The Reversed Perspective

Nick Williams
8 min readMay 17, 2024
Image Credit — creator.nightdream.studio

Every time we specify an outcome and try to achieve it we straightaway get swallowed up in a tautological loop of logic. Even before we know what this means it sounds bad, and the more we find out about it the worse it gets! Being swallowed up in a tautological loop of logic is not a good thing…

It is impossible to specify an outcome and attempt to achieve it without immediately disappearing in a tautology, just as it is impossible to make a definite or literal statement about the world without being similarly ‘subsumed by the Nullity’. This is a curious thing to consider, given that chasing goals and making definite statements is the only type of activity we (collectively) value, the only type of activity that we as a society consider being worth engaging in. We couldn’t give a damn about anything else.

When we spend all our time acting in accordance with our thoughts (which is of course where our goals and definite statements come from) then we create a very peculiar world for ourselves — we create a world that is made up of nothing else but arbitrary limits that we cannot ever go beyond, that we cannot ever see beyond. With our thinking we are creating a restricted domain that we cannot see to be restricted, an unfree situation which we can’t perceive to be unfree. We can’t see what we’re doing here because we’ve sneakily turned everything around so that slavery has now — most ingeniously — been turned into something that passes itself off as freedom, whilst freedom itself has become something that is beyond our ability to imagine. Freedom is the one thing that cannot ever be represented by thought and since we now inhabit a world that never goes beyond the limits that thought has set for it we find ourselves in a situation where the only thing that is real (the only thing which isn’t a construct) — which is to say freedom — has now become the one thing we can never know about. We have ‘done a number on ourselves’ so that our sterile mental constructs now seem like ‘bone fide content’ and the genuine content (the content which was ‘there all along’ and which was available ‘for free’, as it were) is now completely inaccessible to us.

What allows us to flip everything over in the way in this way is entropy, entropy meaning — in a psychological sense — ‘blindness that we are blind to’, or ‘ignorance that we are ignorant of’. The point is that an arbitrary limit is not really a limit at all — if it’s only there because we have decided that it should be then this means that it’s not actually there at all. We’re pretending that there is a limit — we are playing the game that there is a limit (when there absolutely isn’t). We are projecting a boundary and then — when we have projected it -we’re putting ourselves in the position where we’re now unable to see that the boundary which we have projected is arbitrary (which is the same thing as saying that we have now become incapable of seeing that it was us who put it there). We’ve ‘done a number’ on ourselves, therefore — we’ve pulled off a super-sneaky move behind our own backs and we don’t suspect a thing…

The ’reversal of perspective’ that we’re talking about here comes about because of the way in which we lose sight of the fact that the arbitrary limits which we’ve put in place are arbitrary; what happens when we lose sight of the fact that we were free to place that limit anywhere we wanted (or free not to project it at all, for that matter) is that ‘the limit’ now becomes ‘a goal’. Instead of being a ‘termination of possibilities’ it is now seen as ‘a doorway to them’. Instead of being nothing more than ‘a limit that has been randomly decided upon’ what we have now is ‘something to be aimed at’ — it has become a ‘positive value’, no less. Instead of being something that contains us (or restricts us) the limit is now being seen as a positive value in its own right; it is being seen as something which — if successfully attained — will lead on to great things, wonderful things. This is what is implied by the world ‘goal’, after all — something that is worthwhile achieving. It’s obviously a contradiction in terms to talk in terms of ‘a goal that isn’t worth achieving’.

A goal — as we all know — means that if we fulfil the specific requirements for it then something very good, something of great and surpassing significance, will happen as a result. We wouldn’t get so excited otherwise — we wouldn’t get excited at all, in fact. A goal isn’t just any old thing, after all — a goal is special, a goal is something to getall buzzed up about. Technically speaking, a goal simply means ‘the designated outcome’ — there doesn’t have to be any more significance to it than this (we might say). From a psychological perspective however, the fact that we have specified whatever it is as ‘a goal’ confers significance in itself; by aiming specifically at a point we have already made it special. [By treating it as an issue we have made it into one.] This is a ‘backwards’ sort of logic to be sure (which is to say, we’re arguing that it must be important because we have just said that it is) but it works for us just the same. It works very well indeed considering that just about all we ever do in life is get immersed in our own pointless games. The formula is very simple, as we’ve said — we freely nominate an ideal state of being to aspire to and then — when we get stuck into the business of ‘trying to bring this state into being’ — the freedom that we originally had (with regard to whether we want to nominate or not nominate the said goal) vanishes neatly from sight. It’s as if that freedom were never there…

