The Supreme Attractor State

Nick Williams
14 min readApr 21, 2024
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The Defined or Positive Identity is the Supreme Number 1 Attractor State in the equilibrium-seeking system which is society — it’s not Rome that all roads lead to but the self. Or maybe ‘Rome’ is a symbol for the self — the centre of a mighty empire, an empire that none can resist. The rule ‘If you can’t beat them join them’ applies especially well to the Empire of the Self, the Empire of the Defined Identity. This is the logic we all follow and it has become so customary to us that no one thinks anything of it; we know of no other possibilities than those that are high-lighted to us by the system.

This customary setup isn’t anywhere near as straightforward as we might think it is however — the whole point of an Attractor State is it’s ‘where we want to go’ (as well as being ‘where we have to go’), the end of all journeys, the prize above all other prizes, the goal above all other goals, and so on. The Defined Identity, we say, is the Supreme Value it’s what ‘it’s all about’, it’s the point of everything, the fulcrum around which the whole world turns, etc. This setup isn’t what we take it to be however — there’s a particular type of nuance here that doesn’t get advertised, which is that’s the so-called supreme value — the thing we’re basing everything on — is an extrinsic reality rather than being an intrinsic one. The Supreme Value is such only in a purely nominal way, in other words — we all agree to say that it’s real and that is the great important thing, and whilst — in this very narrow ‘agreed upon’ sense it is, in any other sense it’s not anything at all. It’s not real and therefore it’s not important either — it’s ‘the emperor’s new clothes’, it’s ‘the power of mass hypnosis’.

The Defined Identity, according to the rules of the game being played, is ‘what’s important’, is ‘who we really are’; to go along with this imagined premise is to play the game, but at no point can the DI become more than we have agreed for it to be. At no point can that nominal reality (the reality that has the name of being there, but not anything else) become any more than ‘just a nominal reality’ (or as we could also say, any more than ‘just a description’). Thought works by defining what is real and just long as we’re living in a ‘thought-based way’ we’re always going to be orientated towards the description or the signifier rather than ‘the actuality’. Thought provides us with a comprehensive description of ‘what is real’ and we duly spend our lives being utterly fixated on the mental images that it has produced. All of our attention goes onto ‘the token’, and none at all onto ‘what is being tokenized’. The symbol annihilates what is being symbolised, just as Jean Baudrillard tells us.

The act of giving all our attention to the token is also the act of self-veiling, the act by which we hand over every last vestige of consciousness to the system. We have veiled from ourselves the capacity which we inherently have to see the token as ‘being only a token’, the description as ‘being only a description’; we can no longer discern between what is said to be true and what actually is true and to lose this capacity is (of course) the necessary precondition for living within the Extrinsic Reality. To live within the Extrinsic Reality is to be trapped in it — we have fallen headfirst into the Bottomless Pit of Literalism and we won’t come out again until we regain our ability to ‘see tokens to be tokens’ (or our ability ‘to see mental images as being only mental images’). “Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun” says Alan Watts. To be ‘literal-minded’ is to have no capacity to differentiate between ‘the signifier’ and ‘the signified’ — we are therefore automatically trapped by every single thought we have. All of our rational activity — without exception — is samsara. We are creating a wall of impenetrable illusions with everything we do.

We take the mental image (or ‘token’) of the Defined Identity very seriously indeed — we take it the most seriously we could ever take anything and we make great fools of ourselves in the process. We are living life in an ‘inverted’ way, we could say — we’ve ‘got it all arse-ways’. In the Extrinsic Reality it’s all about optimization; optimization is king — there’s no ‘exploration’ going on here, only consolidation. There’s no such thing as exploration (or ‘radical questioning’) in the ER because ‘the important thing is already known’, which means that all that’s left for us to do is to adapt ourselves to it as well as we possibly can. All that’s left for us to do is to become is to become its slave and serve it loyally in all things, and what this means in practice is of course that we become mere ‘extensions’ of the ER. The fundamental assumption we’re making here is that the description is fundamentally equivalent to what’s being described, such that the less error there is in hitting the stated target the more benefits we will undoubtedly obtain for ourselves as a result. If things aren’t working out for us then this must be because we haven’t ‘fine-tuned our game’ enough yet, therefore. We still need to do some more optimization; haven’t ‘adapted ourselves to the system’ enough yet…

