I compose these notes to fit the mind of the student for whom I intend them.This is part 3; you may find parts 1-3 here, here, and here, respectively; parts 4-6 are here, here, and here, respectively. I include the introduction from part 1 again below.

For those more or less advanced, there may seem much that digresses or states things too succinctly. I believe one may still find value in reading these notes, even for those not the student in question. In those places where things seem too much elaborated, I apologise that my student’s frame of mind overtaxes yours. And where things move too quickly, I can only suggest immersing yourself in the more elemental or basic texts that address the matters at hand.

Also, I use past and present conjugations of the verb “to be” under protest. You should imagine every occurrence in quotation marks; typographical preciousness prevents me from indulging this visually.

Introduction

No system, however imperfect, contains errors.

Therefore, we must come to terms with the fact—ourselves each being omniscient—that the errors of omniscience must lie not in ourselves but instead in the nature[1] of omniscience.

However, given that adding manpower to a late project makes it later, we may understand then not only:

  • that the reproduction of the world—understood in its broadest and narrowest senses—puts off the end of the world, but also
  • that the elaboration of a trinary (or greater) logic can only paper over, sometimes very cleverly or intriguingly, the abyss that binary logic (or dichotomous thinking generally) opens up.

Let us take some steps to move beyond this.

Present Issues, Future Research

I have demonstrated how binaries (and especially the Reality Declarative binary of “is true”/”is false”) not only implicitly contains matter contrary to its stated dichotomy (if not a reflection in fact of its own contradiction) but may therefore be harnessed in neither-nor constructions to orient one to the way out (without necessarily making one capable of taking that way out yet). Moreover, to put all of this in a more appealing wrapper, the neither-nor construction at root enables an aesthetic response to Reality. No wonder then that Sade and Schiller both intuited that the “way out” passed through the divine road of Art; Sad even advised if you wanted to really go all out, one should commit the kind of immorality, criminality, and blasphemy possible only in writing. Thus we may say for all people, as also for the Artist, that the aesthetic gesture offers a way to orient oneself to a way out. For those who seek to avoid determination, call this a proof of concept.

Now, of course Sade admitted that his Art did not free him; that is, he saw all of his Art stained by drooling Nature, and we might recall at this juncture that his sadomasochism might well have wallowed delightedly in how Nature offended him. I’m suggesting that for all of his railing, he might have (on certain days at least) have enjoyed, even actively sought out, his subjugation. In which case perhaps he’d simply assented to Schiller’s recommendation to submit voluntarily, albeit with screaming.

Schiller begins with the question of violence, necessity, and voluntary submission to that which cannot truly be avoided, but he does so in the context of an essay on aesthetics, specifically about the Sublime. And in a moment that still radiates to this day with brilliance, he infers the existence of freewill (i.e., the point of nondetermination) out of the experience of the Sublime. In a commentary on Schiller’s essay, we read:

The theory of types in Naïve and Sentimental Poetry illustrates two major aspects of Schiller’s final position. First, there are, as a matter of fact, at least two radically opposed ways of viewing the world; and what has been shown of the poets is also true of men in general: as witness the extension of the theory of poetic types to the idealist and realist in the last part of the essay. Second, neither of these opposed world-views can claim objective validity, either in the “strong” sense of the rationalists, nor in the “weaker” sense of Kant (37, emphasis added).

I interrupt here briefly. Set aside for the moment whether the distinction here between objective validity “neither in the ‘strong’ sense of the rationalists, nor in the ‘weaker ‘sense of Kant,” makes sense. If the statement reads as confusing, suspend that in disbelief for the moment and follow what he offers next.

The evidence against the strict objectivity of the rationalists is the impossibility of verifying our generalizations about the world against objective reality; and … the evidence [against Kant’s sense of objectivity] is the absence of a human consensus regarding the reality of the world as it appears to men (37–8).

Because then comes the startling turn.

Of two conflicting hypotheses [i.e., in this case the strict rationalists or the Kantian position], at least one must be wrong; it seems to be Schiller’s conclusion that both are wrong (38).

Notwithstanding that the two positions Schiller rejects are not literally A and not-A, nonetheless, when he was faced with a seemingly adequate either/or dichotomy, it matters tremendously that he responded instead with a neither/nor, that both were wrong. From Schiller himself then:

The feeling of the sublime is a mixed feeling. It is a composition of melancholy which at its utmost is manifested in a shudder, and of joyousness which can mount to rapture and, even if it is not actually a pleasure, is far preferred by refined souls to all pleasure.

This combination of two contradictory perceptions in a single feeling demonstrates our moral independence in an irrefutable manner. For since it is absolutely impossible for the very same object to be related to us in two different ways, it therefore follows that we ourselves are related to the object in two different ways; furthermore, two opposed natures must be united in us, each of which is interested in diametrically opposed ways in the perception of the object.

By means of the feeling for the sublime, therefore, we discover that the state of our minds is not necessarily determined by the state of our sensations, that the laws of nature are not necessarily our own, and that we possess a principle proper to ourselves that is independent of all sensuous affects (198).

By this, Schiller discovers, the simultaneity of our two (or more) different positions on one object shows that any sense of necessity–before which we (by definition) have no choice–that would otherwise follow from such an object “breaks” the argument for necessity, and thus reveals and demonstrates the actual freedom we experience (in our apperception of the sublime).

Besides the philosophical interest of this, it (1) shows a point where our sense of powerlessness in the face of events, which is another way of saying an unchangeable necessity we can do nothing about except learn to accept it, may be contradicted and thus combated, and (2) specifically argues that only art (aesthetic, and specifically sublime, work) offers the space or the opportunity for creating the real ground of change, first of all by demonstrating people are not powerless (before necessity).

All of this, of course, only provides the proof that a way out exists, and Schiller himself is not concerned at whatever might be acting in a determinative manner on “the state of our minds”; more precisely, Schiller takes the experience of the Sublime as positing our nondetermination by our biology or our environment. This, because he is content with (or sees no alternative to) greeting enthusiastically those determinations that we declare by fiat as originating from ourselves. In other words, if my blue eyes determine how I see the world, I elect not to be offended or wounded by that determination.

Schiller, who wrote a great deal on the development of an aesthetic sensibility, would surely see the “metaphor” of Art at work in this sort of assent to one’s declaration of what constitutes acceptable or non-offensive determinations. Moreover, to the extent that even “lowly individuals” can make world-declarations for themselves, nothing contradictory arises if Schiller (or we) insist that determinations that arise from the self are non-offensive, or even more strongly: are not determinations at all, as I suggested at the end of the last section.

In this light, the gesture of voluntary submission as well has the same quality. A person experiences agonising hunger pangs and simply declares they are not determined by that necessary violence and thus impose their own confession of voluntary submission (of their own freewill) upon it.

It may seem this is merely semantic, and it is if we only merely “say” these things. But when we also “will” it, that willing changes not the world but how we experience the world. (So some, to will a change does change the World.) A cynic might decry Schiller’s voluntary submission as merely a pretty fiction, but from Schiller’s point of view, his world transforms when he voluntarily submits to a necessity he cannot defeat. We might call his sense of dignity “ridiculous” at that moment, but for Schiller, he lives and experiences that dignity.

In this quibbling with Schiller, we see again the pressure of “is true”. An external observer wants to insist that such voluntary submission is ridiculous, while Schiller himself goes on dwelling quite authentically in greater peace in his own dignity because of it. And the question of whether he “really does or doesn’t” seems to come up as if it mattered. Never mind whether or not we should leave poor Schiller in peace, in his truth or delusion or not. Or that sometimes megalomaniacs make declarations to themselves that start fucking up the world around them and that’s quite a real-world problem The point here simply means to make clear that this sort of reality-declaration by Schiller informs the same kind of world-building that the aesthetic impulse contains or reflects when it makes art.

Because they are identical in origin, even as they are different in deployment; that is, in principle one’s aesthetic selections when making Art are governed (constrained) by nothing besides the “laws of Art” whereas what governs (constrains) my freewill is often very habitually or unconsciously taken care of. Schiller demonstrates we might always have freewill (whether we remember to practice it or not), and that our capacity for Reality-declaration, given to us in inheritance at the very least from whoever declared our Reality in the first place (if not ultimately Chaos), remains forever at our beck and call.

How do we invoke it? No. The question before that is: how do we remember (when) to invoke it. Not to remember that we can makes us subject (by default) to the “is true” of our governing Reality, to our habitual (and thus otherly determined) characteristics. Thus, just as Schiller arrived at his insight by rejecting an either/or and resorting instead to a neither/nor (which oriented him to a way out), so too may we follow his example.

All of Culture, all of Reality, encourages us to stay within the confines of the either/or, so much so that formal logic generally pretends that neither/or isn’t even logically defensible (even when logicians necessarily include it in their truth tables). Thus, to remember we needn’t roll down the rails of the either/or makes for the far more important step than whatever we might do next. Without that first remaindering and remembering, then we would never make another than is “already fated” for us. Without questioning the premise of the either/or at the very outset, everything else that follows merely belies the obligations of karma, of the Reality defining either/or, true/false. If we don’t stop ourselves at the very beginning, everything that follows serves only to further determine us, if not trap or enslave us.

But does any of this really assist us in the aim of being (absolutely) free from determination either by the Artist or anything else, while taking as a given, at least for the moment, that such a thing is desirable in the first place?

We have demonstrated for ourselves a defensible argument for freewill, which is at least a necessary if not sufficient condition for non-determination;[2] we have noted, with Schiller, that we may defeat Necessity by making it our own; we have observed that we make at least a first gesture toward annulling determination when we remember to make our aesthetic choices consciously and deliberately rather than unconsciously and habitually; we have elaborated the cognitive intervention technique of the neither-nor formula as a way to orient ourselves toward (unimaginable) rifts in Reality, while our analysis of binaries has also pointed at least to the gaps and cracks wherein we may find alternatives—an entire 50% of Reality—that virtually all Encodings take no account of; we have identified individuals (native inhabits of the Neither) who might be able to assist for the “outsiders” view they possess; and we have at least suggested that a study of Encodings that rest on an elemental principle other than an “is true” Declaration of an Encoder’s desires may—in those resultant Realities’ baffling and actual simultaneity of differing states—provide a milieu where the notion of karma as the symbol par excellence of determination becomes radically incoherent if not meaningless. And this, because in such an Encoding, whether the Artist’s choice (or any other factor) “does or does not” even affect me, much less determine me, is factually 60% true/40% false, 20% true/80% false (maybe even 90% false), and so on, simultaneously. But seemingly rhetorical games with percentages aside, the most determining factor in the Neither—so far as researches there to date have disclosed—involves the observer, so that of the uncountably multiple potential states of determination and non-determination that simultaneously do and do not bear upon an observer will have a determining effect most of all, if not exclusively, because you observed it as such.[3]

Outside of the Neither (and not even within it, to be accurate), it remains by no means obvious or unambiguous that one’s presence (with its conscious or unconscious desiring) calls down karma upon oneself. Such vastly endowed forces like Furies and Vendetta Beasts seem far more convincingly explained as the sent-forth agents of an outraged third party than the “secret desire for punishment” (or some such) on the one who gets such Beings sicced upon them. One can say, of course, that such Beings don’t get sent forth for nothing, but the aesthetic history of these creatures, both in fact and fiction, many times over show that those destroyed and annihilated by these vast retributive forces were factually wholly ignorant of the cause of the offense. Some “unconscious” willing of karma does not explain anything in this case. One must argue—and it has been—that such creatures represents one massive pay-off for no end of accumulated disastrous karma, though this would still beg the question why, after all of this time, does an ultimate force of retribution suddenly fire up its weapons of utter annihilation. It’s certainly not because some watermark or tally gets exceeded, because vastly more nefarious Beings have wandered openly around with complete impunity for eons longer than many unfortunates dispatched in more or less of a trice by Furies or Vendetta Beasts. Some different mechanism seems at work.

And for want of another explanation, it seems simply a matter of catching someone’s eye, i.e., of being observed. In a case of straightforward revenge, we easily imagine some wounded party calling down retribution; in a case of karma (as a retributive principle at work in Reality), we cannot help but notice, simply as a matter of history and of justice, that not all bad deed—not even deeds that involve the destruction of entire realities—get their comeuppance. If karma operates simply as a mechanical principle in Reality, then we can hardly miss that it seems extremely selective.[4] But whether karma operates with “perfect justice” (over some sufficiently long period of time) or “seems imbalanced,” in either case a necessary condition for karma to “activate” would be an observer.

In the Neither, this observer will often (and sometimes exclusively) be me—as if I will the arrow of karma to the target of myself—but this does not preclude the possibility of a “third party” observer as well, especially since in Reality, if I am a target of retribution, it normally feels as if the (wounded) third party makes the most decisive part of the decision to fire a retributive arrow of karma at me. But here again, even in the absence of the wounded party knowing who to punish, karma may still often find its target.

Some who object to the determinations of the Artist report that at times the experience of his presence in their lives feels like a “spotlight”. We may also note that the notion of the “light of consciousness” borrows the metaphor of “light” in order to characterize the experience of understanding; just as physical light permits us to see, so the “light of consciousness” permits us to understand. So the spotlight of the presence of the Artist in a person’s light seems to link to the experience of a light of consciousness not one’s own. In a word, the Artist pays attention to you. And I suggest that this agonising experience described by others is more general than generally admitted (i.e., that things “pay attention” to us more often than we realise), most of all because we fail to see any “double presence”, i.e., the lights (plural) of consciousness that our younger luminaries suffer under.

Their agonising condition arises because they see two lights, their own and another, but only when someone (the Artist) pays attention to them. And so we too only experience any light of consciousness at all as well when something pays attention to us—or, to speak more accurately and fairly—the unambiguous experience of twoness that our young luminaries experience is not so unambiguous in ourselves. If we too are “attended to,” we do not realise, I am suggesting, that a second light of consciousness shines in our minds. Whether this means we go into a kind of fugue state of possession where another takes us over and we have no recollection of it—this seems very unlikely—or whether our secret passenger merely goes along for the ride is not clear. Perhaps a more unnerving possibility is that the interloper takes over our will but arranges this feat in such a way that in their absence—if any—we go on believing we acted wholly of our own accord.

Unnerving to imagine but merciful in practice. Because, as Schiller’s argument makes clear, whatever others might think of my voluntary submission, for me it makes a difference in the world. So too here. If the deeds and words and doings of my interloper are seamlessly integrated into my own self-understanding, then it is as if there is no interloper at all. Only an external third party could ever notice the affront, and even then I might fail to be convinced. This is, of course, all covertly referring (again) to that notion of Primes by the Maelenders. But even to have an unambiguous vision of these strange creatures really doesn’t get us very far. For instance, are these sentences I am composing at this very moment the work of my interloper or myself? And even if my interloper says to me, “Fool, I wrote all of this not you,” I can laugh and call them an even bigger fool back.

More broadly, if only to avoid all of the theological history and pseudoontological empiricism too many associate with both proponents and opponents of the notion of Primes amongst the Maelenders, let us simply posit the existence of interlopers, Beings who on some basis—obviously Encoded into Reality—are capable of “interacting” with or through creatures, beings, entities, existences, and whatnot that dwell in Reality.

Cynics call this the Puppet Theory of existence; that we comprise nothing more than puppets, operated (usually badly) by pathetic, greasy-faced beings who, if they ever had the audacity finally to stand before us, would be wiped out with the barest flick of a pinky. Such speculative masochism grows boring very quickly but more damningly it bears no semblance to Reality. More precisely, this Puppet Theory fails to account for the 99.99% (or more) portion of Reality obviously, clearly, and utterly untouched by any such Puppetmasters.[5]

An empirically verifiable fact of Existence discloses the trace—I will not yet say the “presence”—of what I will call Observers in two ways. First, the distinction of Being and Existence itself logically requires Observers to have reality in the first place. And our capacity as observers originates in Observers; we are observers (of ourselves and our world) by virtue of the capacities of Observers. This is a speculative hypothesis of course and quite unprovable, but as with all explanatory hypotheses, we can make judgments about the relative merits of them and see what the consequences are. It is “cheap” to say that we are observers because there are Observers, but it is also easier than explaining how the self-awareness of Consciousness came about but (more importantly) more desirable than the notion that Consciousness is nothing more than an epiphenomenon. Some will say it is slightly outrageous to call a speculative hypothesis a “fact,” but once we have taken it as a premise and it enters into the social discourse of the world that is, after all, exactly what a fact is.

Far more concretely, we may cite all of those people who do, in fact, report the experience of twoness in their light of consciousness. I realise that just earlier I more or less insisted that we could not tell a difference; generally, most don’t. But not only are our younger luminaries the only people to report feeling a dual presence in their light of consciousness; others have as well, and not just Maelenders when they are talking about Primes. And if I hesitated to say this earlier, it is because to do so necessarily means making obvious to any Observer, “We know you’re watching us.”

Of course, even this fact remains subject to epistemological extension out to a sceptical infinity; the argument does not require any “factual existence” to Observers. And, in fact, I raise all of this simply to speak about the operation of karma and the idea of freedom from determination. Because I am proposing that it is only when Observers pay attention that karma operates in Reality, whether justly or not, whether sporadically or not, whether wonkily or not, &c.—and for the same reason that our most profound experiences of Existence (not Being) occur when we are being Observed.

Right now, I am being Observed.

And later, when my Observer becomes bored or sleepy or distracted or whatever else draws attention away from me, the doubled light of consciousness now perfectly obvious to me will “collapse” or “singularize” back to the single one I have known for more than two billion years. In a similar fashion, as I sifted through the labyrinthine hyper-ruins of millions of destroyed realities, only in the barest and almost microscopic of ways would I find any secondary trace of Consciousness. IT was millennia before I realized this absence of doubled light was not just a consequence of the wiping out of the reality in question. In the face of what was practically erasure, to find “nothing” hardly could astonish me. But lately, as I pore over some of my gathered data again—a habit so deeply entrenched in me I often don’t even notice I am doing it—I can see now in places where there was once an absolute “lack of attention” faint little pools of light. I had tea recently in one of the most megalithic ruins I ever encountered, and I chose the place for the absoluteness of its desolation, and despite that, as I had tea with my only friend from my entire time in the voids of those existences there was a glimmering nimbus of attention there that not only most definitely had never existed before (again, I chose the location of tea for that very reason) but that could not have existed, considering how utterly the place was destroyed. So, someone or something Observed that meeting.

Endnotes

[1] My aversion to the use of the word “nature” borders on reasonable, but here needn’t occur a variation on the origins of my aversion. What I would note, rather: I would much sooner have written “Therefore, we must come to terms with the fact—ourselves each being omniscient—that the errors of omniscience must lie not in ourselves but rather in the qualities (or perhaps the quiddity) of omniscience itself”—but had I done so, not only would the sense of the claim have become unfamiliar (largely due to the word “quiddity”) but also because a certain kind of intellectual “work” or “symbolism” gets carried by the word “nature” that fails to come across with the word “qualities”. This suggests that the word “nature” (rhetorically speaking) performs a sleight-of-hand—perhaps even a bait-and-switch—that, I suspect, lies at the root of how sapient consciousness in particular get deceived about the most fundamental things. Perhaps later in these notes I will return to this.

[2] If we lived without self-awareness, this also affects a condition of non-determination, but here this is sufficient but not necessary. Many sapients might also find it undesirable.

[3] Curiously, this is not so unlike Reality already except that in Reality it seems more metaphorical, i.e., the sense of being determined (by anything, the Artist or not) seems most of all to arise, as a problem, not in the moment of being determined, but only afterward, as an interpretation of the event of having been determined (whether one really was at that time or not). The upside to this victim-blaming is how it in principle—though unfortunately not always necessarily in practice—identifies the victim as a non-passive agent capable of intervening into what has happened to them. Still, there is something of a false equivalency offered in this. If one may more or less correctly say that the principle of karma in the Neither (and Realities encoded like it) has no analogous sense with its consequences in Reality, then the “calling down upon oneself” that the Neither’s Encoding “brings about” places “authorship” of that event in a different place (on the individual) than in Reality, where the consequences are scripted or written by the Author of Reality (or a given sub-reality). The upside to the “it’s all your fault” aspect of the Neither would be the “it’s all your credit as well” except that in the presence of multiple sapiences “who” dictates the states of reality around the group becomes a negotiated matter between everyone in the group (consciously or not).

[4] Proponents of karma will accuse me of oversimplifying. Assume I lead an exemplary life and then suddenly someone viciously defrauds me of my fortunate. Meanwhile, a super-criminal not only continues his career of evil but becomes a celebrity and role model and receives millions, &c. Proponents of karma would point out that it is arrogant of me to assume I lived such an exemplary life that I harmed no one in the course of my living—or, to be more fair, they might not call it arrogant, but certainly very narrow-minded and selective in my own sense of my own goodness and exemplary living. One needn’t even resort to mentioning “past lives” to explain “bad karma,” in part because what one means by a “past life” includes not only previous material embodiments as a living entity, but also every yesterday that I have lived through in this life. Similarly, our impatience that the master criminal has not yet had his comeuppance belies just that: impatience. But these metaphysical quibbles miss how this notion of karma can help individuals. When the individual says to herself, “Why do I suffer? Ah, it’s my doing,” this enables them to address those choices that made it so. This must be and can only arise from the individual saying so; for me to say to one who suffers, “You brought it upon yourself” is already dubious enough; when it becomes a rational for inaction against social injustices, then we see the meaning of karma perverted to a self-serving and destructive end.

[5] And, if I might add a slice of personal philosophy at this moment, I must say that the overwhelming majority of proponents who argue for the Puppet Theory of existence seem to be the sorts of assholes who are looking for an excuse to avoid being held accountable for that. People with some modicum of ethical responsibility will insist, even if the Puppet Theory is entirely true, that they are still somehow accountable agents for their actions and they’d sooner “bear the burden” for the acts of their Puppeteers than have the sum total of every action in their life taken away from them because “someone else did it or said it.” The mainline Puppet Theory exponents are not these kinds of people, and the sprawling histories of their biographies as unfortunate individuals in the social world bears an arguably more than ample documentation of this fact.

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I compose these notes to fit the mind of the student for whom I intend them.This is part 3; you may find parts 1-3 here, here, and here, respectively; part 4-5 are here and here. I include the introduction from part 1 again below.

For those more or less advanced, there may seem much that digresses or states things too succinctly. I believe one may still find value in reading these notes, even for those not the student in question. In those places where things seem too much elaborated, I apologise that my student’s frame of mind overtaxes yours. And where things move too quickly, I can only suggest immersing yourself in the more elemental or basic texts that address the matters at hand.

Also, I use past and present conjugations of the verb “to be” under protest. You should imagine every occurrence in quotation marks; typographical preciousness prevents me from indulging this visually.

Introduction

No system, however imperfect, contains errors.

Therefore, we must come to terms with the fact—ourselves each being omniscient—that the errors of omniscience must lie not in ourselves but instead in the nature[1] of omniscience.

However, given that adding manpower to a late project makes it later, we may understand then not only:

  • that the reproduction of the world—understood in its broadest and narrowest senses—puts off the end of the world, but also
  • that the elaboration of a trinary (or greater) logic can only paper over, sometimes very cleverly or intriguingly, the abyss that binary logic (or dichotomous thinking generally) opens up.

Let us take some steps to move beyond this.

Declaring & Encoding

Those who examine the Encodings of Realities frequently expatiate breathlessly on the elegance of the fact that it all arises out of “zeroes and ones”. Less trivially, and more factually, it all arises from structural accumulations of either ”is true” or “is false”. From all I’ve already said, it becomes clear then that this points to the essential trap (or support structure, depending upon your attitude toward the stuff) of a Reality Encoding.

Just to keep the terminology clear, an Encoding (at the level of Reality or lower) denotes the implementation of a Reality declaration. The Encoding is the “machine code” that enacts and enables the desires, as expressed declarations, of whomever composed or deployed it.

Currently, for all of the known and studied Encodings, the declarative terms “is true” and “is false” get Encoded as One and Zero.[2] This is, of course, a “symbolic” expression. Even in organic and inorganic computational machines alike, “one” and “zero” merely represent a symbolic representation of the (energistic) substrate it operates on. Thus, one says “on”/”off” in order to point to this in a more raw way, but even “on”/”off” remains “symbolic”, since it merely points to a presence of some distinct energy state (“on”) as realizable within the organic or inorganic or time-space strata within which the operation occurs distinct from an absence of that presence (“off”).

I would prefer to banish to a footnote the following point, but it remains too essential to go overlooked.

Reality encoders will wish split a hair here, stating that it needn’t be a distinction of “on” as “energy present” and “off” as “absence of energy present”, i.e., that one may assign the states as “black” and “white” or any other two “things” so long as they provide a contrast. Yes and no. To propose a distinction like “black”/”white” as the fundamental distinction of an Encoding, at least as concerns “hardware” applications (organic, inorganic, or chronotopic, i.e., time-spatial) first requires a more “elemental” level, i.e., something like “present” and “absent” in order to provide the necessary contrast. On the other hand, when one is governed by imagination for an Encoding rather than brute matter (or time-space), then any sort of Encoding assignment whatsoever becomes in principle possible, though most simply immediately fall apart and die horrible squishy deaths in the vacuum of Futility, because even Imagination falls short of providing the needed requisites to make the contrast workable and sustainable; one might make the distinction “fish” and “insofar as” the elemental distinction of your Reality but feel free trying to imagine how that would hang together; simply saying, “It works” never works. At least, no one to date has figured out how to.

To state the matter at hand here very generally, at the very root, we needs three things for an Encoding (either Imaginative or Actual, i.e., organic, inorganic, or chronotopic): a distinction (be that black/white, zero/one, on/off, &c), the two things distinguished (in principle, any two things), and a position to make that distinction from (symbolically, the / of a distinction, but pragmatically, this encodes the standpoint of the one making the Encoding in the first place; rather literally, the Encoder is the /, or slightly more precisely, the Encoder’s standpoint, which, again in principle, anyone might occupy if they can gain access to it). In a sense, this points to the root problem of freedom from determination, since “access” to the “/” from within an Encoding necessarily occurs in terms of the Encoding. There’s the “trap”. One might occupy the position of the “/” but still not be able to “see one’s freedom”; also, even though you occupy the position of the “/”, everything available to you from that position arises, of course, from the Encoded distinction it represents. You have the cackling luxury of “using the Master’s Code against itself,” but it takes a slightly daft egotist to miss the irony of that.

Meanwhile, from all I said before about binaries, it becomes clear that this type of Encoding has a fundamental flaw: because to posit a distinction creates four categories (“on”, “off”, the “on of off” and the “off of on”), not two. So that whatever “elemental” distinction one begins with, whether based on an Actual or Imaginative substrate, the sheer Declaration its simultaneously creates more categories than the distinction can account for, and thus introduces features into your Encoding that you are at worst unaware of or, at best, unable to express plainly in terms of your distinction but rather must instead create an approximation for using the terms of the distinction. That is, as soon as you posit “east” you get “west” (of course), but also “east of west” and “west of east” and you must then somehow, using “east” and “west” approximate the other two distinguished categories. Most Encoders don’t even know this problem exists and of those who do almost none, in the range of those studied, have attempted to “fix” the problem. Some insist the problem remains “merely semantic”—a pretty dodge, but a failed one. The radical difficulty involved in this comes more to the fore if you imagine a “machine coding” of Zero and One. What, then, comprises the “zero of one” and the “one of zero”. The most conventional “solution” (more like a dodge) to this involves a bait-and-switch. The category “one of zero” (since it is “not zero”) gets arbitrarily shoehorned and reassigned as “one” and the category of “zero of one” (since it is apparently “not one”) gets arbitrarily shoehorned and reassigned as “zero”. This has the tidy effect of rendering invisible and inaccessible 50% of any encoded Reality. But, of course, just because “someone says” a thing only makes it obligatorily true if you go along with it (we will ignore, of course, that Reality “builds” us to be of the sort to go along with it), nonetheless, even the operation of Reality itself cannot absolutely hide this bait-and-switch.

