The Nincompoop and the Better Angel or Taking the Red Pill or Rambling (Uncontrolled) Notes on Chaos and Control

red pill

One

Let this entry be chaotic and disorderly. I’m tired of writing in a suit and tie. Tired of this formal voice.

Now it’s time to drift into deeper topics so that I might get as close as I can to a real movement, not the idea of a movement. Everyone’s probably heard Korzybski’s “the map is not the territory”. If this is understood as a concept then it’s not really understood at all. As a concept it’s merely another “map.” To really understand what he means the statement has to initiate a full stop, which is an action, not an idea or concept, not another map. I’m trying to write essays that run into the limitations of thought, which would initiate the action of negation, rather than the positing of ideas or concepts.

I’m not sure I’m doing very well yet. But for some reason I can’t stop trying.

So when a new meaning (which is a new way of being) eludes me, remaining tantalizingly close but still too vague to realize, I feel compelled to write. But writing involves not writing for the most part. I wait to catch myself in the act of some relevant stupidity. Then the writing draws attention to this movement of stupidity, and mainly by negation (the elimination of assumptions that divert my attention) I get closer to what is happening.

I’ll place the various negations I encounter in bold.

I wish the writing didn’t end up so f’ing complex, but in reaching for the thing that is just beyond my grasp there are no precedents. I’m always pushing into the dense underbrush of my own unconscious habits, where the new movement distinguishes itself (if I’m patient).

I don’t write knowing anything, but the writing itself allows me to discover things, so that I end up sounding as if I know something after all, which is a lie. But I can’t seem to avoid that lie just yet, so I’ll expose it up front.

(You might say I’m distinguishing “discoveries” from “knowledge” and I am. The first is a negative discovery that pries me loose from blind assumptions, leaving the questions more open-ended; and the other positive certainty (knowledge).

One of the most tantalizing movements that I’ve never had enough patience to focus upon fully is the relationship between chaos and control. It’s a fascinating oddity: Order emerges by realizing one’s own disorder. Or honesty is the realization of dishonesties. Cosmos is the realization of Chaos.

This means the honest fool, who lives close to their own foolishness, never hiding from their mistakes, is a far more interesting and worthwhile companion than the intelligent person striving for the perfect theory or behavior.

In other words, if I’m honest with myself all I’m ever doing is noticing my mistakes. Nothing I ever do will be correct. I can only tell stories that are as honest as possible, never correct. No final explanation will ever form in a universe this bottomless, kaleidoscopic, growing, learning and bubbling with ideas and creative forms like a primordial soup on eternal simmer.

In other words yet again – I can’t seem to quite reach what I want to say here – it’s my ignorance or stupidity that gives me the right to speak. That’s what I know. I learn about everything that goes wrong, and everything is always going wrong.

If the prospect of always being “wrong” scares a person (because they’ve been indoctrinated into seeking the perfect conclusion to problems), then the spirit of inquiry is not there. We’re not inquiring in order to come to conclusions. We’re writing and reading and meditating and observing because reality is demanding our attention; constantly telling us that our conclusions are too small.

No knowledge will hold. Reality can’t be contained in any positive certainty. It would be like trying to stuff a bear in a parakeet’s cage (an image from college days that I use like an old trusty cane by now).

No matter how spacious the idea, it’s a parakeet’s cage.

Two

I don’t know where I’m going with this. But I need space to drift. But I see a connection between the “Defund the Police” movement and a growing understanding among a segment of the population that control is not the answer to chaos. Primarily that’s true within our own heads. An overly muscular super-ego (that voice in the head judging me, ashamed of my mistakes and imperfections, hating myself for not being ideal) is the real secret police destroying the world. It starts there.

And some of us are glimpsing, sensing, smelling the beauty that lies beyond control. If we see the indoctrination that has severed the Human from the Being (as discussed in the racism essay) – if we recognize the subtle values and beliefs we sucked in with mother’s milk, which tells us that our natural Being needs to be controlled and watched like a seed of Satan or at least a nincompoop within, then this self-fulfilling prophecy results in a chaotic division that will always require control, always result in a noisy brain arguing with its own previous thoughts like a dog perpetually chasing its tail.

I do seem to be repeating some of my metaphors, but the landscape in which I’m using them seems to be shifting.

