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Creating The VCE

Whenever we ‘assert a definite value’ (or whenever we ‘make a positive statement’) we inevitably create the Virtual Compulsive Environment. Alternatively, it could be said that whenever we act purposefully (or engage in rational thinking) we create the Virtual Compulsive Environment, and the point here is that we can’t just cease ‘acting purposefully’ any more than we can deliberately ‘stop thinking’. ‘Not acting purposefully’ isn’t an option for us (unless we happen to be unusually spontaneous, that is). We celebrate ‘the power of choice’ – ‘the life we lead today is the result of choices that we made yesterday’, we say. And even if we don’t say it we believe it. This is a kind of ‘positive thinking slogan’ – not that it is in the least bit helpful really of course. How can it be helpful to say this if every ‘choice’ we make simply creates the VCE? Is the VCE ‘helpful’? Is choosing the VCE really ‘a choice’?

When we see the VCE for what it is we realise that it’s not in the least bit helpful, but when we don’t ‘see it for what it is’ that we don’t see it at all. When we don’t see it for ourselves then no one else can explain it to us either – they could try to explain but we almost certainly wouldn’t be able to understand them. Just as long as we continue to believe that asserting what we take to be ‘self-evident values’ (or positive ‘statements of fact’) is a meaningful thing to do we aren’t going to be able to understand either that there is such a thing as the Virtual Compulsive Environment’ or that we are creating it with our assumptions (or with the positive statements that come out of our assumptions).

We can have a go at explaining the concept all the same. The VCE – we might say – is a projected world that is made up of rules that we have assumed. We don’t consciously derive these rules and we aren’t aware of them as such (we aren’t aware of them at all when it comes down to it) but when we unconsciously project them out onto the world they invariably manifest themselves as compulsions. Compulsions are invisible just as rules are, but despite being invisible they affect us in a very tangible way. More than just affecting us, they determine us; they determine us without us realising that they have done so. We react to the compulsions in the same way that a well trained soldier will react to an order, and because of the speed at which we obey we don’t actually experience ourselves as being ‘compelled’, as being ‘ordered about’.

The reason we don’t see the VCE is being made up of compulsions is therefore because we do what we are compelled to do unreflectively without being in the least bit aware that the impetus which lies behind our actions originates outside of ourselves. There is a kind of hypnosis going on here because when we react to the compulsions as automatically as we do then the illusion that the compulsion is our own will is created; there is then the perception that the compulsion is our own motivation (or that the compulsion which is ruling us is ‘our own idea’) and this is what causes the compulsivity of the situation to be invisible to us. When we blithely assume a bunch of rules to guide us in life what happens is that we create a Virtual World that is made up of mechanical compulsions which pass themselves off as being our own motivation therefore. This is the VCE in a nutshell – it’s a disguised prison. The ‘concrete identity’ is a prison in disguise too; the concrete identity and the VCE which it inhabits are the same thing since the one is simply the reflection of the other.

We can see now why any talk of a Virtual Compulsive Environment’ is pretty much meaningless to us – just as we never see that it is a strictly virtual world that we are living in (because the rules which we are taking for granted are ‘assumed but not real’) neither can we see that the compulsions which are the tangible manifestations of these rules have neatly substituted themselves for our own free volition. The ‘system’ tells us everything – it tells us what we are to see, what we are to think; it tells us what we like and don’t like, what is real and what is not real – and at the same time we don’t have the slightest clue that there is any such thing as ‘the system’. We think we’re the boss. The VCE doesn’t give us any way of knowing that there is any such thing as the system (or that there is any such thing the VCE) and it certainly doesn’t give us any way of knowing that the system (or VCE) is controlling everything we think and do!

Of all the psychological ideas that anyone could ever explain to us, this has without any doubt got to be the most disturbing, the most unsettling. All we need is a few moments to reflect on this proposition to realise that this is the most inimical situation that anyone could ever possibly design for us. Firstly, we are living in an illusory world which appears very much to be real but which isn’t, and secondly, we imagine that we have freedom in the world when we absolutely don’t. Thirdly, our most intimate sense of ‘who we are’ is entirely determined for us by the system and it is for this reason entirely false  – how after all could illusory environment ever possibly provide us with a true understanding of who we are? Put all of these elements together and what we have is the ‘Virtual Compulsive Environment’. Put all of these elements together and what we have is a situation with absolutely nothing to recommend it!