To return to a previous example to make this even clearer if more metaphorical, for the psychoanalyst who insists on explaining everything in terms of “love” or “fear”, at least the patient (possibly also the psychoanalyst and possibly also the World) remains capable of taking note that some people who express a “fear of love” actually express a third category apart from the “fear” the psychoanalyst insists is operating, and similarly that some people who express a “love of fear” actually express yet another category apart from the (masochistic) “love” that the psychoanalyst’s misprision insists upon. So here again, so long as one goes along with the psychoanalysts desired Declaration of psychic health, 50% of Reality remains obscured though, in principle, still accessible.

Also, I must note in passing, that the overwhelming predominance of Encoded Realities use some variety of X/not-X as a distinction, whether of the logical type (“east”/“not-east”, “light”/“not-light”) or semantic type “east”/“west”, “radiance”/“darkness”). No one but Chaos, so far as I know, has deployed a distinction of X/X (“Chaos, as distinct from Chaos”). For our poor beleaguered minds, this seems to have the effect of erasing the distinction, although this is only because we can no longer follow the distinction. It is interesting, in this respect, that such an Encoding (if we would impute Chaos an Encoder) does not run afoul of “invisible categories”—or, at least, in the four categories that result (“chaos”, “chaos”, the “chaos of chaos” and the “chaos of chaos”) it does not seem that such an Encoding hides 50% of what it encodes.

I said that in the general case, an Encoding requires three things: a distinction, things distinguished, and the symbolic representation of the one who distinguished. But an Encoding represents simply (or not so simply at all) a material or imaginative embodiment of the Encoder; it represents an expression of the Encoder’s desires (if not the will as well). In other words, it represents a trace of the desire to declare what “is true” (and hence also what “is false”).[3] At root, this is what Zero and One “encode”.

Something else interesting may be noted here. Nothing necessarily dictates whether “is true” must be One and “is false” must be Zero. In fact, Reality Encoders may just as well randomly assign this. Operationally, this makes no difference. Rather, the difference appears when comparing two Realities. Those that both assign One in the same way (e.g., One = “is true”) will show vast numbers of affinities between themselves, and travellers between such Realities will experience a much less severe degree of “Reality shock” when visiting there than travellers from those Realities who venture into others where the opposite polarity prevails (e.g., One = “is false”). One may immediately imagine “moral” entailments that result from this, and indeed one finds any number of pairs of Realities (often created by the same Encoder) where nothing varies but that original assignment of Zero and One. Conventionally, this displays as “good” and “evil” versions of those Realities—and of course, inhabitants from both sides spare no breath arguing over who is “good” and who is “evil”.

For the sake of completeness, I should add (as I noted at the outset) that one needn’t resort only to binary logics for this sort of thing; Varela developed “true”, “false” and “self-reference” as a trinary alternative, and many others have developed many others. And also as I noted much earlier, such an elaboration of a trinary (or greater) logic can only paper over, sometimes very cleverly or intriguingly, the abyss that binary logic (or dichotomous thinking generally) opens up.[4] For when we are confronted by the endless inadequacy of true/false as a warrant for action on our part, in the necessity of having to choose to believe something or to name our fundamental experiences of Reality as valid (or not), then if we have Varela’s third, logical category this permits us (tricks us, some might say) into “normalising” contradiction, which in an only true/false Reality without Varela’s might serve to alert us that something was wrong, misnamed, incorrect, &c., and thus open a window onto the 50% of Reality obscured by the distinctions deployed. But we may remember also that Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem assures us, forever and forever, that no Encoding can be complete. It will always generate contradictions, and those points of contradiction must always provide windows, cracks, holes, gaps (the metaphors all resemble themselves) by which we might (literally) see our way out of the System.

It is for this reason that no system, however imperfect, contains errors. The inadequacy of an Encoding is not an error; rather, it is a fundamentally constituent feature of a Reality, whether it resorts to a true/false (zero/one) declaration, as most do, or to something more esoteric. For this reason, a true/false declaration permits us to always see the way out by noting how “x is neither true nor not true” (or we might say “x is neither false nor not false”). The introduction of Varela’s “plug” only requires more verbiage to declare this: “x is neither true nor false nor a contradiction” &c.

This may seem to blur too much the distinction between Declaration and Encoding. To repeat more clearly, those who would Encode a Reality do so by instrumentalizing their desire in the distinction “is true”/”is false” (or, more briefly, true/false) by (arbitrarily) encoding it in zero and one (or something like it) (in either direction). Generally speaking, this assignment remains stable and permanent (i.e., once One gets assigned to “is true” or “is false” it stays that way), but nothing requires this to be so, and history shows a range of Realities that (violently) shift “polarities” from time to time, usually to their destruction.[5] As already mentioned, this Encoding may be Actual (a representation of energy, or non-energy in Realities without energy as typically understood) or Imaginary.[6] Again, Chaos seems to represent a special case, since there any sort of analogous assignment of Zero and One goes to “Chaos” and “Chaos” (not “Chaos” and “not-Chaos” as one might expect).[7]

Consequently, karma ensures that everything one might say about a Reality gets subjected to the question “is it true” (or “is it false”). Thus, a statement like “he exists” must be either true or false. The “must be” is the crucial part. “This planet is” must be true or false, &c.[8] The point to emphasize here doesn’t involve the content of these logical operations but rather their form and in particular their obligatory character. As far as “he exists” goes, it must be true or false; even more precisely, it must be true, false, the false of true, or the true of false, but no one I know of concerns themselves with this fuller case.

Not to bog down in trivia, but some clarity is needed here. The above does not involve a question whether “I think” he exists or not. Obviously, I might be insane, or he might have deceived me about his existence, and so and so and so on, so that his existence may be called into doubt. Insofar as all of us, even Empirathant for all of his omniscience, are epistemologically limited beings, then all of us remain subject to deception about potentially anything.[9] Rather, the point here involves whether “Reality” thinks (and therefore, simply by thinking it, asserts) he exists in way that enforces its obligation on everyone in that reality. On this score, there is (or at least most Reality declarers make it this way) no deceiving Reality. The Maelenders might add that it is the Primes who know or decide the issue whether “he exists” is true or not. It all boils down to “who gets to declare” Reality such that everyone else is (or is not) obliged to assent to that declaration. Hence, when a Vortex of Destruction appears over my planet and threatens to destroy everything, that that “is true” obliges me (1) to act according to that reality (little ‘r’) or (2) look forward to the karma of not doing so.

Thus, I suggest that the most totalizing and extensive distinction one finds, the most fundamental one as far as Reality declaration goes is concerned, is the “is true”/”is false” distinction. Or to make the matter even more strongly, there is only “is true” and like all declarations, this brings along with it its polar opposite (“is false”) and also the generally unacknowledged categories as well (“the truth of falseness” and “the falseness of truth”). With the exception of the Neither, this seems to be the case for all Realities, whether based on Actual or Imaginative Encodings.

For Reality encoders who aren’t paying attention, they only stipulate “is true” (almost invariably assigning it to One), and give little heed or attention to the consequences of not explicitly declaring “is false” and Zero along with it. And, of course, in the absence of an explicit declaration, nothing prevents Reality itself from “deciding” the remainder of the assignments. In other words, one can find Realities where a Reality Encoder stipulated (assigned) only “is true” at One, and we may then see the category “the falseness of truth” assigned to Zero. In that Reality, which can barely sustain a culture for any length of time, every attempt by everyone to establish the most basic “truths” in order to coordinate actions with one another find all of their words and assertions all but “automatically” or implicitly undermined (if not negated) by the ubiquitous presence of “the falseness of truth” in everything. Some have suggested that the turbulent political and social chaos of the demonic realms results precisely from such a lack of explicit assignment; others go even further and say that the inevitable consequence of such non-assignment precisely engendered demonic creatures in the first place (and, therefore, only secondarily demonic “culture” and “social spaces”).

These examples do not serve as critiques or analyses of content, but point rather to how a Reality Declaration establishes the obligations to which its inhabitants (and often its visitors) must submit. And in this respect, whatever is declared as “is true” imposes the most totalizing, thoroughgoing, and absolute of obligations—keeping clearly in mind that the decision about what “is true” is enforced at the highest level of Reality (or at an even higher level still).

Now, of course, as wilful beings, we may change these things, or usually at least to the degree that we then find comfort. A wild boar threatens to gore a mighty warrior yet through his swordplay he makes the boar cease to exist as a threat. Reality said, “yes” and he replied, “No” and it was within his capacity to make that declaration in that place and at that time. We don’t always have such skill or luxury of course; nonetheless, the characteristic of Reality declaration involved in the original Encoding itself almost invariably becomes a capacity in the inhabitants themselves within that given Reality. Hence, for all that Reality declares, we may always (in principle at least) answer. The writing of our narrative on the page of Reality marks a trace of this capacity.

One of course may scale from the “mere physical will” of the mighty up to something more like Reality-wide obliteration of an individual or a planet or race or an entire reality in the gesture of “erasure” but this only illustrates a matter of degree: Reality said “Yes, that race” and the Genocide replies, “No.” And voila—it becomes so, if the Genocide has sufficient means.

Indirectly, of course, this raises the objections made by those who would be free of the Artist’s determinations. We needn’t establish with perfect finality and certainty where the Artist ends and Reality begins, because the Artist—either as an agent of a Reality he already dwelt in or something somehow independent of it—encoded (or re-encoded) what “is true” and we now all find ourselves caught in that. In other words, our task is not to diagnosis his condition but to cure ours.

Even so, the question is not so merely academic as it seems. If the Artist offered his Work independently of the Reality he’d already found himself in, then either (1) he found another Reality from which he could develop his alternative to his original one, or (2) he succeeded in the younger luminaries’ present goal of being somehow undetermined enough by his then-current Reality to be able to act independently. As for possibility (1), once again we have the issues:

  • travellers take their own (Reality) baggage with them when they go elsewhere
  • the other Reality is so similar already to the one left that it doesn’t offer a traveller a sufficiently different or genuine alternative
  • or, different though it is, the traveller still interprets through the lens of categories already known to them.[10]

To stand Somewhere outside of Reality at least in principle affords one a position from which to see the difference that will make a difference in terms of constructing an alternative to Reality. But it does not yet guarantee one the certainty of seeing the difference, for the reasons above. On average, a native of Somewhere will more likely be an “alien observer” of Reality, and the younger luminaries who seek liberation from determination might look in those ranks. Of course, one my still raise the objection that a native of Somewhere will similarly take their baggage, find Reality too familiar, or misread Reality in light of Somewhere as well. In brief, it doesn’t solve the epistemological problem though, as noted earlier, it might provide some degree of relief or succour to those who feel oppressed by the presence of the Artist, and we should not scoff at such relief just because it is n only partial solution to the main problem.

Of course, to say that the Artist discovered such a Somewhere (outside of Reality) is a very dubious proposition, even as we are now in an era where a place like the Neither, which seems decidedly “outside of Reality” exists. To suggest he found such a place is like insisting that a thing could only have happened at the hands of some mythological beast that doesn’t exist. Since the Neither does exist, some researcher already do not hesitate to conclude that the Artist must have found it long ago, and this would be an attractive hypothesis if there were not any number of inhabitants in the Neither who categorically state, and on perfectly unimpugnable authority, that the Artist has never in any form made an appearance in the Neither until recently. Similarly, the mere existence of the Neither has been taken by some commentators as evidence for an un-numberable collection of similar places, any one of which the Artist might have stumbled upon through some as yet wholly supernatural means. However, here we have the declaration of the Prime Mas, who categorically identified the Neither as fundamentally dissimilar to Reality, precisely in the fact that one cannot say that its “existence” is either true or false. The entire Encoding of the Neither, most assuredly not quite Actual but at the same time not quite purely Imaginative either, does not operate (at its fundamental level) in an on/off sense. In the presence of observers, potential objects become certain objects, &c., and at that point the Neither “operates” usually how one expects, precisely because one expects. So while the Neither stands at this point as quite definitively a “counterexample” to the dominant example of Reality, it gives us no reason to infer the existence of multiple examples like it. That is, it absolutely presents for our delectation and confusion for the first time a new class of reality, which we might then “append” (argumentatively or by scientific demonstration) to Reality in general, but this process of grafting marks an “increase” in the “volume” of Reality, and not something “discovered” but hitherto not known. And while this already stands as more than ample proof that the Artist did not create his Work in light of or while standing in the Neither, the very Encoding of the Neither itself mocks the notion that we might think of it as singular. The Neither neither exists nor does not exist is one of the most factual things we may say about it, so that

§ our experiences of it already are more autobiographical than empirical;

§ the number of states the Neither actually exists in at any one time may be not just practically but theoretically indeterminable; and

§ properly speaking, we may only speak of its Encoding in a hypothetical way since to view it is to change it according to our Being, not its.

This grim prognosis relates to the second possibility noted above by which the Artist may have done his Work in relative freedom: specifically the neither-nor construction itself. For when one says “x neither is nor is not” this serves not to invoke a contradiction or paradox (at the level of content) but calls into question the validity of the descriptive category (in this case “is”) in the first place. But semantic adroitness aside, this also describes or characterises a particular kind of experience.

An example. Imagine a number line stretching “to infinity”. At some point, the line disappears into the horizon, often with a sense, “Mm, I didn’t get there.” Imagine, then, a point far, far, far, far, far out on that number line; imagine placing a stake in it there, and that as soon as you do, there’s comes the sense “not even close” and, with it, a “pull” or an “orientation” further down the number line to an (at that moment) vastly seeming degree. Thus, what we find impossible to imagine we may get a sense of by declaring a spot along the way, so that the experience “not even close” or “that’s not it” pulls us or points us “in the direction” of infinity, though, of course, we still do not literally or imaginative “arrive there”. This orienting function toward that which cannot be grasped matches the “function” of the neither-nor construction. In the moment, for example, when we assert “x neither is nor is not” opens a “window of opportunity” (however briefly) that invites the question, “well then what is it?” Of course, even that question is already in the domain of asking what it is; we might have asked, “well what is it not then?” with similar consequences. This is secondary. It is simply the moment that opens in the denial of a thing nor not that thing that matters. And I suggest further that this is at root the act of artistic creation. To blatantly, flagrantly, stipulate to Reality: Reality is not what I call it nor what I do not call it; I thus enact something else instead. And then what follows is the Work. For many sapient beings, the “truth” of “fiction” has long been not just a characteristic but sometimes a problem of Art. But, of course, if one has a truth/lie dichotomy (or just a “truth” node), this must bring with it “the truth of lies” (as well as the “lie of truths”), so that the veracity of fiction gets automatically guaranteed by a steadfast insistence on “truth” in the first place.

To say “I am neither determined nor not determined” proposes, of course, an empty verbal formula in that it does no “magic” except to open up a window beyond even the 50% of Reality normally masked by a true/false Encoding. Its only “power” is in flagrantly defying the absolute and obligatory imposition placed on those who inhabit the World by the one who performed the Encoding. We are fortunate that such Declarations must forever have not just “broken categories”—a sufficiently thorough Encoder could make good use of those quaternaries and thus (like Varela’s trinary logic) make it that much more extremely difficult even to notice the “cracks” and “gaps” and “windows” that all Encoding must reflect. Because so long as “is true” deploys itself in an Encoding, then “x neither is true nor is not true” remains forever accessible to those imposed upon within Reality as a way to “break the Code” (however briefly). And in that briefest captured moment of time, which an elementary Time Mage may then stretch out just as long as She liked, the obligatory aspect of the Code itself gets suspended, at least in its operations, and one would be able to study the Code in principle long enough to finally hack it.

Most artists aren’t so interested in being so thoroughgoing, and the Artist may be no exception to this. Again, the degree of the influence of this Coding on his reality remains an open question. And whether or not someone may break into the Encoding of the World long enough (so to speak) to satisfactorily rid themselves of the sense of the presence of the Artist or simply to refashion themselves in a sufficiently alien way vis-à-vis this current Reality that they become confident that the Artist may be no longer having an effect is neither here nor there. Also irrelevant involves the difficulty of doing this. For those younger luminaries who wish to be free of determination, this already gives them plenty to work with as an attempt. But even for the most “disempowered” mortals, the Power of art—as Schiller knew so well—stands forever ready to place us in a position of confident freewill. Schiller insisted that our aesthetic character provided a grounding for freewill, which more rationally located it than Hume, who said, more or less, “It is absolutely uncertain if we actually possess freewill but absolutely certain that we must believe we do.”

During the moment of artistic creation, when we tacitly if not explicitly state “x is neither Reality nor not Reality,” we believe we open up the moment of freedom our younger luminaries desire. And whether we are, in that moment, deluded cannot matter, because we will never know, unless someone cruelly makes it plain to us. We might, ourselves, doubt after the fact, but not that either can annihilate the moment of confidence during our creation. This because, at the level of individual self-determination (i.e., freedom from determination by others), if we say, “I am free” and believe accordingly, we are obligated to act on that tyrannical fiat, whether we want to or not.

And be free.

Endnotes

[1] My aversion to the use of the word “nature” borders on reasonable, but here needn’t occur a variation on the origins of my aversion. What I would note, rather: I would much sooner have written “Therefore, we must come to terms with the fact—ourselves each being omniscient—that the errors of omniscience must lie not in ourselves but rather in the qualities (or perhaps the quiddity) of omniscience itself”—but had I done so, not only would the sense of the claim have become unfamiliar (largely due to the word “quiddity”) but also because a certain kind of intellectual “work” or “symbolism” gets carried by the word “nature” that fails to come across with the word “qualities”. This suggests that the word “nature” (rhetorically speaking) performs a sleight-of-hand—perhaps even a bait-and-switch—that, I suspect, lies at the root of how sapient consciousness in particular get deceived about the most fundamental things. Perhaps later in these notes I will return to this.

[2] Or vice versa—the coding is obviously interchangeable.

[3] Again, at the risk of endless digressions, nothing compels an Encoder to specify more than what “is true”. However, unless someone works out how to suppress the possibility, then to declare “is true” brings with it what “is false” and also “the false of true” and “the true of false”. Again, no Encoders (other than myself) concern themselves with these last two categories, but some do not even bother to Declare what “is false”. And this leaves wide open all kinds of bizarre behaviour on the part of Realities so created. They often seem like vast vortexes of denial, since “the false” is often so overwhelmingly potent (and vast) that it impinges continuously—usually indirectly, but sometimes directly—on the true. One may wonder if such Realities are actually so frequent; most Consciousness rests on this model. It addresses only what it Sees (senses) and almost never what it doesn’t. Thus, the Unconscious will sometimes take on enormous potency and force and overwhelm Consciousness entirely. In mild cases, we call this neurosis; in severe cases, psychosis.

[4] But for the present part of this exposition, the salient point hinges on the fact that the “is true” and “is false” (and/or additional terms, like “self-reference”) describe what goes into the Encoding as the absolute determinant of everything, including the behaviour of those who live in the Reality. In this sense, Varela’s logic does us a disservice, because his category of “self-reference” (as a logical condition like “true” or “false”) operates to “close off” the sorts of cracks or gaps in binary true/false logics that might otherwise function for those inhabiting a given Reality as clues to a way out. That is, since the binary of true/false suggests as well “the truth of falseness” and “the falseness of truth,” to the extent that we call these categories “paradoxes” or “contradictions” then Varela’s formulation of “self-reference” provides us a seemingly logical reason to “explain away” our experience under the auspices of “self-reference” (or contradiction). Thus, when we experience something like “the falseness of truth,” we complacently (or grumpily) explain this simply as a “contradiction” in Reality, perhaps unhappily declaring “that’s just how it is,” rather than realizing the opportunity this affords to notice that “the falseness of truth” has opened a window onto the 50% of Reality the Encoding deliberately or accidentally ignores.

[5] Certain kinds of eigenrealities succeed in finding pivot-points where changes of polarity do not result in so-called destructive momentum (or destructive inertia). The most famous example of such an eigenreality—that is, the Reality most often cited as a case of this kind of eigenreality—is, of course, Chaos itself.

[6] That is, again, even this zero and one Encoding already denotes a symbolic representation of—in the greatest number of such implementations—alternating energy states (i.e., energy “is present” or “is absent”), but this simply points to the mechanical representation of the distinction in the first place. That is, one needn’t use “energized” or “not energized” to physically represent the distinction, and Realities where energy is not present at all clearly do not permit this kind of mechanical implementation. By this, I do not (like some commentators) imply or attempt to insist that different “kinds” of energy (e.g., physical, spiritual, negative material, anti-energy, dark matter, demonic “force”, &c) require subdistinctions to have a coherent theory about them. Quite obviously, what it takes energetically to implement either a water wheel or a Hell-forge differ vastly in an engineering sense, but in both cases one has to “channel” some “energy” into or toward a “vessel” &c. The specific differences of implementation here neither insist (foolishly) that flowing water and demon roaring “are the same” nor vitiate the descriptive terminology used to describe those implementations. Rather, I am pointing to those Realities where “energy” in any sense does not exist. Clearly in such a setting “energy present” or “energy not present” becomes incoherent and useless as a mechanical implementation of Zero and One. In such cases, one often finds “change” and “not change” instead as the Zero/One assignment (despite the claims by some that change without energy is impossible; oh victims of their Reality declarers!).

[7] Most insist Chaos simply begs the question, but one may imaginatively at least try to envision an experiment, an empirical observation, where we might determine if “Chaos” is assigned to “One” or “Zero”. We might further investigate where that assignment remains permanent (in the usual sense of an encoding) or whether the assignments can actually shift, given certain conditions or lack of them. Of course, how one would see these assignments or shifts remains a very difficult problem outside of simply asking Chaos to make any such shifts visible to someone.

[8] If we had Varela’s logic working for us, “he exists” might be true, false, or self-referential (i.e., a contradiction; simultaneously true and false).

[9] Thus the justness of my claim that we are all omniscient. To be all-knowing means simply that, and at every moment of our Existence, we certainly can only know all that we know. Our omniscience, relative to Others, might be faulty to the point of embarrassing, but that does not mean our omniscience is any less. Nor does it mean our omniscience cannot increase, &c.

[10] Items 1 and 3 can be almost impossible to distinguish in practice.

George Will—who recently got his column dropped from a paper for his shitty remarks about victims of sexual assault, saying that they enjoy a “coveted status that confers privileges” on college campuses—continued in an equally offensive, but less obviously inflammatory way in his blurb “Mississippi Votes Its Appetite, Rejecting Tea Party”.[1]

Will wrote: “And what’s the matter with Mississippi? The fact—the state has waited a long time for this to be said—that it is so much like the rest of the nation.”

By what measure?

In terms of income, Mississippians generally make only 64 cents on the dollar compared to the rest of the United States, averaging $15,853 per year compared to $21,587. Caucasians, on average, make only 77% of their race-peers nationally; African-Americans only 57%; people the census refers to as “Asian” are percentage-wise as disadvantaged as whites (76%) compared to their peers, while those who are “some other race” or Hispanic/Latino are roughly the same as their national peers (99% and 96%, respectively). People who are “two or more races” are a little above the national average for people who are “two or more races” (108%), and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders are approximately 31% higher than Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders elsewhere in the United States. But before any pull up stakes and move to Mississippi, they’re still making only very slightly more than Caucasians in the state who, let’s remember, make only 77 cents on the dollar compared to their average national peers.

If we look at average household income, Pacific Islanders are only 2% better off than Caucasians in Mississippi than the 7% better off nationally. And this comparatively lower rate generally continues across the board in Mississippi. In absolute terms, people make less money by a considerable margin than elsewhere in the US on average, but also by percentage they also make less than their demographic peers. Or, if you prefer, you can look at the poverty values on this map to see in graphical and colourful terms how “like the rest of the nation” Mississippi is. Removing demographic ethnicity from the picture, no group by age makes an income comparable to the national average for that group. In fact, the group that comes closest, making only 80 cents on the dollar, are people 25 and under; elsewhere in the US, age 45 generally marks one’s best earning years.

This below-average status means that Mississippi is not “so much like the rest of the nation” as Will claims.

How about educationally? Mississippi can boast a tiny percentage of high school graduates higher than nationally, 29.4% versus 28.6%; an 0.8% difference not sufficiently accounted for by the 3% larger grade school through high school educational population. Amongst college drop-outs, Mississippi does fare about equally to the national average, 26.6% versus 27.4%, but here the 3.4% smaller college-going population may explain this smaller number. For people with college degrees (up to doctorates), Mississippi falls well below the national average, 16.9% versus 24.4%.

This all means that nationally 19.6% have less than a high school diploma, while that number is 27.1% in Mississippi—nearly 40% higher. In terms of quality, rather than quantity, of education, as of 2012 Mississippi schools ranked 45th in the nation, taking consolation that South Dakota’s were the worst, except that Mississippi is the worst when it comes to math and science education as of 2011. Here, it may take consolation (along with the rest of us) that globally, the US itself ranked 25th of 34 (in 2009) compared to China, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong and Finland.

This below-average status means that Mississippi is not “so much like the rest of the nation” as Will claims.

Of course, once you’re poor, other superlatives of abjection come easily. Will notes the pork that Mississippi’s senator Thad Cochran has served up

during his 33 years on the Appropriations Committee. This bright red state has the nation’s lower per capita income, the highest federal funding as a percent of revenue, and a surplus of cognitive dissonance between its professed conservatism and its actual enjoyment of the benefits Cochran can now continue to shove its way (¶2).

This seems loaded dice. If you have the lowest per capita income, i.e., if you’re amongst the poorest, then virtually by definition you will have “the highest federal funding as a percent of revenue.” Citing a percentage here may be disingenuous; it’s clear that Mississippi is not wallowing in a pig trough of pork given its dismal socioeconomic status. But where Will really fires up the offense meter—certainly not in a way that will make most “white” folk in the US call for his expulsion from their local paper—occurs when he says, “Mississippi today is burning with embarrassment, but not, at long last, embarrassment about race” (¶7):

Its Republican primary occurred three days after the 50th anniversary of the disappearance and murder of three civil rights workers—Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney—near the town of Philadelphia in Neshoba County. Today, Philadelphia’s mayor is an African-American, and Mississippi, which is 37 percent African-American, has more African-American elected officials than any other state (¶8)

I’m not sure what’s more benighted in this claim: the recentering of Whiteness over the murders of three northern kids compared to the thousands of African-Americans killed in Mississippi, or the privileging of this particularly beloved White narrative in the very state where one of the most crucial events and narratives for Black Civil Rights occurred, Emmett Till’s murder. But what Will does not mention, when he says that Mississippi has more African-American elected officials than any other state, is that Mississippi has more African-Americans than any other state. Only the District of Columbia has a higher Black population. One should rather look at the number of Black elected officials by population in general

In 1987, folks had already noted that Mississippi had the highest absolute number of Black elected officials, but Alabama still had “the highest percentage of black officeholders” (from here). Echoing my point against Will’s bland claim: “Not surprisingly, the geographic distribution of black elected officials closely parallels the distribution of the total black population in the U.S.”[2] However, as Hardy-Fanta, Sierra, Lien, Pinderhughes, & Davis (2005) make clear, “the data also show that population numbers alone do not produce descriptive representation” (9, from here). Specifically, while Mississippi has the highest Black population in the United States, it ranks 14th for percentage of Black elected officials out of 20 considered (Ohio, Illinois, and Ohio are numbers 1–3, respectively).[3]

Again, then, this below average status makes Mississippi not “so much like the rest of the nation” as Will claims.

Of course, a sort of consensus declares Mississippi as historically one of the worst, if not the worst, slave states; it was, with South Carolina, one place where the number of slaves considerably outnumbered the non-slave population. [4] That again makes the history of Mississippi not “so much like the rest of the nation” as Will claims.

Of course, Louisiana has the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world, double the rate of the world leader (the United States, both per capita and by absolute numbers), at 1,341 per 100,000. To put that in perspective, the population of India is 27661% times greater than Louisiana’s, yet Louisiana’s incarceration rate per capita is 4470% greater than India’s. Mississippi’s incarceration rate is 1,155 per 100,000, or 3850% higher than India’s. This is far above the national average and makes Mississippi not “so much like the rest of the nation” as Will claims.

