Only By Being Accidental Can We Be Real

We often come across the idea that life should be intentional, and that, as motivational speakers love to tell us, a life which that is not conducted on purpose is merely a waste of our time. The internet is full of quotes to this effect – ‘Activity without purpose is the drain of your life,’ says Tony Robbins, just to give one example. This ubiquitous attitude is due – needless to say – to our chronic overvaluation of thought. Our intentions are thoughts, after all, and so when we say that life ought to be intentional, that it ought to be carried out deliberately, on purpose, etc, then we’re really saying here is that life should always conform to our ideas about it. To say that life is ‘all about achieving our goals’ – however empowering this might initially sound – is also to say that life only really has value when it agrees with our thinking. The corollary of this is that when stuff happens that isn’t intended then there is no value in it. We don’t value the accidental, in other words – we only value what we ourselves want, what we ourselves have said is important.

In orthodox Christianity we learn that God created the universe intentionally, on purpose, in accordance with His plan. This view of thing seems very reasonable to us – if we heard that the universe was in fact ‘an unfortunate accident’ then we would think the less of it for this. That wouldn’t be the same thing at all. If something happens ‘by itself’ then it’s simply no good; in the case of the Deity we could go so far as to say that if it isn’t God’s will that is being served then we’re playing into the hands of Satan. Purposefulness doesn’t just mean ‘hitting the target’- it also means not missing. Purposefulness entails fighting against an opposing force, it involves overcoming an adversary of some sort or another. It’s not possible to be purposeful without conceiving of a complementary force of resistance that is operating at the same time.

Intentionality is simply another way of talking about polarity therefore – all intentions (all plans, all schemes) have to be expressed in polar terms. If there is a desired outcome then there must also be an outcome that we don’t want; if there’s a ‘right’ then there must be a ‘wrong’. Because to be purposeful means ‘operating on the terms of a polarity’ it must be the case that purposeful activity is fundamentally unfree; everything that takes place in a polar situation is unfree, everything that happens is the result of a rule being acted out of. The framework that is being assumed in polarity (the framework of plus versus minus) defines everything that takes place, without exception. What this means is that ‘nothing new ever comes out of a polarity’. Rules can’t give rise to anything new, anything that hasn’t been decided in advance, and yet at the same time this is a situation also where everything is always in a state of conflict. When we’re caught up in a polarity then we’re caught up in a struggle that won’t ever end. The polar struggle doesn’t end – it just keeps flipping over, obviously enough…

This puts a very different complexion on things – the position that we always take (in the West, at least) is that purposeful activity is the only type of activity that isn’t a waste of time (since – by our own standards – we’re ‘getting something done’) but when we look into what’s actually going on here we see that the type of change which takes place in a polarity isn’t change at all. What we see is that the type of movement which takes place between ‘plus’ on the one side and ‘minus’ on the other isn’t movement any more than the regular and dependable motion of a pendulum is. We’re not looking at genuine motion here because everything that happens is predetermined (as we’ve said) – if the change in question has been decided in advance then nothing is actually changing. How can the enactment of a decision ever result in anything new?

The only way to get ‘new’ is if there is no precedence, no intention, no precursor, no rule – everything that comes out of a rule is redundant because everything that comes out of a rule has been predetermined. The only way something genuinely new can come about is if it isn’t caused, if it hasn’t been planned in advance – if it is ‘truly accidental’, in other words. What this shows of course is that the accidental isn’t valueless at all; far from being valueless it’s invaluable – we couldn’t do without it! There’s no way that we could do without it. When we talk about ‘the new’ we’re talking about the ‘non-redundant’; we’re talking about actual reality, in other words, and so what we’re saying here is that the much-maligned ‘accidental result’ is – if the truth were to be known – the gateway to reality itself. Only by being accidental can we be real.

When we say that ‘life should be intentional’ what we’re really saying is that we should never live in such a way that might risk bringing us in contact with reality. There’s a type of Orwellian double-speak going on here therefore – we’re saying that ‘only the life that is being lived purposefully has any meaning’, which the exact opposite of this is true. Only the life that is lived accidentally has meaning in it – anything else is artificial, anything else is pure redundancy. The type of statements that are continually being made in in this over-rational world of ours shouldn’t be taken at face value therefore – they’re actually the antithesis of what they’re being presented as being. The key is to ‘flip the statement over’ and then see what it looks like then. All the advice we receive about how to live our lives in the best and most fulfilling manner (and so on) is really advice for how to stick like glue to the ‘simulation of reality’ and avoid the real thing like the plague. It’s advice for ‘how to stay unconscious while acting as if we actually want to become conscious’, it’s advice for ‘pretending to be real’, in other words.

