The social game cheats us out of life itself if we let it – that’s the kind of thing it does! That’s absolutely what the consensus reality always does; it will do this every time, without a doubt! This is because a game, any game, can only contain what we agree for it to contain and we can never agree about what life is. Or rather, we can agree about ‘what life is’ but that will never be what it is. It’s guaranteed NOT to be what we agree for it to be. Instead of talking about ‘life’ we could talk about ‘reality’ and say that the social game will cheat us out of any contact with reality if we let it. Since a game or consensus reality can only contain what we agree for it to contain, reality – like life – is not something that can be meaningfully agreed upon. Our ‘agreements’ are our own.
A game can only contain what we say it contains (i.e. it has to be specified or defined) and the snag here is that ‘the real’ can never be stated or defined. The reason for this impossibility is that anything that is stated or defined is a thought and a thought can never be reality! A thought about reality is the antithesis of reality – it doesn’t just ‘miss the mark’ or ‘fail to do justice to what we attempted to define’, it turns everything on its head. Reality is different in kind from our thoughts; our concepts have nothing of reality in them. So we can make this point that when we are partaking in the consensus reality (or the ‘social game’) then reality is one thing that we will never encounter. This isn’t some fancy philosophical observation either – all we’re saying here is that ‘games aren’t real’ and we all know that very well already.
The thing is of course that we don’t see the consensus reality that we all inhabit as being a game. Nothing could be stranger to us than the notion that the world which we are so very familiar with is actually a construct or made-up thing. This oughtn’t to be too surprising since we couldn’t live in the consensus reality unless we were absolutely convinced that it was what it claims to be – any doubt or suspicion at all and this would spoil the whole experience. We can hardly go around doubting that the world is real or feeling that some kind of colossal existential trick is being played on us – that’s not the type of awareness that will sit comfortably with us in our everyday lives. This type of awareness (the type of awareness where we ‘doubt the world that we have been given’) is something that we would probably call paranoid and possibly we might think of the specific type of paranoia that we talking about here is sometimes called ‘the Truman syndrome’ in honour of the film The Truman Show, which is of course all about living in a false reality. The point is therefore that this type of awareness is very rare; it’s rare enough to can to be considered an oddity and left at that. No one ever considers that the Truman syndrome might be actually telling us something.
The simple fact is that the consensus reality is not true; naturally it’s not true – it’s a consensus, an agreement, and reality is not something we agree upon. Language itself is a consensus reality – we need to communicate with each other and language is what enables this; language gives us a huge advantage but it comes with a disadvantage too, if we aren’t wary enough in the use of our new, splendid tool. Mankind’s success as a species owes a lot to our ability to cooperate and our system of communication is what enables us to cooperate, but the downside is that the world which we have created for ourselves, the world we see all around us every day, which is the ‘agreed-upon basis’ for our cooperation (or for our socialisation) is also only a fiction. We have made our system into ‘all that we can be aware of’. What life ‘is’ cannot be agreed upon; life is a wide-open field of possibilities (so to speak) and when we ‘agree upon it’ we close down that open field (or open space). We could equally well say that ‘reality isn’t something that we can agree upon’ – in the same way, by doing this we very effectively shut it down.
As soon as we agree on what life is, or what the world is, or what reality is, we substitute our own construct in its place. We substitute our system, our language, and by doing this we become guilty of ‘the murder of the real’, just as Baudrillard says. We need to have a language, a formal description of the world, as we have just said, but when we get lazy about this and heedlessly let our language inflate itself and ‘become everything’ then we end up in a situation where if we can’t say something or think something, then it isn’t real. What started out as being a useful tool, a useful device is exalted or glorified to the point where it isn’t a tool at all, but rather it becomes (for us) the same thing as the actual world itself. When people talk about becoming ‘the victim of our own device’ this is the very best example of that phenomenon that there could ever be! We have unwittingly walked into a dead-end; and it’s more of a deep hole in the ground that we’ve fallen into than an ordinary dead-end; we have become the victim of an unreal thing that has subsumed us entirely. In Gnostic terms, we have been trapped in the shallow world that has been designed by the False God, the Demiurge:
The Demiurge, having received a portion of power from his mother, sets about a work of creation in unconscious imitation of the superior Pleromatic realm: He frames the seven heavens, as well as all material and animal things, according to forms furnished by his mother; working, however, blindly and ignorant even of the existence of the mother who is the source of all his energy.[Wikipedia]
The False Reality which is the man-made system that has turned around and greedily subsumed us within it (which we can equate with the Demiurgic Creation, as we have just said) is a jealous master and it will not let us pay any attention to anything else but it. It will not tolerate the worship of any god but itself. The world that has been created by the Demiurge (also known as Yaldaboath) is necessarily a cheap and tacky affair. It is necessarily kitsch (or tackily second-hand) as this account taken from Metahistory.org declares:
In the Gnostic narrative, Yaldabaoth, the Lord Archon, commands his clone-like minions to create a virtual display (stereoma) of hierarchial worlds that reflect the living fractal kaliedoscope of conscious, animated currents in the Pleroma, the galactic core. The Demiruge can only imitate, he cannot create or originate. The Gnostic texts are clearly sarcastic in describing the celestial hierarchies of the Archons, because for Gnostics all this celestial kitsch has nothing to do with the wonder of life that will unfold on earth, the realm where Sophia is embodied. Earth is where humanity emerges. It is the unique habitat of the Anthropos.