The VCE keeps us captive by not allowing us to question anything – we can’t question anything and we don’t know that we can’t question anything. The state of ‘not questioning’ is of course the flip-side of this business of ‘making an assumption’ – ‘making an assumption’ means ‘not questioning what we have just assumed’, obviously enough. We can’t ‘assume’ and ‘question’ at one and the same time! ‘Assuming’ gives rise to ‘asserting’ but it is not the same thing; ‘assuming’ (we might say) is the hidden side of ‘positively asserting’ – what we assert is thrust right out there for all to see whilst the act of assuming – on the other hand – is one that is carried out in secret, in the dark where no one will ever know about it. On the one hand we do not perceive ourselves to be freely making an assumption, and on the other hand when we assert some supposedly ‘true’ fact, we perceive ourselves to be genuinely choosing to do this, when actually all the so-called ‘choices’ are being made for us! We don’t perceive ourselves possessing any interiority and so we don’t see the freedom that we actually have; instead, all we know is our exteriority, which we can’t perceive to be ‘an exteriority’ (we can’t perceive it as such because we have no interiority) and so we perceive ourselves to have a freedom that simply doesn’t exist.

We could say therefore that the ‘ability’ (so to speak) that we have in the inner world which is the ability to question ‘flips over’ (when we’re inhabiting the outer rather than the inner world) into ‘the inability to question’ which we don’t see as ‘an inability to question’ because we’re now seeing everything backwards. For us this translates as ‘the ability to believe in a positive world’, which is a source of security for us. We have now ‘the ability to believe in our own positive assertions of fact as if they were actually true’ and it is this curious ability’ (which equals ‘a lack of freedom’) that allows us to relate to the VCE as if it were the actual world. If it were a good thing to be able to believe in the VCE as if it were not the VCE then this would be very useful ability but that just doesn’t happen to be the case! The capacity to relate to the VCE as if it were reality is the capacity to be totally controlled by an illusion, and clearly no good ever came from being totally controlled by an illusion. No matter how ‘positive’ we might be about this situation, it’s not going to yield any good results.

We can also look at the VCE in terms of ‘stasis’ versus ‘flux’: when we make an assumption, no matter what that assumption might be, then it is always going to be a ‘static fixture’ (there is no such thing as a ‘non-static assumption’, after all). What is happening here therefore is that we are transforming a fluid situation into a fixed one. And yet even though we are saying that we can understand the VCE in terms of stasis versus flow, we also need to remember that right from the outset there was never really any such thing as ‘stasis’. Stasis is an abstract concept, a hypothetical proposition that can never be more than the hypothetical proposition. We can act as if it were real but it isnt and that means that all of our purposeful actions are based on an illusion. Our assumptions are static (and therefore unreal) and so the projected certainty that comes out of them is also going to be static is also going to be unreal; perversely – however – we see certainty as a sign that something isn’t an illusion. In summary, then, we can say that the ‘rules’ which are automatically derived from our hidden assumptions give rise to the ironclad sense of certainty that we have about the positive world, but they are at the same time unreal, just as the static assumptions that they arose out of are unreal.

So when we perceive certainty in the world we automatically take this as being synonymous with reality – if a thing is certain then it is real, and if it is uncertain then it’s unreal, as far as we’re concerned. This is our view of things, which is a back-to-front view of things; it is an inverted view of the world in that we have got everything exactly the wrong way around. Nothing non-illusory can ever come out of our fixed assumption because fixed assumptions are abstractions from reality rather than being reality itself. And yet even though any static position that we might take is always going to be an idea (a hypothetical proposition) rather than an actual reality it could still be said that there is still no ‘dishonesty’ involved here – if the fixed position (or definite statement) is a lie then it is at least an honest one! The ‘fundamental honesty’ of which we speak is discernible in the very nature of all fixed or static positions – a position can only be ‘a position’ by virtue of the framework that defines it, by virtue of the linear axes that make up the framework. Within a framework all possible positions are defined by the linear axes making it up and each axis is made up of two things – each axis is made up of ‘plus’ and minus’. The framework therefore contains both positive and negative certainty, we might say, but the thing about this is that negative certainty and the positive certainty within the framework are always going to cancel each other out.

