Notes On Reality Before The Artist [part 4]

21 June 2014

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.

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