From a psychological point of view, the Number One Danger in life is the danger of falling into a consistent pattern of thinking, a consistent way of perceiving the world. When we do so we very quickly become the victims of our own device, the device in question being the specific pattern or modality of perception that we are utilizing. We’re digging a hole for ourselves, in other words, and whilst we can get very enthusiastic about the digging (because we feel so strongly that we are ‘onto a good thing’) when the enthusiasm runs out then we end up ignominiously stuck in a dank and airless hole that goes nowhere. We won’t see that it goes nowhere because the type of ‘hole’ we’ve been digging is an Entropy Hole — a hole that is made up of ‘lack of perspective’. When there is no perspective available to us then we can’t see what anything really is and so we imagine the hole that we’re stuck in to be reality itself. This is our everyday state of being — the state where we have zero perspective and can’t see things for what they really are.
What has basically happens to us is that we have lost sight of any aspect of the universe that doesn’t correspond with our regular way of seeing things, and so the world we live in becomes itself a regularity. We have lost the capacity to see anything that isn’t ‘predetermined’. This turns out to be a disaster because ‘regularity’ is just another way of talking about redundancy since — in any regular pattern — all that’s going on is that certain key elements are being repeated over and over again (to ‘bulk things up’, as it were). Quantity has replaced quality — that’s what it means to be regular, after all. ‘Regular’ means ‘the repetition of a standard unit’, and the repetition of a standard unit is a meaningless thing. When we add ‘more of the same’ to the situation, we aren’t adding anything. Nothing is changing when we do the same old thing over and over again — a wheel is turning briskly, but it’s not going anywhere.
To regulate something is to ‘make it regular’ and to make something regular is to ‘turn it into a repeating pattern’ and the pertinent point about this is that a repeating pattern is a pattern with no information in it. We could say that this is a process in which ‘reality is converted into unreality’, but it would be better to say that it is ‘the process in which reality is converted into a loop of unreality which wholly contains us and which we cannot — on this account — see to be unreal. We have no referents outside of the loop we’re in. We could furthermore say that the way the ‘loop of unreality’ contains us (the only way it can contain us) is by converting us into its own unreal terms. Our urge to ‘regulate everything’ is the same thing as our urge to nullify ourselves, therefore. Regulation itself is ‘the danger’, as we read here in the Tao Te Ching. [Verse 32. Trans. Stephen Hodge. 2002]
When we begin to regulate, there is naming,
But when there has been naming
We should also know how to stop.
Only by knowing how to stop can we avoid danger.
Only what has ‘already been decided in advance’ is allowed into the loop; if it isn’t on the guest list then it won’t be allowed in through the door, if it doesn’t exactly match a template that we already have then we won’t register it. The idea of paying selective attention to our environment is of course perfectly familiar to us but there is a twist here that we don’t tend to pick up on — to regulate something is to make it predictable, which is of course the whole point, but we’re also doing which isn’t so obvious — what we’re doing is that by regulating the process in question we’re taking all the information out of it. We’re transforming information into redundancy, which is a somewhat dubious thing to do. We’re turning reality into a parody of itself. We don’t see it like this from our point of view, however; from our POV we’re ‘bringing things into line with how we think they should be’ and this seems like a very worthwhile endeavour to us. Nothing could be more important — we’re bringing order into the world, we’re creating a system that can serve us.
To regulate a natural process is to turn it into an ‘empty illusion’ however — whenever any natural phenomenon is brought into line with our thinking about ‘how it should be’ we are creating an illusion, the reason for this simply being that our ideas aren’t part of reality and so whatever we bring into line with these ideas isn’t going to be part of reality either. The basic process of thought is when information is edited by filtering it through our categories, such that only that information which gets ‘caught’ by the categories (like sand from a beach being caught in a bucket) gets to be kept. This turns what is essentially unpredictable into a completely regulated kind of thing — the output of the machine (i.e., the ‘processed’ information) is now nothing more than the same basic units turning up in various different combinations. This is a very curious thing though because what’s happened here is that the original information (the information entering the machine) has been covertly transformed into a kind of ‘null version’ of itself.