But how do we make the leap from a society or a mind somewhat ruined by this division, fragmented and angry, lashing out in ignorant violence inside and outside the brain case – how do we relinquish control, and simultaneously trust that the rebounding wave of uncontrolled violence will also subside?

We can’t let go until we See or rather Feel or rather slam head-first, heart-first, into the solid rock of control’s inherent stupidity. Control is stupid because it’s inseparable from chaos. Control is the choke hold that guarantees the desperations of resistance and retaliation, some of which is righteous, some of which I’d like to participate in. But they are one and the same.

And the only way this is going to be understood directly is not conceptually, but through a collision with control itself. Through a collision powerful enough to destroy the belief in control as a remedy.

In other words, tranquil order (peace) isn’t a state of purity that we can seek directly. Peace is the realization of chaos and control.

I’m still just missing it! I’m saying that we can’t strive for an ideal of “peace” and “love.” Those end up being fantasies, fantastical counter-weights to the hell we’re creating. To make peace and love real I need to collide directly with my own chaos and control — my own stupidity. Intelligence is the realization of stupidity. It’s falling from the high horse of dogmatic certainty.

Three

I’ll try to get closer to this. But some things lie around the corner so to speak, and can’t be seen until we move into the problem a little deeper.

Usually when I hear about “meditation” it’s presented as a method of obtaining order or peace of mind. Of course, the teacher might say “let your thoughts settle without force.” That may have started as an insight. But the very effort, the very intention, of sitting quietly, to settle the mind, is a contradictory intention. To intentionally have no intention is dishonest.

It sets up the goal of being peaceful or finding insight. So one is inevitably positively oriented towards these goals. And the actual (honest) chaos of the mind begins to look like an impediment or a challenge to overcome; something to get beyond.

So the unstated objective becomes getting past or avoiding the chaotic actuality in the hunt for the ideal tranquility.

So lying beneath the wise-sounding suggestion to “let thoughts settle without force” is a contradictory desire to control one’s thoughts. That may not be the stated or conscious intention, but any desire for a different state of mind is a form of control.

This desire for a positive outcome, positive certainty or the positing of the goal of being quiet or of being self-accepting, is an unconscious movement into contradiction.

It’s also – overdramatic though it might sound – a subtle knife to the soul. This severing movement is almost entirely unconscious. It was learned very early.  In trying to change a state of mind the so-called “bad” or less desired qualities are sliced away. We don’t trust ourselves. We split into a controller and controlled; a nincompoop and a harried voice. Krishnamurti and Beckett both exposed this severing movement with incredible clarity.

Obviously the teacher who says “let the thoughts settle” has encountered at one time or another an insight into this. And they believe that these words communicate the original insight. But they don’t seem to see that any stated goal – even one of settling the mind – is only a more subtle form of control.

I think the reason they don’t tell us to stick with the actuality of our restless minds, the futility of all escapes from that restlessness, is because it would depress people who are positively oriented, desperate to feel good. The necessary bad news that all positive movement is an escape from ourselves is too much for them (it’s feared, and this fear is a self-fulfilling prophecy).

Nobody wants to take the “red pill” and awaken to the one certainty (not a positive certainty, but a realistic negative one) – that there’s nothing to be done. Our efforts are always escapes from ourselves.

So they lie, they send us off in the opposite direction from this essential truth, because it’s easier to hypnotize ourselves with an illusion of tranquility. It seems to work for a moment. It feels good (as that counter-weight). And they think they can lure people into a deeper encounter with this maze of the mind by taking smaller and more pleasing steps at first.

But it’s a step in the wrong direction. These goals reassert a positive focus, which is to say, straining to be different from what is actually the case.

This works for reaching material goals, because material is more or less objective and can be manipulated by will.

But immaterial goals of being courageous, kind, honest or tranquil aren’t objective qualities that can be handled as outside objects. They are responses, not things. I can’t change my own responses without repression or control. The very effort to change my way of responding, in other words, is itself the old, controlling response.

So in trying to be courageous, I run in fear from my own cowardice. In trying to be kind, I hate my own selfishness; in striving to be more honest, it’s the false image of honesty that I try to maintain; in trying to be tranquil, I slap at every wave, roiling the surface of consciousness.

