When we’re adapted to the Machine World then everything is about productivity. Productivity, productivity, productivity – that’s all we ever care about! Productivity is our god and we are all obliged to worship it accordingly; we ‘justify our existence’ in terms of it. This is really just short-termism however; we are focusing shortsightedly on this particular metric and as long as we’re doing this we’ll never see anything wrong with the knee-jerk strategy of ‘always trying to increase our productivity’, as if this were the very meaning of existence.
From the point of view of a machine how efficient or fast we can be in the execution of the allotted task is of course the only measure that counts – I’m looking at things from the POV of the machine is the most short-sighted we could ever be since the machine cannot look beyond itself. A machine is its own standard, so to speak, and what this means is that we aren’t able to question what we doing when we’re in mechanical mode. We don’t have the perspective to do that. This means that we can’t observe ourselves – if I can’t help assuming that my viewpoint or my way of doing things is the right one how am I ever going to be able to observe myself in an unbiased way? The POV of a machine contains no perspective and for this reason it can never show us anything real.
When we’re in Mechanical Mode then whichever way we have to see things will be the right way and this means that ‘the right way’ doesn’t actually mean anything. It seems to mean something to us because we’re being so short-sighted; not to be short sighted in this context would mean seeing that for every machine, for every mechanism, for every mechanical reflex, the right way simply means ‘the way we are already doing things.’ If we change to another viewpoint then that would become ‘the right way’ but the point is that we won’t change (at least, not of our own free will) because we already know what the right way is. When I’ve got it right then I don’t go looking for anything else. Believing that I have got it right way (no matter what that way is) means that I’m always going to be stuck – it means that I have no flexibility, no mobility, no freedom to change.
Mechanical Mode is stuck mode therefore – it’s the mode of zero perspective, the mode in which we are ruled by whatever thoughts happen to come into our heads. We can’t see any further than what’s been shown to us and so we are the victims of whatever is being shown to us. We are being trapped by thought’s black and white representation of how things are, trapped by this business of right and wrong. To not be short sighted, to not be identified with the mechanism (or reflex) is to move out of the deadening gravitational pull of thought and into a freer or more relativistic space where we can see that ‘right’ is relative to whatever way of looking at things we have decided to opt for. Anything could be right, as we have just said, depending upon what viewpoint we choose. We can envisage this situation topologically as ‘uneven ground’ – ‘right’ is a furrow or groove that we fall into and can’t get out of and ‘wrong’ is a wall or lip that encloses us and fences us in and this means that there is no way for us to explore the world creatively. There’s no way for us to explore anything; the rules determine us completely – they determine what we can see, what we can think, and what we can do. Everything is governed by rules.
Continuing with this topological model a bit more, we can say that the awareness of the relativity of right and wrong (which is to say, the awareness that right and wrong are nothing more than functions of the way in which we are looking at things) corresponds to evenness, which allows mobility rather than prohibiting it. Evenness (or symmetry) is therefore where we are not impeded from moving in any direction, whilst unevenness (or dissymmetry) means that we always have to go where we’ve been told to go. It’s not even the case that we are ‘free to move just as long as it’s in the groove that has been supplied for us’ because the groove in question doesn’t take us anywhere; the only meaningful form of movement would be where we are moving away from our starting-off point (i.e., our basis) but no form of movement that is regulated by the machine (which is what we’re talking about here) is ever going to take us away from the machine! The predetermined pathways which we are allowed to travel down don’t take us away from the machine, they are the machine!
When we speak of short-sightedness (when we speak of us not being able to see beyond the POV of the machine) this is exactly what we’re talking about, therefore. We can’t move beyond our preconceptions, beyond our starting-off point, and we can’t see beyond it either and yet – astonishingly – we continuously perceive ourselves to be doing just this. All (or at least almost all) of the activities that we engage in everyday are futile activities – activities that appear to be taking us beyond our starting-off point but which don’t. On the one hand we imagine that we have actual vision, so to speak (which is to say, we imagine that we can see further than our present position) and on the other hand we imagine that meaningful change is possible for us, that we can move beyond where we currently are, and this might be seen as a type of ‘false consciousness’. It’s a type of ‘mock consciousness’ that doesn’t actually have any consciousness in it, in the same way that mock turtle soup doesn’t contain any actual turtles.
This ‘pseudo-consciousness’ (the consciousness we think we have but don’t) is a construct of the machine and what this means is that there can be nothing in the construct that is not already in the machine. If we really were aware (rather than merely dreaming that we are) this would necessarily involve seeing further than the machine, seeing further than our basis, so that we might encounter a reality that is different to the machine, separate from the machine. The reality that the machine manufactured is a substitute for the genuine thing; our so-called ‘consciousness’ is simply an extension of the machine which is thought. This is why saying that we are in ‘Mechanical Mode’ is the same thing as saying that we’re completely stuck, that we are ‘cycling away like crazy on the exercise bike whilst never moving from the spot’. We’re not even moving by so much as a hair’s breadth, despite all of our feverish efforts. To say that this is a bizarre situation doesn’t even come close to describing what’s going on here.
We started off this discussion by saying that when we are in Mechanical Mode then the only thing that matters to us is productivity; we can be productive as individuals by getting lots and lots of jobs done, by ticking all the boxes, by achieving many goals, and we can be productive as an organisation or nation by doing the exact same thing only on an industrial scale, but this always comes down to the same thing – it always comes down to the machine (or the system) tautologically extending itself. There is an ‘illusion show’ going on and we’re buying into it. We don’t have any choice other than to buy into it once the machine has us in its power. Despite being super-potent buzzword therefore productivity doesn’t mean a thing. It just means doing more and more of what we already do, only faster, and with more energy and determination, but because ‘what we already doing’ is 100% meaningless increasing our efficiency at doing it isn’t as a great a thing as we take it to be! Mere repetition isn’t going to change anything…
Our productivity (our ability to play the game well) is what we use to validate ourselves, to feel good about ourselves. Everything comes down to how good we are at achieving specified targets (i.e., how much better we are than other people at playing the game) but were we to step outside of the box for a moment we would immediately see that nothing taking place in the box is real – stuff that happens in the box is real only in relation to that box. Nothing that takes place in the box is real and the box itself isn’t real (being nothing more than a set of assumptions that we never question). This is the true meaning of the term ‘relativity’ – relativity means that none of our measurements mean anything. Instead of questioning our basis (which is always going to be a risky thing to do) we work away at optimising what we’re doing on this unexamined basis; this is the preferred course of action for us since this way we have the possibility of feeling good about ourselves (until – that is – we find out, as sooner or later we’re bound to, that this basis itself is an empty mental fabrication, something that we wrongly assume to exist when it doesn’t. ‘Optimization within the context of the game being played’ is our way of continuously distracting ourselves from this uncomfortable awareness and this is the real reason for us putting so much emphasis (both personally and collectively) on ‘productivity’, on ‘goal-orientated output’, on ‘doing well within the game’.
Image – playgroundai.com