This really is ‘a conspiracy the conspiracy theory that puts all other conspiracy theories in the shade’ and – what’s more – there’s no need to bring the Illuminati or the Lizard People into it. We don’t even need to mention any aliens. What’s conspiring against us is our own culture, our own way of doing things, our own way of looking at things – our own instruments or devices, we might say. We are being shown a version of things that is actually ‘reality flipped over on its head’ and at the same time we’re being incentivized to adopt this distorted view of what is real as ‘the golden rule’ with regard to the all-important matter of ‘how we are to live our lives’. At one end of the scale we have the process of thinking, which is a mechanical process that causes us to perceive the world to be what our thoughts present it to us as being (i.e., as being composed of regularities rather than one-off events) and at the other end of the scale we have the Societal World, which is the world that is made up of these regularities, these generic ideas.

The societal world is a construct and what this means is that there there’s nothing in it that hasn’t been specified in advance. This – as we keep emphasizing – means in turn that nothing new ever happens in it. The societal game is the Intentional Life, and nothing can ever happen in the Intentional Life that hasn’t been scripted, that isn’t ‘already part of the plan’. Everything that happens in the game is part of the plan – win or lose, succeed or fail, it makes no difference. A rule is being acted out in an entirely deterministic fashion and the enactment of what has already been decided upon has nothing to do with life – it’s just a blank mechanical reflex, as we said a few paragraphs ago. We might think of a toy soldier with a new battery – it’ll run through its routine very briskly, very smartly; it’ll perform whatever tricks it is programmed to perform but this isn’t life – it’s just an exercise in mimicry. An automaton can mimic life ‘up to a point’, but no matter how sophisticated it might be as a device, it can never mimic life well enough to actually become alive. No matter how good a particular simulation might be at simulating, it can never simulate so well that it actually becomes what it is simulating. This doesn’t happen. I might be a truly excellent liar, possessed of tremendous skills and experience in this area, but it is still never going to be the case that I become so superbly skillful at lying that my lies actually become true.

There is a difference in ‘kind’ here, not merely a difference in ‘degree’ – automata (or simulacra) are operated ‘from the outside’ by some form of external authority which ‘tells them what to do’. We are ‘guided from the outside rather than being inspired from the inside’. Life – on the other hand – is not controlled or directed (or animated) from the outside but rather ‘it naturally does what it naturally does.’ No coercion is needed – no ‘tricks’ need be employed. Life is spontaneous, without precedence, without guidance, without governance or incentivization from any external authority. It isn’t contained within any discrete cause and it is not brought about by any preceding action and so we can say that life is not the result of any will (or intention) on our part. No one deliberately ‘lives life’, we only live our ideas of life. When it’s automata or simulacra we’re talking about however then it’s a case of ‘if it’s not told what to do then it won’t do anything’, and what this shows is that – of itself – the automaton isn’t anything. It’s ‘an illusion’ – it’s nothing but a clever trick. Something seems to be there, but that’s all – it doesn’t go any further than appearances.

The Generic World, which we are constantly being drawn into, is nothing but a clever trick, therefore. We are receiving manipulative messages all the time, messages telling us about all the wonderful advantages that can be ours if we ‘switch over to the generic’, so to speak. This is what advertising always comes down to – we’re being encouraged to give up what is unique to us (and common to none) for the supposed benefits that will be ours when we make ‘The Switch’. The benefits in question (we might say) always come down to acceptance / approval by the group – when we buy the right products then this guarantees our acceptance by the Collective. The product in question shows that we’re ‘the right sort of person’, just as living in the right neighbourhood does, just as wearing the right sort of clothes does. If we are to be accepted then we need to meet certain criteria and when we meet these criteria (whatever they are) we automatically become generic. The key point here is that society (or the group) can only approve or accept what it already knows about; this is a straightforward question of mechanics – the system can only approve or accept what it already has a category for and categories – by their nature – are always generic. There’s no such thing as ‘a category for unique events’, after all. If we want to be ‘approved of’ then we are obliged to sacrifice the unique for the generic because that’s the only way we’re going to obtain the validation that we’re so desperately looking for. We can be validated only when we’ve become generic, when we’ve become Jung’s Everyman, but at the same time we became generic we also became unreal…

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