As far as inmates condemned on death row, despite the considerably smaller number of Black people in the US, in approximately 17 states is the number of White inmates on death row larger than the number of Blacks. Florida is one such place, but it also has the second highest number of condemned inmates. By contrast, Pennsylvania and Texas have the most disproportionate numbers of Black compared to White inmates on death row, 107 versus 67 and 116 versus 83, respectively. In part, this is due to the overwhelmingly well-supported fact that someone (of any race) who kills a white person is far more likely to get the death penalty than for killing any other race:

Since 1977, the overwhelming majority of death row defendants have been executed for killing white victims, although African-Americans make up about half of all homicide victims (from here)

Nationally (just considering Black and White inmates), there are 1,334 white people (50.81%) on death row and 1,291 Black people (45.83%); in Mississippi there are 22 Whites (45.83%) and 26 Blacks (54.16%) on death row. So if the national average has Whites slightly ahead, then this once again makes Mississippi not “so much like the rest of the nation” as Will claims.

However, some might want to say that since the US Black/White population breaks down to 13.1% and 77.9%, respectively, while in Mississippi the numbers run 37.4% and 59.9%, respectively, then this does seem to make the disproportionateness of the overrepresentation of Blacks on death row in Mississippi not as monstrously severe as the national average. If I’ve thought through the math correctly, then with respect to death row inmates, there is only a very small difference between U.S. national and Mississippi state death sentences for Blacks, 2.69 per 100,000 versus 2.33 (a 14% difference), while Mississippi has a higher condemnation rates for Whites than nationally, 1.23 per 100,000 versus 0.51 (a 41% difference). In theory, I have incorporated the relatively different population sizes in these calculations, but the most important thing to remember: this concerns only death row inmates, not prison populations generally.

I mention the death penalty, because “Mississippi, Georgia, Texas, Louisiana, and Alabama were the leading lynching states. These five states furnished nearly half the total victims. Mississippi had the highest incidence of lynchings in the South as well as the highest for the nation, with Georgia and Texas taking second and third places, respectively” (from here). Once again, this makes the history of Mississippi not “so much like the rest of the nation” as Will claims.

How about some more measures? For real estate value, Mississippi ranks 45th (just behind West Virginia, but ahead of Indiana, Arkansas, Kansas, Ohio, and Iowa) with an average listing price $201,450, well below the average for all of the US markets (from here). Or, by one measure of cost of living, Mississippi at least finishes dead last, which most decidedly makes it once again not “so much like the rest of the nation” as Will claims. Mississippi claims its main industry is agriculture (employing 29% of its workforce), but 2.3 billion of its 6.3 billion comes from poultry (from here)–not exactly a growth sector. In 2013, per capita real GDP was lowest of all fifty states in Mississippi, at $32,421—that’s only 66% of the national per capita real GDP rate of $49,115. Mississipians can take heart that this rate of GDP growth (1.6%) was at least in the middle most category (ranking 29th for growth overall). However, there was a bit of a bubble in 2012, which Mississippi was ahead of the curve on; by 2013, it had slowed down considerably; compared to the national slow-down (28%), Mississippi braked 45%, sliding from a 3.5% growth rate (compared to 2.5% nationally) in 2012 to 1.6% in 2013 (1.8% nationally). That’s above-average bad performance–not “so much like the rest of the nation” as Will claims. And when you consider Mississippi in conjunction with all of various regions in the US (like the Great Lakes Region, the Far West, &c) that the BEA keeps tabs on, Mississippi’s slow-down put it at 47th (out of 63 possible); once again well below the national average (which was 34th) and thus not “so much like the rest of the nation” as Will claims.

The most obnoxious part of Will’s assertion, besides its obvious inaccuracy or non-truth as the above makes evident, centres around what looks that desire to once again make the absurd claim that we live in a post-racial United States—because it must clearly be the case: if Mississippi (as the worst slave state ever) is post-racial, then surely the rest of us must be as well.

I’d like to think Will’s understanding of racial history doesn’t derive merely from the movie he obviously references (Mississippi Burning), but when his historical consciousness can’t remember to mention Emmett Till, and when his invocation of a Black elected official in Philadelphia, Mississippi seems to bear affinities to “well I have a Black friend so I can’t be racist” kinds of tropes, then it becomes difficult to give him the benefit of that doubt.

Lastly, I want to make clear: by citing all of these unattractive statistics about Mississippi, it should be clear that this points above all and most glaringly to the historical consequences of Mississippi as one of the worst, if not the worst, of slave states. It’s not unreasonable to expect that a state with a larger slave population than owners would eventually have the second highest per capita prison rate in the world—what are all those descendants of owners to do with all of that “surplus labour”. One could reasonably expect, where White terrorism reached its highest point (in lynchings) in playing a role to generate the kind of poverty we now see in Mississippi that a lack of access to education plays a key part in that. It should be no surprise that the White Mississippi power structure has sent the same guy to Congress for 33 years, while its own numbers for Black elected officials only reaches 14th out of 20 states considered.

All of this just makes it that much more grotesque that Will can use Mississippi as his “test case” for implying we’re post-racial.

Endnotes

[1] By “less inflammatory,” I mean that White folks will be less inclined to notice how offensive the remarks are.

[2] The rest of the passage runs, “The ten states with the highest numbers of black elected officials are Mississippi (548), Louisiana (505), Alabama (448), Georgia (445), Illinois (434), North Carolina (353), South Carolina (340), Arkansas (319), Michigan (316), and California (293). Nationally, the total increased from 6,424 to 6,681. Not surprisingly, the geographic distribution of black elected officials closely parallels the distribution of the total black population in the U.S. The South has 53 percent of the nation’s black population and 62 percent of all black elected officeholders. The second largest concentration of black officeholders, 19.2 percent, is in the North Central U.S., where 19.8 percent of the nation’s black population is located. The Northeast, with 18.5 percent of the total black population, has 10.6 percent of black elected officials, and 5.7 percent of all black elected officials are in the West, where 8.9 percent of all blacks live”

[3] Not unimportantly, the most recent gains for African-Americans politically have been through Black women. And to contextualize Black elected representation more generally, we should note that the rate of increase in Black representation (to Congress) has been decreasing:

And while the last five cycles set a record high for African Americans in the U.S. House – with 198 blacks elected from 2002-2010 – this marks the slowest decade-by-decade increase during this 90-year span.

African Americans won only 10 more seats during the last five cycles (198) than from 1992-2000 (188), or an increase of just 5.3 percent.

By contrast, the number of blacks elected to the U.S. House had increased by 150 percent, 80 percent, 78 percent, 138 percent, 105 percent, 40 percent, and 72 percent over the previous seven decades (from here).

[4] It did not have the highest slave population, however; that honour goes to Virginia.

I compose these notes to fit the mind of the student for whom I intend them.This is part 3; you may find parts 1-3 here, here, and here, respectively; part 4 is here. I include the introduction from part 1 again below.

For those more or less advanced, there may seem much that digresses or states things too succinctly. I believe one may still find value in reading these notes, even for those not the student in question. In those places where things seem too much elaborated, I apologise that my student’s frame of mind overtaxes yours. And where things move too quickly, I can only suggest immersing yourself in the more elemental or basic texts that address the matters at hand.

Also, I use past and present conjugations of the verb “to be” under protest. You should imagine every occurrence in quotation marks; typographical preciousness prevents me from indulging this visually.

Introduction

No system, however imperfect, contains errors.

Therefore, we must come to terms with the fact—ourselves each being omniscient—that the errors of omniscience must lie not in ourselves but instead in the nature[1] of omniscience.

However, given that adding manpower to a late project makes it later, we may understand then not only:

· that the reproduction of the world—understood in its broadest and narrowest senses—puts off the end of the world, but also

· that the elaboration of a trinary (or greater) logic can only paper over, sometimes very cleverly or intriguingly, the abyss that binary logic (or dichotomous thinking generally) opens up.

Let us take some steps to move beyond this.

Undetermining the Determined

In formal logic, the most frequently disallowed construction runs of the type neither X nor not-X (e.g., “god neither exists nor does not exist”). The offense of this claim arises from the fact that either A or not-A must be the case, and this construction insists otherwise. It does not, however, propose some mere paradox but points to the fact that the problem resides in the claim in the first place in the validity of “A” as a statement, that it “is true” (A) or “is false” (not-A). The argument would run, if I call a cat a cat, this amounts to A is true (A=A), whereas if it were a dog, then not-A (“not a cat”) must be true. The construction (“it is neither a cat nor not a cat”) simply points back to the assumption that one’s descriptive category can be true (or false) in the first place.

From this standpoint, what we have said the word “Being” points to is that for which the statement “that which has neither existence nor nonexistence” holds.

In light of this, we would ask, “What determined (or determines) the Artist?”

Our discussion of the Neither discloses something like a Reality encoding adaptively steeped in imagination (i.e., the ground or the basis or the source of narrative). Epistemologically, this puts us most assuredly and absolutely on “this” side of perception; it provides nothing like a privileged view of the “mechanisms” that make “what happens” in the Neither “work”. If, then, my description of the presence in the Neither of an apparently normative positive amplification seems overly metaphorical, this is so because metaphor comprises a central element of the Neither.

One of the ways this seems very clear: I contrasted earlier the adamantine forging of links one might speak of in a mathematical proof, such that one item follows the next item more or less inevitably. I contrasted that with a narrative (a narrative proof) where “what follows” has a very loose, or perhaps no necessary link at all, to what went before. Thus, imagination seems to operate in the Neither in this way as well—one moment an impossible magical spell works, the next the most familiar one in the world fails; and most of the time, things are very much like what one would expect. And if you try to discern why this is, it often seems that an adequate answer amounts to: “to forward the story.”[2]

This topic opens up a vast number of mysteries and questions, but we here wish to determine only how to stop being determined. And if I mention the imagination of the Neither, as a function perhaps of one or more of Maelender’s Primes, then quite clearly a way to no longer be determined arises if we simply petition the Primes, i.e., ask them (or tell them), “Eliminate the influence of the Artist from my mind and life.”

Not everyone may have such access or opportunity, but it doesn’t hurt to belabour the obvious. I have no intention or desire here to get into a dispute about the “reality” of the Primes. I simply insist, if they “are” as the Maelenders purport, then to petition them for relief from the Artist’s influence seems a logical request, impossible or not. One won’t know without trying, whatever that entails.

In a sense, however, the presence of the Primes only puts off the problem. Those who wish to be free of the Artist’s influence rarely remain content with simply that, and yearn instead for freedom from all determination entirely. No joy obtains from escaping the Artist’s influence only to face the threat that the Primes may determine us as much if not more than the Artist.

In general, we may take it as a hypothesis that whatever determined the Artist determined his Work as well, and thus all subsequent Beings and Existences. (We needn’t logically assume this, but for the moment, let’s.) And in the broadest sense, we may say that what determined the Artist amounts to his karma, by which I mean “the consequences of his past actions”. To become wholly free of determination on this view means, therefore, not so much to have no past (or to have no past actions) but not to have the consequences of those past actions as they impinge upon my current choices as I go forward.

For those beings who have Minds that link, however indirectly, to a Body, then becoming noncorporeal may represent a step toward such nondetermination, though a Mind divorced of a material substrate is not—as necromantical theory makes clear—free of all influence.[3] But even in a case of actual or complete separation, the “materiality” of one’s spirit or psyche may still impinge upon the disembodied consciousness, as the case of ghosts make clear.[4] However, it still seems that many of our younger luminaries who wish to be free of the Artist’s influence desire precisely that only their Personality alone should determine them.

I will bluntly state that a state of absolute nondetermination seems most approached by Chaos itself. Inasmuch as our Existence-delimited minds can only glance sideways at Chaos, such that Its traces tempt us to believe that when we gaze upon it we gaze upon “raw Chaos” itself, nonetheless to maintain a state of absolute 100% potential at every moment (as the ability to switch from any past state to any other new state immediately, without any transitional states) would seem to require either (1) absolute nondetermination by the past in the first place or (2) that the “property” of nondetermination gets somehow transmitted from moment to moment in Chaos. I mention the trace here because, historically and personally speaking, I do find a trace of stability “in” in Chaos—or, in other words, precisely the sort of thing that allows us or anyone to speak over time “of” Chaos at all (whether as eternal change, constant change, changeless inconstancy, or even simply “Chaos”).

It seems very likely that this stability is a product of our imaginations, by which I do not mean that we see an error or imagine an illusion, but only that we confer or model to Chaos itself a stability, specifically that stability. We become something neither literally nor not literally a mirror to or for It, so that any “attention” we direct at Chaos mirrors Its “curiosity” back at us, and so that Its own curiosity generates us (as a ceaselessly, moment-by-moment recreated thing in the “here” and “now”) at the same moment our attention on Chaos (if not our own curiosity) thus manifests Its curiosity.[5]

But another thing. If in this moment (this here and now) I am X, and then in the next moment (the next here and now) I am Y, then we might (lazily) encode this sequence from X to Y as a dependency, i.e., X à Y. Now let us consider a case when I am X in this here and now and then in the next here I now I am not changed, i.e., X à X. Of course, the claim “not changed” will be controversial, if not incoherent. This amounts to the claim that X à X is already inherently invalid, or can only be valid by taking a very broad view of what “I” means, i.e., X (my name) à X (my name). Or, perhaps even more tellingly: I à I. But what this shows us is that the continuity itself, from X to X (or I to I) is a matter of our naming of it. In fact, we have not “moved” at all, except that we say we have. So, whatever transformation, then, conventionally “happens” in the “typical” situation, where X à Y, and we then fire up a critique that “X” has determined us, it is, rather, more that we have determined ourselves, specifically by insisting on the à. Now, since our younger luminaries complain that the Artist has infected “their thinking,” we can still blame him for making us put the à there in the first place. But we might at least keep in mind, while objection to “external” determination that it is not the X that “forces” the Y, but rather the insistence on the validity of the à, whether given from the Artist or not. Nor by this do I intend any victim-blaming. I’m simply noting that a sense of having been determined (by anything) arises out of the matrix of our reflections. In an abstract way, we may speak of those determinations of us of which we are unaware: does anyone really object to those, or do they only feel vaguely weirded out that “invisible” forces may be having an influence on their life that they can neither register nor change?

But let me pause, dear Student, and take a breath and take stock. What have I claimed so far toward understanding how to free ourselves from the determination of the Artist?

For one, we have the presumption that if we may negate or otherwise neutralise the Artist’s “mind” as an influence on ours, then this will amount to a freedom from determination. This, of course, seems highly doubtful, just as if one lived in a poisoned atmosphere where at the same you’re your Nemesis daily fed you poison; the elimination of the latter does not then guarantee fresh air. Still, our younger luminaries (for the most part) do not seem to imagine this would be the case. Also, relief from poisoning from one’s Nemesis would not amount to nothing. Certainly, for those who have most painfully been subject to the Artist’s consciousness, freedom from determination by him alone might make for a most excellent outcome, however partial. As a second point, then, we have the question of non-accountability in general, i.e., that the desire to remain undetermined by anything (or, at least, only to experience determination at the hands of those things that one wills to be determined by) appears to rest in a desire for the negation of karma in general.

I realise—or at least I believe that I do—that our younger luminaries don’t stand wholly confused about this. People do realise, to a greater or lesser extent, that liberation from the Artist does not entail liberation generally—liberation equating to freedom from determination—or that freedom from determination actually provides a prerequisite for not being held accountable (for anything). Still, mere self-consciousness about this fact does not seem to stop people also from still desiring these as the sought ends—in which case we may wonder: is freedom from determination really what they seek?

Not to have others hold one accountable, for instance, involves nothing more exciting or necessary than being sufficiently powerful to rebuff all accusers. In the classic formulation: leave no witnesses. Meanwhile, to slit the throat of a god and then want no one to grouse to you about it suggests everything you need to bring that about, whether that amounts to (1) absolutely no trace of your deed that anyone can connect to you, (2) sufficient personal power to annihilate all accusers, or more simply terrorise them with your power into not daring to say anything, (3) the ability to time-jump into another time-stream where you did not commit the act, which is the same simply as shifting actual culpability, and (4) &c.

But this question of non-accountability only starts to muddle all that has gone before. Who does the account-holding matters a great deal, and often enough, the most serious critic or accuser resides in one’s minds. At that point, suicide seems required to shut the influence out, provided no afterlife intervenes to keep that malingering guilt mewling in one’s ear (or auditory sensor). Moreover, why a given kind of accountability occurs also matters, for while our cultures and the people in them may read us the Riot Act for this or that heinous (or marvellous) act, karma itself contains no moral judgment. If the pleasure you experience at another’s expense today comes back in the future as a pain, then one must seek out whoever so arranged things that way to complain, because karma itself operates quite mechanically as simply a quid pro quo, a which for what. (Obviously, this bears no semblance to Tallymand’s moral accounting and credit system.)

We may object that this business of karma simply makes a very tidy piece of evasion on the part of whoever established it in the first place, and we can quibble endlessly whether the “accounting” it performs really accurately keeps the books. In a rather unsatisfying but also unassailable way, one can only say that whatever next happens to you, good or bad, occurs as a function of karma—a piece of accounting that stretches back over any number of days, years, lives, or multiple Incarnations, &c. We might ask then also what kind of accountability comes about. Typically people think of this in a moral sense, but determination in its broadest sense—at the level of the construction of consciousness and any energistic or animate (physical) substrate of or for that consciousness—the “which for what” of “karma” or “determination” runs on its merry way quite unabated, and in a way that—so far as the continuation of our Consciousness and/or the substrate that is or is not needed to support it remains viable—we face some existential difficulties if we object too strenuously to it. We’d simply cease.

But object we must, if only to understand our condition in the world. Nor may we always and forever separate “body” (substrate, energy) and “mind” (consciousness, energy) so tidily. Those with animate bodies must eat, &c. This makes by no means some “abstract” or “empty” determination. The body itself subjects animate beings to violence if they do not eat and, as Schiller notes, in the face of such violence as we cannot resist, then voluntary submission to it remains an avenue for preserving our dignity as existential Beings. I do not see this problem or issue as an empty philosophical quibble. Most people more or less enthusiastically assent to the tyranny of the belly, and happily propitiate it with delightful or noxious substances, and whether that enthusiasm counts in Schiller’s terms to transform their slavery into a dignified and voluntary condition remains an open question. And so long as we don’t protest and object to it, then we will never bother to look for an alternative, which is precisely what our younger luminaries desire.

I want to delimit simply for the sake of usage a connotation for “karma” as functionally little more than a synonym for “consequence”—the sense that “when this happens, that follows”. I intend for this to cover both what would be called merely mechanistic consequences (i.e., you step off a cliff in a gravity bearing world, then you fall; or, if you increase the salt content in a biologically animate form then its water cycle adjusts accordingly) but also what would conventionally be read as “moral judgments” (i.e., if you act cruelly toward someone and at a later time you receive cruelty in return from a different corner). Certainly, if you murdered someone’s family member, the revenge called down upon you might also be described as “mechanically inevitable”—whether karma has “moral content” or not. Also, whether karma itself can be influenced or not remains outside the scope of this essay.

People often insist on imagining that karma functions mathematically, inductively; that in committing the foul deed here and now, then (like the declaration of the geometric axioms of “point, line, plane”) the future corrective retribution is already written. But karma, like the future itself, does not have this inductive character; this desire for mathematical (basically: guaranteed) karma requires a closed, purely self-referential world (like a language), and not even at the level of the Primes as the Maelenders show it to us is the world (Reality in its broadest sense) unitary, closed, or sufficiently self-referential to work that way.

Some misdeeds go unpunished. Some don’t get noticed even. So that karma functions more as an aesthetic concept, rooted in narrative, and thus not at all inevitable in the mathematical sense, but for that reason all the more sweetly inevitable seeming—seemingly perfectly apt—when it happens, i.e., when at the moment when the hammer of karma falls on the head of the ne’er-do-well, we may respond or feel, “Ah, so that’s it, yes.” (Perhaps even when we are the one “enjoying” that moment of karma ourselves; “Yes, I deserve this”.) This means that karma becomes apparent only after the fact, like meaning in a narrative. If there is any “prediction” in karma, it lurks (1) only in our confidence that karma will one day out, and (2) in the mind of the Author who reads all of the narratives of the World, though even here the Author herself or himself or itself may not see the karma coming.

Certainly, our younger luminaries want nothing to do with this kind of “accountability”.

But karma operates as well as the shaper (a determinant) of Interaction, even when that interaction is with ourselves. Whatever slights and kindnesses I have thrown around, karma “puts the response” in front of me, interactively, usually in the form of another person, but just as often in the form of “circumstances”.

In one sense, then, I name karma when it happens, by recognising it, by feeling the point of the à. Those younger luminaries who wish to evade determination would feel the heaviness of such karma at the moment when the angry person stands before them declaring, “I didn’t like that you did that” and the like. And in all of these operations, the term “karma” simply (or complexly) points to the “which for what” the “this happens, that follows” sense of the word, whether understood at the level of energy, consciousness, life, or culture, &c.

The broader question then concerns whether or where (at what point) the Artist’s influence enters into karma. Insofar as the Artist aesthetically mapped time and space, i.e., aesthetically mapped the most fundamental parts of Reality (that he had access to), this suggests that karma “infects” every layer of Reality from its (nearly) lowest to its (nearly) highest extent. I say “nearly” because whether one imagines Chaos as the “most fundamental” or “highest principle” the Artist did not (or failed if he attempted it to) impose time/space on Chaos.

Whatever else we might claim to say about Chaos, the overwhelming consensus agrees that whatever one introduces into It “turns into Chaos”. So, if the Artist “threw his desire for time and space” into Chaos, Chaos turned it into Chaos. One cannot, in a very literal sense, impose on Chaos; presumably Chaos cannot either. So that whatever Chaos manifests (as something apart from Itself, i.e., all of Reality), that manifestation floats on the seeming paradox of something that simultaneously exists and does not exists, as something that cannot exist “outside of Chaos” but does. I suggest we might better state this: “Reality neither exists nor does not exist” if we wish to get an intuition (rather than empirical, intellectual knowledge) of what we confront in this. In any case, it seems clear already that any notion of “outside of Chaos” must point to “infection” by the Artist, since “outside” denotes already a spatial concept. Since Reality neither “is outside of Chaos” nor “not outside of Chaos”, this awkward construction gives us a clue (an intuition) about the “actual” state of affairs, even if it still gives us no clue for how next to proceed. It illustrates, if an illustration were required, how the “which for what” of karma affects our thinking when we think of it as inhabiting—infecting, affecting—the nearly most fundamental tropes of our existence. Thus, I stand determined by the fact that I stand “outside of Chaos”. I don’t personally know of any of our younger luminaries who want to object to this determination, but if they did, then what?[6] We can already see that “outside” stands as a categorical error. “Neither outside nor not outside” of Chaos more accurately expresses something closer to the actual state of affairs.

Let me be more clear. For some Beings, merely to state a thing will make it so. The amazement and fuss that certain cultists kick up because their god enacted “let there be light” shows only their woeful unfamiliarity with the activities and actions of numberless wilful creatures, most of them not at all arrogating to themselves the title of deity. So when one says “I am outside of Chaos,” for some existent Beings, this has the force of fiat and generates a pseudoreality where everyone becomes obliged to treat it as a fact. For far less wilful creatures, to declare “I am outside of Chaos” has a similar world-defining force but only for that speaker. A regular creature, making such a statement, will thus live in their world in that way, but this imperative will not necessarily demand or impose on others that they live by it as well.[7]

Thus, we see it as only a matter of degree, of reach. Such a declaration merely describes the scope of one’s reality-declaration, i.e., it stipulates who must assent to it (whether consciously or simply as a consequence of everyone else doing so). But we should remember, as I say this, that by “everyone” I do not mean only sapient (self-conscious) creatures living in the Reality so declared. Everything, from the very rocks to the gods themselves, declare the “truth”: “I am outside of Chaos”. The very mechanisms of matter and culture alike conform to this Reality declaration, so that (in a well-ordered Reality at least) no sign of this contradiction can be found. In inadequately declared Realities, by contrast, one might find numerous “cracks”. Discontinuity of narrative seems to be an inevitable and maybe even necessary part of any aesthetically declared reality; the discontinuities generally comprise “part of the story” (often the most essential parts) rather than any evidence of faulty construction. Sometimes, however, one does encounter a “faulty construction of reality” narrative. A “cynical” narrative of the World then often comes to the fore, that Reality is the work of an incompetent (for instance), no doubt with us as his—it’s almost always a he—most miserable failure. By contrast, for the mere individual “mortal” who declares, “I am outside of Chaos” this declaration again has a motive force obligatorily only for the speaker, but she or he might still persuade others by various feints to sign up for this declaration as well. Religions often happen this way.

However, people will say anything, and just as we needn’t assent to some mortal’s merely personal world-declaration neither must we assent to some ambitious or wilful deity’s declaration either, even when (1) we are fundamentally made to do so, and (2) even as we cannot find any evidence from Others or the World that something other than that World-declaration exists, or is even possible.

The shortest way to counter all world-declaration, then, involves the neither-nor construction already described; to declare (to counter-declare): “Reality is neither outside of Chaos nor not outside of Chaos” for instance.

Of course, merely to make this counter-declaration has only as much extensive power as the one speaking it. An exceptionally ambitious being within Reality might by this formula open a rift in the current Reality that looks out on goodness knows what. Of course, it must be clearly understood that what the “magic” purports to accomplish in this phrase involves de-valuing whatever word or phrase the formula focuses on. In other words, when I say “the cat” I am asserting that “the cat is true”—which asserts the truth not of whatever external phenomenon to me that we conventionally use the word “cat” to denote “actually exists” but is validating only the fact that I made a statement at all. More simply, when I use the magic of a word to refer to something, the neither-nor formula reminds me that what I think I am speaking of and what I am speaking of are not identical.

Of course, the force of experience is so strong that we typically rebel against this notion. We might ask, politically then, who benefits from our perpetual self-delusion? Whatever wilful creature has declared the Reality I inhabit, when I assent to any sort of verbal construction that “such and such is true” (or such and such is false”) then I implicitly, and probably unconsciously, enter into a collusion with that Reality-declaration, and by assenting to the contract implied in it, I also accept its declared obligation (however much under protest) and “go along with things” (even if against my will).

For mortals, they simply find themselves caught in the biophysical matrix (as Sade was) even as they have the capacity, in Consciousness itself, to realise they can mount a rebellion against Declarations. Schiller, more reasonably but just as much sensing the awfulness of the trap as Sade does, proposes voluntary submission. But both of these resorts—very much dictated not only by the authors’ temperaments but also by the World-declaration they inhabited—gives us no way to escape. And because the Artist has declared Reality (at least as we now encounter it) at such a “primitive” (at the first) or “radical” (at the root) level, such that our existence and thought (if not our Being) now stand affected by it, then any sort of speculation further about the degree to which the Artist’s influence affects karma (i.e., at the level of culture, world, or narrative) must, at least at this point, remain moot.

Nonetheless, we do not find ourselves wholly trapped. However presently unsatisfying or merely semantic the neither-nor construction seems, it nonetheless points a way out.

Endnotes

[1] My aversion to the use of the word “nature” borders on reasonable, but here needn’t occur a variation on the origins of my aversion. What I would note, rather: I would much sooner have written “Therefore, we must come to terms with the fact—ourselves each being omniscient—that the errors of omniscience must lie not in ourselves but rather in the qualities (or perhaps the quiddity) of omniscience itself”—but had I done so, not only would the sense of the claim have become unfamiliar (largely due to the word “quiddity”) but also because a certain kind of intellectual “work” or “symbolism” gets carried by the word “nature” that fails to come across with the word “qualities”. This suggests that the word “nature” (rhetorically speaking) performs a sleight-of-hand—perhaps even a bait-and-switch—that, I suspect, lies at the root of how sapient consciousness in particular get deceived about the most fundamental things. Perhaps later in these notes I will return to this.

