Imaginary Choices

Nick Williams
4 min readFeb 6, 2024
Image — wallpaperflare.com

What kind of possibilities are there for the Extrinsic Self as it goes about its business in the world of Definite Appearances — which is the only world it can ever know, the only world it can have ever have anything to do with?

From the Extrinsic Self’s point of view there are plenty of possibilities there; for it there are no end of possibilities, but it just so happens that none of them are real. The ES is perfectly incapable of seeing this however — for it these possibilities, the good one and the bad ones, are as real as real can be.

This is an odd thing, therefore. The ES exists within a virtual world which has a variety of virtual possibilities in it, some of which are attractive and some of which are the exact opposite of attractive. The ES’s motivation is supplied for it by the virtual reality that it inhabits therefore, and yet it experiences this motivation as being its own, as not coming from the outside. There is no perception of being a puppet. There is no perception of being controlled.

We can go further than this and say that it’s not just that its motivation is provided for it from the outside, but so too is its sense of itself, its sense of being an actual volitional agent. This is perfectly straightforward to understand: when we are identified with the particular ‘token’ which is the ES then we can only understand ourselves in terms of the game we’re playing, which means that we ARE the game that we are playing. It’s not just that ‘the game says who we are’ — the game actually is us and so there is no us, only the game. The game that we’re playing is that there is a ‘me’…

To adapt to a system is to allow ourselves to be defined by that system. If we allow ourselves to be ‘defined by the system’ then this means that we are the system — it means that there’s nothing there but the system. The rule is that <The system only allows the system> and this means that anything else (anything apart from the system) is an unauthorised anomaly. Anything else is ‘an error to be eliminated’, ‘a deviation from the norm that needs to be corrected’, ‘a random fluctuation that needs to be ironed out’.

The Extrinsic Self is a fiction, therefore. It’s a ‘fictional entity’ since in reality there is nothing else there but the Simulation, nothing else there but ‘the machine doing its thing’. What the simulation simulates is both [1] ‘the Extrinsic World’ and [2] The ‘Extrinsic Self’ that supposedly has some kind of separate or ‘independent’ (and therefore meaningful) existence within that virtual world. The Simulation’s fiction is that the ES isn’t the simulation — that it is in fact ‘an autonomous entity’. If we can be persuaded to throw in our lot with this fiction, then we will fully believe that we are the ES (or that the ES is us); to swallow that bit of the illusion is to swallow everything else — to buy into any part of the picture is to buy into the whole shebang, Trojan Horse fashion. This puts us in a very peculiar position therefore — it puts us in the position of being absolutely convinced that we are an autonomous entity when the truth is that we are being ‘operated by the system’ every step of the way. Our apparent autonomy within this show is a function of the system, it is the output (or product) of the system…

The ES is a construct of the machine, a function of the machine, etc., and there isn’t even a tiny little bit of it which isn’t the machine, and yet — as far as we’re concerned — there is no ‘machine’, there is no ‘system’, there is no ‘simulation’! As far as we’re concerned there’s nothing amiss at all and any suggestions that there is something dodgy or underhand going on will be most unwelcome to our ears. If you were to articulate an idea like to a psychiatrist this would set all sorts of alarms bells going off — to believe that you are being controlled by some sort of external mechanical forces or agency, or to feel that thoughts and ideas are being ‘put into your head’ is one of the ‘first rank’ symptoms of schizophrenia. This idea is one of the classic signs of psychosis and from the POV of the Extrinsic Self it is of course perfectly understandable that we should take this position since an awareness like this cannot be admitted without fatally damaging the integrity of the game that is being played). This sort of insight is (as Alan Watts says) taboo

In conclusion, if we to ask ‘What kind of possibilities are there for the Extrinsic Self as it goes about its daily business in the world of Definite Appearances’ then the answer would have to be an uncompromising none at all. There are Zero Possibilities. Saying this doesn’t do justice to the situation however — it’s not sufficient merely to say that there are ‘no possibilities for the Extrinsic Self’ (that there are no possibilities for it to do this, that or the other as it goes about its business in the World of Appearances) — it’s not sufficient to say this because there was never any such a thing as ‘the Extrinsic Self’ in the first place. There was never such a thing as ‘who we think we are’ and so there are no options open to this pseud0-entity, no choices (either of the good or bad variety) that it can make. Its so-called ‘choices’ are — of course — just as illusory as it is.

--

--