Information Isn’t About Anything

Nick Williams
6 min readNov 8, 2023
Image taken from usashaolintemple.com

The Digital World is ‘all for show’, it’s a medium for putting on a show or display. Because it’s a medium nothing that happens in it (nothing that shows up as happening) is real. That’s the whole point right there — the medium works by representing things, not by being them.

This isn’t hard to understand of course. Newsprint on paper is a perfect example — when we buy a newspaper this tells us about the news, but it isn’t the news itself. The medium of itself tells us nothing and this is the reason we aren’t interested in it. Our attitude is that it is the message that carries the information, not the medium. The message is all, whilst whatever it is that bears the message is entirely inconsequential. I could print what I want to say on paper, or I could carve it into a marble slab, but it’s the same message in both cases. In both cases we ignore the medium in order to focus on the message.

This is our way of looking at the world, which is entirely a message-based (or ‘positive’) way. A less familiar example of ‘message versus medium’ might be consciousness as ‘the medium’ and our thoughts as ‘the message’. In our regular rational mode of existence we aren’t in the least bit interested in consciousness itself (no matter what we say) because we can’t help thinking that there’s ‘nothing in it’ — we need for there to be thoughts in our head (i.e., descriptions of the world) in order to have something to hang our attention on. We can’t after all hang our attention on the space between our thoughts, which is — or so we are suggesting — the medium itself (and not just boringly blank emptiness).

We don’t generally stop to consider that thought needs a medium in order to propagate itself because we’re too intent on finding out what our thoughts have to say (which is like saying that when we’re reading a book or newspaper it’s the letters we’re looking at and not the paper they’re written on). We forget about the paper entirely of course — who’s going to sit there for hours staring at a blank page? That would be like sitting in the living room in the evening whilst looking intently at a TV screen that’s been turned off.

In the same way therefore, in our day-to-day lives we don’t pay any attention to the existence of the space between our thoughts, between our ‘positive statements about the world’ — we don’t even know it’s there. Our attention is on ‘the ugly sisters’ rather than Cinderella (who despite being totally unappreciated is doing all the heavy lifting in the background). We will probably say — if questioned — that there isn’t anything there, that it’s just ‘blank emptiness’ and that — for this reason — it doesn’t make any sense to us to call the space between our thoughts ‘consciousness’. It’s not worthy of such a designation. This is how it seems to us when it’s the message we tuned into; this is the ‘positive outlook’, the outlook that recognises structure or form, but not the space the structure exists within. This is Carl Jung means by ‘one-sidedness’ and it is also what the chemist Ilya Prigogine, speaking of the physical world rather than the psyche, means when he states that ‘Entropy is the price of structure.’ ‘Entropy’ and ‘neglect’ are one and the same.

The positive way of looking at things — since it is based on ‘neglect’ or ‘ignoring’ — is extraordinarily limited therefore, even though we absolutely can’t see this when we are in positive outlook mode. We can’t provide any logical argument to ‘prove’ that the positive world is limited (since logic is limited in the very same way that thought is) but — far better than this — we can demonstrate for ourselves that it is by paying attention to the gap between our thoughts instead of the thoughts themselves (which are cheap and repetitive). This doesn’t mean ‘focusing on space’ because it’s not possible to focus on space (any more than it is possible to ‘listen for silence’). ‘Focussing’ is not the thing here — we focus on form by neglecting to pay attention to space — perceptual neglect is what creates the Positive World — and so by switching this around so as to ‘attend specifically to space and ignore form’ isn’t going to work — all that’s happening here is that we’re trying to turn emptiness into form. Instead, what we do is that we cultivate ‘even attention’, which is to say we don’t focus on anything in particular. We’re ‘open to whatever is out there, without having any preconceptions about what is out there…’

When we do this what we inevitably discover (since there’s nothing else to discover!) is that — as J.G. Bennett says — ‘silence is more than sound’ — silence is infinitely more than sound because it isn’t limited by anything. We don’t know this, however. We don’t see that silence is so much more than sound because we’re so tightly focused on the sounds; we don’t notice the vast and incalculable silence that is there in the room with us, so intent are we on thinking about everything (or ‘trying to make sense of everything’). Silence is the biggest thing there is but we’re utterly and profoundly oblivious to it. It’s not just ‘the biggest thing there is’, it’s also the only thing there is — all else is mere mental chatter, all else is a collection of scribbles on a page (albeit scribbles that voraciously seize hold of (and devour) our attention. ‘Nothing stands between man and his one God, so long as man can turn away his eyes from the flaming spectacle of abraxas,’ says Jung in The Red Book.

When we are transfixed by form, allocating to it all importance, then we can’t see the Great Void that all forms exist within. We’re blind to the Dao. If we have an intellectual understanding of voidness then it is as being nothing more than blank emptiness, or lack of content, but this is merely our shallow prejudice. On the contrary, it is our own repetitive mental constructs that are devoid of content (i.e., that are ‘mere hollow appearances’). The Void — as opposed to the concrete world that is created by thought — has no appearance or form but an endless wealth of content, whilst the Positive World (the world of logic, the Polar World of Either /Or) is all appearance and zero content. Form is hollow and space is full, which is of course the exact reverse of how we see things in everyday life.

What we’re talking about here is the Pleroma, in other words, with regards to which Jung says ‘Everything is present, altogether and all at once, in the constant presence of the Pleroma’. [ETH Lectures, page 22.] We say that everything is about the message (and that nothing else has any meaning) but the whole point about a literal message is that it’s telling us about something and since there aren’t really any literal things there to talk about (or for messages to reference) this means that the world that is made up of our message is hollow. Contrary to what we so firmly believe, there is no information in our messages, no information in our logical descriptions of the world (because — as we’ve just said — they’re about something some ‘assumed literal reality’ that just doesn’t exist). In consciousness however there is infinite information, information without beginning or end. All there is is information and that information isn’t about anything. There are no ‘things’ for it to be about, as Bodhidharma tells us…

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