There is therefore the appearance of something happening when this isn’t the case — a clever illusion is being orchestrated. The real is being transformed into the merely nominal, the thing itself is being turned into the description of the thing, the symbol or name for the thing. If we’re talking in terms of movement then ‘regulation’ means that the movement is obliged to take place strictly within parameters which we ourselves have picked. In other words, the so-called movement is not allowed to proceed in any old way in any way but only in the way that we ourselves have previously decided. This might seem straightforward enough, but the problem here (which we find very hard to spot) is that this is ‘movement in name only’. By putting these parameters in place we have ‘defined’ the movement — we have said what it is and whilst this might seem like a reasonable enough thing to do we’ve actually done is to turn everything on its head.
There is no movement going on because the so-called movement never moves away from our description of it, a specification of it. If the regulated or conditioned type of movement that we’re talking about here ‘never departs from our description of it’ then what this means is that the movement actually is our description of it. If there’s nothing in the movement that isn’t already in the description of the movement then how can we separate the two, and say that they are two different things? Actual equals Expected in this case when <A = E> then what we’re looking at here is an exercise in redundancy, as we’ve just said. When <A = E> then there’s only really <A> the so-called <E> is nothing more than a copy or duplicate, nothing more than a tautological restatement of the original fact. The reason Actual equals Expected is because the two are the same thing and so for us to make something of this (i.e., for us to say that <A = E> is meaningful) is disingenuous to say the least. Movement that takes place within limits is not movement and change that can be defined is not change.
This therefore gives us a very straightforward way of pointing at the mechanism by which the real is converted into the hyperreal — hyperreality -we might say — is when everything about the system under investigation is already contained within our description of that system, our specification of that system. When it’s the real world that we’re talking about then this can never happen; we might naively imagine that this could be a possibility (if we have a sophisticated enough description) but actually this is a flat-out impossibility; it’s a flat-out impossibility because what it means is that we have to completely seal off (or contain) the portion of the universe that is under investigation and while this might be possible in theory — we do this all the time in our thinking — it’s not possible in the actual real universe (which is an Anaxagorean-Type Universe). Divisions in the universe can — as we need hardly point out — never be a real thing when ‘everything is already in everything else’. Thus, every time we subdivide the world into parts and then give these parts names or designations (as if they were real things in themselves) we are generating hyperreality. We’re generating hyperreality by the bucket load… So what this means is that language — when it is used according to its own rules — is a generator of hyperreality. To talk is to lie, in effect. Language — when used literally — creates spooks says Robert Anton Wilson, and the thing is that we almost always do use it literally. We use language literally (or mechanically) as a default, and this is understandable because that is the way we’re ‘supposed’ to use it (we’re ‘following the rules’, in other words).
Our (conditioned) nature is such that we automatically imagine that following the rules is always going to be the best thing, which is what Philip K Dick calls ‘service in error’. In reality however, when we follow the rules then this means that language is using us rather than vice versa; it is compelling us to see the world in its way and ‘its way’ — as we keep saying — is a way that generates illusion. We would have to rebel against the status quo in order to stand a chance of seeing what’s true. Just about all of us live via our concepts, via our ideas or categories, via the language that has been given to us, and because all categories, all ideas, concepts, words, etc., are based on rules (i.e., on our fixed criteria for deciding what gets included or excluded) this means that our lives are hyperreal. We’re fully paid-up citizens of Toytown, where nothing anyone says or does is worth a damn!
We don’t have to let our language (or our thinking) determine how we see the world however — our categories, as Carlos Castaneda says, are dead things whilst we are not. When we let our categories of thought determine what we see as real or unreal then ‘the mechanical triumphed over the spontaneous’. We create a system that made out of logic and then that system subsumes us and makes us part of it; we create a world that is made of things and so we become a thing too. Anything we find in a category is always going to be ‘just another thing’ — anything that exists in a subordinate state to a rule or criterion is of course going to be ‘just another dead abstraction. ‘We classify the world and the world classifies us,’ says Carlos Castaneda — we construct ourselves in relation to the system of abstractions that we have put in place and so we become abstract ourselves.
In short, we cannot do or think anything when we were in the purposeful-rational mode that does not generate yet more hyperreality for us to get hopelessly lost in, and this modality of existence is the only one we know. The platform we operate from in daily life is a platform that is based on regularities, as we have said. We don’t have to say what these regularities consist of — we could say that the platform is made up of thoughts or that it is made our language, but we don’t have to go into that. All we need to know is that our platform is made up of logic — it’s a platform that is made of logic and it doesn’t support anything but logic. When we utilise this platform — as we do all the time — we generate hyperreality — we ‘extend the tautology of thought’ and there are two points we can make about this —  We can say that the subjective impression being created here is that we are ‘moving forward into new territory’ and —  We can also say that underlying this appearance the reality is that the territory we are moving so boldly into is an extension of the platform, a projection of where we already are. The appearance and the reality couldn’t be more different, therefore.