This might sound like a trivial point to make but it isn’t; it just happens to be a way of looking at things that we aren’t familiar with. Within the bounded realm that is mapped out by the framework the number of possible movements between plus and minus is exactly counterbalanced by the equivalent number of possible movements between minus and plus (which is self-evident). If we wanted to think in terms of a single axis, we can (of course) say that the number of positive integers above zero is exactly counterbalanced by the number of negative integers with the result that both set of integers are always going to cancel each other out. A linear axis looks like a pretty impressive  – it looks like something to be taken very seriously – but the other way of looking at it is to say that it is a type of ‘self-contradiction’ because when it is taken as a whole (which it must be) then it adds up to nothing. If we want to think in terms of the framework then we can say that a framework it gives us the means of making a set of positive statements at the same time that it gives us the means of making the equivalents set of negative statements. The bounded domain which is the proper remit of the framework contains a set of possibilities that neatly cancel each other out therefore, which is an odd thing to consider.  

The framework provides us with the ‘boon’ of certainty it is true, but certainty isn’t a real thing. It never was and it never could be. If a statement is certain then this means that it has been defined as such by ‘the framework’ that we have taken for granted and anything that ‘comes out of a framework’ is an abstraction from reality, rather than the reality itself (as we have already said). All definite statements are inherently paradoxical; all definition statements (or positive assertions) are inherently paradoxical since they can only come into existence with equal with the equal help of both positive and negative. The paradoxicality of all definite statements (or all definite positions) is how they show us that they’re not really saying anything at all. Not only are definite statements inherently ‘honest’ in this way (as well as being ‘a lie’ at the same time) so too is the VCE as a whole inherently honest. ‘Compulsivity’ comes from one thing and one thing only – it comes out of polarity. Obviously compulsivity comes out of polarity – what else is it but the ‘tension’ between positive and negative, after all? We have already made the point that there is no freedom in the VCE (which is the bounded domain that is created when we take ‘the framework’ for granted in our operations) and this ‘lack of freedom’ speaks eloquently of the unreality of the world that has been created by separating plus and minus.The VCE is an unreal situation that lets us know about its unreality in a kind of ‘indirect’ or ‘subtle’ way – the fact that there is absolutely no freedom in the construct world that we are calling the VCE tells us that the situation isn’t real because freedom is the only reality there that is, and there is on this account ‘no reality outside of freedom’.

So when we find ourselves ‘stuck in a compulsive reality’ what this is telling us is that this is actually a contrived situation – it is essentially a trick that we are playing on ourselves. It could also be said that it’s a trick that someone else is playing on us, but this is basically the same thing since no matter who is presenting the positive reality for us to believe in (be it ourselves or be it the society we are part of) it is still down to us whether we actually do believe it or not. We ourselves still have to buy in. When we find ourselves stuck in a compulsive world, a world that is based on rules, then this is telling us that we are in Game Reality, not in Non-game Reality (to use Timothy Leary’s terms). The fact that there is a rule to obey ‘gives the game away’ straightaway since someone must have made up the rule in the first place! This is the key to understanding whether we are in a VR construct or not but it does not – however – clarify things for us in practice because (as we have said right back at the beginning of this discussion) we never do notice that we are living in a world that is based on compulsion. We simply don’t see the compulsion. We don’t notice that we are ‘playing a game’ because we’re so very good at playing it; we don’t register that we are ‘under a compulsion’ because we mistake the compulsion for our own free will.

‘Polarity’ means compulsion – these are two words for the same thing. Polarity means ‘good versus bad’, ‘right versus wrong’, ‘success versus failure’, and what freedom are we being allowed here?  The dichotomy of ‘succeed versus fail’ is the black-and-white reality of the game and the game is a game precisely because is no freedom in it! The lack of freedom that we experience when we live our lives exclusively between ‘positive’ on the one side and ‘negative’ on the other is a function of a fundamental impossibility and that is the fundamental impossibility of ever separating YES and NO. All of our rational thinking, all of our purposeful doing, is at root the attempt to do just this and that is why our thinking and our goal-orientated behaviour is inherently compulsive in nature. YES is already present in NO just as NO is already present in YES and so what is our striving all about? When we labour under the delusion that we can separate the opposites (or rather when we labour under the delusion that we absolutely have to separate the opposites!) then negative freedom is created and negative freedom is the freedom that we falsely imagine ourselves to have to ‘do an impossible thing’. Polarity is the subjective (or virtual) reality that is created when we mistakenly imagine that PLUS and MINUS are different things and within polarity (or within the VCE) there is this thing that we are calling ‘negative freedom’, and negative freedom (which is compulsion that we can’t see to be compulsion because we have identified with the rule that lies behind it) is the lower analogue of freedom and the key thing to remember about the lower analogue of freedom is that it doesn’t really exist…

Art: Carbon 2185 on

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