[2] Of course, not only does this description seem also hopelessly metaphorical, it implies a “someone” who does the imagining, &c., and raises the spectre of the Maelender’s Primes again: meta-beings who seem to look down into our world and pull all the strings and levers and pulleys to make the “plot” of the world unfold. As already noted, these creatures do not resemble gods in the least; in fact, most often they appear as the most day-to-day kind of mortals, inexplicably given essentially absolute power over even the most infinitely powerful creatures and beings and existences and icons in our worlds. But whether they “are” mere mortals or disguised ultra-deities, or something in between doesn’t matter. More saliently, while their capacity to reality Encode seems hopelessly unlikely, to “operate” the curious mechanism of “imagination” seems well within their capacities. How such “imagining” reaches “our world” (or the Neither, for that matter, where Imagination does seem to behave differently) remains an open question. Perhaps there is something like a fiat: the Prime declares, “there is an Encoding” and Reality (or, in my opinion, more likely Chaos) then simply makes it both come about and come about operationally adequately.

[3] It is surprising, or perhaps disheartening, how often disincarnation results in the discovery that much of what seemed inherently the problem of fault of the Body remains present in the disembodied spirit or psyche. At that point, we hear a lot of talk about psychic residues and failures to disconnect entirely, but Occam’s Razor would propose that maybe the hypothesis or pious hope that separation from the Body would end one’s problems remains unfounded.

[4] By ghosts I do not mean those colloquial spooks or spirits but Dromian ghosts, who represent a material manifestation of nearly 100% unadulterated Will. Even these creatures find themselves condition, however marginally, by necessity, though very few report any principled aversion to the fact.

[5] Briefly, if you play a game where you take the square root of a number, and then use that result to calculate the next square root, then if you start with the number 1, it will loop forever on “!” and will seem never to change, though it remains constantly in motion. It simply keeps “returning the same value”. We may understand the “stability” of an object not, then, as a stability, but as a stable function that constantly cycles but reiterates itself. Similarly, unlike a case where you started with some other positive integer and kept grinding away on square roots so that you could see a descending progress, the “history” created by multiple square roots of one would “erase themselves” so to speak. Unless someone stood by keeping track, the “evidence of change” as a trace of time would no longer be visible. Of course, this game is wholly deterministic. Just because it seems free of time and history for the number 1 does not mean that it is . And for that reason, this illustrative operation does not describe the “iterations of Chaos”. It would be more accurate to say, adapting the above game to Chaos, that when one takes the square root of some initial number, any other number might result (including the correct number), and then that result would be fed into the next iteration. You start with 64, and get -9 out; you take the square root of -9, which should return an error over the real numbers, and you get 111857395721. You take the square root of that and get 0. You take the square root of that and get 0. You do that thousands of times more and get zero, and then in the iteration following, you get 773230. &c.

[6] The condition “outside of Chaos” denotes simply a particular case of the more general one of “outside”. I stand “outside of you” or “outside the city (or the world)” and so forth, so that “outside” itself stands already on the distinction inside/outside, which “space” (as part of the Artist’s legacy) makes possible.

[7] It may matter of not that that Neither seems more accommodating about such declarations, although for a “regular creature” such an assertion as “I am outside of Chaos” will probably result more often in a private reality bubble of solipsism—as a sort of classically, skewly granted wish.

I compose these notes to fit the mind of the student for whom I intend them.This is part 3; you may find parts 1-3 here, here, and here, respectively. I include the introduction from part 1 again below.

For those more or less advanced, there may seem much that digresses or states things too succinctly. I believe one may still find value in reading these notes, even for those not the student in question. In those places where things seem too much elaborated, I apologise that my student’s frame of mind overtaxes yours. And where things move too quickly, I can only suggest immersing yourself in the more elemental or basic texts that address the matters at hand.

Also, I use past and present conjugations of the verb “to be” under protest. You should imagine every occurrence in quotation marks; typographical preciousness prevents me from indulging this visually.

Introduction

No system, however imperfect, contains errors.

Therefore, we must come to terms with the fact—ourselves each being omniscient—that the errors of omniscience must lie not in ourselves but instead in the nature[1] of omniscience.

However, given that adding manpower to a late project makes it later, we may understand then not only:

· that the reproduction of the world—understood in its broadest and narrowest senses—puts off the end of the world, but also

· that the elaboration of a trinary (or greater) logic can only paper over, sometimes very cleverly or intriguingly, the abyss that binary logic (or dichotomous thinking generally) opens up.

Let us take some steps to move beyond this.

Considering The Neither

A question much discussed amongst those who seek liberation from “Nature” or “Necessity” or “Chaos” or “the Artist” involves “to what extent was the Artist’s act an act of Will”?

One line that follows from this: let us establish the degree of the Artist’s wilfulness and then simply exceed it in degree and we might ourselves redefine Reality on a fundamental (and, by definition, by fiat) free basis. In principle, this route remains open to any Chaos Mage (or chaomancer), but it also refutes the idea, since (in principle) no especially massive degree of Will seems required where Chaos is involved. The theory (based on not too many example) contends that chaomancers have supernaturally developed Wills, which permit them to make their requests of Chaos.

This contradicts the historical behaviour of Chaos Mages in two ways. First, the outlines of history show us no end of mania for destructiveness, typically at the hands of extremely wilful people, almost none of which are Chaos Mages. So it becomes something of a paradox why chaomancers, often credited as the most wilful beings going, have not already destroyed all of Reality seventeen times before tea last Thursday—or perhaps they have, but they keep putting it back the way they found it. A speculative dead-end. But this points also to the generally non-intrusive character of Chaos Mages—again, of course, this based on what is a very small sample set. We might say, of course, that Chaos only “takes note” of those who will not prove a problem (in the broadest sense), so that there’s a kind of opting out (on the part of Chaos) as to who “gets to be” a Chaos Mage, but this simply begs the question.

It also appears to place the wrong emphasis on the question. The issue seems less that chaomancers dominate their will upon everything and more that they evade (or avoid) the imposition of another’s will upon themselves.[2]

This sort of description vis-à-vis chaomancers seems to run contrary to the artistic, i.e., the Artist’s, stipulation of Reality, the Art of a (or his) Work. That is, the Artist’s Work seems to impose its definition on all of everything, such that now we have space-time, &c. This imposition functions like a mask, or perhaps I would say a filter, that “rests” on top of Chaos and rationalises it (or realises it) into a normative Form (again, time-space, &c).

As a forensic investigator into destroyed realities, I find even the most entropic regions to still resonate with a substrate of Chaos. However, I don’t want to give the wrong impression—just as everywhere tends to Absolute Zero without actually reaching it, so do maximally entropic ex-realities tend toward Absolute Dissipation without reaching it. But this nearly absolute entropy, of course, does not equate with Chaos—quite the opposite. Chaos, in its simplest sense—if one can even hazard to say such a thing—represents Absolute Potential. It entails an ideally maximal entropy in the information theory sense of the word: maximum potential, maximum uncertainty, maximum inability to predict its next iteration, &c. And to the extent that any Object exerts its own Being in such a way that it resists the destructive forms of Entropy, then as long as Objects still exist, the Absolute Potential of Chaos becomes that much more difficult to activate—though the difficulty remains entirely negligible for Chaos itself. That is, Chaos has no more “difficulty” manifesting in a maximally dead reality than in the centre of the most informationally volatile regions imaginable (i.e., Chaos itself).

These two “kinds” of entropy may introduce a confusion. The information sense of entropy, again, involves maximum potential, maximum unpredictably; quite literally, anything might happen next out of Chaos, and far and away the nearly 100% likelihood that that “something” won’t even be within the realm of one’s imaginative capacities is also nearly 100% likely. The energy sense of entropy, as that which more and more approaches Absolute Zero, is more or less the conceptual inverse of information entropy. A reality approaching maximum entropy in terms of energy becomes maximally predictable—specifically, it won’t do anything at all; what is, will remain as it is. There are certain planes of Order where the Objects there never change. This is far from pure entropic decay, obviously, but shows something of the character of a maximally decayed (entropic) dead reality. Conventionally, one speaks of such dead realities as “empty” but this is only because what “objects” populate it have such a diffuse variety of Form that Form itself becomes well-nigh impossible to discern. However, just as a decomposing body remains a body, even as we find it noxious and hardly recognisable anymore as a body, so too do the decayed forms of dead realities still have form (particularly decomposing varieties of time-space), even as we find them noxious and hardly recognisable.

I mention all of this to say that the “undercurrent” of Chaos that any Chaos Mage (I assume) may detect “beneath” every and all Reality (so far as anyone has known) bears a likeness to, or offers a semblance of, a Reality Encoding. Of course, this “undercurrent” does not consist of Chaos itself, or soon that undercurrent would be an overcurrent and quickly nothing but Chaos would prevail. This “trace” of Chaos “underneath” realities marks clearly something categorically different than Chaos itself.

If, simply to illustrate the point, I propose a dichotomy of Chaos/World, then this dichotomy necessarily brings (as the discussion on binaries demonstrates) also with it the categories “the chaos of the world” and “the world of Chaos”, whatever these things might be. Thus, by the distinction of Chaos and World itself, we see before our eyes already that category of “the chaos of the world”, which I will call its “trace”, or its trace of Chaos, the “undercurrent.”

I further suggest this that Trace denotes an “oldest” or “first” Encoding of Reality. To claim this does not claim to describe the content of the Encoding, of course, not even to make the most basic machine-language claim that the trace consisted of something as simple as 0 and 1 (i.e., Chaos and not-Chaos). It embodies nothing more than a claim that this trace must denote the “rawest material” of potentiality or change that we (i.e., any Being or Existence) encounters at the most elemental or “least articulated” “level” of Reality.

I propose, then, that the Artist worked with or transformed this trace into what we all know now as gesso, the so-called “gloop” of energy-like potential out of which or from which one may then fashion structures (Forms) to hold or embody Objects in space and time, and so on. To bring back some earlier distinctions: this Trace had Being, and the Artist imparted Existence to it. (Or it may be that the Artist encountered the Trace as already existent. The terms of my argument do not change materially if so, except we can then ask, “Well, who imparted Existence to it then?” One answer: 808—if 808 is not already the Trace himself, which I doubt.)

An attractive part of this explanation involves the fact that it requires relatively little will (on the part of the Artist working with the Trace). The informational entropy of gesso measures at extremely high levels, of course, so that it takes very little prompting to “ask” it to manifest its nearly limitless potential as simply a “blankness that covers an already existent Reality”. It easily “paints over” (like gesso) all that already is, even as its reactivity continues as available for whatever further Willing one “places” “on top of” it.

As a point of research I do not follow here: in utterly mundane settings, we know of restorers of paintings who manage to remove higher layers of paint to get at the stuff beneath. Thus, we might discovers lost works that later painters (masters or otherwise) have over-painted. One might perform a similar “restoration” on Reality.

Meanwhile, this reactivity of gesso makes projective thinking, emoting, willing, or doing in its presence problematic, because it then reacts to those “Existence-assertions” (some would describe this with the phrase “the presence of an observer”). Whatever description we use, the “readiness” (some even say the “enthusiasm”) of gesso to take Form makes it extremely difficult to work with. But not if—or rather, much less so if—your orientation to it embodies one of Nonexistence.

I said before that Chaos Mages may work less by Will in an assertive sense and more by Will in an avoidative sense. Another way to describe this would be to say: it is an assertion of Nonexistence. In the presence of hyper-reactive gesso, an assertion of Nonexistence may work more effectively (as an avoidance) than a non-assertion of Existence. This sounds like a game of semantics, but only because sometimes everything hinges crucially on semantics.

A titanic assertion of one’s non-self still centres on what it negates: the Self (because it is not an assertion of non-Self but, rather, a negation of Self). A titanic assertion of nonexistence, by contrast, centres on what it asserts, i.e., nonexistence, and thus makes one “invisible” (more precisely, non-existent) to the gesso, so that one may then work with it. If we want to put this in a cutesy way: a negation of Self points at the Self and (audaciously, if not too convincingly) declares, “That does not exist!” whereas an assertion of Nonexistence points at a space and declares into it, “Nothing exists,” thereby calling it into being—or (more simply) stripping it of Existence and leaving it with only Being.

This strategic “assertion of Nonexistence” amounts (metaphorically at the very, very least) to a kind of identification with Chaos, an aspiration toward the condition of Absolute Potential. In this way, to will Nonexistence will tend to engrade (rather than degrade) one’s gesso.

I propose that this the Artist did not do, either because he did not know how to or did not know that he could have. In his attempt to achieve the most malleable gesso he could out of which to “paint” his masterwork, he therefore imprinted (unknowingly) his own consciousness into the stuff—that is, in his self-assertion, the gesso enthusiastically adopted that as part of its substrate. I must repeat this point because it may be the most important one. Whatever “ego” an artist works with, she may nonetheless more and more “exist only for the Work”. Semantically, we seem to have a paradox: a titanic artistic ego wills to subordinate himself to nothing but the will or desire of the Work. Earlier, in discussing freedom from determination, it was pointed out how one could “defeat” necessity by “submitting voluntarily”. This is an act of ego (and will) but in the service of self-abnegation. Something similar may be at work here where an artist voluntarily submits her will to the necessity of the work. Nonetheless, this titanic assertion of one’s non-self still centres on what it negates—the Self—however much for the sake of the work. And so it is precisely because it is centred on a negation of Self that the Self gets into the work. In contrast, an assertion of Nonexistence would not “slip an ego” into the picture, just as someone who wields an eraser leaves no trace of her identity in the act of erasure.

Whether the Artist noticed this defect or not in his Work one may only guess, but I would suspect he could not see it as an error; to do so would have been tantamount looking into a mirror, and much as one may not like what a mirror discloses, we implicitly take what we see as factually accurate, i.e., not an error. Thus, even if he believed he had purified himself before the act of his creation, so to speak, the gesso would have happily confirmed this for him, &c. The “error” would have become invisible to him and, in a sense, not even really an “error” since the (positive) egotism of creation must necessarily bear the stamp of its creator.

Perhaps later the banality of this reflection brought about the Artist’s disgust at creation. Wanting to make something great or transcendental, it could only eventually have become clear to him that the whole was hopelessly, inextricably “him” and thus may have “read” to him as absolutely trivial, merely personal, pure vacuous or masturbatory autobiography. It offered no transpersonal (much less transcendental) statement of truth, so that the whole of Reality suddenly would seem to amount to nothing more than his own (juvenile or profound, but empty nonetheless) musings on the subject of Reality—a blogpost, albeit one very widely publicised.

All of this—speculative as it is, or correct as it might be despite the Artist’s own experiences or reports to the contrary—only guesses at how we all wound up in this condition. I give the Artist the benefit of the doubt that he accidentally created the conditions he now considers a horrific failure and nightmare. At the same time, I believe no one especially seriously wishes to deliquesce Reality back down to pure gesso and re-imprint it, less because of the risks involved but more because the Reality that would result would bear no resemblance to the current one, and no one would bear any semblance to themselves. In the social realm, such paradigm shifts generally spell the end of dynasties.

In principle, however, no one would actually notice the change, unless they normally existed outside of Reality (or had at least temporary residence outside of Reality). Then, for an external observer, what was once the great deity to whom millions kowtowed might suddenly be merely a shoe salesman in a mall, &c., and all of his lofty worshippers transformed instantaneously into mere blood thralls of some other deity, or whatever. Some insist this happens all of the time but we don’t notice. The main refutation of this point is that there are those who permanently or temporarily exist “outside of reality” to some degree.

But no re-imprinting of gesso will happen also because not all chafe at the blandishments of the Artist in the first place. Besides those many who enjoy Power in its current guises and configurations, we find principally only a few (of our younger luminaries) who cannot abide their awareness of the Artist in their consciousness; fewer still find themselves in a condition something like being one of his psychically infected shards so that they (the younger luminary) desire most heartily to rid themselves of the Artist’s influence, or at least the sense that his influence occurs ubiquitously in their lives. The “master project” narrows, then, simply to finding a solution for these unhappy few.

Recently, a place known as the Neither has become popular. Its most celebrated trait (besides being normally unreachable) involves its being not of the Artist. As a point “outside of” or “transcendent to” the normal space of Reality (understood in its broadest sense), the Neither[3] in principal yields a view of Reality precisely of the sort one can never have: one external to it. As noted before, to occupy the position of a distinction means being “above” or “outside” the two things distinguished—if one distinguishes love/fear, then one stands on the /. One stands neither in “love” or “fear”. &c.

I say in principal because those who travel from Reality to the Neither do not suddenly (conceptually or physically) transform into something or someone else. Or more precisely, if such a transformation occurs, it does so transparently (i.e., no one can see it). There is, in other words, some kind of continuity between the Neither and Reality, though what it is remains to be well-characterized by researchers.

The Neither clearly holds that both time and space, &c., exist. But lest I get bogged down in an impossible comparison of the shared and dissimilar fundamental features between the Neither and Reality, I may summarise it all by saying that their fundamental Encodings (1) differ, and (2) differ importantly.

One can say, in fact, that space and time do not exist in the Neither, though to travel there, you would conclude otherwise. More saliently, for the purposes of this essay at least, one may say, with some limited justice, that those who travel to the Neither from Reality “grandfather in” their own Encoding (from Reality). This, more or less because, the Encoding of the Neither, rather like the sort of enthusiasm and accommodating character we see in elemental gesso, locally adapts Reality perception according to what a traveller to the Neither generally relates to.

For this reason, certain features of the Neither do not lend themselves to coordination, especially when confronted by a group of travellers, or simply a group. In effect, each person generates her own perceived reality in the Neither; thus, in the presence of multiple people, the Neither’s Encoding begins to bifurcate (as perception of perception of perception pills up with ever-increasing speed) toward a (literal) condition of physical chaos (lowercase ‘c’) such that breaks will start to form in the vicinity of the group. These breaks do not manifest like the sort of “rifts” or “tears” in reality one encounters (so frighteningly) as when vendetta beasts appear. Rather, the “breaks” tend to themselves branch in one of two, or rather three, different directions. First, the group simply breaks up into a separate “reality bubble” per individual; at that point, the members will simply disappear to one another (or, in rarer and far more confusing cases) each individual will be provisioned with a “copy” of her or his companions inside of their “private” reality bubble. Finding their way back to a shared (group) reality becomes extremely challenging at that point, as you may imagine. Second, if the condition of chaos (little ‘c’) persists in a way that leaves the group still, on some fundamental variable, “interlocked” (i.e., aware of one another), then this amplifying, positive feedback of chaos (little ‘c’) may trigger a Manifestation, i.e., a locally manifesting appearance “out of” Chaos itself. For those who encounter this kind of thing, it generally reads as “shit, then out of nowhere this random thing appeared or happened.” Third, and perhaps this happens most frequently, something unlike these two chases (of isolation or manifestation) will occur.

Lately, because it has become so occupied by many individuals from Reality, a more or less consensus or default has built up in the Encoding—though it must be immediately said that this in no way represents a permanent change to the Encoding, but acts more like a “user setting” that the current waves of visitors to the Neither will (likely) find amenable to encounter.

This temporarily standard Encoding, of course, reflects (i.e., brings with it) the Artist’s Work as a foreign important to the place. By contrast, someone native to the Neither who travelled to Reality would—if she or he had sufficient sensitivity to the matter—be able to see the “premises” of the Artist’s Work, and thus the actually non-obligatory character of time and space (which seems obligatory, due to the Artist’s work) along with the unnecessary trap of distinctions. Most comprehensively, such a traveller would see the “mere semantics” of “is true” or “is false”.[4]

I will illustrate these irresponsibly obscure claims with one example. In the Neither, “space” (like all matter or energy, as we say) exists in a given quantum state because an observer observes it. But an observer may not only “withdraw” her observation but also “simply” by the presence of other observers will the quantum state of “space” become multiple. Hence the problems of chaos (little ‘c’) noted above. Reality, thus, has not only Existence but Being in more than one “place” simultaneously. The same prevails for time and everything else it seems. Thus, if one “is stuck” at a particular spot in the Neither, this occurs only and because your egotism of observation locks you into one quantum place. This makes making a distinction into trap, because it’s precisely the notion that you’re “here” that then also creates “there” and leaves you standing on the / of here/there, feeling superior and Lord of your creation, but unable to move away from that vantage point. And the only reason any of this has any rhetorically persuasive force for you is because you believe it “is true”.

Of course, most people don’t have a problem with their perception of reality and thus move about the Neither more or less normally. One hardly notices this until a mentally dis-coordinated group of individuals ventures there, as noted above. In fact, in a celebrated moment, when chaos (little ‘c’) started to amplify around a group of travellers in the Neither, they (accidentally) hit upon a way to avoid bubble-isolation because their shared telepathy and the dominant personality of one of their group provided them all with a “tacit” shared point of view.

To be clear, this talk of “quantum” this and that very misleadingly drags into the picture a materialist or energistic impression of the Neither. To put it bluntly, the Neither has no physics. Its “mechanics” operates more closely to the topos of a dream, and even then because we sapient beings remain inveterate storytellers (narrators), even when we sleep.

But the aesthetic of the Neither goes beyond even narrative or narratology. In our current Reality, this so-called physics, which includes magic, psionics, witchcraft, & narrative, points to “THE mechanism” that governs things. So if you must have a “physics” in the Neither, then it occurs only in that sense: it has a “THE mechanism” as well. Philosophically, most simply refer to it as “imagination” (even if that begs the question), but in practice, i.e., for those travelling there, this includes as well an almost (or an actually) meta-narratological adaptability; I mean that the “story” in the Neither changes as the “characters” change in the story. For those who venture there, especially in groups (because that ups the quantumtivity of the place), the Encoding of the Neither itself will actually bring into itself various “narrative elements” as demanded by an on-going “story”, where “story” means simply the pressure of the presence of the group of people.

This very much resembles the operation of Chaos, except that history has no record of a reality that Chaos takes note of in the same way that It occasionally takes note of certain individuals. As a Chaos Mage, I will doubtless be accused of bias—seeing the Neither as something that Chaos “notices,” but in principal, one need not rule this out. It may be, simply, that some entity in the Neither has been noted by Chaos, perhaps a Chaos Mage hidden out somewhere in it that no one has located yet. Or it may be that something other than Chaos “surrounds” the Neither—or that the Neither manifests itself “outside” of Chaos. However, both logic and trillions years of research into Chaos do not give one reason to believe the Neither exists “outside” of Chaos any more than you or I exist “outside” as Chaos. Like you (or me), the Neither persists in a state of Existence distinct from the Nonexistence of Chaos—it represents an embodiment of Possibility (or potential) that is mathematically less than the degree or intensity of the embodiment of Possibility (or potential) that Chaos itself represents. What seems different—or, rather, where the difference seems to lie—is in the Encoding that the Neither exhibits when/as Chaos “filters” into it.

I realize I risk here taking sides in the universal/particular debate that has raged with periodic convulsiveness in Chaos Theory, but I do think—if only because the Neither gives us a counter-example to compare (finally) with the one and only one example we have always ever had (i.e., Reality)—rehearsing it again has value. The minority school of speculation on this point says that what a Reality Encoding “does” is to “intercept” the raw exhalations of Chaos, as it churns forever “out” of itself, and then translate that limitlessly “destructive” force of Chaos into “beneficial” energy (time, space, &c) in its broadest sense. Critics of this position raise many questions. The notion of “outside of Chaos” is itself already a petitio principii, but even if one can accept this distinction, then what in the world can ever “counter” the (by definition absolutely) annihilating force of Chaos, which turns everything back into 100% limitless potential, so that it can even affect this “translating” function in the first place. We might imagine an Encoding as something like a massive solar panel, Dyson sphere, or ozone layer: it blocks us from harmful solar radiation while converting that radiation into useful stuff.

The great strength of this explanation is its seemingly “logical” character but, as already noted, the very terms of its “common sense” don’t bear up to scrutiny. By contrast, the majority school of speculation rejects such “metaphysical” commitments and insists that, whatever the character of Reality vis-à-vis Chaos, here we are now, and we encounter it as we do in all of its particularity first; only after the fact might we speculate about universals but, in fact, we needn’t really bother. Logically, this leads one finally to insisting, more or less openly, that “someone” must have performed the first Reality encoding (this would have been long before the Artist, of course), and Chaos Itself is just as good of an “author” as anyone else.[5] Downstream of this first hypothetical Encoder, mere programmers and technocrats have simply worked with arbitrations of this First Code (whether we imagine the first code as Zero and One or, even more fundamentally still, On and Off, or Energy State/Non-Energy State, &c).

The great strength of this explanation is its confident assertion, “I can make something” while remaining rather too often proudly ignorant about all that “metaphysical claptrap”. But with the counterexample of the Neither now before us—or, more simply, the second example of the Neither before us—we are in more of a position to consider the relationship between Chaos, Encoding, and Reality. Now, however, is not the place to consider this in detail. I will say only that I recently elaborated a form of shield that at least started with the idea, if it does not quite exactly implement, something like the “solar panel” notion of a “layer” between Chaos and Reality.

Meanwhile, those who look into the matter cannot help but notice that the “flavour” or “texture” of Chaos when read forensically in the Neither does not read in a way similar to in Reality.[6]

Meanwhile, I find something very suspicious about the apparent stability of the Neither. Left to its own devices, the Neither seems to have as its norm, rather than an exception, a tendency to positive feedback, to amplification—to the magnification of chaos (little ‘c’) mentioned earlier. The adaptivity of its “physics” (its “THE mechanism) seems to amplify everything, as if simply by virtue of the fact that “I observe” the Neither’s Encoding then “responds” with “I observe I observe,” which (with an accompanying increase of quantum state) I then experience in the world itself already as a kind of “doubling” (that I now see two quantum states), both of which “I observe”. This then runs in parallel both as a doubling (i.e., “I observe I observe” and “I observe I observe”) and a singularity (i.e., “I observe I observe I observe”). And this process then continues, bifurcation upon bifurcation, until the point of chaos (little ‘c’) gets reached and the Reality starts to fissure explosively into an infinite number of quantum states. As noted, this effect gets worse (i.e., gets more ramified and intense) in the presence of multiple Beings or Existences, especially sapient ones. So this baseline amplifying echo, which should have shortly after the creation of the Neither led to its effervescent foaming over back into Chaos, somehow gets non-mechanically counteracted (leading to its stability); that is, no apparent countervailing “negative feedback” intervenes to collapse these proliferating “quantum states” into a single (or, perhaps at times for an extended period of time, two) stability or state.

I mention this less to explore a bizarre mechanism (a seemingly impossible mechanism, really) and more simply to show how a mechanistic or “physics-based” interpretation of the Neither doesn’t bear up under scrutiny. Moreover, while the Uncertainty Principle assures us that the observer makes a difference, it seems one thing to claim that matter cheerfully accommodates our perceptions by taking a form we recognise and quite another thing to say that Reality creates ex nihilo “story elements” that we need, expect, or hope for. Here, the ex nihilo part matters the most. Close readings of the Neither on its energetic and chaotic axes demonstrate unequivocally very macro-scale intrusions of “new matter” or “new objects” (some that very actively walk and talk) that appear “out of nowhere”.[7] The manifestational objects that come into being (or existence) in accord with the “desires” of the narrative show no trace of any elsewhen and no signs of overwriting of the local Encoding at all except when called for.[8] Similarly, no measurable drop in energy elsewhere can be detected when the Objects manifest—not that our detection technologies are perfect, of course—and while finding nothing proves nothing, this seems an independent confirmation that the Neither does factually stand “outside of Reality”, whatever that means.

Endnotes

[1] My aversion to the use of the word “nature” borders on reasonable, but here needn’t occur a variation on the origins of my aversion. What I would note, rather: I would much sooner have written “Therefore, we must come to terms with the fact—ourselves each being omniscient—that the errors of omniscience must lie not in ourselves but rather in the qualities (or perhaps the quiddity) of omniscience itself”—but had I done so, not only would the sense of the claim have become unfamiliar (largely due to the word “quiddity”) but also because a certain kind of intellectual “work” or “symbolism” gets carried by the word “nature” that fails to come across with the word “qualities”. This suggests that the word “nature” (rhetorically speaking) performs a sleight-of-hand—perhaps even a bait-and-switch—that, I suspect, lies at the root of how sapient consciousness in particular get deceived about the most fundamental things. Perhaps later in these notes I will return to this.

