Going ‘Full Absolute’
When we see everything from a made-up viewpoint, an invented viewpoint, a viewpoint which is entirely arbitrary but which we nevertheless claim not to be, then everything we see is null. We construct a null world all around us and then of course we have to live in that world. Everything in a null world is also null, and that rightfully includes us as the denizens of that world.
When we lead our lives on the basis of this made-up (or ‘invented’) viewpoint, which we resolutely claim to be the one and only ‘true’ viewpoint, then we create a hermetically sealed private universe which we totally believe to be ‘the only universe there is or could be’. We believe this in all good faith, we can’t not believe it – we have trapped ourselves without realising it. We have trapped ourselves by assuming an ‘absolute framework’, even though we don’t know that this is what we are assuming. ‘To those who are awake, there is one ordered universe common to all, whereas in sleep each man turns away from this world to one of his own.’ [Heraclitus – DK89]
There are only the two possibilities here – either we see clearly that there are no ‘especially true viewpoints’, in which case we do not bring the Nullity down upon our heads, in which case we do not construct a private world for ourselves – we avoid any awareness of relativity and so we get to believe that there is such a thing as ‘the right way to look at things’ and thus render our existence perfectly and sublimely null. Either there is consciousness, or there is the lack of consciousness – what else would there be, after all? It’s got to be one or the other.
It goes pretty much without saying that when we are suffering from the lack of consciousness (the lack of consciousness which is our common lot) we don’t know that we are, we don’t know that this is the problem, so to speak. We might be aware that there is a problem or issue of some sort, but we will think that it is something else. When we are afflicted with this particular burden (the burden of ‘a lack of consciousness’) then we aren’t conscious of this, naturally enough! How could we be?
We are unable to realise that we are not actually conscious when we’re in this perfectly ubiquitous situation; we’re unable to realize it because we have something else that isn’t consciousness but which serves as some kind of substitute, some kind of half-assed analogue for it. The analogue for consciousness is this thing that we can call ‘mechanical existence’, which is nothing at all like consciousness (nothing at all like ‘non-mechanical existence’) but which nevertheless acts as a perfectly plausible substitute, once we are actually immersed in it.
Mechanical existence is all about cause-and-effect and the effect is always inherent in the cause, which means that there is absolutely no freedom in this situation. There is no freedom in the continuum of logic and this is Philip K Dick’s ‘astral determinism’. Astral determinism is a substitute for freedom therefore, and a very poor substitute it is too, but all the same we don’t see the difference. We don’t see that we’ve been short-changed because we falsely imagine ourselves to have free will when we do not. We identify with the mechanical cause and so we feel that the ‘effect’ (which was as we have said inherent in the prior situation) is the result of our own free will, evidence aplenty of our own free will.
This is the only way things can ever work when we opt – however blindly, however unconsciously – to see everything from an arbitrary viewpoint that we cannot see to be arbitrary. When we have this situation where there is only ‘the one right way’ to see the world then it goes without saying that we enter into the Concrete World, the World of Literal Meanings, and when we enter into this world then these literal meanings then own us. They possess us entirely – we have no existence that is independent from them. We have no life other than the life that is determined by these literal meanings, permitted by these literal meanings, and so we have no life at all. How can there be life in the literal realm?
Consciousness is held captive in the literal realm, it is held captive by the literal meanings, by the concrete images, by the definite statements. Consciousness is wholly subservient to the concrete images or forms that are produced by thought and this is not a good situation. If it happened to be the case that the literal meanings or concrete forms were actually what they implicitly claim to be (which is to say, totally and utterly real!) then this would be fair enough, perhaps, but the bottom line is that they aren’t real, the whole point of what we’re saying here is that they are only real to us because we are seeing everything from a viewpoint that is itself is not real, because we are seeing everything from a strictly provisional viewpoint which we accept to be absolute.
Where we see everything from a viewpoint that we ourselves have made up, an arbitrary viewpoint which we say is absolute, then the result of this exercise is that we create a null situation for ourselves. Positing an absolute framework always results in the creation of a null situation – a framework is made up of positive and negative in equal amounts and so there’s no way that it won’t do this. Of course it’s going to do this – where is there to go when every plus is always matched by an equal minus? How can we ever possibly escape this? When we go ‘full absolute’ – under the ‘unconscious assumption’, so to speak, that this would be a good idea – then we create a fundamentally sterile situation for ourselves. Going ‘full absolute’ isn’t a good idea – it’s actually the worst idea ever, even though we can’t for the life of us see this. Never was there a worse idea. We’re pulling the lid of the box down shut on top of us and we’re in the box! When the lid comes down with a bang then we’re trapped in the box, sealed away in our own private universe!
We’re trapped in our own private world and we have no way of knowing about the fate that has befallen us. When we lead our lives on the basis of a viewpoint that is a made-up thing, a strictly provisional viewpoint which we implicitly insist to be absolute, then we don’t actually have a life – instead of a life we have ‘a fiction that we can’t see as such’, we have a mechanical existence that we can’t see to be mechanical, we have a deterministic ’cause-and-effect-type situation’ that we fondly imagine to be the very same thing as personal volition. This is how we ‘choose’ to see things, we might say, we choose to see free will where there isn’t any. In another sense – however – we could also say that this isn’t any sort of ‘choice’ at all…