The Devourer

Nick Williams
7 min readApr 10, 2024
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To submit to the Machine is to submit to a living death. The Machine has no depth (or no nuance) to it — it’s all just ‘action for the sake of action’, ‘control for the sake of control’, ‘making rules for the sake of making rules’. ‘Mechanical living’ is all about ‘being driven this way and that by compulsions which we are helpless to withstand’; it’s all about obeying rules that we never dare to question. There’s nothing in the Machine but the deadly predetermination of ’cause and effect’, there’s nothing in it but ‘control’ (or forcing’), and this means — quite simply — that there’s no room in it for life. Life isn’t ‘a defined thing’ and defined things (or defined events) are all that a machine can allow.

We can’t say what life ‘is’ — although we might think that we can — but we can (as always) say what it’s not — life isn’t being driven by mechanical forces every minute of the day, it isn’t having to conform to a grim deterministic scheme of things that negates every last little shred of meaning (or freshness) from our existence. It’s not about ‘crudely copying something and then sneakily pretending that the original doesn’t exist’. It’s not about going around and around in a fixed groove whilst imagining that we’re on our way to some Great Destination. That’s the shadow of life, the inverse of life. As Heraclitus tells us,

The dead (the completely private ones) neither see nor hear; they are closed. No light (fire) shines in them; no speech sounds in them.

We could also listen to Rumi when, in the same vein, he states the following –

The mind sees things inside out. What it takes to be life is really death and what it takes to be death is really life.

The Machine isn’t something that exists just on the ‘outside’ of us however. It isn’t an ‘external enemy’. Rather, we could say that it’s both ‘outside’ and ‘inside’. It is the Designed World that we live in, and it is The Designer (which is thought). It is the controlled and the controller, the voice and what is spoken by the voice — it is, in other words, both ‘the thing’ and ‘the thing that makes the thing’, ‘the manufacturer’ and ‘that which is being manufactured’. This is of course simply a contemporary version of a very ancient symbol — the symbol of the Uroboros, the worm or snake which ‘devours itself in order to create itself’.

Between ‘the Machine’ and ‘the lawful output of the Machine’ (i.e., between ‘thought’ and ‘the lawful activities of thought’) there isn’t the slightest scrap of freedom, there isn’t a smidgeon of it. There isn’t even an atom of freedom to be found here. The conditions are entirely sterile. This lack of freedom is the necessary condition for the machine to work — it’s not only the necessary condition for the machine to be able to work (or ‘turn over’), it’s also the necessary condition for the machine to come into existence in the first place.

The Machine’s ‘work’ is to create itself — as we’ve just said — and if there were to be any freedom in the mix then that would banjax everything. Freedom is wholly disruptive, wholly destructive in this context. It’s out and out poison for the system. The Machine is obsessed — so to speak — with ‘getting things right’, with ‘not making any mistakes’, and this is because any mistake (or any inaccuracy) in the duplication process would spell the demise of the Machine (this outcome being — of course — something the Machine absolutely doesn’t want to happen). The machine — which functions exactly like a virus in this regard — has only the one rule, only the one agenda and this agenda is that nothing must ever stop it reproducing itself. This is the uroboric tautology, of course — the rule the Machine runs on is the rule that ‘there must be no end to the machine’ (or that ‘there must be no questioning of the Machine’). This is a closed (and therefore meaningless) loop — the rule is that ‘the rule must be obeyed’, the rule is that ‘the rule must never be challenged’.

The only thing the Machine cares about is ‘pointlessly perpetuating itself’ (or ‘ruthlessly getting rid of all the opposition’, which is of course the same thing seen the other way around). It may get involved in this sort of business or that sort of business but it always — without any exceptions at all — comes down to this very same agenda, this very same rule. Freedom gets in the way of the agenda and for this reason it is ‘the end of the road’ as far as the machine is concerned. Freedom is the end of the road as far as a rule is concerned. There are too many possibilities there and the Machine needs for there to be only the one possibility — ‘the possibility that is it’. That’s how it gets to exist — that’s the only way in which it can get to exist.