The thing about optimization is that we can carry on doing it forever — we’re approaching perfection (in best asymptotic fashion) but we’re not quite there yet! No matter how many times we miss out on the jackpot it still feels that we’ve almost got it nailed and so we’re pulled in rather than discouraged by our failure to obtain the results we have been promised in all the promotional literature. We are expecting a big payoff (THE Big Payoff, in fact) when we achieve the goal with one hundred per cent accuracy, and the reason for this is because we’re taking it to be the case that this accomplishment in the terms of the game also means ‘accomplishment in terms of actual reality’. The excitement (or passion) we experience as we keep raising our game (and scoring higher and higher as a result) is a precise measurement of just how strongly we believe that ‘the map equals the territory’ and we get very excited by our imagined success in the game, by our imagined progress in the World of Reified Descriptions. The payoff (in the coin of ‘euphoric anticipation’) works as an incentive for us to fall into delusion; there’s a payoff that occurs as a result of us losing sight of the all-important difference between ‘the signifier’ and ‘the signified’ and this is the payoff of euphoria, of rapture.

We might think that we’re doing well as a result of our successful adaptation to the Positive Reality but we’re not; it is not in any way beneficial to us when the nominal level of meaning replaces ‘the meaning that is there all by itself’ — there’s no advantage to being totally deluded, after all (no real advantage, that is — only the advantage that exists in terms of the delusion that is being propagated). When the Nominal Level of Description becomes ‘the only meaning in town’ then this state of affairs isn’t going to benefit us — we find ourselves ‘up to our chins in quicksand’, drowning in the swamp of our own never-ending bullshit. When the nominal reality becomes the only reality then the whole point of everything is lost; when we get to say ‘what life is all about’ then our lives becomes utterly meaningless, our existence becomes nothing more than ‘a prolonged exercise in bias-confirmation’. The World of Bias Confirmation seems like a world to us but it isn’t; when we use the Mechanism of Self-Reference to create a world that is relevant to us, a world that makes sense to us, a world that supports our idea of ourselves (and so on), then the self-referential reality that we have created is a meaningless reality, a hollow reality. It’s the Hyperreal, it’s ‘the glossy appearance of reality with nothing behind it’…

The World of Bias-Confirmation does seem to be a world however even though it absolutely isn’t. There is the definite impression of there being a bone fide world there (as evidenced by common experience). There are two aspects to bias-confirmation, we might say, both of which would appear to be perfectly legitimate elements (or components) of what we would expect from a world — there is the part that agrees with us, and there is the part that disagrees, there is the part that pushes and the part that pulls. This is precisely the illusion however because agreement and disagreement, yes and no, don’t exist in the real world. They exist only in response to the particular attitude that we ourselves are cultivating (or, as we could also say, ‘agreement versus disagreement’ is nothing more than the reflection of whatever type of bias it is that we’re currently championing). The world that ‘either agrees or disagrees with us’ is the Conditioned World, in other words and it is — as such — a reflection of our outlook rather than being an independently existing reality.

We’re all totally convinced that the World of Bias-Confirmation is legitimate, that it has got substance to it, but if it’s a reflection or projection then it can’t be ‘a world’; if the world we believe in and relate to every day is the ‘automatic projection of our viewpoint’ then — clearly — it can’t have any real content of its own. The Projected World is just like the reflection of the moon in a pond in the well-known Zen Buddhist story, and we’re all there with our shovels, rakes and hoes struggling industriously (but comically) to pull it out. Or as we could also say, we are like ‘don Quixote tilting at a windmill’. As Krishnamurti points out, when we ‘observe with prejudice’ then this isn’t observation at all; it isn’t ‘observation’ because we’re not observing anything real, anything that isn’t just ‘our own output being meaninglessly reflected back at us’. We mistakenly imagine ourselves to be ‘observing an objective reality’ when what’s actually happening is that we are being controlled — without knowing it — by the simulation that we have unwittingly become immersed in. The simulation tells us (with the greatest possible authority) that we are ‘perceiving an objective reality’ whilst what’s really happening is that the simulation is simulating us perceiving a (simulated) objective reality; the simulation is simulating ‘us being conscious’, just as it simulates us ‘having free will’.

