The Analogue of Truth

Nick Williams
10 min readMar 24, 2024
Image — worldhistory.org

It is in the nature of reality to ‘pretend to be what it isn’t’ (or to ‘hide its true nature from us’) says Heraclitus. Stuff isn’t straightforward in the way we always think it is, in other words. Things — as it is said — ‘are not what they seem’. There is ALWAYS more to the world than we think there is — reality is ‘deep rather than shallow’, ‘nuanced rather than bland’, ‘subtle rather than crude’.

The universe isn’t so much an ‘intelligence test’ (not in the way that we would usually think of intelligence anyway) as it is a test of how much we really want to know what’s going on. It is of course normal for us to perceive ourselves as being properly interested in the truth; it would be rather very odd for us to perceive otherwise — to plainly see ourselves as not being interested in the truth would be paradoxical! We almost always perceive ourselves as being interested in discovering the truth, as being interested in engaging wholeheartedly in life, and so on but this is only a ‘shallow appearance’, a cheap fiction we can hide behind. It’s a mask…

It could be said that in accordance with our lack of interest in seeing the truth we play along with this deceptive characteristic of reality (i.e., the property it has of ‘seeming to be what it isn’t’, the property it has of offering us false surfaces) we take things at face value. We are always free to take things at face value, but that doesn’t mean that doing so is in any way ‘legitimate’. This way we get to create the impression that we aren’t hiding from reality, that we aren’t averse to knowing what’s going on, whilst ensuring at the same time that we avoid seeing anything that we don’t want to see, anything that might upset the rickety old apple cart that we are busy trundling around with. We pick some interpretation of ‘what’s going on’, something obvious, something unambiguous, and then — having down this — we make this arbitrary interpretation into a solid basis (or foundation) that we don’t ever have to look at again.

We could therefore ask ourselves at this point if Nature is allowing us to get away with this strategy? Is Nature smiling upon us? Is this what we’re ‘supposed’ to do? We could ask if nature facilitates us in ignoring or denying the deeper (or unstated) reality and the answer to this question would appear to be that we are facilitated in our quest for unconsciousness, that we are facilitated in our eternal quest for the type of life where we never have to question ourselves again, but this isn’t really the case. All we have to do to see this is take a look around us at what’s going on in the world, after all. What’s going on all around us is non-stop unconsciousness, on a global scale. It’s full-on unconsciousness…

The bottom line is that things aren’t what they seem to be, as we started off this discussion by saying. Having no interest in the deeper reality, in the ‘non-fake’ reality, is the default state, to the sure, but nature isn’t really colluding with us on this, even though this might appear to be the case on the surface of things. Nature isn’t colluding with us because there is always this conflict going on under the surface, this conflict between ‘how things are’ and ‘how we want them to be’ — we can fool ourselves into thinking that we’ve got things to be the way we want them to be but that just never happens. Truth can’t be altered! Truth doesn’t allow itself to be buried in the way that we want it to be and it shows its hand in the way that things never really work out for us. Things might look as if they’re ‘working out nicely’, we might be convinced that ‘it’s in the bag’, but they aren’t, and it isn’t. We might have been able to get things to appear to go our way in the short term — which has the effect of lulling us into a false sense of ontological security — but this is never really the case. Things are never ‘in the bag’, we just imagine that they are…

In Jungian (or Neo Jungian) terms, we could say that the rational intellect loves to make plans (or that it loves to create neat and tidy systems) but then this is counterbalanced (or compensated for) by the Unconscious in the guise of the Trickster Archetype, which delights in upsetting these plans, in sabotaging these neat and tidy systems of ours. Thought does its thing, trying to impose its arbitrary band of order upon the world, whilst at the same time the unconscious does its thing, throwing whopping great spanners into the works when we least expect it. We might mutter darkly about ‘chaos’ and the need to overcome it, the need to iron out all the randomness from the system, but chaos is simply how the reality which we have denied (or are in the ongoing process of denying) manifests itself. Thought fantasizes about creating the ideal solution to all our problems, but — as we keep saying — this is just never going to happen. Only the Whole exists and the Whole cannot be meaningfully divided. As Jesus says in Saying 77 of the Gospel of Thomas

It is I who am the all. From me did the all come forth, and unto me did the all extend. Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there.

Thought assumes its own type of reality, however; it assumes the existence of a type of reality which can be divided (and subdivided) at will, the type of reality that can be mapped out logically, the type of reality that always follows the rules… This is the shallow reality that easily opens himself up to us; this is the parody of reality in which ‘all is known’, in which there are no mysteries, where there is nothing that has not been disclosed… What we’re talking about here isn’t a bona fide act of perception, however — we can’t dignify what’s going on here by calling it perception because perception can never be shallow. Perception can’t be superficial because the real isn’t superficial. When we relate to the familiar world (the explicit ‘what you see is what you get’ world that we all take for granted, the world that doesn’t demand radical change on our part) what we are relating to is ‘our own device’. It’s as if we’re using a type of radar that can only register those elements in our environment that we ourselves have put there. Before we do anything else we project our own framework on to the world, which is a device that works by filtering out anything that’s ‘irrelevant to our purposes’ (as it were), and this means that we’re playing some kind of ‘private game’, rather than relating to ‘the world that is common to us all’, as Heraclitus puts it. Crucially — therefore — we can’t talk of ‘awareness’ or ‘perception’ (or consciousness’) in a game. Rather than talking about consciousness (in this context) we can instead talk about the analogue of consciousness, just as we can talk about the game that we’re playing as ‘an analogue (or ‘version’) of reality’.