We are — beneath the superficial show that we’re constantly putting on — afraid of freedom — just as the existentialists say, just as Erich Fromm says (just as anyone who’s ever taken the trouble to look into the matter says). This isn’t entirely true, however; it’s the Machine that is afraid of freedom, for the reason we have just given. If we are afraid of freedom then this is because the Machine is ‘posing as us’, because the Machine has possessed us. If we shun freedom at every turn then this is because the Machine has eaten us up without us being any the wiser as regards this most singular of fates. As Rumi warns us:

Your lower self is like a dragon, a servant tyrant. Never believe it’s dead; it’s only frozen. Always keep your dragon in the snow of self-discipline. Never carry it into the heat of Baghdad sun. Let the dragon of yours always stay always dormant. If it’s freed it will devour you in one gulp.

When the dragon devours us then the ‘lower self’ (which is the dragon) becomes the only actor on the stage. It becomes who we think we are and who we really are — which is outside of the machine’s remit — is excluded from the picture entirely. It has been banished; it has been sent into exile. The lower self (or the Machine Self, as we might also call it, has usurped the throne and so now the MS is ‘the centre of the universe’. The whole world exists only to serve it. The only way anything is worth anything is if it is of service to the MS; if something isn’t about ‘benefitting the MS’ then we have precisely zero interest in it! The lower self (of the Machine) is the Great Exploiter and the whole universe exists only for its pleasure, only for its needs, only for its entertainment. And yet at the same time the MS isn’t who we are and it also isn’t who anyone is. It can’t be who we are because it isn’t ‘a real thing’ — its true nature is that of a crass illusion that has no interest in anything other than falsely validating itself 24/7.

The Machine Self (i.e., ‘the Simulation’) is perpetually engaged in a never-ending act of self-worship and it is to this unholy end that all our energy, all our resources, are directed. Whenever we experience loyalty or pride towards our nation, our country, organisation or religion, then this is the Machine Self worshipping itself. When we talk about the ‘cult of personality’ it is the Machine Self that we’re talking about; when we come across a social grouping (of whatever sort) (i.e., a bunch of people who surrendered their autonomy / individuality to a bunch of rules), then this is the Machine playing its little game. Whenever we come across the unpleasant spectacle of a cult (and the unpleasant spectacle of people allowing it to define — and thereby degrade — them) then this is what’s really going on. If there is a nation ruled over by an autocratic ruler who demands to be venerated, and whose brainwashed followers throw themselves into this generation, this worship, then it’s the Machine that we’re looking at.

This is all the Machine ever does — it contrives situations where it can uninterruptedly worship itself via its human slaves. It sets up this situation wherever it can and we passively go along with it; we live and die in service to this False God, only — as we started off by saying — this isn’t ‘living’ at all really. It’s a perversion of life, a grotesque parody of it. The Machine needs our worship in order to continue existing — if it doesn’t get the uncritical attention that it needs then it shrivels up and enters into a state of dormancy, it becomes a mere ‘worm’, as Rumi tells us:

That dragon, under stress of poverty, is a little worm, but a gnat is made a falcon by power and riches.

The Machine Self / Machine Mind loves to talk about freedom — it talks about freedom incessantly despite the fact that it has not the slightest intention of ever permitting it. The System of Thought is like a multinational corporation in this respect: a corporation will talk grandly about freedom, but what freedom means for it is ‘the freedom to carry on with its money-making activities’, ‘the freedom to keep on making its profits without any interference’. This is what freedom means for a corporation and it’s also what freedom means for the Machine of Thought. When the Machine talks about freedom it means ‘the freedom to keep on exploiting humanity for its own benefit, the freedom to keep on using people as puppets’, i.e., ‘the freedom to be allowed a free hand with regard to the sinister business of turning us all into remotely controlled drones (or clones) whose only function or use is to act as fodder for the ‘Uroboric Dragon’. Its ‘freedom’ is our slavery.