer obstinate perversity. It is a perversity that seeks to deny life (or reality) itself.
The world that we have created for ourselves as a world based upon the “the-‘I’-of-identification”, as we started out by saying. ‘This is this, and that is that, and that is the other…’ we say, and we have not the slightest insight into the utter screaming absurdity of saying that ‘anything is anything’. To make positive assertions like this is to take for granted the existence of framework without which such positive assertions cannot be made (since because without such a framework such statements can’t be made) and so there are the two possibilities here therefore – one possibility is that when we use “the –‘I’-of –identity” (which is very hard not to do in everyday speech) whilst bearing in mind the fact that our positive statements only make sense in relation to and assumed framework (and that in reality there can be no such framework), and the other possibility is where we assume the existence of the framework without paying any heed to the fact that this is what we are doing and ‘carry on regardless’. The former is the ironic mode of awareness therefore whilst the latter is the ‘non-ironic’ (or concrete) mode and if we’re not in the one mode then we’re going to be in the other…
When we are in concrete mode therefore the false type of change that characterises the confirmation world becomes ‘as real as real can be’ – it becomes ‘the ultimate thing to strive for’. On a superficial level, it is our goals, our dreams, our hopes, our ideals that are the greatest value; they are where ‘the Great Treasure’ is to be found. This is the perception that is furnished for us by the concrete thinking process and this is a perception which couldn’t be more wrong. In reality, the thing that we’re ‘putting all our money on’ is ‘positive change’ (or ‘progress’) which is the magic word for us. Progress for us denotes ‘freedom from the oppressive stability of the concrete/literal world’, which is without any doubt at all the ultimate burden, but the whole point of the concrete self is that it never does ‘progress’. That is precisely what it means to be the Concrete Self! This then is the supreme irony behind the World of Confirmation; this is the irony which we avoid unfailingly avoid seeing. Confirmation World means one thing and one thing only – it means Groundhog Day! We are all about our goals, all about positive change, all about ‘progress’ (as we like to call it) and the Great Irony is that this is the one thing we can never have.