[2] Thus, in the face of a Reality-destroying virus too powerful to be stopped, a Chaos Mage might destroy “the whole” Reality in self-defence, surviving the disaster, of course, because she stipulates herself as non-existent or outside of that Reality, but they don’t otherwise seem inclined to “destroy Reality” even though, certainly in principle, it is well within their ability.

[3] (pronounced “nee-ther” and with a definite wink at the word “nether”)

[4] By calling these “mere semantics” I do not mean to imply that realizing this (for natives of Reality, or the Neither for that matter) would pose no difficulties. Even the linguistic phrases “is true” and “is false” themselves are several categories removed (because they are in language) from the “elemental facts” they symbolize. One can hardly view these words on the page and not have “is true” adhere to them in the mere fact of them in your consciousness. Just to anticipate slightly, not only a rejection of binaries (“is true”/”is false”) but even the premise of them is in play. The overwhelming confidence that these words appear on the page “is true” (or, if you’re a skeptic, “is false”) already misses the boat. One would rather have to speak of “words on pages” as a field of probabilities; the words are and are not on the page, and what words are and are not on the page are and are not themselves different than those you do and do not see. &c. This kind of vertiginous situation, which seems so “semantically pointless” (never mind the obviously concrete appearance of the words on the page) underpins the “reality” of the Neither. This may all seem pointlessly abstruse, but tell that to the gnoll paladin of the Neither who, when he visits Reality as we know it, is capable of being (if not existing) in two places at once. I do not mean that he clones a duplicate of himself, but that a “single iteration” of him can manifest in multiple locations. More curiously still, if one affects one “manifestation” of him, the other is not similarly affected, even though “logic” dictates he should be. As one commentator on this fellow remarked, “You haven’t really grasped the situation until you realize how extremely weird this all is.”

[5] One always risks seeming like a crank to bring up the Maelender Primes in these sorts of discussions, but even the Primes don’t help us here. If we take it as a fact that the Primes “dictate” Reality, this (1) does not for that very fact make them above or beyond or immune to Chaos (so that invoking them merely puts off the question or shifts it to another level), but given what the Maelenders claim about the Primes, they don’t generally seem at all clever enough to actually author an actual Reality Encoding as we encounter them. If they do, in fact, stipulate Reality Encodings, they do so in what has to be considered complete ignorance of the mechanisms actually involved. We would simply have to say that they are, in some very weak sense of the word, Chaos Mages who, in effect, ask Chaos to do the Encoding for them. And whatever the merit of this argument, it essentially helps no one who would study or craft Encodings themselves. To ask a Prime would, at best, yield a blank look or an “I dunno.” It often seems that they cannot even “receive” data dumps on the actual operations of a reality Encoding. They can only “see” characters and interactions, &c. I find this puzzling in an abstract sense, i.e., as a kind of idle waste of one’s curiosity. It would certainly be interesting, in a way, to get to the bottom of, but it is a dead end so far as any practical, applied, or even theoretical understand for those of us in Reality (or the Neither) as far as developing reality-codes goes.

[6] Some will object to my blithe insistence on the use of the word Reality as pointing to quite literally “everything” (everything, of course, except now for the Neither). I do not disregard when saying this that there are thousands, maybe millions of Encodings of thousands, maybe millions of realities. The justification for my use of the term arises from the fact that the “root encoding” (whether you understand that as Zero and One, or On/Off, or Energy-State/non-Energy State, &c) is the same amongst all of them. The situation is like this: imagine the countless examples of sonnets all written in some common language. All credit to the artist for writing the poem, one does not claim that that “unique coding” differs somehow in kind from every other sonnet in that language. In the same way, all credit to those scripters of manifold realities; and in Reality itself, we have a veritable “shit-ton” of realities, each of which, like a masterful sonnet, has its own brilliant and clunky deployments of the same encoding language behind it. At root, the distinction I am insisting on: in Reality, the Zero/One, On/Off—or, in other words, the distinction of the / itself as “is true”/“is false”—prevails everywhere; in the Neither, travellers from Reality will constantly cause “collapses” into dichotomous distinctions but this itself is a subset of the broad field of possibilities in the Neither, where (to speak approximately) the distinction true/false exists only as fields of probability (things are simultaneously 60% true/40% false and 20% true/80% false, &c). In the realities of Reality, things get shoehorned into only 100% true/0% false or 0% true/100% false. Of course, people constantly say, “everything is shades of grey” (apparently this is 100% true), but even this caveat already acknowledges an experiential reality that “true” and “false” lack absolute ontological explanatory power. The claim of 100% or 0% amounts only to rhetoric, albeit one overwhelmingly acknowledged as operational in the realities of Reality. In the Neither, rhetorical assertion can collapse its probabilities to asserted certainties, but only because the Neither recognizes this wider base. It is an open question whether in Reality we can “undo” the 100%/0% distinction. Like money, one may have to search far and wide before someone would refuse to accept your 100%/0% or who would accept your (seemingly counterfeit or inauthentic) 60%/40%/20%/80%. &c.

[7] By this, I mean that the absolute energy measurement of the Neither increases overall, not just locally (as would be the case if “borrowing” some reality from elsewhere in itself) and not as a consequence of borrowing “extra-locally” (from some other reality). Of course, this second claim remains less defensible. So far as we know, an extra-local borrowing will bear a trace of its origins, even when nearly wholly overwritten by the local Encoding. Moreover, at least within the confines of Reality itself, with sufficiently attuned technology or attention, one may “catch” the borrowing going on elsewhere. But in the Neither, neither of these conditions prevail.

[8] This seems almost indistinguishable from the activity of a Chaos Mage, of course.

I compose these notes to fit the mind of the student for whom I intend them.This is part 3; you may find parts 1 and 2 here and here, respectively. I include the introduction from part 1 again below.

For those more or less advanced, there may seem much that digresses or states things too succinctly. I believe one may still find value in reading these notes, even for those not the student in question. In those places where things seem too much elaborated, I apologise that my student’s frame of mind overtaxes yours. And where things move too quickly, I can only suggest immersing yourself in the more elemental or basic texts that address the matters at hand.

Also, I use past and present conjugations of the verb “to be” under protest. You should imagine every occurrence in quotation marks; typographical preciousness prevents me from indulging this visually.

Introduction

No system, however imperfect, contains errors.

Therefore, we must come to terms with the fact—ourselves each being omniscient—that the errors of omniscience must lie not in ourselves but instead in the nature[1] of omniscience.

However, given that adding manpower to a late project makes it later, we may understand then not only:

  • that the reproduction of the world—understood in its broadest and narrowest senses—puts off the end of the world, but also
  • that the elaboration of a trinary (or greater) logic can only paper over, sometimes very cleverly or intriguingly, the abyss that binary logic (or dichotomous thinking generally) opens up.

Let us take some steps to move beyond this.

The Artistic Act

In what follows, I make no claim to historical accuracy. In fact, whether we should even desire historical accuracy leaps to mind as a question. To generalise about the Artistic act from the single example of one Artist may well lead into more cul-de-sacs than open roadways. So, all apologies to the specific experience of the Artist, and those whose egos rest on admirations or loathings for those specifics, but if we would find a way out of that which too much determines us, then it will almost certainly not come by following his example.

If in the previous section I kept dubiously veering toward implying a necessary commitment to a given form of metaphysics (one where Existence precedes Being), here we remain on more pleasingly abstract ground—we may, therefore, proceed more as dilettantes.

Let us understand that the Artist did his thing by developing an explanatory model, i.e., focus on “he invented physics” in its sense as providing “an explanatory model of Reality”. Mathematicians would, out of their vanity, attempt to insist that this explanatory model must necessarily in mathematics, but I will show this does not hold water.

Mathematics, in its ultimate sense, exists as a purely aesthetic creation. I will defend the use of the word “aesthetic” here later, but it connects to Schiller’s sense ultimately as well.

Mathematics, in its purest sense, has nothing to do with Reality, and never does or will, thank goodness. Of course, engineers (and scientists and alchemists) regularly sully this purity in applications—the (pure) explanatory model of Mathematics gets water down, tinkered with, adjusted, used, harnessed, &c, to achieve a particular desired outcome in Reality. This implies no critique; rarely, if ever, do the Ideal and the Actual coincide perfectly.

Presumably some might object to this framing. Imagine a screwdriver turning a screw, then. This works marvellously reliably even though (1) we know that at a quantum level neither the screwdriver nor screw “exist” in any sense we would agree warrants the term; (2) we know, if we bother to admit it, that the very fact of our observation has utterly skewed our vision of “whatever is really going on”; and (3) all of this must necessarily comprise an objectivist illusion anyway.

So mote it be. But these heady and weighty epistemological facts aside, on we go tightening the screw quite contentedly, like a bumblebee flying despite the “laws” of aerodynamics or the existence of planets that “contradict everything we know about planetogenesis”.

And what happens here: we take the fact that the tool works as evidence that our explanation of what is going on “is true”. Therein lies the ultimate error and conceit.

So, of course, where mathematics similarly “works” it offers the same illegitimate “proof” as offered by the screwdriver and screw. Again, we may ignore the heady and weighty issues lurking all around why it works, but only because we are pragmatically out to screw screws and don’t really ultimately care how it gets done. It seems a 50/50 likelihood anyway that our explanation must “be true” (or “be false”), so why not just flip a coin and proceed accordingly. Nonetheless, the fact that mathematics works (like a screwdriver) does not provide evidence that our explanation for that working has been justified.

Continuing the metaphor, just as we see that the screwdriver was made to fit (some attributable characteristics of the) screw, so we see that mathematics (in its practical application) was made to fit (some attributable characteristic) of Reality. In the absence of a screwdriver, for instance, one might use a wrench to turn the screw, or one might use a knife or claw, or one might simply twist the screw with a hand or tentacle, or one might hold the screw and turn the Reality one wants to screw down, &c. So also do the qualities of Reality (the encoding of Reality) permit all kinds of (mathematical) ways to “grapple” with it.

Meanwhile, one finds countless ways that mathematics remains absolutely daft about Reality. Mammalian reproduction demonstrates the impotence of mathematics as an explanatory principle, whether we fancy it as 1 + 1 = 1, or 1 + 1 = 3. Self-evidently, we can’t do everything with mathematics (and by mathematics, one might as well say “science” as well, especially to the extent it represents applied mathematics), contrary to what its proponents insist, largely because they want to increase their salaries, institutional vanity, or whatnot. Mathematics (and science) must necessarily encroach into domains where it doesn’t belong, just as “humanities” encroach into science and mathematics, &c.

But when we say mathematics was made to fit the Encoding of Reality, we cannot ignore the historical fact that someone Encoded that Reality. More precisely, we might proceed in this mathematical manner without bothering to figure out whether the Encoding of Reality is deliberate or accidental—and from a pragmatic standpoint, it doesn’t matter—but in terms of finding our ultimate freedom from determination, we cannot be so narrow-minded.

We might ask, therefore, what determined the Artist—was his work “made to fit” the Encoding of Reality as he found it? I think not, but that must be addressed in later sections (if at all).

What makes the Artist’s offering non-mathematical principally involves what I will call for now its “wilfully chosen character”. To put this one way, mathematics (and thus science), at least by intention, claims to be internally non-contradictory, i.e., self-consistent. In point of fact, mathematics contains no end of discontinuities, logical contradictions, bad decisions, and the like, but these remain visibly papered over (1) because several of such anomalies comprise more or less harmless or negligible problems, (2) the problems do not make their presence felt because mathematical application limits itself to the problems focussed upon, and (3) because mathematics explicitly fails in application in those areas mathematicians tend to avoid utilising it in.[2]

What mathematics shares in common with the Artist’s offering derives from its aesthetic character, i.e., mathematics requires (at least by declaration) a closed, interpretive loop—hence the often noted likeness between mathematics and language itself (or the insistence that mathematics comprises a language). By contrast, the Artist’s offering does not stand as constrained in this way, just as no artistic offering does. One may therefore object, on aesthetic grounds, to the introduction of Zeus into a romantic comedy, but this objection rests on criteria different from the sort of objection the appearance of Zeus—as a literal deus ex machina—would represent in a formal geometric proof.[3]

In direct contradiction to the mathematical way, error and contradiction form two of the most essential—or at least recurrent—tropes in the Artist’s palette, and all artists. These things are anathema for mathematics (and by extension, science). Less frequent, but in some ways with even more dire consequences, are the narrative or artistic floutings of “logical deduction”, which in the physical universe appears in the form of causality. In science, one never hears an end to the cry “correlation is not causality,” whereas in the Artist’s Work, mere sequence alone (as also with karma) seems enough to indicate “causality”. When one follows the word “the” with the word “sun” the very motion of language itself generates “the sun” in a way that seems definitionally contrary to the sort of empirical verification science especially relies upon.

Of course, in a formal geometric proof, as one goes from one line to the next, you construct a similar kind of sequence to “the” and “sun”, except that the linking between step A and step B follows with a kind of inevitable automaticity. To tell you “the” implies nothing about “sun,” except in retrospect, whereas to say that tall four sides of a parallelogram are the same length already strongly suggests we are in the presence of a square—or, even more clearly, not in the presence of a rectangle, a triangle, &c., &c. All that “the” tells us is we are likely to have a noun (or an adjective) to follow, but which one, we can hardly say. But even here, weird as it would be to have “the” be followed by a third-person past conjugation of a verb, only mere convention rules out this likelihood; an artist interested in messing with established norms might adopt this trope as a master strategy. And certainly after the fact—after we see “the ran”—then we might insist, “Ah, but that too was as fated as the content of a mathematical proof.” But with the geometric proof, such fatedness was long since been completed (certainly before we ever reflected on it; in fact, it didn’t need our reflection to “exist”); in such a proof, to “invent” really does comprise “to discover,” if only you have enough cleverness.

So, while the introduction of Zeus into a romantic comedy might amount to a fatal, aesthetic misstep, different in kind from a mathematical error during a geometric proof, nonetheless one might also find a way in the artistic work in question to make such an introduction work. I do not mean simply by this that some fans of the piece will adore the appearance of Zeus while others will find it absurd and off-putting. I mean, rather, that on an objective analysis of the piece, which many might insist is impossible in the first place,[4] we may judge the introduction of Zeus as a success or an error.

One cannot emphasise enough this difference. Mathematically speaking, once one says “point, line, plane,” then all that follows from those premises has already been stipulated even if not yet spelled out or made apparent, e.g., the qualitative features of parallel lines, rules about triangles, &c. And as soon as someone with clever enough eyes comes along, they will note that the claim about the universal qualitative characteristics of parallel lines (e.g., of infinite duration without ever touching) actually contains an ambiguity, so that spherical and hyperbolic geometries then suggest themselves. But even these later observations were already stipulated by “point, line, plane”—they only wanted invention, i.e., discovery. And just as (at least) three branchings of geometry came to light with the fullness of time at the point of the axiom about parallel lines, one might similarly uncover “invisible assumptions” in the characteristics of “plane” or “line” or “point” as well (no doubt some already have been). And as each of these bifurcates at their respective points, branching out into still further and stranger geometries, we will say that those too were simply awaiting their discovery.

Mathematics, as an aesthetic enterprise (particularly when it disavows the conceit of corresponding with Reality), has this “inductive” character: one states an axiom (or axioms) and then hunts down the consequences of those stipulations. Not so with artistic offerings.

Many critics (though rarely The Critic, so far as I can tell) like to expatiate breathlessly about the “inevitability” of a piece. In a poem, we might sometimes marvel at the aptness of a word or choice of metaphor, &c. But even here, a typically crucial aspect of the experience of encountering the work involves the surprise of that moment. Everything churns around in the narrative, and suddenly the word “seagull” or whatever drops like an albatross in front of us, and we find ourselves stunned, illuminated, gasping, or whatnot—marvelling at how perfectly “seagull” sums everything up, &c. We did not see it coming—or only suspected it as an unconfirmed possibility—but its arrival seems nothing more (or less) than the working out of a Fate we had not hitherto completely anticipated.

We should not mistake this experience for the sort of “inductive predestination” involved in mathematics, and even less so in language, which mathematics sometimes gets likened to. The sort of “inductive” pull we might identify in language involves those expectations learned from syntax, grammar, and conventional usage. If step 1 of a proof—like Aristotle’s oak in the acorn—implies all that follows from it, then syntax, grammar, and conventional usage offers something like this “inevitability”.[5]

More precisely, language does not have the theoretical perfect closure that mathematics does, principally because mathematics declares “meanings” (aesthetics) while language provides a “means” of expression. We frequently conflate these two things, understandably enough, but one may actually make additions to the (wholly self-referential) enclosure of language as one may not in mathematics, i.e., one may invent new tools (new words) but once those tools are made they afford a limited number of things they can do (applied meanings). This does not mean mathematics (and science) cannot increase in its quantity of knowledge, of course, but only that it cannot enlarge the terms of meanings it can generate.

This sounds like an overstatement and inaccurate, for this reason: because language generates the possibility of and capacity to embody new meaning, then the operation of mathematics itself can only find expression for that new meaning within the (closed) context it already inhabits. Or to put this another way: when mathematics (or science) experiences a paradigm shift, it does so because of an articulation and modification within the domain of language itself. In other words, someone draws a distinction (in language) and that distinction permits the expression of new meanings within the domain of mathematics. See the footnote.[6]

I say “language” for the sake of clarity, but I mean “expression” in its broad sense. Body language, dance, the honeybee’s movements to indicate the location of flowers, all of these rest in the domain of expression. The distinguishing trait of language arises in its conventionally shared set of meanings—or to put it tendentiously, “word” and “meaning” collapse into one another as identical; more accurately, the function of language permits an essentially seamless elision, however illegitimate, between “word” and “meaning”.

This (usually unconscious) collapse of “word” and “meaning” permits “language” to do a communicative kind of work that “dance” or “body language” or “theatre” often has trouble doing communicatively. I mean, of course, that if I wave my hand in a certain dance-like way, the chances that anyone understands this as “My name is Iridium” remain extremely low, unless of course I make this gesture toward people who understand this gesture in a conventional sense. To say the phrase “My name is Iridium” (or any of the virtually limitless other variations I might concoct (“My name is—that is to say, if I am going to go to the store later, I might as well pick up some kittens—Iridium”) still manages to “convey” my “meaning” almost regardless of the words.

The ambiguity of the pictorial arts, of sculpture, of dance—of those means of expression that do not include words—of course opens a vast area of play for artists who work in those media. Many have stared at the blotch of paint on the wall in perplexity and then found the title card, “The Soul of Hiroshima” beside it and felt a thrill of horror or whatnot—a clever, maybe merely clever, use of words to augment “visual only” sense data. But it shows the communicative power of language.

In the case of the Artist, part of his Work (or perhaps its thematics) consists of Language itself. That is, he not only “invented time and space” but he also invented (or redefined) “time” and “space”.

In any case, however, however much we feel the “genius” of an artist, the sense of “inevitability” when the word “seagull” drops in our lap has the force less of some sort of “inductive” characteristic that artistic work has in common with mathematics (and science) but points more to (1) the skill of the Artist in manipulating his or her audience, or (2) the acculturation of the audience to expected or conventional cultural forms. Here again, grammar, syntax, and the rules of linguistic construction all play an important part of that expectation. It provides a trap, in fact. If the peril of non-verbal art involves the attempt to bracket off the image so only the intended “meaning” comes across (assuming that is what you want), then the peril of verbal art involves the attempt not to isolate the word so deeply in its own hermetically closed saying/meaning that one’s intention, as an artist, becomes unsayable.

Much ink gets spilled about “where” the generation of meaning occurs vis-à-vis language. Does the reader construct the meaning out of the Author’s arranged words or does the Author impinge her meaning on the Reader? Or do neither, because language occludes both sides of that equation while simultaneously enabling something else. Or does even Language itself, like the Reader and Author, stand “in” Chaos, because Chaos itself provides the actual shared commonality amongst all four involved in artistic reception?

The point rather seems to concern rather the elemental differences between mathematics (as an aesthetic gesture) and the Artist’s work (as an aesthetic gesture). And the primary distinction concerns the endlessly interlocking “logical necessity” that mathematics claims above all else, whereas the artistic object requires no such explicit commitment. Thus, if Mathematics decries Art as worthless because it can mean anything, then Art decries Mathematics as tragic since it can only mean one thing.

In Art, expression follows expression (word follows word), one upon the next, like lines of a geometric proof, but nothing along the way makes the same kind of predictive or inductive claim for the artistic work. And precisely that lack of necessity permits—sometimes validly, sometimes not, often with depressingly pointless results—the Reader’s aberrant reading of even the most straightforward text.[7]

And so, the work of the Artist makes no claim of correspondence between the Work and Reality. This by no means means that “fiction” cannot express the facts and conditions of experience, of course; it simply means that the aesthetic object usually (and wisely when it does so) does not claim it “is true” in a logical senes. Thus, in general, the aesthetic object rarely loses sight of the fact that what it represents “isn’t” any truth (especially not in an autobiography), but primarily represents truths intead. Mathematics, by contrast (and science) proceeds more disingenuously.

This clear separation of Fiction and Reality (or Work and Reality) makes clear that what the Artist overlays over Reality has no necessity in and of itself. Like mathematics, it ideally remains self-consistent, but it has no obligation (and no ability) to make itself identical with Reality. Mathematics (and science) pretend otherwise, even as they fall over themselves denying it.

But in this first gesture of Art, then, we see already a window of possibility for freedom, freewill, and liberation—the Artist’s narrative remains just that, a narrative. In a kind of sense, it represents an only one, but not a necessary one, and thus not the only one in absolute terms. The simplicity of the solution here—simply tell another narrative—masks the difficulty involved in doing so, for the principal reason that the Artist’s narrative has defined the most elemental aspects of narrative: time and space. Or at least that’s the narrative we’ve encountered.

To approach this from another angle, while the Artist’s Work has no correspondence whatsoever with Reality (i.e., the substrate of Encoding it draws upon to construct its narrative remains untouched, even to this day) those who have been subsequently created within that Reality have inherited as a matter of their Being and Existence the Artist’s narrative. Just as Nonexistence called forth something different than itself (Existence), the narrative that the Artist inhabited called forth something different than itself (the Narrated, as well as the narrative in which we have all subsequently laboured, lived, loved, died, and been born again, and so forth).

More problematically than being unable to dismantle the Master’s house with the Master’s tools, we find as we build any alternative tool that it already belonged to the Master.

Still, against this difficulty, we see in the non-necessity of the Artist’s narrative—it didn’t have to be that way—that other ways, however hypothetical, remain hypothetically possible.

Endnotes

[1] My aversion to the use of the word “nature” borders on reasonable, but here needn’t occur a variation on the origins of my aversion. What I would note, rather: I would much sooner have written “Therefore, we must come to terms with the fact—ourselves each being omniscient—that the errors of omniscience must lie not in ourselves but rather in the qualities (or perhaps the quiddity) of omniscience itself”—but had I done so, not only would the sense of the claim have become unfamiliar (largely due to the word “quiddity”) but also because a certain kind of intellectual “work” or “symbolism” gets carried by the word “nature” that fails to come across with the word “qualities”. This suggests that the word “nature” (rhetorically speaking) performs a sleight-of-hand—perhaps even a bait-and-switch—that, I suspect, lies at the root of how sapient consciousness in particular get deceived about the most fundamental things. Perhaps later in these notes I will return to this.

[2] This doesn’t stop them from endlessly promising mathematics (or science) will finally one day penetrate the veil of these difficulties. Thus, the third point above is the claim, for instance, that mathematics fails to analyse Art, but this does not stop pseudoaestheticians from trying again and again sporadically from coming up with some dopey nonsense about mathematically modelled aesthetic meaning. The premises and conceits of this, in its various attempts, are too silly for examination in this context, but I simply refer to them by allusion. The second point above hinges on the pragmatism involved. Because, in the screwdriver and screw example for example, the “frame” of the application isn’t concerned with the micro-level of atomic clouds (in either the screw or the screwdriver), then the “mathematics” works here precisely because it has been fitted to work; its justification is entirely tautological.

[3] However compelling his “because I say so!” would be as a “proof”.

[4] The naïve and the poorly informed alike plentifully say much in error all the time.

[5] It is not uninteresting to consider this more closely. In the phrase, “you can lead a” we see how conventional usage dictates what comes next, so that when it continues, “you can lead a battalion, if you are an officer” surprises us. Similarly, the pull of subject-object agreement, or the linking of the definite article and a noun (or intervening modifier) also points to this “inevitably,” though linguistic production (or at least literature) makes a great deal of warping and breaking these things, much to our delight. And even at the level of the word: if I tell you I am thinking of a five-letter non-nonsense word in English that begins “KNOC” then there is only one possible letter that comes next. In terms of information, this means the terminal K is completely redundant; it serves a function only and strictly to confirm what one already knew with “KNOC”. At the same time, obviously, if we lift the stipulation that the word may not be a nonsense word or that it must be English, then other possibilities enter the aesthetic field that artists might draw upon, quite contrary to all grammar, conventional usage, or syntax. Mathematics has nothing like this freedom.

[6] I don’t wish to get into the wrong sort of hairsplitting, and so I banish this point to this footnote. At some point, to distinguish language from meaning becomes a reductio ad infinitum if not an ad absurdum. Earlier, I proposed that following its emergence from Nonexistence, Existence then declared the characteristics of Being. So too here, after arising out of Nonmeaning, Meaning then declared the characteristics of Language. Or again, only after we possess Existence may we declare the substrate of Existence (as Being). So just as Existence precedes Being, then Meaning necessarily precedes Language, and it is only after we dwell in Meaning that we declare the substrate of Meaning (as Language). Of course, there are manifold non-temporal and non-ontological creatures for whom these generalities fail to apply. Amongst “typical sapient Beings” (if the phrase makes any kind of sense), then the main objection to what I wrote above centres around that kind of experience as when one “has an idea” (a Meaning) and then tries to find a way to embody it in Language (e.g., by adapting an old word, or by a neologism) and so it will seem that Meaning generates Language (science generates the world) not the other way around. In the first place, some will point out that that “meaning” already dwells (necessarily) in “language” (or, more properly, some variety of embodied expression, whether verbal, linguistic, visual, kinesthetic, &c). If by “language,” then we understand “embodiment” in the broadest sense of the word, and we understand by “meaning” to be the “import” we ascribe to our activity or activities, then once again we see that only after we emerge from “meaningless” will Import declare the substrate of Import (as Embodiment). Insofar as we do not have “bodies” until we say we do—to invoke a privileged third-party point of observation only defers this question indefinitely—then once we have entered into this loop, of Existence declaring Being, of Meaning declaring Language, of Import declaring Embodiment, then we are always already forever “one step behind” it will seem. From our first moment of Meaning, we declare (as a kind of seemingly necessary hypothesis) Language as the substrate of Meaning, presupposing as we do that Language must have preexisted it. And from our first moment of Existence, we declare (as a kind of seemingly necessary hypothesis) Being as the substrate of Existence, presupposing as we do that Being must have preceded us ontologically. This does not follow. What preceded (as a hypothesis) Existence is Nonexistence; what precedes Meaning (as a hypothesis) is Nonmeaning. Or more precisely still, what preceded Existence is neither Existence nor not Existence, is neither Being nor not Being. &c. And so, to return to the point that prompted this footnote, because we assert that Language precedes Meaning (even as it is the other way around), then all possibility of meaning originates in Language—at least, that’s where we give the originating potential too. And so Meaning, thereby defers of shifts responsibility to Language, and it is in that sense that I insist that Language provides any and all ground for Meaning (and mathematics or science) to further articulate itself. At this point, to imagine a counter-factual to this would involve the emergence of Meaning not encoded in language—or, more generally—meaning that emerges as nonembodied expression, which is most assuredly difficult to imagine. Anticipating the end of this essay, I will say the most fruitful avenue from tracking down this weird idea arises when think of meaning that emerges in multiple states at once, e.g., as meaning that is simultaneously true and false, as a thought that is simultaneously not a thought (so to speak). More later.