So these smaller steps are meant as placebos, but they contain the very poison they hope to remedy. Placebos are “pleasing,” which is an encouragement to look away from actuality. The goal is to please myself and others, to feel relaxed and to help others ignore the self-directing, controlling, wanting, unhappy monologue of the mind. Perhaps in hopes that this fake version of tranquility (which is only momentary respite tied to an idealistic illusion of tranquility) will give insights into the real thing.

Or simply because I’m utterly certain that I can’t change; and only carry on with all this effort and strain because if I didn’t I’d collapse in despair. So there is a great demand for placebos and anything else that will help me forget the red pill I’ve already taken, and from which there is no real escape.

Dis-illusionment is a blessing that is fought tooth and nail.

Four

This certainty that nothing can change is merely an incomplete insight into real futility. To complete the insight it’s necessary to distinguish between positive and negative action. Yes, there’s no way to change myself as a goal, positively. It would be like trying to lift myself up by grabbing my pants and pulling (I avoided the “bootstrap” cliché, because the delusion of the “self-made man” is so deeply entrenched).

Yes, this positive, assertive method of change is futile. It projects an outside version of myself, a strawman of sorts, splitting consciousness into the stupid dolt who won’t get up off the floor and the frustrated better angel who is struggling to lift the dolt by his pants.

Almost every sentence I utter to myself in the so-called privacy of my own head is an argument between this dolt and this better angel. Both of them compose one solid illusion. Neither exist. It’s a sitcom that helps me remain childish. It’s terribly humorous, when I have the courage to laugh at myself.

Intermission

I might be saying all this, but I’m no teacher. I’m looking at myself and making these observations about my own stupidity. And when push comes to shove nothing in the world is more interesting than my own stupidity.

Essentially these essays amount to rummaging around in my own entrails, trying to decipher deeper meanings. I like that image. As long as I’m learning I’m never depressed or despairing. Because I don’t mind being stupid. It’s liberating. The discovery of stupidity is the beginning of intelligence.

Not that this is my goal, but it’s worth mentioning in passing. All I am is a travel writer of interior dimensions.

Five

At any rate, this positive effort to change is futile. Beckett and Krishanmurti unexpectedly align in so many ways. One of them is here: They both said “there is nothing to be done”. Nothing in a positive direction, nothing using will or effort. Both meant precisely this.

But the realization of this fact (without escaping into interior dramas of despair or hope) is a change in perspective in its own right; a movement that I don’t initiate or cause (positively), but which negates an assumption I never (!) realized I held – the assumption that effort (positive movement) is necessary.

Oddly it’s always a surprise when I discover I’m moving altogether too positively yet again. (And I’m always moving too positively!) Negation isn’t the absence of excessively positive movement, but the negation of this movement – the collision with this movement.

And it’s not disappointing from this perspective. It’s fascinating. The depth of my stupidity is stunning. I never run out of material!

Six

And I think it’s always surprising because it’s a commonly held assumption that moves between all of us like a virus. We can’t get away from the sickness too easily by ourselves. Until this realization of the futility of positive movement is shared by a community (even of 3 or 4 people) it won’t stick. A least it won’t stick on a social level if only one person undergoes this change (and we all undergo this change now and then). A society is needed for it to stick, which is why writing is helpful. It helps build a society – it’s like a mating call to others resonating at the same frequency. I know you’re out there. Lots of you.

But yes we are blessedly dis-illusioned now and then, and the mind changes drastically – the inner battle between dolt and angel ceases, and the restlessness ends. It’s not something we “do.” It happens to us. This isn’t the goal either, but it’s worth noting as a negation of the certainty that nothing can change.

However this change happens only by failing. “Fail, fail again, fail better,” as Beckett said, always humorously. (He is the greatest humorist of interior dimensions).

Seven

So is that all a human wants? To be tranquil and happy? Is that the whole focus of this positive life? To improve one’s mood or attitude? To have it easy? To get through this life without encountering any difficulties? Without daring to be wrong? Without the mess of learning?

I think that’s the desire of the Matrix, the indoctrination itself. It runs people.

But there is a deeper call of the wild, a refusal to be held captive by indoctrinations and self-deceptions; an ancient need that overwhelms desire; it’s that “force that through the green fuse drives the flower” (Dylan Thomas), which demands freedom from the house of mirrors that traps the mind. Like a dandelion pushing through asphalt. It’s even more relentless than stupidity.

This is a call to adventure at a time of human peril. I won’t be able to play the role of hero here (much to my disappointment at times, I’ll admit it), because honesty isn’t a positive achievement, but a failure that is faced squarely, a loss of the illusion of control and will, and Self.