The Demiurge’s Realm is necessarily kitsch as there is absolutely no creativity or free-flow involved – if there was creativity then this world or creation then that would mean that there would have to be something new happening in it and that goes against the whole Demiurge Principle! The Demiurge Principle is that ‘only that which can be defined or measured Is real’, as we have said. The only way something can get to be real for us is if it matches our yardstick, our template, and the whole thing about yardsticks or templates is that they always stay the same. What good is a yardstick that keeps changing, or ‘is new every time’, after all? That would defeat the object of the exercise.
Another way of putting this is to state that the Demiurgic Principle means that the visible world replaces the invisible one, such that the invisible one is completely forgotten about. It is no accident that the Cathars of old said that the invisible world (or world of spirits) is the realm belonging to the true God, whilst the visible world as the rightful domain of Satan. This idea (the idea that Satan is the ruler of this world) even comes out in orthodox Christianity, which was responsible for crushing the Cathars with unbelievable ferocity, and annihilating them completely. For example, in 2 Corinthians 4:4 we read – ‘…the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.’
The statement that the invisible world belongs to the true Deity, the God of Light, whilst the visible, tangible, material word belongs rightly to Satan, by right of principle, may be considered to be just some obscure doctrinal point in an ancient heretical religion which no longer – to any appreciable extent – exists, but it is of course every bit as pertinent to our present situation (as indeed it is pertinent to every human era that ever was). Our situation is (as we keep reiterating) that if we can say something of, or think something, then that is the only criterion by which we may admit its existence. Anything that can’t be described, named, defined, etc., is anathema to us and anyone who goes around alluding to it is considered to be either a fool, a trickster, or seriously mentally unwell.
The effect of this is to hugely impoverish our lives, we might say. All we are allowed to believe in the defined or known things that we all agree to exist. ‘We all say it, so it must be true’, say the great hosts of the Monkey People in unison, in The Jungle book. Our actual genuine nature itself becomes ‘off-limits’ to us and so this isn’t ‘just’ a matter of our lives being impoverished but, rather, of us being fundamentally alienated from ‘the ground of our being’. ‘The ground of our being’ is the Invisible World, after all! Our situation is an odd one to say the least – the Realm of the Demiurge is cheap (or ‘tawdry’, as Krishnamurti puts it) but we do not have any sense that it is so; we have nothing else to go on and so there is no way that we can directly know this. When we are brought up – just to give one example of this sort of thing – in an abusive family situation then we can’t know it, except in retrospect, and the very same is true for life in ‘the Domain of the Known’.
If we go back to what we started off by talking about, we can summarize all of the above by saying that the wholly socialised life is not our life but an artificial game that we have been invisibly compelled to play, in denial of our actual lives. This idea isn’t as odd as it might at first sound. Another way of putting this will be to say that when we are totally adapted to the life that we have been given by society then we have no ‘inner life’, only the ‘outer’ life that is being imposed upon us. We are being one hundred per cent controlled by an External All-Determining Authority, in other words. It is of course perfectly possible to live in society (which we pretty much can’t help doing anyway) and yet however have own inner life, the only trouble here being that we don’t know to ‘look after our inner life’ and when we don’t ‘look after it’ then society will extinguish it because that’s what society (or any determining system) always does, if allowed to do so. And then when we have lost our inner life we can no longer know that there is such a thing and so we don’t miss it.
Thus, when the social game is the only thing we know then we have been cheated out of what is rightfully ours; no one in particular is ‘guilty’ of the cheating – it’s just what happens in the absence of attention. We can relate the consequences of being cheated in this way to the idea of ‘unlived life’: when we are wholly adapted to society (or when we have been wholly subsumed within the Domain of the Known) then it’s not our life we’re living – we’re merely following a second-hand script that has been given to us – just like actors in a film (and not a good film, at that). We get Brownie Points for being fine upstanding citizens (perhaps) but the cost for this worthless external validation is that we are creating in very large quantities this thing called ‘unlived life’ – unlived life may be likened to a type of invisible suffering, suffering that we don’t know about, but which is there all the same. It’s a potentiality that has never been realized, and that inevitably casts a shadow over our lives. How can it not, after all?
This is another way of talking about the pain that is associated with what Joseph Campbell calls the ‘negative adventure’, which is what we get trapped in our systematic avoidance of the Hero’s Journey, which is life itself. We avoid the perils of the Hero’s Journey by staying ‘safely’ within the Domain of the Known (or ‘the Domain of the Agreed-Upon’) the whole time – we (collectively) say that this is ‘the proper life’, the authorized life, the life that we are supposed to be living; we will say (or rather implicitly assume) that life rightfully takes place in the Domain of the Known, whilst the grim truth is that the Domain of the Known is a perfect nullity.
Art: Demiurgic – the artificer of the world, by BrittainDesigns, on deviant.art