We’re trapped within our very own ‘thought-created Mobius loop’ — the Mobius loop of the thinking mind — which creates a virtual separation between the observer and the observed, the thought and the thinker, etc. The Mobius loop amuses us as a mathematical oddity because of the neat way it appears to have two surfaces when really there is just the one surface which keeps on twisting back on itself. The thinking mind does the very same thing — it creates the illusion of there being an observer that is separate from what is being observed, the thinker that is separate from what is being thought. The continuum of thought loops back on itself without acknowledging that it is doing so. This is what we could call a ‘core illusion’ since it is this imagined separation between subject and object that creates the impression we are relating to something that is genuinely real, rather than being just a ‘bog standard mental projection’. As we have been saying however, there’s no observation going on when it’s the rational conceptual mind we’re talking about — mechanically reacting to our own projections as if they were an independent reality does not qualify as ‘observation’, does not qualify as ‘awareness’. When one cog turns another this is ‘the mechanical transmission of force’; there seems to be ‘something going on’ but when we look into it we can see that nothing is really happening — the mechanical impulses being faithfully transmitted, a signal (which is to say, a set of proportionalities, or a set of ratios) is being preserved, is being reproduced, is being copied, etc.

What’s going on here therefore is that no change is happening (which is of course not a happening) and when no change occurs this can hardly be considered to be ‘a noteworthy event in itself’. We are making the fact that ‘nothing new has happened’ into news in its own right. Real news would be where something happens that hasn’t been predicted, when something occurs that we can’t explain. What’s really interesting in life is stuff that doesn’t happen as a result of a formula, stuff that doesn’t make sense to us, stuff that ‘upsets the applecart’ — information is ‘the difference that makes a difference’, says Gregory Bateson. Information is a measure of the unpredictability of the message that is being received and if something is unpredictable then this shows that it isn’t part of the established system; on the contrary, it’s something that has an independent existence and that’s why it’s interesting. Projections aren’t interesting, projections are an extension of the status quo. As far as the System of Thought is concerned however genuine information equals error, equals unwanted noise, equals ‘something we’re not going to take any notice of’. The System of Thought only listens to itself, only cares about itself — it exists in a closed world that is made up of itself. We’re looking at two distinct set-ups here therefore, each one the mirror image of the other. In the ordinary (or rationally-constructed) world we can only become aware of things when they ‘match the template,’ so to speak; otherwise — when there’s no correspondence between our interpretive criteria and the incoming data then the incoming data never registers at all. It is a officially a ‘non-event,’ in other words — it is automatically discounted as ‘mere noise’.

Where our attention to be drawn to this ‘reality-validation mechanism’ then we would probably say that it seems perfectly reasonable (which it is, on its own terms) but there is nevertheless something very odd about this arrangement (just as there is something very odd about the fact that we can’t see that there is something very odd about it). What so odd about this setup is that it’s perverse — we’re seeing everything in reverse, we are registering actual information as error the writing off factual information is era I something to be instantly dismissed whilst the non-event of ‘nothing happening’ (or ‘stuff saying the same’) is treated as being high-grade, super-interesting, top-notch information, something to sit up and take notice of. “Oh look”, we say, “nothing just happened here, so that means something…” We then go on to make a whole universe out of this lack of information that has been camouflaged as the actual real honest-to-goodness deal. What confirms our buried biases is taken heed of and what doesn’t isn’t — our trick is that we treat bias-confirmation as if this were actual information, as if it weren’t ‘prefigured’ or ‘presupposed’, whilst anything that genuinely is new (that genuinely hasn’t been prefigured) gets written off as some kind of meaningless aberration. As it is said, the thinking mind operates by ‘making the real unreal and the unreal real’.