[7] I should add, this brittle insistence on the non-entailment of word to word, sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph (or, most generally, expression to expression) in Art takes no account of the artist’s desire to build up a cumulative meaning (generally). But if a mathematician desires to build up a meaning (a proof), mathematics in itself (by design) requires not just absolutely elemental rules of operation but even very large macroscale operations that lock together definitionally and obligatorily. It is as if mathematics could do itself, in the absence of help from any sapience. Not so with Art. No sonnet will ever “compose itself” (however wu-wu and mystical an oracular-type artist asserts). Artists must explicitly build up the entailments of their compositions, even as they may also rely heavily and explicitly upon ready-made materials. Put a man and woman on a stage and most will anticipate a romance; let the author have one call the other “brother” or “sister” and that correction “resets” the meaning-building structure of the piece. &c

I compose these notes to fit the mind of the student for whom I intend them.This is part 2; you may find parts 1 here. I include the introduction from part 1 again below for clarity.

For those more or less advanced, there may seem much that digresses or states things too succinctly. I believe one may still find value in reading these notes, even for those not the student in question. In those places where things seem too much elaborated, I apologise that my student’s frame of mind overtaxes yours. And where things move too quickly, I can only suggest immersing yourself in the more elemental or basic texts that address the matters at hand.

Also, I use past and present conjugations of the verb “to be” under protest. You should imagine every occurrence in quotation marks; typographical preciousness prevents me from indulging this visually.

Introduction

No system, however imperfect, contains errors.

Therefore, we must come to terms with the fact—ourselves each being omniscient—that the errors of omniscience must lie not in ourselves but instead in the nature[1] of omniscience.

However, given that adding manpower to a late project makes it later, we may understand then not only:

  • that the reproduction of the world—understood in its broadest and narrowest senses—puts off the end of the world, but also
  • that the elaboration of a trinary (or greater) logic can only paper over, sometimes very cleverly or intriguingly, the abyss that binary logic (or dichotomous thinking generally) opens up.

Let us take some steps to move beyond this.

Freedom from Determination

Other consequences of the above will appear later. For the present, it seems unfortunately necessary to justify the above. And while the history of intellectual traditions around this topic offers a seemingly limitless number of reflections on the matter, the current increased attention to the topic—and especially the very weight of those previous traditions that unconsciously (I must say) shape it—suggest we might benefit from bringing into the picture what amount to virtually an alien set of voices; I mean, of course, mere mortals, and particularly several who inhabited an extremely short-lived (by our standards) splinter of Time.

First, then, consider what Schiller—a poet, playwright, philosopher, and aesthetician—had to say regarding freedom in a context of aesthetic judgment:

“No man must ‘must’,” [an author writes], and this adage is truer to a greater extent than one would perhaps be willing to allow. The will is the genetic characteristic of man as species, and even reason is only its eternal rule. All nature proceeds rationally; man’s prerogative is merely that he proceeds rationally with consciousness and intent. All other things “must”; man is the being that wills.

For just this reason nothing is so unworthy of man than to suffer violence, for violence undoes him. whoever offers us violence calls into question nothing less than our humanity; whoever suffers this cravenly throws his humanity away. But this claim to absolute liberation from everything violent seems to presuppose a being possessing force enough to repel every other force from itself. If it is claimed by a being who does not occupy the highest rank in the realm of force, an unhappy contradiction arises thence between aspiration and capacity.

This is the position in which man finds himself. Surrounded by countless forces, all of which are superior to his own and held mastery over him, he lays claim by his nature to suffer violence from none of them. He is, indeed, enabled by his understanding artificially to enhance his natural powers, and up to a certain point he is actually successful in becoming the physical master of everything physical. There is a cure for everything, the proverb says, except for death. But this single exception, even if it is that in the strictest sense, would destroy the whole concept of humanity. Man can no longer be the being that wills if there is even a single case in which he simply must do what he does not will. This single terror, which he simply must do and does not will, will haunt him like a spectre and, as is the case in the majority of people, will deliver him up prey to the blind terrors of imagination; his vaunted freedom is absolutely nothing if he is bound in even a single point. Culture is to set man free and to help him to be equal to his concept. It should therefore enable him to assert his will, for man is the being that wills.

This would, then, be the end of his freedom, if he were capable only of physical science. But he is supposed to be a human being unconditionally, and should therefore under no circumstances suffer anything against his will. If he is no longer able to oppose physical force by his relatively weaker physical force, then the only thing that remains to him, if he is not to suffer violence, is to eliminate utterly and completely a relationship that is so disadvantageous to him, and to destroy the very concept of a force to which he must in fact succumb. To destroy the very concept of a force means simply to submit to it voluntarily. The science that enables us to do this is called moral science.

The opposition I would emphasize presently here involves the conscious reaction to necessity—the transformation of its unavoidable imposition into a voluntary submission. And now let us also consider what de Sade—a roughly contemporaneous figure of Schiller’s, the inadvertently eponymous writer, playwright, and philosopher credited with “inventing” sadism—had to say. A farthest reach of Sade’s point of view amounts to this: (all Nature being destruction[2]), then all acts of destruction against Nature can only affirm her. Consequently, in Juliette, Saint-Fond declares:

In everything we do there are nothing but idols offended and creatures insulted, but Nature is not among them, and it is she I should like to outrage. I should like to upset her plans, thwart her progress, arrest the wheeling courses of the stars, throw the spheres floating in space into mighty confusion, destroy what serves Nature and protect what is harmful to her; in a word, to insult her in her works—and this I am unable to do.

Obviously, one might substitute here “the Artist” (or perhaps even “Chaos”) for “Nature”.

The nature of Sade’s project—the aim of Sade’s writing in the main, its merely personal aspects aside—involves the principled however doomed attempt to liberate human beings from the given[3]. On the grounds it starts from, the project cannot succeed; to succeed then requires at the very least changing the terms of the project. Meaning provides one an apt locus for attempting this change, not only because “changing the terms of the project” necessarily involves changing the description of the terms used but also because meaning aptly bridges the personal and the social.

Moreover, Sade would likely double over in laughter at Schiller’s claim that “all nature proceeds rationally”—unless Nature comprises a rationality of hostility and destruction—but not only do I not intend to pit these two philosophers against one another from my remote time, place, and reality displacement, whatever their disagreement about the qualities of “Nature”, they both implicitly agree “man is the being that wills”.[4] Thus, the a difference we may draw out here (amongst the several): Schiller acknowledges as a solution to determination (or Necessity) one’s voluntary submission, while Sade seems to tacitly acknowledge this, at least to the point that he resolutely refuses to submit and would without pause pit himself forever against that demand or temptation or solution.

Adopting a different tack for a moment, philosophy will sometimes expose hierarchy and time as resolutions to paradoxes that arise in our currently prevailing, objectivist logic—a logic that purports that things “are true” (or “are false”). In the early twentieth century on the same Earth where Schiller and Sade scribbled and agonised over these things, Russell & Whitehead resolved the logical contradiction of sets being members of themselves by stipulating a “higher level”—voila, hierarchy. Or, to give another example, in the sometimes famous paradox “this sentence is a lie” we see that when it “is true”, it immediately becomes “false”, and when it “is false”, it immediately becomes “true”—voila, we perceive how the introduction of time offers (an at least apparent) resolution for the paradox.[5]

In the same chronoshard occupied by Russell & Whitehead, Varela, building upon, correcting, and extending G. Spencer Brown’s Laws of Form, demonstrated we needn’t resort to such tactics, when he describes a logic in which self-referentiality already comprises an elemental part of the logic, thereby avoiding the above sorts of contradictions—the avoidance of such contradicts marking a requisite characteristic of logic generally. [6] Alternatively, one might also resolve these paradoxes by rejecting the (fundamental objectivist) axiom that truth is a property of statements. Hence, while the paradox “this sentence is false” appears to be referring to itself (thus generating the paradox), in fact the predicate “is false” (or “is true”) might only be predicable of the statement “this sentence” (not “this sentence is false” entirely). Thus “this sentence is false is true” or “this sentence is true is true” and so on exhibit invalidly constructed statements in the first place. This of course does not claim that nothing “is true” but only that “true” or “false” are not properties of statements. [7]

All of this serves to illustrate—the obvious injustices of the introduction into existence of hierarchy and time aside—the characteristic of Will at work in the Artist (some might say the Creator), declaring upon the entire substrate of experiential Reality his assertion: “is true” or “is false”. In the face of this, Schiller recommends taking the attitude, “I voluntarily submit to that” while Sade would continue, if helplessly, to declaim, “No,” even as the very “truth” of that “no” as the basis of his protest undermining his protest.

At the risk of making things worse, I would summarise what I have laid out here so far. We may link the figure of the Artist to the foregoing: (1) for de Sade, the Artist appears as “Nature”, (2) for Schiller, the Artist appears as (egregiously unconscious) “Necessity” or violence, (3) for some, the Artist manifests as “the Creator” except that any such creator, all dogmatic theologising aside, amounts to merely a shaper of an already pre-existing energy/matter matrix (or, at the furthest remove, Chaos itself), or (4) for some, the Artist becomes identified with “Chaos” itself, though I think this both premature and inaccurate.

Moreover, for Sade the notion of “Nature” explicitly transcends both Man and God, so thinking of “Nature” as something merely like the “Creator” “God” misses his objection. Sade advocates criminal acts to twit Man’s conceit as a Law-giver, not because Man must forever and fallibly declare wretched and inadequate laws; let Man declare perfect and utopian civic institutions, Sade will still preach criminality (lawlessness) in the name of freedom. All of this informs Sade’s enthusiasm for blasphemy along the same lines. Certainly, God as a Law-Giver (perfect or not) still requires the rebellion of criminality. But it requires more beyond this as well, i.e., blasphemy specifically, impugning the Holy Ghost and the like. Sade kindly refrains from accusing all of Man of forever and always believing in the perfect righteousness of its Law-Giving; not so with God—God arrogantly insists not only “might is right” but also “I am right.” And on those grounds, Sade spares no breath to defame, impugn, mock, and scorn such a divine conceit. And of course, in its own way this God gets given a certain amount of credit as a Creator, so insofar as anything created (and thus any creature, of which Man denotes one) represents not so much an object brought into being but, rather, a moral judgment to exist (passed by this God). This Sade feels compelled to blaspheme as a moral judgment. Behind all of this, however (or as the ground of it, perhaps), stands Nature, the truemost Creator—the basis even of God and thus also God’s moral pronouncements.

In several respects, it becomes very tempting to align Nature with Chaos and, since Sade had no access to or no cognizance of Chaos, because “Nature” provides his “ultimate principle” it necessarily (in the context here) will seem to link up with Chaos, and I think falsely. The useful part we may infer from Sade’s rebellion, at least as far as this current exploration concerns itself, hinges on the way “Nature” sets the very terms of existence, of Being. Sade’s rebellion very much resembles the rebellion of our younger luminaries these days, who understand painfully that every gesture they make (even suicide) merely expresses “the Artist” (Sade would say “Nature”). For Sade, Man (and even less so God) “sets the terms” one must wallow in, and this offense—expressed so differently than in Schiller—amounts to the same protest: against violence done to one’s freedom.

In the abstract, Schiller takes a less cosmic view; he centres his concern on that violence which one cannot avoid (namely from other people), but we may still push his argument to point a finger at the “divine arranger”. The disadvantage of Schiller arises in the fact that he locates human (mortal) dignity in voluntary submission, and this offers a very great deal, but for our present young luminaries, if any such voluntary submission shall come about, then a different something other than the Artist must present itself first. And this assumes—certainly with no justification for the assumption as of yet—that such voluntary submission would ever come into play as feasible, much less desirable. The major (or at least most tantalizing) advantage arising from Schiller’s approach: he specifically enters into this question on aesthetic grounds, in an essay on the Sublime.

Now, as far as the equation of the Artist as Chaos, let us disregard the sheer inaccuracy of such a claim. Plainly enough, as most if not all of everything contains as itself some inheritance of Chaos—or, speaking more colloquially, Chaos is a part of everything, or everything is a part of Chaos—then of course whatever shenanigans the Artist gets up to will bear the traces of Chaos as well. And in attempting to tease out the details of this point, we would simply reprise or make redundant any distinction of “the Creator” (i.e., the third category mentioned above), and so I leave that aside and discuss only the case of the Artist as Chaos, especially since it so lucidly and patently shows itself as completely false.

Again, all of this discussion explores freedom from determination and necessarily reflects back to the characteristics of the Artist, who currently so egregiously has left the traces of his determination(s) upon us all. Thus, the Artist seems like Schiller’s necessity (and the violence therefrom) and Sade’s “Nature” because all that we do is (or at least seem inextricably) determined by the Artist’s determinations of yore. The Artist seems like “the Creator” because he has (like Sade’s Man or God) “set the terms” we must work in. And, in the weakest analogy, he seems like Chaos insofar as (being of Necessity of Chaos himself) all of his actions and declarations “are” (or seem inextricably bound up) in traces of Chaos.

Conventionally, we speak of the Artist as inventing physics. I will remind us all: the Chaosian etymology of “invent” derives originally from “discover”. But if I say so, I do not in order to impugn the activity of the Artist. The Artist, in her/his mode as Creator, need not exhibit only the habit of an oracle—a passive shell through which the voice of the Divine or Chaos speaks. Of course, the energetic (and corporeal, if present) characteristics of the oracle specifically shape how the divine utterance comes through, but the fussy conceit of this position desires and valorises the involuntary qualities of this “transmission”. Whatever physicality, whatever “mere” manifestational aspects that adhere to the divine utterance generally get foresworn as dross, as blots. The more perfectly the oracle does not interact with the divine transmission in the process of the transmission the better. And some artists make a lot of fuss about this, either to show off or as a genuine matter of experience. Bully for them when so, but I do not generally intend by pointing out that “invent” derives from “discover” to negate the involvement of the Artist in the process of Creation, even when the artist herself or himself desires to say, “I am just a medium through which it passes” –especially where “the medium is the message” impinges upon our consciousness as a fact.

In other words, whatever else we might claim, an Artist remains complicit in creation. We need not punish a door just because a villain happens to enter through it; nonetheless as an autobiographical (or historical) fact, still that door provided the point of entry. To whatever extent we decided to add “will” to that “complicity” might be a matter for courts to decide, but as far as THE Artist goes, his sense of complicity as a channel of creative imagination seems uncontroversial.

And, again, conventionally they say “he invented physics”. By this, commentators point to two main things. The phrase “he invented physics” already denotes something of a shorthand for “he invented time and space”, which functions as a metonymy for saying “he invented the material basis of consciousness”. In a somewhat inaccurate sense, one could try to claim “he invented thought”; more accurately, one could say, “he invented the fundamental terms by which discourse talks about thought.”

I proposes to summarise all of this by saying “he invented existence” but this will require more justification first.

I propose a (necessary) distinction between Being and Existence. I propose nothing new in this, by the way. But immediately we have to fly a caveat. Expression (in this case language) already carries within it an objectivist bias, i.e., that implicit assumption that “is true” or “is false” comprise properties of statements. Thus, if I attempt to describe “Being” as something “outside of language” I do so from within language, of course—or, even more embeddedly, from “within expressive consciousness”. Thus, to ask you to imagine what the universe looks like in the absence of anyone to look at it, I have set a kind of self-deluding trap; nonetheless, “Non-existence” consists precisely of that—the universe (the multiverse, reality in its fullest extension) without anyone to look at it. By contrast “Being” consists of that hypothetical reality we imagine that “exists” when no reflecting consciousness is hanging around to reflect upon it. Existence, then, inheres from precisely such reflection. Prior to “self-reflecting consciousness” gazing upon “non-existence” (or “the world”), nothing had “Being”.

Thus, clearly, Existence precedes Being—or to put it in simplistic terms: “I” have to exist in order for “the world” to have Being. Moreover: “I came into Existence out of non-existence, and only afterward had Being” (as I reflected upon that condition). These things often seem counterintuitive, because (of course) the standard objectivist bias finds it wholly commonsensical (though also wholly unprovable) that something must exist prior to my ability to perceive it. On the one hand, yes: because that necessary existence (in order for me to perceive it) arises as my projection upon it. I confer existence to it. How? As an act of Will, of course, but also as a trace of my inheritance of Chaos; I mean, the conferral of “existence” (as a property something possesses) originates in Chaos as a capacity.

However, it remains, at the moment, still premature to claim in these terms that Chaos “wills” anything. That remains to be seen or not seen. For us, we confer “existence” upon other things and then subsequently, or in some other way, “bring into existence” (so to speak) that thing. How we do this, what hair needs splitting here, remains for future discussion. For now, I wish only to make clear that the “conferral of existence” (more precisely: the conferral of the property of existence) belies to us its origins as a capacity of Chaos, whether Chaos in fact “wills” or not.

By contrast, the Artist most assuredly “wills” (to whatever degree of moral complicity we wish to assign as well). And I propose that the Artist specifically willed (when he “invented physics”) the distinction between Existence and Being.

Spiral galaxies fling out their energy into the Emptiness even as they collapse on themselves: thus my exposition here as well. But the centremost problem arises because I must necessarily resort to expressive language—more precisely, I enjoy the challenge of the attempt, even as it frustrates as well. I do not insist on some absolute, perfectly defensible exposition of the distinction here between Existence and Being; even these terms as verbal symbols must dissolve simply for insisting on impermeable boundaries (within the existence). What, for instance, do we make of “the existence of beings” and the “being of existence” &c. By the very distinction itself (of Existence and Being), we suddenly have the category “the existence of Beings”—simply to make the distinction called into existence (or being) the presence of Others.

Messy. Yes. But let us see where it goes.

I realise, of course, the Artist represents in no physical or historical sense anything like a “First Being”. We do not have here Brahman or Chaos, neither enjoying nor not enjoying neither existence nor non-existence, who then in ways well beyond our comprehension called forth something Other. If we imagine reality in all of its mindboggling extension through all of its states of nonexistence, full of insentient matter, sentient beings, sapient beings, and transcendental super-sapiences, and the like, there remains nonetheless at least one sense in which we may say that the Artist represents a kind of “First Being”.

Imagine that first Being (and I do here mean “Being” in the sense I marked out above) who finally or from the very beginning gazed upon Nonexistence and called forth (by accident or intentionally or by some other incomprehensible or comprehensible means) Existence. That “First Being” (first, here, in simply a historical or numerical sense, not at all necessarily the “first” thing on the scene) need not yet have therefore become the “First Existence” as well. In fact, it seems unlikely; why or how would it?

Such a “First Being” would convey Existence (to Other Beings, already busily about their business or not), but this does not guarantee or even necessarily argue that an awareness of being gazed upon back has just occurred or even could occur. Rather, the Being who has just been conferred Existence could look back upon another Existence, and thus begin to interact with it as such, perhaps to the delight and perplexity of the First Being.

To put the matter in an unfortunate and misleading way: the First Being would lack self-consciousness. Thus, Unconsciousness “invents” (self-)consciousness in Others. And all of the rest follows, such that eventually one of these Other consciousnesses, made now to exist, would formalise that experience in “time and space”. Hence the Artist.

However, while this may helpfully paint a picture, it elides too much of what we know about history prior to the Artist. Before I hazard anything further, though, we must admit—we cannot deny—that at this point everything we know bears traces of the condition the Artist imposed upon us. Even to speak of “before and after the Artist” presupposes the “Time” he invented, &c. In this sense, the Artist represents a kind of First Being—he stuck a stake in Reality and thus declared “here” and “now” and thus also “before” and “after” and “there”. My whole exposition remains coloured by this, of course, but even more profoundly, even the categories of my thoughts remain determined by these early declarations by the artist. In this sense, it remains somewhat fair to say he “invented thought”—more precisely, he invented the “language” not only in which we “think” but also “communicate”.

The temptation persists to try to hypothesize (from within the standpoint of time/space-determined consciousness) what existed (or had Being) prior to that determination. But what seems clear at this point—taking us back to the helplessness of Sade in the face of Nature—we can only recognize the falseness of trying to bootstrap ourselves out of the very problem that so agonisingly preoccupies our younger luminaries these days.

Having reached a kind of dead end, then, requires we should switch topics.

 


[1] My aversion to the use of the word “nature” borders on reasonable, but here needn’t occur a variation on the origins of my aversion. What I would note, rather: I would much sooner have written “Therefore, we must come to terms with the fact—ourselves each being omniscient—that the errors of omniscience must lie not in ourselves but rather in the qualities (or perhaps the quiddity) of omniscience itself”—but had I done so, not only would the sense of the claim have become unfamiliar (largely due to the word “quiddity”) but also because a certain kind of intellectual “work” or “symbolism” gets carried by the word “nature” that fails to come across with the word “qualities”. This suggests that the word “nature” (rhetorically speaking) performs a sleight-of-hand—perhaps even a bait-and-switch—that, I suspect, lies at the root of how sapient consciousness in particular get deceived about the most fundamental things. Perhaps later in these notes I will return to this.

[2] Sade’s assertion that Nature embodies destruction per se need not be taken in a one-sided way. Against the “kindness” of Nature, Sade dwelt on the (typically) suppressed destructive aspect of Nature. But more than this, Sade’s emphasis on destruction is in service of human freedom. Insofar as our human acts may align with what claims “the good” (in Nature), then to “choose” “the good” involves the quality of compulsion unless we can equally willingly choose “the evil”. (Obviously, any compulsive choice of evil similarly vitiates freedom.) In the face of this, we needn’t necessarily act according to “the evil”, but at a minimum we must be willing to choose it. However, to perpetually choose good, while telling oneself that evil offered truly a viable choice ultimately becomes not self-convincing. On top of this, however, in a biblical context where Good is construed in absolute terms—the situation in which Sade found himself—then it becomes necessary to choose evil as an act of freedom, as the much earlier human poet (in the same general timeline) Milton seems to have dimly grasped himself in his Paradise Lost, despite his project’s intention to insist otherwise. So the notion that Nature gets conceived in a Manichean way by Sade seems untenable; Nature does not embody simply the inverse of the biblical lie about the goodness of the deity. Thus, crimes against Nature (like sodomy) and crimes against the State play similar roles in Sade, as gestures that refuse the absolutist moral imperative’s insistence that the Good represents the only viable choice. (Freewill demands we have choice, but it does not insist necessarily in the choices being viable ones. If I offer you a steak on one plate and faeces on another and say “choose” it becomes clear how freewill requires viable choices.)

[3] As the above suggests, Sade’s project failed (even as he liberated himself from God and Man, prior to his project against Nature). In reductive psychological terms—e.g., the kind promulgated for instance by Freud—this would be a liberation from sibling, father, and mother, respectively; in less imaginatively reductive terms—e.g., the kind promulgated by Jung—liberation proceeds from the Other, the Trinity, the Mother, or Archetypes most generally, &c.

[4] By “man” of course they mean not only generally “men” but mortal humans. And the experiential differences between the Mortal, the Inviolable, and the Infinite (or Eternal) do, of course, introduce local qualitative differences that make mortal expatiations on the experience of existence often unfortunately irrelevant. Still I ask you bear with me—for what even mortals obtain, as an inheritance of Chaos I would say, involves exactly the same kind of dilemma (however different in degree) that all beings (I will offer without trying to prove it at the moment) experience when they feel the pressure of “necessity” or “Nature” or “existence” upon them. Evidence for this we may find precisely in the current vogue for non-determination expressed by some of the younger luminaries now worrying about the matter.

[5] If we use “when” and “becomes” (rather than “if” and “then”), this makes clearer the oscillating true/false mechanism at work of this paradox

[6] The story goes that Bertrand Russell became aware of Varela’s work and thanked him for doing away with the necessity Russell had resorted to years prior, since he had never liked it as a solution.

[7] Saying this obviously leaves dangling any number of threads, but they cannot be pursued here in detail.

I compose these remarks to fit the mind of the student for whom I intend them. For those more or less advanced, there may seem much that digresses or states things too succinctly. I believe one may still find value in reading this, even for those not the student in question. In those places where things seem too much elaborated, I apologise that my student’s frame of mind overtaxes yours. And where things move too quickly, I can only suggest immersing yourself in the more elemental or basic texts that address the matters at hand.

Also, as a matter of principle, I use past and present conjugations of the verb “to be” under protest. Please imagine every occurrence in quotation marks; typographical preciousness prevents me from indulging this visually.

Introduction

No system, however imperfect, contains errors.

Therefore, we must come to terms with the fact—ourselves each being omniscient—that the errors of omniscience must lie not in ourselves but instead in the nature[1] of omniscience.

However, given that adding manpower to a late project makes it later, we may understand then not only:

  • that the reproduction of the world—understood in its broadest and narrowest senses—puts off the end of the world, but also
  • that the elaboration of a trinary (or greater) logic can only paper over, sometimes very cleverly or intriguingly, the abyss that binary logic (or dichotomous thinking generally) opens up.

Let us take some steps to move beyond this.

Inching Beyond Binaries

Saying too much is usually too much. Consequently, to assert a distinction brings with it a quaternity (or double-binary) dichotomy.

Consider the distinction of “north” (imagined, if only for the time being, on a two-dimensional plane). Immediately, this implies—whether one chooses to acknowledge its existence—the direction also of “south” not as the “opposite” of north, but rather a declining value or contrary of north along a continuum, in the same way that “darkness” is not the “opposite” of light, but rather a continuum of the intensity of light that runs from infinite (or absolute) to zero. Imaginatively speaking—for the moment—any notion of “darkness” as a genuine “opposite” of light appears rather as its own continuum (from absolute or infinite darkness to zero, whatever that might “look” like), so we may imagine any sort of visual symbolization or configuration of this case in point as crossing XY-axes. In the same way, we may immediately understand any north-south continuum as axially crossed by an east-west continuum as well.

These examples—the distinctions of “north” or “light”—show how an assertion of a distinction generates inevitably—whether we acknowledge it or not—a quaternity (or double-binary) system of distinctions. Eventually we will see that the articulation of any distinction similarly generates a quaternity.

Does this type of analysis bear scrutiny in the presence of or with respect to objects? That is, does an object, let us say a “dagger” (as an asserted distinction), affect this four-fold consequence as well? I will defer that question for a moment for a simpler one, since for any distinct object (as a distinction), the obvious “opposite” then is “non-distinction”.

Such non-distinction would seem to denote Chaos itself.

To clarify. The distinction proposed by “north” posits (in the first place) what I would call, for convenience, its polar opposite, i.e., “south”. The language or metaphors of this example will begin to degrade in suggestive ways in the following. Nonetheless, we may at least imagine that “dagger” may have an analogy to “north” in some sense of “intensity”. That is, the value or data point that “north” marks may be said to point to an “intensity” of north, (e.g., only barely north or extremely far north, &c). What I will call the “polar opposite” of this “northness” is of course simply “southness” which denotes in a similar way a kind of “intensity” (e.g., barely to the south or at the uttermost extremity of south, &c). Thus, the qualitative aspect of a “dagger” might similarly be either in the direction of an uttermost example of daggerness, i.e., the very dagger itself (perhaps an archetypal one) or it might, in its polar opposite direction a lack all daggerness entirely, being much more like a cream puff (for example).

By this thought-experiment, we may see that the assertion of the distinction of an object (a dagger) posits a certain modicum of (a kind of) objectness, as distinct from everything else in the reality that it is not. (Let us leave aside for the moment the obvious point that daggers share in common the quiddity of daggers, although if this is an “objection” it serves more as a clarification. Whether I go “north” from point A or point B, indeed, I have increased the variable “northness” by that much.)

However—or rather, additionally—just as the north-south polar opposite implies an east-west continuum as well, and just as a light/not-light polar opposite implies a darkness/not-darkness polar continuum as well, this polar opposite of object/not-object (or object and world) must imply some axially “crossing” other continuum as well. I have mentioned it already. For just as light/not-light meets its “more profound” contradiction in the axially crossing continuum of darkness—or more exactly, darkness/not-darkness—then so too does the continuum of object/not-object (or object and world) meet its “more profound” contradiction in the axially crossing continuum of non-distinction itself, or Chaos.

A necessary digression. I have resorted to two examples to gird my exposition (i.e., the quaternities “brought out” by “north” and “light”) and I have liberally switched from one to the other in order to make various points. I suggest that this switching is telling; that is, why do both examples not equally serve to make different points? This difference resides in the history of the use of these distinctions or, to put it different, in their connotations.