The Platform of Thought is the quintessential example of ‘a static fixture’ and so the one thing we’ll never find here is flow — we’ll never find any flow here since the categories that make it up simply won’t allow it. Categories are an ordering principle — they organize the world according to rules and free movement can’t come out of rules. If we were to speak in terms of ‘the Platform of Logic’ we could express this by saying that the platform is comprised of linear relationships and that the proportionalities involved in these relationships are always conserved no matter what. Change can take place, logic tells us, but only if those essential proportionalities are faithfully preserved. This is what logic is all about — change that is based on fixed rules, change that proceeds along established furrows, change that never deviates from the formula that specifies it. If we wanted to ditch predictable or linear change, and bring in genuine change (i.e., change that doesn’t stay within limits) then we’d have to dispense with logic entirely. We’d have to get rid of all the rules, all the grooves, all the biases which have been built into the system. When all the biases are gone then there is free movement, movement that isn’t being overshadowed by extrinsic determinants. This however is something that we can never bring about when we’re operating from the platform.
There’s no way that we can regulate our own regulation so that we are no longer over-regulating ourselves and this is the irreversibility associated with all logical / purposeful action. When we try to improve things we end up making them worse; when we try to loosen up the noose that’s around us, we pull it even tighter. The reason we can’t see this how this is happening is because when we operate on the basis of the Platform of Logic we perceive ourselves to be moving into new territory when actually we’re not — we perceive ourselves to be ‘doing something different’ and this means that we stand a chance of bringing about a different type of an outcome. Because of this property that the Platform of Logic has to generate reams and reams of hyperreality we perceive ourselves to be engaging with a whole range of ‘new’ possibilities some of which — we hope — might facilitate the type of change we’re looking for. Our hope that ‘something new is somehow going to happen’ is a function of our not recognizing hyperreality for what it is, therefore. In a nutshell, we’re trying to ‘gain freedom as a result of our logical manoeuvres’ when the truth of the matter is that freedom is the one thing logic (or purposeful activity) can never deliver…
The point is that are no new possibilities in the POL and that there is therefore never going to be any such thing as ‘a platform-launched movement into fresh territory’. We’re not moving from the spot; we never get to step off the platform and onto the train. To use Richard Bach’s metaphor, it’s as if we’re sitting there on our chairs in the cinema passively watching a film — as we take in the film we have the subjective experience of there being new possibilities unfolding in front of our eyes, whilst actually there’s nothing ‘new’ happening at all since the film we’re watching can only ever unfold in the one, totally predetermined way. There never were any other possibilities — we can watch the movie a million different times and still nothing new will ever happen.
We’re not really moving into ‘virgin territory’ therefore — nothing could be further from the truth, in fact. We have been supplied with the appearance of the movement, the appearance of some kind of ‘unfolding,’ but because this is just a trick or a gimmick what we’re really doing is that we’re ‘doing the same old thing over and over again whilst expecting a different outcome’. We might imagine that the outcome is different each time, but it isn’t! We’re putting a lot of effort and energy into our logical / purposeful activity but because this activity is ‘the same thing all over again’ that merely serves to create an extra layer of obscuration, an extra layer of confusion. The POL is ‘a machine for creating believable illusions’ (we might say) but the illusions in question only get to be believable because of the entropy debt that gets incurred each time. Every time we carry out a logical operation we lose more perspective, in other words, and so the progress we might seem to be making is actually just a function of our self-willed blindness. We can have as many ‘goes’ on the Illusion Machine as we like, but only at the price of invisibly depleting our own perspective more and more each time…
Every time we utilise the Platform of Logic we remove ourselves from reality one more time, therefore. Every operation we undertake on the basis of the POL creates another swathe of invisible insulation and it is this invisible insulation (or ‘neurotic barrier’) that lies behind all our troubles. This is why we can say that our patterns that we fall into imprison us — the more times we enact a logical pattern the more entropy we incur and the more entropy we incur the deeper the hole we’re stuck in gets. Only we can’t see the hole at all — we’re completely unable to see just how very ‘stuck’ we are and the reason for our total incapacity to see the hole that we’re in is because we are it. It’s not just that repeating the same pattern of thinking and behaving over and over again means that we end up at the bottom of a deep, deep hole that we can’t see to be a hole, but rather that we are the hole…