The Generic Viewpoint
Society (or the generic viewpoint) is an example of an equilibrium value and the thing about equilibrium values is that the closer we accord with them the more unconscious we become. Equilibrium values are unconsciousness. To be in an equilibrium state is to be unconscious. This is not just true for society or the socially-adapted mind, it may be said to be a universal principle, i.e. – the further from equilibrium we are (any kind of equilibrium) the more conscious we are. Being out of equilibrium is consciousness.
We can make this clearer by looking at what happens when we step into a generic (or rule-based) viewpoint. The generic POV is a viewpoint that anyone can have, but which is true for no one. ‘One size fits all’, says Carlos Castaneda, in relation to the mind we all have, the mind that we have been given – the mind that is not ours. G.I. Gurdjieff speaks of a common vehicle, like a bus that many can travel in. The unique POV, therefore, is when you have your own automobile to travel around in as you please.
We can envisage the generic POV as a kind of a groove that is cut into some hard surface, a groove that stretches of indefinitely in either direction. The groove is the same for everybody who adapts to it – it is exactly the same groove in each case and so it is exactly experience for everybody in it. Any number of people can slot into the groove and ‘see the world in the same way’ and this is an ‘equilibrium value’ simply because we’re all coming into accord with it. When we do come into accord with it then any individual differences we may have (and random variations that we may exhibit) are lost. This is the whole thing about ‘coming into equilibrium’ – it means that any individual variations that we might have started off with are lost. The equilibrium value is the graveyard of individuality. The equilibrium value is a ‘terminal destination’ because once it has been established then by definition there is nowhere else to go…
The movement towards equilibrium is thus an irreversible one – once all individual variations have been ‘scrubbed out’ then we can’t get them back (we can’t change our minds about this decision) because the equilibrium state doesn’t have any variations in it! They’ve all been scrubbed out. This is how the entropic process works – it can’t be run backwards to regain what has been lost. Individuality (or randomness) has been scrubbed and that it that – it’s a one-way street. The motto of the equilibrium state is very easy to understand: ‘It doesn’t matter where you came from, what matters is where you’re going!” This is exactly like joining a cult or a fundamentalist religion – no one really cares what you think, they only care that at the end of the conversion process you should think what they think. This isn’t just true for cults or ‘weirdo religions’ either – it’s true for all belief systems, all closed viewpoints on reality.
The individual POV, on the other hand, may be envisaged in terms of a ‘unique point’. There is only this particular point looking out at the world in its way – all other points are looking at the world in different ways, in their own ways. This is what makes them different points! When there is the situation of ‘lots of different points of view’ then this is information and when on the other hand all these different points of view are collapsed into alignment as ‘a straight line’ (or ‘groove’) then we might think that we are all looking at the world in our own individual ways but this just isn’t the case. We’re looking at the world in a generic way and this means that there is no information content in what we are seeing. Alignment of viewpoints within a common framework means that there is a loss of information content therefore, even though we can’t see it, even though we are (when we’re in the generic modality of thinking) quite incapable of understanding that this could be the case.
The thing about the straight line is that it appears to be made up of lots and lots of different point (all lined up together) but really all these points are only virtually different. They only look different because we agree to look at them in the way that makes them seem different. It’s actually all the same point – there’s only the one point there but it’s been serialized, it’s been made generic. The original point has been extended indefinitely in a ‘virtual direction’, a direction that doesn’t really exist! Within this virtual direction (or virtual dimension) there are lots and lots of supposedly different points, lots and lots of supposedly different possibilities, but really this is just the one point, the one possibility, serialized. Within this virtual dimension (which is the same thing as the ‘logical continuum’, the same thing as David Bohm’s ‘system of thought’) there appears to be genuine information content, whilst the reality of the situation is that there is none…
At the same time we move into the virtual direction or dimension, another thing happens. At the same time that we slot into the generic viewpoint all other viewpoints become invisible to us, become inaccessible to us. This is the only way the virtual dimension can get to seem real to us – there has to be a collapse of information before the system of logic can operate as a system of logic. Actually, the system of logic is an information collapse. The virtual dimension that is the generic POV can only seem real – we might say – if it has no competition; it can only hold onto its apparent integrity (as being what it implicitly claims to be) if it is taken as being ‘the only possible way of seeing things’. Then – and only then – do the not-really-different points that are making up the straight line get to seem as if they actually are different. Only then does the virtual dimension that is made up of the sum of these points get to seem like a real thing. When all information is lost then a whole virtual world springs into existence, therefore!
So when we slot obediently into the generic POV what straightaway happens is that a virtual world pops into existence, and this virtual world popping into existence is – of course – concomitant with the real world disappearing from sight. It is dependent upon the real world being made to vanish out of sight. According to the Cathars, there are two worlds, two realms, not just the one. There is the visible world, and there is the invisible one. The visible world – the Cathars say – is ruled over by the dark principle, whilst the invisible world (the subtle or spiritual world that is around us the whole time without us being aware that it is there) is the domain of the principle of light. The crude black-and-white realm is ruled over by the principle of control, denial and deception, whilst the subtle realm is the realm of truth and freedom, where no control or coercion is needed. This is the Gnostic world-view, which sees both the world and the individual as being a battlefield between these two forces. Philip Pullman expresses this idea in The Subtle Knife:
There are two great powers,” the man said, “and they’ve been fighting ever since time began. Every advance in human life, every scrap of knowledge and wisdom and decency we have has been torn by one side from the teeth of the other. Every little increase in human freedom has been fought over ferociously between those who want us to know more and be wiser and stronger, and those who want us to obey and be humble and submit.
The generic POV is fundamentally aggressive. It is unrelentingly aggressive. It is like a super-amoeba which absorbs everything into itself, makes everything into itself. It’s modus operandi is to subvert everything it comes across so that it can convert everything into its own copy, its own tame version. It undisclosed aim is to convert the world into its own plaything, to convert reality into a hollow simulation, an inane echo of what it originally was. The generic POV might be said to be like a black hole which in its insatiable hunger seeks to devour the whole universe.
As we approach the designated equilibrium value we approach unreality, and when we reach it we become unreal without knowing that we are unreal, which is the state of being unconscious. For the generic POV, achieving its goals, achieving its aims (achieving the ‘designated generic outcome’) is very good news. Achieving its goals is the best possible news for the generic POV – this is the best possible news for the generic POV because its goals are extensions of itself!