The sense in which “south” is “the opposite of north” is different, that is, from the sense in which “darkness” is “the opposite of light”. With light, unless there is already an ambient “darkness” then to reduce the “value” of light from infinite toward zero would result not in “darkness” but only an absence of light, whatever that might (or might not) look like. While in the case of north and south, rather by definition if one “decreases the value of north” then the “value of south increases” or at least it seems patently the case. This is not a difficulty for my analysis, but only an acknowledgment. To decrease the “daggerness” of a dagger (like the north-south case) does point to some kind of “conversion” of whatever quiddity adheres to the dagger that makes it a dagger and “imparts” to it (if only by a kind of analytical default) some other quiddity, i.e., it “shatters” the dagger (lowering its value of daggerness) or “converts” it (increases its value) as “shards”—or, if the process continues even more intensely—it “disintegrates” into its “components atoms” or “energy”.

But not to Chaos. To “convert” the dagger to Chaos does not involve “reducing its daggerness” but, rather, introducing Chaos itself. Intellectually, or imaginatively if you will, this is more like “adding” darkness to light. I do not claim, by saying so, that some existent material Darkness merely or simply or even additively “reduces” some existent material of Light—the example is metaphorical but directed toward pointing to how even the assertion of a distinction even of an object brings with it this four-fold (quaternity) distinction, automatically.

Underlying this, then, the assertion of an object resembles how we typically think of the north-south polar opposite; the numerical value or “intensity” of an object (its “northness”) exists in distinction to its polar opposite, the world (reality, as “southness”). In contrast to this object/not-object (or object/world, north-south continuum), then, the “east-west” analogy is non-distinction itself, or Chaos. And it must be said immediately that Chaos, itself as the non-distinction of non-distinction, does not “properly” (so to speak) describe a continuum. Or, more precisely, if one distinguishes object/world as a continuum, then where non-distinction is concerned, the continuum is Chaos/Chaos.

Switching focus momentarily: if, at least in a kind of principle, the character of the quaternity that the distinction of “north” automatically brings with it has some merit, then we may ask what “purpose” or consequence arises from the axially crossing continuum.

If one decides imaginatively to describe “everything” in terms of “love” or “fear” (here, one might stipulate the “analogy” of “north” as either “love” or “fear”—both provide the same kind of starting point), then the quaternity that results is: (1) love, (2) fear, (3) fear of love, (4) love of fear. To belabour this, consider the same point with “north”, i.e., the quaternity that results is: (1) north (2) south, (3) north of south, (4) south of north.

Thus, while the love/fear example seems to have a greater power of illumination, i.e., it may seem more clever, more explanatorily useful, or simply more provocative than the north/south case, this arises more from the fact that north/south uses a polar opposite continuum while love/fear proposes something more like the light/dark continuum. In other words, it’s a semantic mess.

The quaternity of light/dark runs: (1) light, (2) darkness, (3) the light of darkness, (4) the darkness of light. The point here is to point to the four-fold mechanism of binaries at work rather than to get into an (interesting) dispute about the entailments or consequences or meanings of that mechanism. And besides, even though “north of south” and “south of north” may not seem particularly useful or profound distinctions, they nevertheless are a consequence of asserting the distinction of “north” in the first place. Comparitve uselessness is no argument against absolute fact of existence.

I use the distinctions raised by “north” in fact precisely because they seem merely formulaic or mechanical. If “northness” points to an “intensity” (of degree) of northness, then we may ask what does it mean to vary the co-variable of “east-west”. In terms of “mere geography,” we blandly say things like, “Oh, it’s in the northwest”—the observation is so banal or automatic it hardly seems worth making—but what does “adding” “westness” to “northness” “really” “mean”?[2]

And so, the “variable” marked by the distinction itself, along with its polar opposite, would appear to have an orienting priority when people use it. And for that reason, to distinguish between the “intensity” of this focused upon, or orienting variable along with the extension of the not-focused upon, or not-orienting variable, i.e., its extensity, seems worth keeping in mind.

To propose a distinction then automatically generates a quaternity, i.e., of intensities of polar opposites and extensities of non-distinct opposites.

Of course, east-west may seem less of an “opposite” than simply something “Other” (relative to north-south). A circumstance like light/not-light as the “opposite” of dark/not-dark may have a more “logically defensible” feel of opposition to it. However this may be, the illustration points to the character of the (operation of) the distinction more than whatever granular specifics adhere to the example itself.

The issues seems mostly to hinge on how “necessary” east-west is vis-à-vis north-south. Presumably, one could go on “living” strictly on the “line” of the north-south continuum and never “feel a need” to indulge in any extensities. The question becomes not whether such east-west extensities “really exist” (because they assuredly do, once someone “looks” at them), but whether anyone “interacting” with the north-south continuum does so through a lens that includes the east-west continuum.

Or, to repeat, for the sake of broader, if less clear understanding:

  • The question becomes not whether such darkness/not-darkness extensities “really exist” (because they assuredly do, once someone “looks” at them), but whether anyone “interacting” with the light/not-light continuum does so through a lens that includes the darkness/not-darkness continuum.
  • The question becomes not whether such “fear” extensities “really exist” (because they assuredly do, once someone “looks” at them), but whether anyone “interacting” with the “love” continuum does so through a lens that includes the “fear” continuum.

At the risk of invoking a word lately very much in vogue and controversial, we may say the questions above ask at root what necessity inheres to any axial crossing, i.e., must we always or for some inescapable reason cross north-south with east-west; must “light” (one might say “radiance”) be crossed by “darkness”.

If we would answer “yes” then we must also answer “why”. But for now, let us say “no”.

Experimentally, we might make an axial crossing of “love” and “loyalty” for instance (placing “love” first just for convenience), with the resulting quaternity: (1) love, (2) loyalty, (3) the loyalty of love, and (4) the love of loyalty.

I have no desire to bog down in details, and I confess freely I selected the above example for what it permits me to say (and will). But before I indulge my idiosyncrasies, I would first point out simply the character or arrangement that one might constellate by (arbitrarily or with deliberate forethought) constructing an axial crossing. I say “axial crossing” rather than “quaternity” because here the two continua that cross are selected beforehand. In the case of a quaternity, the initial selection of the focussed upon factor appears to “bring with it” “automatically” that which crosses it, i.e., to say “north” seems to implicitly bring with it not just “south” but also east-west. In fact, this assumption is exactly the one being interrogated at the moment. However this works out, it would suggest that a quaternity may be (simply) understood as an “axial crossing” where the two continua that meet are necessarily related to one another.

What I would say specifically about the axial crossing of “love” and “loyalty” is personal but it still points to the intellectual or analytical utility of thinking in these terms. For this axial crossing proposes, in its four parts, two “areas of thought” regarding “love” and “loyalty” that might not otherwise be distinguished, i.e., the love of loyalty and the loyalty of love.

By this, I do not mean that no one ever thinks about these things. As in the case of the axial crossing of “love” and “fear”, any analytical desire to parse all phenomena into one or the other of the dichotomous categories (i.e., everything may be understood in terms of attraction, love, or repulsion, fear), then the axial crossing (or constellation) thus formed gives lie to that desire for binarism, because it exposes two more categories, the fear of love and the love of fear, that are not openly or readily available (or obvious) to the one doing the analysis. That is, the analyst who seeks to understand the behaviour of someone who rejects all advances of “love” might label such a person as suffering from “fear” when in fact it is the person’s “love of fear” that keeps them forever making “enemies” of would-be suitors so that the “threat” of courtship whets their whistle and fills their fantasies with unspeakably exquisite delights. Of course, I might also say that another person’s “fear of love” makes them reject any would-be suitors advances, but those who like to erase distinctions will pretend that this “really is” just a case of “fear” rather than a third category (“fear of love”).

At the risk of bogging down in the specifics of this example, when one has been trapped (or placed culturally) in a world that wants only to recognize a binary, then “fear of love” represents not a fear of those behaviours one associates with love (a fear of closeness, nurturing, or whatever else is claimed for the stuff) but a fear of the condition of the opposite binary. In other words, there is a difference between love (without quotation marks, so to speak) and “love” understood within the terms of a binary love/fear. It is a fine hair to split, I acknowledge, but in the analytical attempt to “slot” everything (and everyone) into the either/or of the proposed binary, the space for opposition to that very analytical attempt is “encoded” (if you will) in the contrary categories, the fear of love and love of fear.

Let me emphasize again. Almost no one, if you back them into a corner, will seriously assert that a binary like love/fear can “really” or adequately account for the variegated phenomena of existence; hence, the intellectually sloppy and lazy platitude, “there’s no black and white, but only shades of grey.” What is especially false about this platitude is its claim to the validity of its poles (black and white) in the first place—having stipulated, on whatever grounds, that “black” and “white” are valid categories (according to whatever magical thinking is in vogue), the patent inadequacy of that dichotomy then gets “analytically” explained away by claiming that nothing is absolute. This is all quite fantastically disingenuous, and to be grotesque about it, if I offer you on one hand faeces and on the other hand vomit, then I most assuredly will not arrive at a palatable position by smashing those two disgusting substances together into a mash and offering them to you as a “shade of grey”.

Nonetheless, this sort of disingenuousness is rampant, and under the aegis of “shades of grey” we will encounter, empirically and factually, the variegated phenomenon of existence, but shoehorned in Procrustean fashion into one of the end-point absolutes of the continuum, hwoever placed (disingenuously) in scare-quotes. And meanwhile, those phenomena that perversely—and it will seem perverse—refuse or (more typically) actually loudly protest this attempt at analytical pigeon-holing will tend to show up, most clearly, precisely in the unacknowledged categories that the end-point absolutes of the continuum propose. Those who love fear will appear to the love/fear advocate as masochists, for instance, and those who fear love will appear as neurotics.

This might all seem oversimplified, to the extent that few people religiously adhere to a single axis, like love/fear, but all of these points remain valid even if you add more continua. Thus, when one considers north-south (and its “hidden” categories of “north of south” and “south of north”) as well as east-west (and its “hidden categories” of “east of west” and “west of east”), then we see that four nodes (north south east west) have resulted actually in eight categories, and conventionally speaking this means simply incorporating northwest, northeast, southwest and southeast into the picture. Or if we axially crossed love/fear and love/loyalty (the duplication here is intentional) then we would have the main items (love fear love loyalty) but also the “interstitial” items (fear of love, love of fear, loyalty of love, and love of loyalty).

All of this, semantically controversial or problematic as it might be, simply points to the four-fold mechanism at work in seeming binaries.

Nonetheless, just as the analyst slanders those as masochistic or neurotic who (1) resist the love/fear attempt at binarism and thus (2) inhabit the zones of love of fear or fear of love, the same point points to the issues at work with love/loyalty, that is (and here I become merely personal and controversial, but it does nevertheless exhibit a value-system), those who have a “love of loyalty” treat “loyalty” iconically; that is, they make an absolute, or at least, preeminent value out of it. This is, in fact, different than the “real” behaviour of “loyalty” which has a whole, variegated and indeterminable in advance set of behaviours, &c., &c., but I’d sooner dwell no further on this for the sake of brevity. I will note, however, the cruelty of the loyalty of love. For in that moment, when I and your lover stand before you, as conspirators of some sort against your person, out of the loyalty of love, you will not afford me an equal affection, I will not receive similar or fair consideration. In short, you will treat me differently. It may be that I get off more lightly. You might decapitate me without a moment’s thought, and torture forever your lover (or your student or your child) for the utterly incomprehensible wound they have inflicted on you for violating the principle of loyalty. And the fact that I count myself fortunate to have escaped such an unpleasant fate does not change, in the slightest, the fact that I was treated differently by you. For in that ultimate moment of judgment on your part, I ceased to be as much as someone else. I was denigrated, belittled (quite literally). I was made to exist less fully than this other being that you addressed out of a “loyalty of love”. At that moment, your selfish or helpless tunnel-vision made you into a lesser being and you acted in a smaller-minded way; you denied my full, existential character. You annihilated me, and take such little account of me that you don’t even see your offense against me. The extremity of my language here underscores the extremity of your offense.

So we may see, plainly enough, that nothing in principle constrains an axial crossing (a constellation). We might make an analytical axis out of any two things (e.g., “living/undead” and “ultraviolet/infrared”) and something useful or not might come out of such an axial crossing (constellation). Similarly, the example of north/south and east/west obviously leaves open the possibility of up/down as well, but nothing proposed mechanistically so far contradicts this; it only makes it more complicated. It seems to become helpful at this point to resort to a mathematically formulism, such as when we describe a point (in three dimensional space relative to a centre) in a form such as (13,0,6) or (-5,11,0), and so forth.

However, the principal danger and error of this formulism involves (1) its reification of the terms formulized—technically this can’t be an objection, because formulism proceeds exactly by such reification—but more seriously (2) that it no longer can reflect, capture, or express the “hidden categories” that any binary proposes. If we pretend, for instance, that the north-south continuum may have values in a range from -∞ to ∞, e.g., (13) or (0) or (-11), where in this range do we express the distinct category (the intensity of the category) of “north of south” or “south of north”. We might express this mathematically of course, i.e., >13, but it involves the introduction of an entirely separate notation. And the “ease” of the numerical example here hides the greater difficulty in a case like love/fear. If one’s love might be expressed in the range 0 ≥ x ≥ ∞, i.e., (96), how would “love of fear” or “fear of love” be similarly made formulaic or formulised?

This must seem merely a twitting or a joke, and indeed, the desire to make formulaic these sorts of things largely deserves to be laughed off the plane of reality. It points to a fundamental conceptual inadequacy that this transformation into mathematical formulism proposes, whatever the utility of such a move in domains where it retains some utility of application, i.e., in those material or physical applications often favoured by limited humanoid races where the range of desired outcome is so narrow as to seem almost impossibly petty (e.g., splitting wood, splitting atoms, baking a cake, or compounding some sort of “universal acid”).

But what then has been claimed so far? We see that whether we look at one continuum, two continua, or more, the basic mechanism of the argument does not change. All that has been disclosed by looking at axial crossings (constellations) might have been said, if more obscurely, by looking at one continuum—namely, that the assertion of a binary involves a quaternity; we see this now more explicitly. Hence, to distinguish “north” proposes not only “south” but also “north of south” and “south of north”. In the case where we place the “centre” “between” north and south, then the terms “north” and “south” take on a relative meaning between themselves, but we might just as well have said north/un-north.

Here is the difference. If you imagine a line, with an arrow at both ends, and a dot in the centre, then we see the sense of north relative to south. If, in contrast, you imagine a dot out of which emerges one line (with an arrow on the end), then the very existence of “south” seems to have disappeared; here “un-north” remains as a sort of insisted upon reality that is being ignored or overlooked or denied by the dot-line insistence of “north”.

This disregard mirrors the annihilation at work in the “loyalty of love” example. And simply points again to the phrase I have used more than once: that an assertion of a binary typically fails to acknowledge various realities outside of the analytical categories it insists upon. And this insistence seems key, at least with respect to the Will and thus (ultimately) to Chaos.

Similarly, inasmuch as adding manpower to a late project makes it later, a proliferation of further dimensions to this analysis, i.e., moving from an analysis of one continuum to some greater number, only makes us later, only complicates the picture in self-conscious ways. It discloses the terms of the analysis more clearly—for which we may thank self-consciousness—and thus this proves, as stated at the outside, that saying too much is usually too much: hence, fini.

Nonetheless, the motivation for all of this should be made clear. In any axial crossing (constellation) one might propose, in any bare assertion one might make that results in a quaternity, in both cases the desire of the one making the assertion plays a determinative role; that is, without an asserter, the assertion does not get made. This is so obvious it will be readily overlooked or bypassed, but it is true whether I assert a one-dimensional, two-dimensional, or more-dimensional distinction. And along with this desire (as the harnesser of my Will) is the act of making a distinction itself. Why can we do this operation? It must be because distinction-making already inheres as one of our capacities; we have inherited it “from somewhere”.

And of course, again at the most obvious level, our desiring itself (that we desire this and not that, at least at this moment) points again to an already existing distinction (or capacity on our part to make distinctions). Again, this may seem painfully obvious but it should not be. Either this capacity to make distinctions inheres in our very process of existence or it emerges as an epiphenomenon of that process. These will seem equally likely hypotheses so long as nothing exists to make one or the other more valid, but such a thing does indeed exist: namely, Chaos.

Thus, the more defensible hypothesis at this point suggests that we—and by we I mean at least all sapient beings—possess the capacity to make distinctions as a property, which we inherit from our source, namely Chaos. To make distinctions, therefore, seems inherent to Chaos as well. To say this does not yet explain why or how and in fact, considered deeply enough, it will seem contradictory that unchanging change should inherently (even against its own “nature” so to speak) make distinctions. Yet, logically that is the more defensible hypothesis for now.

This, however, seems less startling to me than the other logical entailment of this recognition. If I make a distinction (say between north and south) while my physical being remains embedded within the reality where north and south now exist, mentally I must stand at a point “outside” of “north” and “south” even to see it. This “third” as it is now sometimes called in the Neither necessarily stands “outside” (forgive the metaphor) of whatever it distinguishes. If we imagine a distinction between love and fear, as love/fear, then we do so by standing on the /, on the line.

Again, nothing controversial arises from this, except perhaps for some uncomfortable questions about how we “bootstrap” ourselves in such a situation. We may leave that for later. The more most obvious implication to be drawn: for a distinction to be visible requires an observer who is “outside” of that distinction.

So that, if Chaos makes distinctions, and it seems to do so, then there must be some observer “outside” of those distinctions capable of it. It may be that Chaos itself somehow performs this (miraculous) simultaneously inside/outside manoeuvre Itself. Otherwise, this realization permits us to infer the existence of something “outside of Chaos” that observes Its distinctions.

Endnotes

[1] My aversion to the use of the word “nature” borders on reasonable, but here needn’t occur a variation on the origins of my aversion. What I would note, rather: I would much sooner have written “Therefore, we must come to terms with the fact—ourselves each being omniscient—that the errors of omniscience must lie not in ourselves but rather in the qualities (or perhaps the quiddity) of omniscience itself”—but had I done so, not only would the sense of the claim have become unfamiliar (largely due to the word “quiddity”) but also because a certain kind of intellectual “work” or “symbolism” gets carried by the word “nature” that fails to come across with the word “qualities”. This suggests that the word “nature” (rhetorically speaking) performs a sleight-of-hand—perhaps even a bait-and-switch—that, I suspect, lies at the root of how sapient consciousness in particular get deceived about the most fundamental things. Perhaps later in these notes I will return to this.

[2] I propose simply to describe this as an “extensity” (as opposed to the “intensity” of the northness). And most assuredly, were one to “rotate the whole of this” 90 degrees, so that we “start” with the distinction of “west” (rather than north), then one would speak of “intensities” of “westness” and “extensities” of northness or southness, &c. It also has to be said that any extensity might be zero, so that one has “pure north” (or “pure south”), which is the same as saying one doesn’t stray off the axis (continuum) in question. Similarly, one might say that “extensity” is redundant, because what it points to involves merely the degree of intensity of eastness or westness “added”. (One could reverse this point and say that the “intensity” of “northness” is really actually an extensity of northness as well.) The salient objection to collapsing the distinction here between intensity and extensity may be pointed at in the fact that we have developed the cultural habit of saying “northwest” or “southeast” and not “eastsouth” and “westnorth”. By this, I do not mean that culture imposes reality; I am pointing to a (doubtless largely unconscious) cultural tradition that “felt” or “inferred” or “insisted” that “northwest” and “southwest” make some kind of sense more than “eastsouth” or “westnorth”. I would say simply that this linguistic habit originates in having made the distinction in the first place; that because we have “focussed” on “north” (in the first place), it has (or is assigned) a priority of place, so to speak, that then orients the quaternity. I imply nothing necessary about this. Instead what emerges as interesting here: the terms “southwest” and “southeast” have a cultural cache that “eastsouth” and “westsouth” do not. So we mark intensities of distinctions with language, but not extensities.

Summary (the TLDR Version)

Distinguish plausible threats from possible threats.

Framing/Background for Replies

If you’ve read this section previously, you can skip it.

Two years ago in 2012, I set myself the task to read at least ten pages per day; last year, I did so. Continuing from then, I now have the task to read fifteen pages per day,[1] and I’ve added that I will write a book reaction (or reply) for each one that I finish (or give up on, if I stop). I plan also to devise a way to randomly select books to read (given certain constraints) from the public library; this, to avoid the tendency only to read books that pique my already existing interests.

These replies will not be Amazon-type reviews, with synopses, background research done on the author or the book itself, unless that strikes me as necessary or if the book inspired me to do so when I read it. Rather, these replies amount to assessments of the ways I found the book helpful somehow. More precisely—and this describes what I mean by a reply, as opposed to a reaction (review) or a response—I try to focus in these pieces on what I could not have said (or would not have known what to say) except that the intersection of this text and my consciousness brought it about.

Consequently, I will sometimes say stupid stuff, poorly informed stuff, &c. Some in the world expect everyone to possess omniscience and won’t bother to engage in a human dialogue toward divining how to make the world a better place. To the extent that each reply I offer provides a I found this helpful in this book, then it becomes up to us (you, me, us) to correct, refine, trash and start over, or do something else we see as potentially helpful as part of attempting to make our world a better place. If you won’t bother to take up your end of that bargain, that signals of course part of the problem that needs a solution.

A Reply To: Various (1994–2014) Notes on Plays About Gun Violence [part 3 of 3]

Lately, I have had the opportunity to read 40+ plays, ranging from 4 pages to 137 pages, that people sent in response to a call about gun violence. The results seem like a Rorschach test, because it’s intriguing and curious to see what people think fits that category. These offer some notes after reading the range of offerings; you can find parts 1 & 2 here and here.

The most glaring lapse in the many plays submitted involves little to no cognizance of the racialised differences in gun violence. Roughly 61% of gun deaths involve suicide (80% of those White). As such, to say “no” to gun control means saying “yes” to people of colour being (literally) murdered, whether by other people of colour or at the guns of police. And, in this context, we should remember that when you make a per capita adjustment for gun deaths in the United States,[2] police remain 35 times more likely to murder someone with a gun than your average citizen. This statistic echoes the fact that vastly more citizens in nation-states around the world were slaughtered by their governments or their citizens compared to “foreign aggressors”.

Stupid people—or vile people, if you prefer—will want to pounce on this black-on-black crime stat out of their enthusiasm for ignorance. The gesture seems, to me, evidence of a desire to find any excuse to justify their race animus rather than any serious attempt to discuss the matter. Anyone with some decency about them at the very least understands that the circumstances of poverty help to drive up the occurrence of crime (and gun violence) amongst the poor, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

One needs to explain how all that heroin got into Black communities in the first place. And to come to an accounting with the deliberateness of that. And with the War on Drugs, that accounts globally for the vastest amount of gun death (principally in all of the Americas, except Canada). One has to come to terms with how communities were turned into ghettos—with discriminatory mortgage lending, for instance, that didn’t permit African Americans (in Detroit) for example to get out into the suburbs. But further beyond this, we could take cognizance of the fact that even the most destroyed urban ghettos still have people there making a living, finding a way to get by legally, to raise families, and so forth. We need to remember that white kids deal drugs more often than black kids.

Shit-fuckers like to repeat the numbers in percentages: that some majority percentage of black kids deal drugs or whatnot, but that only hides the absolute numbers:

But listen up my fellow white Americans: Our children are no better, no more moral, and no more decent than anyone else. Dysfunction is all around us, whether we choose to recognize it or not, and not only in terms of school shootings. For example, according to the Centers for Disease Control’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey, and the Monitoring the Future report from the National Institutes on Drug Abuse, it is our children, and not those of the urban ghetto who are most likely to use drugs. White high school students are seven times more likely than blacks to have used cocaine and heroin, eight times more likely to have smoked crack, and ten times more likely to have used LSD. What’s more, it is white youth between the ages of 12-17 who are more likely to sell drugs: one third more likely than their black counterparts; and it is white youth who are twice as likely to binge drink, and nearly twice as likely as blacks to drive drunk; and white males are twice as likely as black males to bring a weapon to school (from here).

Or even more bluntly (and this independent of socioeconomic status):

Black youth are arrested for drug crimes at a rate ten times higher than that of whites. But new research shows that young African Americans are actually less likely to use drugs and less likely to develop substance use disorders, compared to whites, Native Americans, Hispanics and people of mixed race. … Native American youth fared worst, with 15% having a substance use disorder, compared to 9.2% for people of mixed racial heritage, 9.0% for whites, 7.7% for Hispanics, 5% for African Americans and 3.5% for Asians and Pacific Islanders (from here).

Importantly:

For example, a large proportion of youth with drug problems recover without treatment. While rates of substance use disorders tend to be around 8% in the teen years, these rates dip to <href=”#Tab5.2B”>less than 2% for those over 26; the number of people who’ve gotten better far exceeds that which could have possibly attended treatment or even self-help groups.

Contextualize that with the fact that Black youth get sentenced to prison (might still be there by age 26) compared to White youth who get diverted to treatment. So despite the fact that “it is white youth between the ages of 12-17 who are more likely to sell drugs: one third more likely than their black counterparts,” despite the fact that “White high school students are seven times more likely than blacks to have used cocaine and heroin, eight times more likely to have smoked crack, and ten times more likely to have used LSD” we see amongst incarcerated (adult) drug convictions, “69,500 (29.3%) were non-Hispanic white, 105,600 (44.6%) were non-Hispanic black and 47,800 (20.2%) were Hispanic” (from <href=”#sthash.b4D5n2eP.dpbs”>here). Hence, “A study of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s arrest data for the 1990s reveals that the rise in detention was unrelated to crime rates. That is, detention as a tactic of controlling young offenders has little to nothing to do with the rate of crime or the “threat” that youth pose to the public.”[3]

Notice that “that is”—“the rise in detention was unrelated to crime rates” and yet the conclusion “detention as a tactic of controlling offenders has little to nothing to do with the rate of crime”. Rather, one would think to emphasize the gratuitousness of the arrests; arrests simply targeted black youth, criminal or not.

All of this, and more, makes no meaningful appearance in the play submission. Several, of course, decided to write things related to the Newtown massacre, but none presented while doing so the parallel massacre going on wherever police (or black youth) murder and wound black youths. In 2012, police alone murdered 313 African-Americans—one every 28 hours. And I promise you, black mothers bled for the babies and adults of Newtown, while white mothers go on talking about police doing their job or some sort of “they deserved it”. Well, those babies in Newton shouldn’t have been colouring in those colouring books either—they were asking for it!

Since Sandyhook, a major emphasis has been on keeping guns out of the hands of “crazies”.[4]

The police killings of young black men continue unabated in the United States. On the evening of March 9, 2013 two undercover cops fired 11 rounds of hollow point bullets, killing Kimani Gray, a 16 year old boy in Flatbush, a community in Brooklyn. Kimani was part of a group of youngsters on their way home after a sweet sixteen birthday party.

Witnesses deny the police claim that he had a gun, much less pointed one at them. The cops said they approached Kimani because they saw him “adjust his waistband” in “a suspicious manner.” They also claimed that they identified themselves as police and showed their badges. Witnesses at the scene say that the out-of-uniform police showed no badges, did not identify themselves and arrived in a car that was not a police car. The 2 cops say that they told Kimani not to move and he walked away from the group. The two NYC cops shot Kimani 7 times. The autopsy showed that he was shot 7 times, 4 in the front of his body and 3 times in the back apparently as he was walking away. As Kimani was dying on the street and tried to rise, one of the cops standing over him told him to stay down or that he’d shoot him again (from here).

Looks like we have a couple of grown up Columbiners here, if we’re going to talk about keeping guns out of the hands of “crazies”. And how many soldiers with PTSD get to go back? When 13-year-old Darius Simmons got murdered by his 75-year-old neighbour for moving a garbage can (see here), what kind of “crazy” did that represent. As one commenter remarks, “The legacy of white violence continues to reign terror in the Black community. This coward did not even face the parents, he went to the child (who does that). If you have a problem with the child, you go the parent. My prayers go out to the family of this young man.”

