Being ‘Positive’ Is How We Close Down Reality

Nick Williams
7 min readApr 24, 2024
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Positive’ means that ‘it’s a construct’, it means that ‘we made it’, it means that we didn’t have to make it but that we made it anyway. ‘Positive’ means that it comes about by force, as ‘an effort of will’…

There’s more to ‘positive’ than this, though — that’s only half the story. That’s just the first half of the recipe. Positive is where we make reality be a particular way when we didn’t have to make it be that way but where we say we did have to. We say we made reality be that way because that’s what the higher power said we should do, because that is God’s will, on other words. Or — in another variant — we say that it wasn’t us that did it, but that we found it like that. As David Bohm puts it, ‘Thought is creating divisions out of itself and then saying that they are there naturally.’ This is what Berger and Luckmann call reification.

Positive action is how we close down the universe, in other words. There’s no actual need to close it down but we do so anyway; there’s no need to close everything down but we say that there is. We make it into a rule that no one can question, a rule that we are obliged to blindly obey. We get very serious about something that isn’t serious; we get very serious about something that we ourselves have invented. We get very serious about something that we have just pulled out of a hat.

We get super serious about something that we have just randomly pulled out of a hat — we pull it out of our hat without knowing what we’re doing or why and then we make a whole big deal out of it. We get uptight about it. We make a ritual out of it, a dogma about it, and then we create a whole world on the basis of this ritual, on the basis of this dogma. What we’re doing is totally pointless but we refuse point blank to see this; we’d get extremely angry if someone were to point this fact out to us. We’d get super-offended very quickly indeed.

There’s nothing more offensive to us than someone suggesting that the world is a bigger place than we have agreed to see it as being. This is ultimately offensive, as far as we’re concerned. It’s utterly incomprehensible to us that anyone could be bad-minded enough as to want to do this. The magnitude of this perversity blows us away every time — it’s nothing less than Satanic, we say. It’s the work of the Devil and it is our solemn responsibility to resist it to the very best of our ability. We are required to ‘fight the good fight’ until our dying breath.

It’s the life work of every zealot, of every fanatic, of every ‘believer’ to ‘close the world down’. This is the Great Mission, the Supreme Task. There is a very particular fervour that comes with this, the type of fervour that comes when we are converted to some concrete view of the world (whatever that view might be). We are in the grip of pathological certainty — the certainty that comes upon us as a result of closing the world down. We have been struggling to close everything down throughout the whole of human history. It’s our Great Obsession, it’s the only thing we really care about. We put all our energy into saying that the world is a smaller, meaner place than it is and then severely punishing anyone who dares to disagree. In the past we might have burned them at the stake, these days we ‘de-friend’ them on Facebook, these days we ‘cancel’ them. As far as we’re concerned there’s a special place in hell for anyone who suggests that the world might a bigger place than the collective has agreed to say it is.

Whenever we get together and agree that life is about this, or about that (or should be about this, or should be about that) by agreeing on what life is (which seems to us to be a wonderfully beneficial thing to do) we are — in an underhand way — agreeing on what it isn’t. The overt move is where we agree upon what life is or should be (which seems to everyone concerned to be a splendid and glorious achievement) whilst the covert move (the sneaky or underhand move) is where we tacitly agree on what life isn’t. It’s not what we’re pointing at but what we’re glossing over that’s the real deception here.

We hold up one single way of looking at things as an Exemplar, as an Ideal, as a Universal Standard, as being ‘beyond all doubt’. This is the overt (or ‘explicit’) act of creation and we honour it, just as we honour God’s Creation of the Universe as it is related in the chapter of Genesis. No praise can be enough to honour this incomprehensibly magnificent Act of Creation — we take our hats off to it, we prostrate ourselves upon the ground. And at the same time as affirming what has been held up as ‘the one true way to understand life’ (and trumpeting it far and wide as ‘the way that God Himself has seen fit to endorse’) we are burying all the other possibilities. We’re closing the book on all the other possibilities without ever acknowledging that there are any possibilities there to close the book on. We’re shutting the door and we don’t even know what we’re shutting the door on. We don’t care what we’re shutting the door on — we couldn’t care less. Our ‘lack of caring’ in this regard is ABSOLUTE.

The praise and adulation we heap upon the agreed-upon way of seeing the world is ‘one side of the coin’ and this is the only side we give any attention to — this is the side we’re supposed to pay attention to. The other side, the side we don’t see, is our unconscious or unacknowledged attitude to what we haven’t agreed upon, what we haven’t said is true, which is the attitude of ‘not knowing anything about it and not wanting to know either’! We are ‘ignorant and proud of it’, in other words; we’ve turned our willful ignorance into a virtue, a virtue that we can point to with pride, a virtue that we can parade around the place in order that we might be accepted and approved of by all the other paid up full-time members of the ‘Wilful Ignorance Club’.

We might congratulate ourselves on ‘buying into the social contract’, on ‘coming into accord with what has been collectively agreed upon’ (which is, as we all know, the ‘responsible’ and ‘mature’ thing to do, but the other side of the coin is not so pleasant to consider. The stink of toxic ignorance is not so palatable, after all — it tends to leave a bad taste in the mouth. By shutting the door on all other possible viewpoints without caring (not even a little bit) about what those other viewpoints might be we have ‘done the dirty on ourselves’. We’ve stitched ourselves up big time. By being wilfully ignorant of whatever it is that lies on the other side of the line that we’ve drawn in the sand we have scuppered ourselves, we have well and truly sunk ourselves. We have shut out the source of grace and healing, we’ve shut out the one thing that makes life meaningful (which is what we don’t and can’t know).

The type of life that we are obliged to lead within the agreed-upon framework that is society is always going to be meaningless (once we look beneath the cheap and cheerful surface-level meaning of our games). We’re not living life, we’re ‘living our agreement about what life should be’. We’re living a dogma not a reality. We’re performing a meaningless ritual. We stop living in any real way the moment we stop ‘thinking for ourselves’ (and are content instead with whatever it is that we have hurriedly agreed upon to be true). We’re working against life now (if we’re working against openness then we’re also working against life) and this means therefore that life is working against us — we say to ourselves that it’s the Devil we’re fighting against (and that our struggle is therefore a profoundly heroic one) but it’s not the Devil we’re fighting against but the truth.

When we talk about ‘living positively’ this is code for ‘living life as we think it should be’, as ‘living life as our ideas say we should be’ and getting that to actually work out. It’s all about ‘loyalty to our beliefs’ (or ‘loyalty to the group’). In this paradigm our greatest success is when we do get life to happen the way we think it ought to, and our greatest failure (and a source of crushing shame and demoralization) is when we can’t. The unspoken rule of society is that we should turn our backs on our own unlimited potential (since our own unlimited potential is not something that the collective is either willing or able to acknowledge). ‘Positive living’ is where we collude in the Great Pretence that is society, therefore; it’s where we ‘collude in a lie, and then make this act of pointless, self-defeating, craven conformity into a ‘supremely great virtue’, into ‘something to feel proud of’…