This inversion happens every time we use comparison making as a basis for making statements about the world; Comparison making is how we make sense of the unknown in terms of the known Paul how we make sense of the new and old enter the new in terms of the old; This principle might sound reasonable enough to us until we actually go into it. What’s actually going on when we do this is that we are illegitimately replacing the unknown with the known, the old within you the new with the old. With the result that there now isn’t anything unknown, anything new when we use the standard measure to map out a space then what happens is a tendency which can’t be measured by that measuring stick doesn’t get to show up as being anything at all the information is lost to us in other words will stop old bottles of reality produce entropy. So what we’re saying here is that if it doesn’t correspond to our measure then by definition it doesn’t can’t exist. We can’t see how there could be anything existing in a way that’s different to the way we know about and because we can’t imagine such a possibility will proceed with the greatest confidence to ignore it.

There’s a big flaw in the logic of our argument when we say (as we do say) that ‘what hasn’t been prefigured can’t be real’ therefore, and the flaw is that it is of course only via our standard or template that we can imagine (i.e. project) anything; our officially-approved standard or ‘measure’ (no matter what it might be) always comes with its own special blind spot in tow and so to use this standard is to place ourselves under the power of this blind spot. Not only can our yardstick not tell us anything about the world that exists outside of its remit, it convinces us that there couldn’t be anything — we’re convinced that there couldn’t be anything even before we ask the question, so to speak. The entropy associated with our measuring device means that we can’t help assuming that our measure is universally applicable and that — therefore — stuff which it doesn’t register is ‘stuff that doesn’t exist’. It’s not that we considered the possibility that there might be aspects of reality that just can’t be seen from our viewpoint and then — after due consideration — dismiss the idea, but rather that we are constitutionally incapable of considering the possibility in the first place (since we simply don’t have the means with which to investigate the matter). Being utterly dependent upon the thinking mind to tell us about the world we live in means therefore that we are limited by it without ever being able to know that we are.

Essentially, our predicament — when we’re operating in the Mechanical Mode of Existence — is that we can’t perceive or detect anything unless we have a category for it, unless it corresponds to an assumption that we have previously made. If we haven’t been provided with the mechanical means of recognising some element or other of our environment then — as far as we’re concerned — it doesn’t exist. This is fantastically preposterous, to say the least: we are dependent upon the machine to tell us what is real and what it doesn’t tell us we will remain blind to; we don’t have the capacity to even imagine or suppose that there might be ‘something else’ (other than what we have already been told about). The ‘function’ of the so-called fake or positive reality (if we may put it like this) is to utterly prevent us from ever coming across the real world and it is the entropy associated with the Stated Reality (to state anything is to create entropy, after all) that ‘does the job’ here. We can say that the function of the Projected World, the function of Positive Reality, is either [1] To prevent consciousness from ever arising, or [2] To prevent us from ever running the risk of seeing who we really are — it’s the very same thing in both cases, clearly. Instead of being conscious we end up in the situation of being continuously nullified (or neutralized) by the Machine, which is — needless to say — something rather different.

In everyday (unconscious) life we don’t just ‘allow’ the Machine to nullify / neutralise us and then replace with its own patented product (which is ‘what is being sold’, which is ‘what is being promoted so heavily’) we celebrate it. In effect, we ‘rejoice in our own downfall’. The celebration of the false identity is necessarily the denial of the true one. Such is our automatic loyalty to our Demiurgic captor (and such is the frightening extent of our alienation from who we really are) that we take pleasure in the suppression of our true nature. This is the ‘perversity’ that we are afflicted with. This is also what euphoria is all about — euphoria is the pleasure that comes our way when we think we’ve escaped from who we are. It’s the ‘reward’ that comes our way when we play the shallow and pointless game of ‘being who we’re not’, when we successfully convince ourselves that we are no more than ‘who we say we are’ (or ‘who we believe ourselves to be’) which is a degraded state of being….