There is no such thing as ‘consciousness in the game’ — there’s only the game and the game can’t tell us anything about the game. To see anything at all we would need perspective and perspective is the very thing that we don’t have in a game. In a game everything is ‘on the surface’, everything is ‘as it has been stated as being’; this doesn’t mean that the game (or ‘the Formal World’) doesn’t ‘tell us about the game’ (because it does that all the time) but what it does mean is that the game can’t tell us anything that is true, anything that would actually give us insight. Nothing in the game is true — or if we want to put this another way — what is said to be true in a game is true only in the sense that we have agreed in advance for it to be. It’s tautologically true, in other words, and that’s just another way of saying that it’s total nonsense!

The way that a logical system works is that ‘validity’ (which is the analogue of truth) is determined by comparing the proposition under consideration with the inviolable standard (or yardstick). The fact that the standard is utterly inviolable, unexaminable, etc, means that there’s no way to show that it is true; that’s just not possible, but we get around with this by ignoring the matter, by ‘looking the other way’ and concentrating entirely on validating other stuff according to our established criteria (which is something that we are generally very rigorous about). This is Jung’s one-sidedness, where we see only one half of the picture.The analogue of truth which exists in a game (or in a logical system) is simply compliance, therefore — whatever complies with our ‘unexamined assumptions’ gets to be validated, gets to have the official stamp of approval, but all we’re really doing here — of course — is that we’re extending the field of our unconsciousness out ahead of us wherever we go. We’re extending the field of ‘ignorance-the-existence-of-which-we-are-ignorant’ indefinitely ahead of us wherever we go, and this ensures that we’re never going to get to the end of it. There is ‘no end to unconsciousness’, there is ‘no end to samsara’, there is no end to ‘the type of ignorance the existence of which we are ignorant’ and this is the domain of everyday life. This is the only world we know of, for the most part — it’s certainly the only world that is officially accepted. When we say that something is ‘true within the context of a game’ what we’re saying is that we’re going to accept it because it’s ‘more of the same’, because there’s precedence for it, because it’s a restatement of what we have already stated, or that we’re going to acknowledge it because it ‘matches what we have already agreed to be true’, even though we had no good reason at all for this ‘agreement’…

If we go back far enough we will see that what we have agreed to be true is true only because we have agreed with it — we’re ‘caught up in a loop that doesn’t go anywhere’ therefore, and this is what it means to be playing a game. Essentially, what we doing here is that we are agreeing with ourselves because we have agreed with ourselves what we’re saying is right or true whatever it is we’re saying gets to be right or true because we’ve agreed that it is because we have said that it is, in other words. If we said something else was right, that something else is true, then it will be that way instead and we’d feel equally convinced about it. In this sense, ignorance the existence of which we are ignorant is an utterly impregnable force. What can defeat willful ignorance? We imagine in the course of our everyday lives that’s where able to distinguish between what is real and what is not, that we’re able to differentiate between reality and non reality. We registered was true, separate that from what is not true, and thereby be constructor world for ourselves but this process has nothing to do with consciousness, nothing to do with genuine perception only conditioned perception. It’s just the game that we’re playing and the game doesn’t allow anything else into it that isn’t the game. We’re only ever learning what we’re supposed to learn and so our so-called ‘learning’ is an act of compliance, as we have already said.

Learning (or awareness) is never an act of compliance, however. Becoming aware is always a revolutionary act (as Krishnamurti says); to become aware within the terms of the system that defines reality for us is to become deluded — we are only ‘aware’ (or ‘conscious’) within the terms that have been given to us, within the terms that are being taken for granted by the other game players, only ‘awareness’ — in this case — simply means that we are agreeing to see as true what everyone else in the game sees as true. Becoming genuinely aware changes us — if we are able to perceive the truth (which is an ability that no one comes into the world without, according to the Gnostic philosophers of Old) then this changes us utterly. Instead of awareness however what we have instead is ‘the degenerate analogue thereof’, which is — as we’ve just said — ‘conformity to the game’. The effect of seeing the truth is to free us, therefore, whilst the effect of ‘agreeing to see as true what everyone else sees as true’, is to be protected from change, protected from freedom. ‘If you observe with prejudice, you don’t observe at all.’ says Krishnamurti.

It’s not that reality actively pretends to be something it isn’t, therefore, it’s just that it doesn’t provide us with ‘a formula’ with regard to how to see it; we are allowed to fill in the blanks ourselves, so to speak, even though when we do this we will always get it wrong. We are given us lots and lots of rope and we proceed to tie ourselves up with it, we proceed to tie ourselves up in a big uncomfortable knot with our own explanations, our own rationalisations. We dig a deep hole for ourselves and — out of a ‘deficiency in patience’, so to speak — we proceed to jump right into it. Such is our ontological impatience that we never do see the real world (which is the ‘undescribed world’). The nature of the Cosmos is that it is playful, we could say, and yet we don’t have the patience (or the subtlety) to stick around and appreciate this — the universe ‘makes a move’ — so to speak — and we jump to conclusions, taking everything at face value, in classic ‘village idiot’ fashion. [Playful meaning that there’s no agenda, that there’s no hidden game plan]. We take seriously what the gods meant in jest. As soon as we do this as soon as we get all literal and serious about things — we depart from the world that is ‘common to us all’ (which is the Undescribed or Unstated World) and we enter instead into the private world of our own thoughts, the Mondo Privado. In this sense therefore, we can say that the universe isn’t deliberately hiding from us, or deliberately putting us wrong’, but rather that it is testing us in only in a playful rather than ‘an Old Testament’ type way — we are being tested to see whether we’re genuinely interested in this little thing called ‘the truth’, or whether we’re not…

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