What ‘spurs us on’ in our efforts to attain the goal is the implicit belief that the goal is a goal for some good reason (not just because we randomly chose for it to be). If we saw that we had decided ‘on a whim’ that some state of affairs will be ‘the ideal one,’ ‘the special one’, etc. then this — very clearly — would mean that it isn’t ‘special’ at all. The act of making something special necessarily involves not seeing that we have made it so, therefore. Choosing the goal and not seeing the freedom that we had to either choose a different goal (or not choose anything at all) are very same movement. It’s not two things we’re doing here but just the one. In effect, whatever we say is real becomes real for us, in the manner of a magical wish-fulfilling mirror. Whatever we want to see, we see. Whatever we assert to be true immediately becomes true, and then — because it has become true — we get stuck in it. “Argue hard enough for your limitations and they shall be yours”, says Richard Bach.

Whatever we say is true straightaway becomes true, but at a price — there’s no such thing as a free lunch, after all! The price — we might say — comes in two parts: the first part of the cost is that the process is irreversible (which is to say, when we choose we immediately get locked into our choice) and the second part is that the reality which we have got locked into is a self-referential one; it’s not an objective reality, in other words, but simply our own private fantasy that we can’t see as such. We’re looking into a mirror and what we see there is what the world would be like if our assumptions about it were valid, which they never can be. Our assumptions about ‘Life, the universe, and everything’ are never going to be valid, no matter what they might be (they’re never going to be valid for the simple reason that our ‘assumptions’ are nothing more than limitations that we are projecting on to the world, and no limitation (no ‘obstruction’) is ever going to prove real. What we’re limiting is real, what we’re arbitrarily obstructing is real, but the limitation / obstruction itself is not. The universe isn’t made out of our ‘arbitrarily assigned limitations’ but unconditional freedom (which is to say, space) — space isn’t space when we limit (or ‘divide’) it and reality isn’t reality when we definite it, when we ‘say what it is’.

To be aware of our horizons is to live in wonder, observes James Carse, and the corollary of this statement is that not seeing our horizon (not seeing the boundary, not seeing the limitation, not seeing the arbitrary cut-off point) is to live in the absence of wonder. There is no wonder in a Closed World! Or — as we could also say — for the self there are no wonders’. There are two ways in which we can look at the world (we could say) — there is the mechanical way and the non-mechanical way. One way shows a world that is utterly devoid of wonder, the other way reveals a world in which there is nothing else but wonder. Oddly (it might seem) we opt for the former and we turn life into a dreary and pointless exercise of ‘ticking the boxes’, a dreary and pointless exercise in ‘going through the motions’, a dreary and pointless exercise in obeying the rules for all the world as if these rules actually meant something (which they don’t.)

All of our games are like this — any given game is always going to be sterile (sterile in the sense of there being nothing coming out of it except what we put in it). The world as it is in itself is ‘endlessly creative’ (because we haven’t carved it up into the unreal compartments of thought yet); the games we get caught up in are however as ‘dry as dust’, they are profoundly lacking in anything of any real interest. The reason the mechanical way of looking at the world doesn’t reveal anything interesting is because all we ever see there is what we put in it in the first place. We’re looking into the Mirror of Self-Reflection where all we will ever see are our own self-inflicted limitations masquerading as ‘the World’. When we turn our back on the real world (the ‘World of Wonders’ then we have to make do with something else. Instead of wonders what we have to make do with instead are our goals — the goals we turn to aren’t in any way wondrous in themselves, but they do promise wonders if we play our cards right. We are promised ‘the sun, the moon and all the stars’ if we play our cards right and this is what keeps us so super-busy, super-active, super-engaged, super-pressurized; the less than inspirational truth is however that it doesn’t matter in the least what cards we have (or how well we play them) — freedom doesn’t come from ‘playing our cards right’, it comes from throwing them away. The cards are simply no good to us — they are just ‘the private game we’re playing’. Contrary to what we believe, there is no good that can come out of them at all…

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