Chasing The Token

Nick Williams
5 min readAug 20, 2021

Polarity is an oversimplification of reality; more than just ‘an oversimplification’, it is an inversion. It’s the perfect antithesis of reality, the reciprocal of reality — ‘reality to the minus one’. Polarity is reality turned on its head.

Reality equals information, we might say. It is always new and it is never old. Polarity, on the other hand, is never new — it’s a perennial repeat, it’s a wheel going around, an endless repetition of YES followed by NO, PLUS followed by MINUS.

It’s not just the case that polarity consists of ‘two things that rotate around each other’ either — the two things that appear to be rotating around each other are actually the same thing. The two opposing poles that make up a polarity are like the two ends of a seesaw — when one end is pushed down the other is elevated and vice versa, and this seesawing is the only thing that ever goes on in a polarity. This is what a polarity is it’s a constant seesawing between two apparently different opposites that are actually the same thing.

This is the mechanism that creates a polarity and the one thing it can never do is produce actual information. Instead, the mechanism produces fake information or pseudo-information. The ‘pseudo-information’ in question relates to the manifestation of one pole of the expense of another; we depress one end of the seesaw and then act as if the raising of the other end is somehow a genuine development! We interpret this ‘event’ as information, as something new happening, as a genuine result! It is the fact that we perceive the ‘pseudo-event’ of one pole giving way to the other as a genuine event that causes us to stay interested in the wheel as it keeps on turning…

Polarity thus simulates information in a very crude way. It creates its own version. It is a very crude simulation that we’re talking about here and it is one that is achieved by a very cheap trick, but it is a very effective trick all the same. It’s like watching what appears to be a continuous feed of CCTV footage but which is really a closed loop that keeps on repeating. As long as we don’t spot the substitution we can watch the footage forever, totally unaware that we have been duped, totally unaware that we have been ‘separated from reality’. ‘Closed’ has replaced ‘Open’ and no one is any the wiser…

What prevents us from spotting the substitution is the fact that we are always looking ahead to the promise of ‘what is going to happen next’. We have our eyes on the prize, in other words, and so we don’t have eyes for anything else! A good way to understand the way in which our attention is being kidnapped here is to think in terms of games — in a game our attention is captured by the prospect of winning. The glamour of winning is (we might say) that it doesn’t really matter what it technically consists of, just so long as we do win. It’s not what we may happen to win that counts, in other words, but the winning itself!

What we’re talking about here is theatricality, therefore. It’s the show that matters, it’s the appearance of winning that counts here rather than the actual content of it. We don’t consciously dwell on the theatrical nature of our games of course; If we did this then the games in question would immediately become flat and lifeless; as Robert de Ropp says in his book The Master Game — we would then experience ennui, we would no longer be motivated to play. Who wants to attain a ‘hollow prize’, after all? We have — in playing a game — put ourselves into the hands of appearances therefore. We have thrown ourselves at the mercy of the Theatrical Realm. Appearances are now everything to us; ‘the appearance’ has become synonymous with ‘the thing itself’ and so reality has been neatly short-circuited.

This is another way of talking about the Realm of the Hyperreal therefore; The description now equals what is being described, ‘the map’ is now identical to ‘the territory’ and so the territory itself can now be disposed of. When we are in the Realm of the Hyperreal then ‘glamour’ can attach itself to anything — the ROTH is like a vast wardrobe full of very many hangers and the glamour of winning (or the glamour of attaining) is like a coat that can be hung on any hanger at all. The coat itself doesn’t give a damn which hanger it ends up being hung on! We never scrutinise the bare metal frame of the hanger after all — we have eyes only for the coat.

It is because of the irresistibly intoxicating attraction of the lure that is being dangled in front of us that we never spot the fact that we’ve been short-changed, reality-wise. We’re not looking at the nitty-gritty of what’s going on, we are fixated instead upon the intoxicating glamour that attaches itself to the idea of winning and this glamour (almost) never fails to excite us. Winning stands for ‘obtaining the ultimate good’, so to speak, and ‘obtaining the ultimate good’ ultimately means becoming real or achieving Wholeness, even though we don’t ever examine what we’re chasing enough to see this. We never examine what we’re chasing after at all, we’re far too busy chasing it. We’re too busy chasing the token to see that it is only a token.

Spinning the wheel of polarity will never return us to the state of Wholeness however, no matter how much frantic effort we put into the spinning. Chasing a phantom echo of reality will never lead us to the genuine article. The closed loop of CCTV footage on the monitor will never reconnect us to ‘real time’ again, no matter how long we might spend watching it. Compulsively eating of the fruit of the Lotus (like Ulysses’ crew on the Island of the Lotus Eaters) will never enable us to wake up, even if we keep on dining on it until the end of time, and the ‘sleep-inducing Lotus fruit’ that we’re talking about here is of course nothing other than the polarity of thought, which is — as we have said — the crass over-simplification (or rather inversion) of what actually IS real and not merely ‘the teasing theatrical appearance’ of it.