The Inverted Miracle Of The Generic Self

Nick Williams
6 min readDec 28, 2020

The generic self is created by repetition; the ‘miracle’ — so to speak — of the generic self is achieved via the magic of serializaton! This business of ‘repetition’ is an amazing thing therefore, in one way at least, since it allows for the creation of an entire virtual universe! In another way of course, there is no miracle at all — what’s so great about repetition, after all? Repetition isn’t anything — repetition is only repetition. It’s pure redundancy and nothing more, it’s a tautology…

The generic or mind-created self couldn’t exist without repetition however; it couldn’t exist without the very cheap miracle of the ‘repeat performance’, and in one way we could say that this is achieved at very little cost — there’s no cost here because all we have to do is copy what was already there and copying is very easy, as everyone knows. The work is already done after all and so all we are doing is ‘piggybacking’ on an earlier achievement. In another way however there is a cost after all because by taking the easy way out like this we are incurring an ‘invisible difficulty’ and the invisible difficulty that we’re talking about here is that we have lost our connection with reality. This is Baudrillard’s ‘perfect crime’.

We lose our connection with reality when we ‘copy what came before’ because reality isn’t a continuity. We might assume that it is — we do assume that it is — but we make this assumption only because thought (or logic) is a continuity. Just because logic operates on the basis of continuity doesn’t mean that reality does, however — that doesn’t follow at all! If we say that reality is a logical continuity then this would mean that it doesn’t contain any information in it and this straightaway presents us with problems. If reality doesn’t contain any information then nothing could ever happen in it, and if nothing new can happen then that’s the same as saying that ‘nothing can ever happen in reality’ and if nothing can ever happen in reality then — not to put too fine a point on it — ‘reality’ wouldn’t actually be real. It wouldn’t be able to function as such! It wouldn’t be fit for purpose…

What kind of reality would it be if nothing could ever happen in it, after all? But if we do come around to admitting that reality can’t be a logical continuity then straightaway we are confronted with the plain and simple fact that the self can’t be real. Either reality can’t be real or the self can’t be — it’s one way or the other.There is absolutely no way around this — if what we’re calling ‘reality’ is a discontinuity (as we have just argued that it is) and if the self is a continuity (which it has to be if it is to be a self) then we are being led by the hand to the very clear and very self-evident observation that the self is not in any way real. If we were to ponder the matter then we would grasp this point in a flash and there would moreover be nothing in the least bit controversial about this observation. We never do ponder the matter however and as a result of our lack of pondering this particular observation (the observation of the nonexistence of the self) not only comes across as a complete and utter surprise, it also comes across as a complete and utter surprise that we are not in a million years ever going to accept!

The self is essentially a cheat. What we are saying therefore is that the self is essentially a cheat because what we are doing is copying and a copy has no information in it. A copy is nothing new, in other words. A copy is an extension of the past into the present and as a result there is no present — there is only ever the past, as Krishnamurti says. Perversely, the old triumphs over the new. We have been cheated out of the present; we have cheated ourselves out of the present, which is always new. The creation of the self might be counted as ‘a miracle’ but it is a very cheap and nasty miracle, as we have just said. Rather than embrace the ‘work’ that is in the discontinuity, we have opted to make ourselves blind to the fact that there is any such thing as ‘the Discontinuity’ and we’ve turned everything into an extension or perpetuation of the past instead. We have unwittingly brought into being the ‘Viroid Self’ which exists as snug as a bug in a rug within the viralized version of reality (i.e. within the invisible tautology which is the ‘Viroid World’.

‘Reality is work’, says JG Bennett, and this is just another way of saying that reality is always new, and that we can’t ‘get by’ by simply copying the past (or repeating what we supposedly know about the past). Copying the past is cheating and cheating is especially attractive because it seems to be a way of avoiding, with impunity, the work that would otherwise be necessary. This apparently ‘successful’ avoidance of work manifests itself as euphoria, or ‘reward’, and the thing about a reward is that it is rewarding — once we avoid what appears to be unavoidable we get a ‘high’ from it and that high is nothing if not addictive. What could be better than ‘something for nothing’, after all? The only thing is, free lunches aren’t really for free, as we probably ought to know! There is a price to be paid somewhere and the fact that we can’t see the price that we have paid is a bad thing not a good thing. We’re acting as if it were a good thing but it isn’t.

Cheating — if successful — brings an immediate payoff but there is always a downside and the downside isn’t too long in showing itself. The downside in this case — as we have already said — is that we have parted company with reality without knowing it. Instead of reality we now have ‘the continual of thought’, which pretends to be reality. The continuum of thought has a trick up its sleeve and its trick is to keep on shuffling the deck so that the old appears to be the new — mutton is cunningly disguised as lamb and this is how we get to have the perception that something is actually happening when it isn’t. The generic or mind-created self is stuck in a frozen moment of time therefore and it’s not ever going to get anywhere different. It’s not ever going to get anywhere different, and nothing new is ever going to happen to it.

So we do pay a price for avoiding the unavoidable work that equals ‘the Discontinuity’. We’ve been too clever for our own good and we’ve cheated ourselves out of reality itself. In a way — in an indirect way — we do know this and we get by via the trick of imagining that ‘the good thing is just around the corner’, as Alan Watt says. We might see this ‘good thing’ in a number of different ways; we might envisage the bonus payment that is coming our way as being this or being that, but what we are actually hankering after is reality itself. That’s the important thing that is missing, after all. The generic or purposeful self is constantly motivated by this dream, this hope, this super-seductive fantasy, and that’s why we make such a big deal about believing in our goals and doing our very best to reach them. That’s why goals are magic to us. Even though we don’t know it, what we are actually on about (what we are actually hankering for) is nothing other than reality itself, which just happens to be the one thing that the self can never have any dealings with…