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The Invisible Disaster

Whenever we buy into some version of reality that excludes all other versions then what we end up with is the Nullity, and this turns out to be very bad news for us. This turns out to be the worst possible news for us, although we won’t know anything about it. The Nullity is always ‘bad news’ and the worst thing about this bad news – we could say- is that we can’t see it for what it is. This is a curious concept, that there could be a type of absolutely awful disaster that could befall us and that we wouldn’t know anything about it.



If we don’t know anything about it then it can’t be that much of a disaster, we might object. This objection – reasonable though it might seem – doesn’t hold water when we actually look into it, of course. One example of how we can incur disaster without realising it would be where we get sucked into becoming a member of some sort of religious cult; in such a case I will probably say that my conversion is a good thing and that I am ‘very fortunate to have seen the light’. Unlike everyone else who isn’t a believer in whatever it is, I will say that it’s not a disaster but the best news ever, in other words! This is however far from being the case – being absorbed or subsumed within a cult is always a disaster because we’re throwing away our individuality – which is the most valuable thing we have – for the sake of an illusory sense of security or belonging. There’s no way this can’t be a disaster; there’s no future in trying to live one’s life on the basis of a crass generic personality construct – this just isn’t going to work out for us.



Everyone knows that religious cults are bad news, but we could say the same thing about society as a whole – being inducted into society is a disaster too, and it’s a worse one (if anything) since everyone we interact with is going to be in the same boat, singing from the same hymn sheet, etc., which means that we have nothing else to go on. We might celebrate our culture, our society, our religion or philosophy of life, and want to pass it on to everyone we meet because, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t is an utter disaster. We have traded away our precious individuality for the sake of mere convenience, for the sake of ‘obtaining group validation’ and group validation is an entirely meaningless thing. Getting drunk would be another way of illustrating the type of thing that we’re talking about here – I’m probably going to feel that I’m getting on fine, that I’m ‘totally in control’, that I am ‘at the peak of my abilities’, and so on, whilst the truth of the matter is that I am making a complete and utter fool of myself. I become stupid but I have also – by the same token – become ‘too stupid to see that I am stupid’. Again, this is without any doubt a total disaster, but it’s also a perfectly invisible one (as far as I’m concerned, anyway).



We can give one last example of ‘a bad thing happening to us that we can’t see to be bad’ and this final example is edging into what would usually thought of as science fiction. We can propose the hypothetical situation – familiar enough in the SF field of course – where a person’s consciousness has been uploaded (without their knowledge) into a crude simulation (and all simulations are ‘crude’ when it’s reality that is being simulated). This is ‘a bad thing’ – we might say – because we have been cheated or swindled out of life itself and being given some tawdry inferior substitute instead (which is like an indigenous tribe having their lands appropriated by voracious European colonizers in return for a paltry few handfuls of coloured glass beads). Who could say that this isn’t a bad thing?



Being a technological society, we tend to think simulations are pretty cool (just as we tend to think AI is pretty cool) but this is pure blindness in our part – there’s nothing great at all about a simulation, as the name itself should tell us. It’s odd that we should think so (and that we should get more excited by it than the original, which we tend to pass over in our keenness for the copy); what it does tend to show is that we have little enough regard for ‘the natural’ when it comes down to it, and are – instead – feverishly excited by our proposed ‘improvements’ to it. The reason we’re so excited – we might say – is because we are convinced that there are possibilities for us in the improved version of reality that aren’t in the original. This belief is of course implicit in the whole notion of ‘mastering’ or ‘conquering’ nature – what would be the point of us mastering nature and ‘making it do what we want it to’ if we didn’t have something better to replace it with? We’d look pretty stupid conquering nature and then not knowing what to do with it. We do look pretty stupid ‘conquering nature and then not knowing what to do after this’ – we assume we’re know what we’re doing but the truth is that we don’t have a clue.



