Generic is easier than unique – it takes far less energy! The collapsed state is easier than the non-collapsed state – again, because it exists at a lower energetic level. We can rest in the collapsed state (and be controlled by our environment), but there is no resting, no abiding, no ‘lazing around’, in a particular location (or definition of oneself) in the ‘non-collapsed’ state. Or as we could also say, there is no resting in the open state of being. The generic state of being is a resting state – it’s when we settle down and stick at the Equilibrium Level. We have learned to obey ‘the rule’, whatever that might be. So far so good; the peculiar thing about this however is that there is no such thing as ‘the generic’, no such thing as ‘the collapsed state’, no such thing as ‘the equilibrium or base level’.
This is a straightforward ‘trade off’, therefore – what we gain in terms of ease we lose in terms of reality. According to J.G. Bennett, ‘reality is work’, so the corollary of this is that by avoiding work we are also avoiding reality. We all (or most of us, anyway) avoid what is difficult in favour of the easier option and if we can see this to be true then it’s not too big a jump to appreciate the idea that we would opt for the generic existence – however unreal – rather than the one that is actually unique to ourselves. That will, after all, always prove to be an awful lot of work…
The ‘non-unique form of existence’ is easy because it’s all laid out before us, obviously; it’s all ‘known territory’ – it’s all been done before. Whatever we do, and wherever we go, we are only following instructions. We’re repeating the established pattern and so the only ‘virtue’ that is celebrated here (in the Equilibrium Realm) isn’t individuality but ‘conforming to the template’. This is the safe option therefore – there isn’t the challenge of the new to be worrying about. Uncharted territory is always difficult in the sense that we have no mental maps to tell us what to expect, or what to do if this happens or if that happens, and so on. Basically, all we have to do is just ‘follow the rules’ and the better we are at following the rules the better off we will be! This is called ‘adaptation to the system’.
A system is made up entirely of rules; there is nothing in a system that isn’t a rule, no non-rule-type stuff is in it at all and what this means is that when we follow the rules correctly then there’s no more that needs to be done. We’ve cracked it, in other words. We’ve hit the nail on the head, we’ve won the competition. This is a gross oversimplification of life, however. Life just isn’t like that – it can’t be solved. It can’t be cracked. We can never solve life, so to speak, but we can ‘crack a system’. The psychological dodge that we play here therefore is that we allow ourselves to believe that the system which we have adapted to actually is reality, and that there is nothing else. We see the figure rather than the undefined ground.
This does two things:  is that it provides us with the feeling that we really have accomplished the most important thing in life (when we haven’t) and feel good about ourselves on this account, and  is that it makes playing the game compulsory (when it isn’t really). If all there exists is the system, and there is only the one defined and established way to play the system, or act within its, then this represents a total lack of freedom. A lack of freedom is a profoundly unnatural situation however (it is unnatural in the sense that it doesn’t exist any real or unmanufactured situation) and so this is just another way of saying that a logical system is always coercive in nature. The system is inevitably going to turn out to be a bully – adapting to the system means ‘doing what the machine wants us to do’, in other words.
There is a third consequence of adapting to the system that we can point to and we can explain this third consequence very simply by saying that when we ‘adapt to the system’ we are at the same time ‘becoming unreal’! We are adapting ourselves to an abstract framework and so we too must become abstract; we are allowing ourselves to be defined within the terms of a static framework and so we too must become ‘disconnected from the universal flux’. The system is unreal (being a mere abstraction, being a game and nothing more) so when we take it as being ‘the only reality there is or ever could be’ – as we do take it – then naturally we have to become unreal too. Obeying the rules nullifies us.
Of all the consequences that there ever could be this has got to be the most extreme – what could beat this? ‘Being’ is converted to ‘nonbeing’, ‘information’ is converted to ‘redundancy’, truth is converted into ‘plausible lies’. Reality has been murdered, just as Jean Baudrillard says. It’s been killed stone dead, and a dummy version has been erected in its place. We worship a False God, an Arrogant and Cruel Imposter… The Generic is easy therefore – there’s no question about that – and that seems good to us. The easy option is what we’re looking for. As well as being easy it is also profoundly unreal however and so no matter which way we want to spin this there is no advantage to be had here! The generic, the copy, the image, is pretty much all we know – as PD Ouspensky says – and yet the Generic is the ultimate dead end…
Antonio Sanchez Santos (aka Pichi) and Alvaro Hernandez Santaeulalia (aka Avo), members of the Spanish street artist duo PichiAvo. STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP via Getty Images