I want to mention in passing, that for all of the supposed “common sense” surrounding violent video games and all of that, studies remain perpetually ambivalent on this point. Tons of people play the games, only a few flip out. But what Columbine, Fort Hood, and perhaps even Sandyhook have in common involves not video games but a fetishizing of the military. Certainly the structure of police departments borrows from the military style (in countless ways) and this, again, points back to an adulation of the military—or, more precisely, an adulation of the myth or discourse of militarism. Most soldiers, despite their lethal training, don’t usually use that lethality for the sake of mayhem.

It might prove more pertinent to examine (violent) video games not as a cause but more as an effect—an effect where the sense of being a “punk” motivates a desire to “show everybody”. The paramilitaristic attitudes of many shooters (to say nothing of the literal militaristicism of police and soldiers) may point to something.

And especially so since that paramilitaristic element seems lacking almost entirely in non-white gun violence. There, when the ethos doesn’t revolve around a desire for self-defense at least as rational as the woman alone at home, we have something more akin to gangsters or the Wild West.

One of the things that seems very true: police seem far more like punks than the people they call punks. Watching videos of police harassment, it becomes frequently impossible to ignore the bully vibe they put off. And by contrast, even when the gangster gives you an “or else”, it seems backed up far less often by any sense of an inferiority complex. Thus, police violence often gives the impression of hiding behind the shield, and then running to Mommy (SID) to have their childish temper tantrum receive the seal of approval.

I don’t mean all police, of course. The structural objections to police remain outside of these remarks. This speaks, rather, to the “kind of person” who shoots a 13-year-old, unarmed boy 11 times, &c. Who should we call a “punk” in that setting? At the same time, the “punk” who becomes a police officer (or soldier), i.e., the person who feels for whatever reason belittled and aims to make up for it under the colour of authority, the one who perhaps abetted that desire in the first place through violent video games, as well as the “typical” kind of shooter, and even the 75-year-old geezer who murdered a 13-year-old boy in cold blood may all have just that in common.

And let’s remember—plenty of this specific kind of chump complex violence gets directed at Black males. I don’t want to elide or lose that point.

And the broader issue that goes with it: what remains at stake in a case like George Zimmerman or Michael Dunn harkens back to the heady days of “gay panic” as a “defense” for LGBT violence; a notion theoretically on the wane at last. Clearly, we need a similar movement to ban “white panic”; a notion still highly in vogue and so implicitly invoked you have to point it out (e.g., here or here).

But what I want to emphasize: whether juries can persuade themselves that the white panic defense seems “reasonable” matters less than the notion that calling any kind of fear “reasonable” already goes off the rails. I detect a vast difference between a woman alone in her home with someone who has broken in compared to a circumstance where someone armed and carrying a notion of being higher on the social hierarchy decides that Trayvon Martin, Kiwane Carrington, Or Darius Simmons provides “reasonable” grounds for fear.

It seems naïve to the point of wilful that police officers (the ones who murdered Kiwane Carrington or Darius Simmons), who have guns, would experience such a degree of threat from a little boy (ages 15 and 13 respectively) that they need to pull a gun. Even if a 13 year old assaulted me, it’d be a while before I got to the point of believing the kid would kill me. That simply bears little relationship to any reality for how “tasseling” goes.

I’d similarly venture that George Zimmerman started some shit he couldn’t find his way out of. He thought he had someone he could boss around like a “bitch”—just like he likes to hit his women—and found out he’d miscalculated. But he still started shit with someone because he thought he could get away with it. So that seems what all three of these cases have, except that the police case remains more alarming because police should have more restraint, and more familiarity, in the face of danger. Imagine if military personnel conducted themselves in the zone of paranoia police inhabit.[5]

I point out all of this because any sort of (idiotic racist) discourse about “justifiable” shooting (in the case of Trayvon Martin, Kiwane Carrington, or Darius Simmons, &c) leverages the public fear in the first place that makes guns seem like a good idea. We know perfectly well that the mind-set that pulled the trigger on Trayvon, Darius, and Kiwane deserves the name “crazy,” but we can’t find a way to negotiate our own degree of (mythological) fear to outright condemn those actions. It seems, if we say “no” to those deaths, then we might “make ourselves vulnerable”—because then we’d have to advocate for gun-control. So, instead because of fear, we allow the “crazies” (like police, military, and paramilitary types like George Zimmerman) to go on slaughtering people, especially black people, and to allow that ethos to “encourage” college shooters, &c.

A distinction: anxiety presents an objectless fear, as opposed to apprehension, which offers a fear with an object. Hence the difference when I stand on the side of the road, anxious that I might get run down by a bus, as opposed to the fear I experience while standing in the road as the bus barrels down on me. Apprehension, in this sense, represents a rational (reasonable) state of mind; anxiety does not.

Anxiety remains difficult to answer. Say to the person standing on the side of the road, anxious about getting run down, “It’s not likely to happen,” the response, “But it might!” can never get fully refuted. At that point, it becomes entirely pertinent to discuss plausibilities rather than possibilities. One cannot deny, when I get in my car to drive somewhere, that I might possibly get killed in an accident, but my many, many years of getting in cars and going places without dying persuades me that this fails to persuade me as a plausible argument.

So, when those two assholes with guns claim to have seen Darius Simmons make a suspicious move toward his waistband—we will ignore for the time being that this most likely represents simply a lie on their part—we can still say that this possibility (one can’t deny the possibility) remains absurdly implausible. I say absurdly because, while someone like George Zimmerman might get counted simply an idiot who has little to no training in any sort of situation like this, police should know better, and deserve automatic firing with no pension if they don’t.

Similarly, while whatever George Zimmerman imagined about Trayvon Martin’s presence in the neighbourhood remains possible (of course), statistics don’t bear out the plausibility of those claims. Most crimes remain intra-racial, not inter-racial—so if you see a black kid in your neighbourhood, he statistically has no criminal intent in mind and also has less statistical likelihood of being one of your neighbourhood’s (drug-dealing, drug-using) criminal element (the white kids). And that, in fact, remains true just about wherever you go—so what seems like a “reasonable” plausibility to you remains more an empty, unfounded, possibility.

Again, anxiety remains hard to address, because it keeps going back to, “But it might be true.” And in cases where life or death seem to hang in the balance, it seems better to err on the side of caution.

False. Once again, this “argument” rests on non-plausibilities. In terms of police deaths per year, greens keepers actually have more dangerous jobs, i.e., more greens keepers die per year than police officers, and most of those officers die (on the job) from accidents. SO when police escalate situations and murder little boys, keep that in mind.

I point to this as an extreme: that even in a circumstance where life and death do seem to hang in the balance, i.e., in the movement when a police offer confronts a person deemed a “suspect” (perhaps because he adjusted his waistband suspiciously), in point of fact, the perceived danger remains an implausible claim. Certainly one might add, two off-duty police officers shouldn’t try to start shit with groups of teenagers in neighbourhoods where they don’t belong. That degree of stupidity starts to smell like deliberate malice aforethought; it smells like hunting.

So, there you stand, on the side of the street—you can amplify the illustration by imagining your loved one stands there instead—and how does one “answer” the anxiety about crossing, “I might get hit by a car.”

By doing it. Precisely because you have driven a car a bazillion times without dying, you totally disregard the fact that auto travel does, in fact, represent the most lethal form of transportation. But that fact has no plausibility to you, &c.

So, clearly, the best way to overcome the anxiousness about crossing the street means to do so, probably with the help of someone. And, in fact, this kind of therapy (known as exposure) represents one of the most effective means for overcoming anxiety and phobia. And no doubt in part because, if you have the idea that a spider will cause the apocalypse, as you encounter spider after spider and the world refuses to end, the anxiety loses its steam. Those who live anxiously in the closet discover something similar as they ease their way out—rather than the world blowing up, rather than being verbally harassed and murdered after the first tiny step out of the closet, one gradually comes to see that the anxiety overstates the case tremendously.

None of this dismisses real cases of violence, of course. And, again, if we want to keep actuality (plausibilities) before us rather than dwelling in possibility-land, the greater proportion of anti-LGBT violence gets directed most of all against trans people of colour; so if you don’t have those markers, or if you don’t get socially perceived as such, then the plausibility of your anxiety about anti-LGBT violence declines. And the most powerful proof of that comes through exposure—being out and about and discovering where the actual fears seem warranted as opposed to where not (i.e., everywhere).

So, unfortunately (white folk), as long as you idiotically think that black person near you wants to rape and murder you, then stay the fuck in your house. The efficacy of exposure suggest, obviously enough, that what you need to do to get over that anxiety involves nothing less than hanging out with Black folk. And that means, in all likelihood, going out of your way to do so—since the danger of whites to blacks stands as (historically) more plausible than the danger of blacks to whites.

You can call it fear, but when we allow ourselves to elide apprehension and anxiety as if interchangeable or synonymous, then we create the ground for more gun violence. We can leave it an academic question whether George Zimmerman or those off-duty police officers or Police Chief Finney and Officer Norbits were really actually scared little punks in the face of a genuine non-danger or if they saw an opportunity for some “payback” to compensate for a monstrous chump complex they carry around, but either way their anxiety or sociopathy cannot and should not serve as any sort of argument for an (inexcusable) use of guns.

What never gets discussed in the context of gun violence involves simply the threat that guns offer—the mere presence of a gun in a room changes things. We have an absurd amount of gun violence in our culture, whether in the forms of tragic homicide, comic suicides, or the bad-luck of accident, whether by self-appointed citizens or duly appointed officers of a law that should know better. All of this is a mess that no other OECD country can boast of, or would want to. But unaddressed in all of that remains: why we have 27 million guns in the US at all. That’s 88.8% of the population, except of course that not even the majority own a gun.

On a much less dramatic scale than George Zimmerman, who after all felt so far-gone that he actually armed himself and went prowling, what “chump complex” lurks behind (1) owning scores of guns—the bourgeois conceit of property ownership notwithstanding—or (2) the secret satisfaction or superiority that comes from pooh-poohing someone like George Zimmerman while certainly remaining willing to murder someone who breaks into your family’s house.

Somewhere between a plausibility of (legitimate) self-defense and an empty anxiousness that spastically sprays bullets like a crazy person, in the cross-hairs of that waffling stand Black people in this country, and that makes your waffling morally reprehensible.

Endnotes

[1] More precisely, I will continue to read my usual ten pages but I will also read five pages per day of Burton’s (1620) Anatomy of Melancholy, a gigantic book that at five pages per day I will finish reading near the end of December 2014. I have wanted to read this book for a while, but various features of it make getting through it a challenge.

[2] In making this calculation, I did not subtract the number of fatal police shootings from the number of total non-suicide, non-accidental gun deaths in the United States, since I could not determine if the total number of such gun deaths already included those fatal police shootings or not.

[3] Citing Sickmund, M. (2007). Juveniles in Corrections. Washington DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

[4] I’ll leave aside the offensive and problematic rise of the use of this term—substitute “retard” if you don’t see why the word represents a problem.

[5] Of course, often they do, and the history of massacres bears testimony to this.

Summary (the TLDR Version)

Guns do kill people.

Framing/Background for Replies

If you’ve read this section previously, you can skip it.

Two years ago in 2012, I set myself the task to read at least ten pages per day; last year, I did so. Continuing from then, I now have the task to read fifteen pages per day,[1] and I’ve added that I will write a book reaction (or reply) for each one that I finish (or give up on, if I stop). I plan also to devise a way to randomly select books to read (given certain constraints) from the public library; this, to avoid the tendency only to read books that pique my already existing interests.

These replies will not be Amazon-type reviews, with synopses, background research done on the author or the book itself, unless that strikes me as necessary or if the book inspired me to do so when I read it. Rather, these replies amount to assessments of the ways I found the book helpful somehow. More precisely—and this describes what I mean by a reply, as opposed to a reaction (review) or a response—I try to focus in these pieces on what I could not have said (or would not have known what to say) except that the intersection of this text and my consciousness brought it about.

Consequently, I will sometimes say stupid stuff, poorly informed stuff, &c. Some in the world expect everyone to possess omniscience and won’t bother to engage in a human dialogue toward divining how to make the world a better place. To the extent that each reply I offer provides a I found this helpful in this book, then it becomes up to us (you, me, us) to correct, refine, trash and start over, or do something else we see as potentially helpful as part of attempting to make our world a better place. If you won’t bother to take up your end of that bargain, that signals of course part of the problem that needs a solution.

A Reply To: Various (1994–2014) Notes on Plays About Gun Violence [part 2 of 3]

Lately, I have had the opportunity to read 40+ plays, ranging from 4 pages to 137 pages, that people sent in response to a call about gun violence. The results seem like a Rorschach test, because it’s intriguing and curious to see what people think fits that category. These offer some notes after reading the range of offerings; you can find part 1 here.

The homily runs “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”—and as Eddie Izzard says, “ Well I think the gun helps. If you just stood there and yelled BANG, I don’t think you’d kill too many people” (from here). The principal difference here—and/or why the NRA slogan fails—hinges on the fact that guns afford the lethal infliction of death by design. One treats poisons circumspectly, because mishandling them can lead to death; one doesn’t say, “poisons don’t kill people, people poison people.” Similarly, one doesn’t French kiss plutonium, and neither will a court rule it a suicide—the toxicity of plutonium occurs in or from the thing itself.

So too with guns. And, in fact, that lethality provides a major claim for them for those circumstances where people want “guarantees”. We hear that guns “are the great equalizer”; or we can note that gun suicides succeed 8500 times more often than other methods. None of this provides a pro or anti- gun stance, but simply notes the disingenuousness of pretending that guns “are innocent”.

Most of what might warrant designation as plausible grounds for guns with respect to self-defence (i.e., the woman at home alone) require anxiety, a sense of potential danger; so it becomes curious that this anxiety about potential danger gets “solved” by the introduction of a very real danger into one’s home. A gun in the house makes it 43 times more likely that accidental gun violence will occur, rather than the intended use (self-defence). Of course, the incidence of suicide increases vastly as well, particularly since guns provide such lethally effective suicide attempts.

Moreover, the fact of accidental deaths by guns places culpability on guns. One might want to object this results from improper handling but by definition one cannot avoid an accident; an avoidable accident we fail to avoid points to a piece of negligence, not accident. And multiple lethal accidents not related to guns happen every year; that’s an argument for greater care, not a rational for dismissing accidental gun deaths. Or, alternatively, more people die in car deaths but cars do not by design afford murderous lethality; people may put them to such use—so that, indeed, cars don’t kill people; people kill people, if you like—whereas guns by design afford that lethality. We can’t disregard that distinction.

However, the part that falls on its face in all of this: however terrible gun violence seems, people find excuses to resort to it, and then claim those uses as justified. This provides a problem for the anti-gun set. By an analogy, people say “fuck the police” then call them in an emergency. This needn’t hinge on a contradiction—“fuck the police” can remain perfectly valid, all the more so because in an emergency one has no one else to call. The whining and crying of the police that this amounts to a contradiction has no merit. Similarly, one may denounce guns or gun violence and remain forced or compelled by circumstances to resort to a gun.

My principal objection to this involves the claim by the one who did the resorting that they did no wrong. Shooting people with guns remains wrong always, no matter how necessary it seems. Just because we’ve inherited a fucked up social world doesn’t mean we should offer apologetics for it—that only serves to reproduce the destructive status quo we’d all do better without.

Some Blurby Gun Facts As a Dialogue

The US doesn’t have the highest murder rate in the world.

True, only the highest rate amongst OECD and high-income countries by a very wide margin (i.e., 10,000+ compared to <100 in most European countries).

More people die in cars per year.

True, and car deaths have declined 31% since 1985, while gun deaths gone up and down but are currently stand right where it started: 31,500 deaths. That’s an average of 286 people per day.

On average, 88.8% of American’s own guns; 270 million overall. We’re fifth in the world for gun murder in absolute terms, behind Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela. We’re fourth for percentage rate of at 60% (we exceed Mexico in this case). The War on Drugs is the common ground behind all of this.

For whites, states with the highest gun ownership have the highest suicide rate, and vice versa.

Attempts at suicide are twenty times as likely to be fatal when a gun is involved. More than 1,900 young people in the U.S. ages 5 to 19 committed suicide in 2010. Nearly half of these suicides involved firearms. Research suggests that about one-third of children live in homes with a firearm, Miller said. And about 1.5 million children live in a household where guns are kept loaded and unlocked. Nearly 20% of children and young people at risk for suicide say there’s a gun in their home, new research shows. Teens are more likely to attempt suicide than adults; about 45% of teen attempts involve guns. And among these youth, 15% know how to get their hands on both the gun and bullets.

The statistical difference is dramatic, according to a Washington Post analysis of data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A white person is five times as likely to commit suicide with a gun as to be shot with a gun; for each African American who uses a gun to commit suicide, five are killed by other people with guns.

Common sense tells you that criminals will never obey gun laws, so you’re just leaving the public vulnerable to them.

In 2012, 62% of gun violence victim died by suicide (80% of them white males); so when people talk about gun control, we are talking more about preventing suicide and accidents. (11,078 firearm homicides, 19,392 firearm suicides, and 606 unintentional firearm deaths).

That’s real sad. But I’m not crazy. I have to protect myself, and my family.

But isn’t a gun in the house is 43 times more likely to kill a household member than to be used for self-defense?

I’ll be careful. Still got to protect myself. And my family.

From what?

From what? You crazy? Listen. In 2012, 83 people died by homicide in Baton Rouge. Of that number, 87% were black, and 87% were male. Two-thirds had been in trouble with the law before, and one-third had been in trouble with the law for drugs. The median age of victims: 26. Of the perpetrators, the median age was 22. Get this: 96% of them were black, and 90% were male. Almost two-thirds had previous arrests. One out of four had a drug record. Most of the murders took place in the poorest parts of the city.

The rate of murder arrest of youths under age 18 fell by an astonishing 65% from the late 1980s to 2012, including an 80% decline since the early 1990s. In 2012, youths committed just 3.8% of the country’s murders, the lowest ever recorded. Similarly, from the late 1980s to 2010, the rate of gun fatalities among Americans ages 10-19 fell by 37%, including a 55% decline since the early 1990s. In 2010, those under age 20 comprised 8.5% of all gun deaths. In tandem, the Violence Policy Center’s 2011 analysis of General Social Survey trends found a distinct “lack of interest in guns by youth” compared to the “aging” gun-owning population.

On 16 January 2013, President Obama directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct research into the causes and consequences of gun violence. With that action, the President confronted the agency’s 17-year silence on gun violence prevention research, which was prompted by warnings from Congress that federal funding could not be used to advocate for gun control.

Studies prove that the idea more guns equals more death is false. Look at the statistics around the world.

That wasn’t a study. It wasn’t peer reviewed or scientifically validated. But let’s stop kidding around. You don’t care about gun violence. You don’t care that

Guns Kill People

This, reprinted from elsewhere, offers part of the larger picture and analysis for how not just people but guns kill people.

In considering how we interact with things in the world, Krippendorff (2007) suggests for the case of human use that “artifacts are manifest in the form of interfaces” (¶3)[2].

By interface is meant “sequences of ideally meaningful interactions—actions followed by reactions followed by responses to these reactions and so on—leading to a desirable state” (¶8); by artefact is meant that with which we interface and thus the kinds of interactions for use that any artefact affords. “When an interface [with an artefact] works as expected, one can say … that the artifact in question affords the construction that a user has of it; and when it does not work as expected, one can say that the artifact objects to being treated the way it is, without revealing why this is so (¶3). … [This] conception of affordance is important in that it admits no privileged knowledge of the objects of an external world other than how one conceives of them and interacts with them.” (¶6, my emphasis).

Thus, the meaningful interactions with the artefact of a gun include (but are not limited to) “the perceived ability to use a gun to inflict injury or death or to intimidate people. For its manufacturer, the gun is a product; for its distributor, a problem of getting it to a retailer; for a merchant, it means profit; for its user, it may also be a means of self-defence or security, an investment, an aid to criminal activity, an identity marker, a (dangerous or ineffective) hammer, and more” (¶11)[3].

“It is important to emphasize that [these] meanings are not entirely subjective. They reside in the expectation of afforded interactions[4] … Equally important is that artifacts for one discourse community may have entirely different, even incommensurable meanings for members of another discourse community (¶10)[5]. Thus, “while different people may interface rather differently with the same artifact … [none] can claim to have privileged access to what the artifact ‘really’ is” (¶7, my emphasis). Moreover, while “someone may consider one meaning [of an artefact] more important than another, even by settling on a definition—[e.g., that guns afford protection]—it would be odd if an artifact could not afford its [other] associated uses [for others]. [Consequently,] one can define the meaning of any artifact as the set of anticipated uses as recognized by a particular individual or community of users” (¶11, my emphasis).

From the above, then, (any given) technology has a finite range of affordances[6]; that is, it affords certain uses while not affording others.

A gun, for instance, affords both shooting things (the original use intended by the technology’s inventor) and also hammering nails (a use most likely not intended or foreseen by the technology’s inventor) but does not afford transporting oneself[7]. A technology’s affordances, then, describe the set of (designed and emergent) applications to which that technology might effectively be put to use. Thus, while one person might hammer nails with a gun and another might shoot a deer with it (even with the same gun), the set of designed and emergent applications to which guns might be put remains the same.

Affordances shed light on the contentious debate whether guns or people kill people. Gun proponents have emphasized the (subset of) guns’ affordances that they deem legitimate and socially desirable (e.g., hunting, crime deterrence, self-defence, &c), while gun opponents have emphasized the (subset of) affordances they deem illegitimate and socially undesirable (e.g., accidental gun deaths, increased ease of suicide, gun violence in general, &c). However, just as using a gun as a tool for hammering or hunting constitutes an individual use of that technology against a background of its full range of affordances, so then to claim a (subset of) guns’ affordances as either legitimate or illegitimate equally constitutes a (personalized) use of the technology against the full range of its affordances.

Why does this matter? Any “thing” in culture is shaped by how it is talked about. Both sides of the gun debate—“people kill people” and “guns kill people”—are socio-politically motivated in a multitude of ways, but both propose to limit the discourse about the affordances of guns to only a subset of guns’ actual affordances. The issue here has nothing to do with whether there is any justness to either side of the argument but rather points to how argued uses for guns (or for any given technology) attempt to define the social meaning of that technology (its permissible affordances) in a distorted, limited way. Thus, in contrast to a discourse about (any given) technology in terms of individual or personalized uses I distinguish another discourse about that technology in terms of public affordances.

Few are those who are unaware either of guns’ potential for deadly effect or for intimidation; gun proponents in fact specifically cite the intimidation factor of guns as a reason for carrying one[8]. It is similarly not only for defensive reasons that police (and other armed personnel) carry and display guns in public. A Black friend of mine (from college) informed me that he found the guns of police officers more intimidating than the guns of civilians he’d known growing up; police guns conveyed a greater sense of danger than civilian guns. For someone else, the reverse might hold. Context matters too. It may well be that fewer people would feel intimidated by an armed soldier standing guard at the edge of a parade (or at the gates of an embassy) than by the same guard walking into a café. For others, the reverse might again hold.

Endnotes

[1] More precisely, I will continue to read my usual ten pages but I will also read five pages per day of Burton’s (1620) Anatomy of Melancholy, a gigantic book that at five pages per day I will finish reading near the end of December 2014. I have wanted to read this book for a while, but various features of it make getting through it a challenge.

[2] References here are to the section “Second-Order Cybernetics and Human-Centeredness” in Krippendorff, K. (2007). The cybernetics of design and design of cybernetics. Kybernetes, 36(9/10), pp. 1381–92. The entire article may be read here: http://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1048&context=asc_papers. For conciseness, I have altered and rearranged the paper’s exposition without, I believe, misrepresenting or distorting the original. However, partly to avoid the confusion and recurrent argumentative distractions that tend to arise when the epistemology of second-order cybernetics enters a discussion, I have elided the article’s crucial distinction between “object” and “artifact”. For this essay, it seems unproblematic if readers fail to maintain this distinction. Even so, I wish to include the article’s useful exposition of the distinction:

From the perspective of second-order cybernetics: worlds arise in sensory-motor coordinations. It suggests that the worlds as we know them cannot exist without human involvement. They are brought forth when re-cognizing stabilities in the circularity of acting and sensing the consequences of one’s actions in return. Stabilities of this kind enable us to draw distinctions among them and to rely on them selectively. This is the conclusion of von Foerster’s (1981) recursive theory of eigenbehaviors. ¶ Consistent with the above, the first axiom of human-centeredness states: in human use, artifacts are manifest in the form of interfaces. ¶It mentions artifacts, not objects, as they arise in the experiences of sensory-motor coordinations, not separate from them. They are constructed by those involved and account for their experiences under conditions of recursively stable and hence reliable interactions. Thus, what we ordinarily call objects are artifacts indeed, made up, enacted, and afforded. Incidentally, the word “fact” derives from the Latin “factum,” something made. Hence, artifacts are crafted skillfully. Artifacts may come about materially by design, conceptually by re-cognition, and interactively in the form of interfaces, which can be distinguished along the lines of less reliable interactivity (¶1–3).

[3] This passage substitutes “gun” for Krippendorff’s original example of a “chair” (and modifies the text accordingly). While this entails no substantive change to the original, I include it for the sake of intellectual transparency: “The meaning of a chair is the perceived ability to sit on it for a while, stand on it to reach something high up, keep books on it handy, for children to play house by covering it with a blanket, and staple several of them for storage. For its manufacturer, a chair is a product; for its distributor, a problem of getting it to a retailer; for a merchant it means profit; for its user, it may also be a conversation piece, an investment, a way to complete a furniture arrangement, an identity marker, and more” (¶11).

[4] Furthermore, “Unlike what semiotics conceptualizes, from a cybernetic perspective artifacts do not “carry” meanings from designers to their users. They do not ‘contain’ messages or ‘represent’ meanings. Meaning cannot be inscribed in material entities nor do such entities have agency as proposed in actor network theory (Latour, 2005). There are only alternative ways of seeing (Wittgenstein, 1953:154)” (Krippendorff, 2007, ¶10). The citations here are included in the original article’s bibliography.

[5] Further summarizing Krippendorff’s (2007) exposition: “Humans do not respond to the physical qualities of things but act on what they mean to them (Krippendorff, 2006a). This axiom acknowledges the second-order cybernetic insight that humans experience reality only through detailed conceptions, models, and narratives they create within their discourse community. … What describes the world as human-centered is a discourse as well. It addresses how artifacts are con-sensually (sensed in each other’s presence) experienced and describes these experiences in relational terms, as interaction sequences, in which humans and machines participate but in different ways” (¶9). “Taking one way of seeing in one context or by one community as leading to another way of seeing at a changed context or by a different community, is the basic idea of meaning in the course of interfacing with the world (Krippendorff, 2006b)” (¶10). “Typically, artifacts afford many meanings for different people, in different situations, at different times, and in the context of other artifacts. … One can list these uses and empirically study whether this set is afforded by particular artifacts and how well” (¶11). Here again, the citations may be found in the original article’s bibliography.

[6] Etymologically, “technology” means the “systematic study of an art, craft, or technique” but has since come to mean “the embodiment of any process or thing for accomplishing a particular end”; in other words, technology now points to an embodiment of a product of a technology in the older sense.

[7] Unless, perhaps, in a journey to “the other world.” Creativity will often consist of finding affordances for technologies that were not originally foreseen or intended by the technology’s innovator(s).

[8] Gun advocates report that 8 percent of “defensive gun uses” (DGUs) involve a fired gun. “In most DGUs, a firearm is merely displayed by the intended victim, and the criminal flees. No one is injured. Civilian gun ownership clearly gives the edge to the law-abiding defender, because in 82 percent of DGU situations, the criminal has no gun” (http://gunsafe.org/position%20statements/Guns%20and%20crime.htm) What is not reported here is how many fired gun cases involved unarmed (perceived, actual, or would-be) criminals. The “accidental” shooting death of Trayvon Martin obviously resonates loudly here.