The simulation can’t be an improvement on the natural world, the world that exists all by itself, for the simple reason that its simulation can never be any more than a flat representation of a reality that has infinitely many dimensions. It can never be more than a flat simulation no matter what we do to it; it is essentially a description of something rather than being the thing itself. When we describe something then we’re giving a superficial outline of something that can act as a sort of guide. If, for example, I describe the route you need to take in order to find a small village somewhere in a remote mountainous region then my description (if it’s any good) will help you to find the place. But if the village in the mountainous region that I am describing is pure imagination on my part, and the village I am telling you about doesn’t exist, then clearly the description I am providing you with – no matter how detailed it may be – will be of no earthly use to you. It will (obviously enough) do you no good trying to visit or explore my description of the village, if the description is all that there is of it. There will be little enough satisfaction in this! Eating a description of a fine feast will do little to quiet any hunger pangs we might be experiencing, a picture of a fire won’t warm us, a description of a wonderful vivacious companion will not assuage our loneliness, and so on and so forth.



A simulation is ‘a description of a world that doesn’t exist’, we might say and – as such – it can hardly be considered a substitute for the world that it is supposedly describing. What exactly do we imagine we’re going to get out of inhabiting the description of a world that doesn’t exist? How much fun is there going to be in this? A simulation isn’t just a description of reality – it’s a literal description (which is to say, the rules that go to specify it only exist on a single level of description, as is the way with rules). Everything is ‘exactly what it is said to be and nothing else’ and this isn’t just an impoverished state of being (‘impoverished’ because it can’t be anything else other than what it has been specified as being) it’s a state that only exists in the sense that we say it does or act as if it does. It’s a strictly virtual state, in other words. ‘Non-virtual reality’ is very different to this however, it’s different in the sense that it exists whether we say it does or not, which turns out to be a rather significant consideration. We oughtn’t to confuse the two things, in other words!



It is – surprisingly enough, perhaps – perfectly possible to inhabit a description of the world, a description of reality, but there is a price to pay for this – the price being that we are obliged to become ‘descriptions’ ourselves. We are obliged to ‘lose substance’ and become ‘thought’s descriptions of us living in thought’s description of the world’ which means that ‘the books are balanced’, which means that everything is legit and above-board. If this is what we really want, then we can have it – nothing will stand in our way. When we are descriptions living in a world that is itself made up of descriptions then this turns out to be the ultimate ‘invisible disaster’ – it’s a disaster in the sense that we have been entropically degraded to the point that we are no longer real, but only think that we are. It’s a ‘disaster’ in the sense that we’ve lost everything that matters and yet are nevertheless convinced that everything’s hunky-dory. We have become ‘futile ghosts’, blown here and there by the never-ending winds of desire, believing in every illusion going…



Being ‘entropically degraded’ in this way is a cataclysm the magnitude of which we can’t even begin to comprehend. We would need to have awareness of what has been lost in order to see that we have lost it, and ‘having an awareness of what we have lost’ is precisely what we don’t have. This is the disaster right here – not having any awareness of the disaster is the disaster. Where are we to start being aware of ‘what’s going on’ then this would be a truly terrible awareness for us, and it would be all the more terrible because we don’t have a handy category to ‘put it into’, because we don’t have any way of interpreting it. We will find that we’re completely incapable of explaining (either to ourselves or anyone else) what it is that we have become so painfully aware of, and for this reason the event won’t have any ‘official’ existence – we won’t be able to talk about it, in other words. We might try, but no one will understand us. This is like being a cartoon in ‘Toon World’ and then trying to explain or articulate some kind of awareness of a ‘non-cartoon type of reality’, that we are the victims of a particularly sinister trick or manipulation – there’s no way that we are going to be understand by all the other cartoons who don’t have this awareness. Our chances of being understood are zero; one way or another, folk will ‘take against us’ – they are either going to persecute the hell out of us or try to ‘cure’ us, and both of these approaches (needless to say) are going to be bad news for us…





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