That means there are other capacities available to all of us, beyond being goal-driven, which is really being pushed from behind by fight and flight. All of us also undergo shifts that are far more interesting than this deceptive end-game of escape. We’re also being pulled against our will into an encounter with actuality, no matter how painful and bewildering.

And I guess I’m saying that tranquility is only a symptom of facing chaos honestly. Otherwise tranquility is fake.

Eight

Education and upbringing forced the human being to approach the world in this aggressively positive style (forever seeking positive conclusions, which put an end to learning).

Tending apparently towards senility, I repeat: the positive or assertive way is an effective method for obtaining material goods (and I’m blatantly paraphrasing Krishnamurti here — please don’t think he’s some cheap ass guru, you’d be way off). But when I try to obtain immaterial goods in the same way (happiness, satisfaction, relief from pain or discomfort (entertainment, distraction, control, etc.) – which is the whole focus of self-concern and self-betterment – it splits consciousness into those contradictory halves, the miserable lout I try to transcend, and the better angel with whom I desperately identify.

This positive movement is the source of dishonesty, division and chaos, not the remedy I was led to believe. Any posited intention, any goal whatsoever carried over into the personal realm, is pressure to conform to an ideal, which is always a fantasy that can never come true. I can never become the ideal I strive to realize. Ideals aren’t like Pinnochio, they don’t become real. They remain conceptual. Mistaking the thought for the thing only makes me dishonest.

Self-hatred and control masquerade as self-love and peace.

The narcissist is in fact a hateful person.

This is all still rather superficially understood. I’m interested in exposing this movement for real, not merely as concepts or explanations. This differs from a goal, because it’s the fleeting collisions with these contradictions (actuality itself) that move me here. Not a desired end, but the failure of my desired ends, which provides the shock of genuine passion and interest.

Picture the difference between a dog tied to a leash, straining to chase a rabbit; and a dog freed from the leash, chasing the rabbit. The chained dog is frustrated, pushed by bodily instincts to do something it can’t do, which is to chase that rabbit. The freed dog is already alive with joy, even if the rabbit is never caught. It’s not the wishful image that pushes this dog. It’s the living scent that pulls the dog. There is no frustration or split state of mind in a dog that is being pulled along by a tantalizing presence just beyond reach. The dog is fully alive, not hoping to live.

I’m seeing something beautiful on the periphery, even if what is beautiful exposes me as a fraud in some sense. The positive approach makes us all frauds, because we strive for an ideal which is false. But this very realization is a vivid scent that pulls me deeper into the mystery. I never complain at not understanding things (although I complain mightily when I hit the wrong letter on the keyboard), because there is no conclusion to this chase. The scent merely gets more intense.

So the failure to get the rabbit is the source of passion, not hope. I have no hopes of catching the rabbit. It’s the scent that drives me.

Or switching metaphors, I’m not trying to obtain some lofty height. Insight is more like falling from a high horse of certainty. It’s not a positive accomplishment, but a negative crash. I resist falling to the last bloody moment. But falling itself is beautiful and comical.

Nine

So in between these sentences I’m sitting still and the mind is filled with the positive movements of escape.

What do I normally do about this chaos? Thoughts are constantly flittering, and in my positive state of mind I slap at these pesky thoughts that are supposedly “distracting me” from the goal of silence and understanding. They’re embarrassing. They are not what I want to see. I want to see my own transcendence from all this.

Essentially I’m in a state of hyper-control. I don’t trust myself. I’m afraid of my own thoughts. On a fundamental level I still can’t distinguish what I think from what is real. This fundamental learning has stalled at the level of a two year old. And I remain frightened of myself just as a two year old would be frightened by stories of wicked witches and giants.

So I badger myself into being quiet or I change the subject as fast as possible. And it’s the badgering thoughts themselves and the boring distractions which plague me!

This is utterly enormous; it stops me dead for a moment: The noise in the brain is only my own efforts to silence the noise in my brain. There is no other problem, no other pain except the pain of escape.

If I could pay attention to this noise for a good day or week and not try to silence it or change the subject, the absurdity of this situation begins to dawn. It’s like falling farther than I’ve ever fallen before from the high horse of certainty.

Imagine if groups of 3 or 4 people gathered here and there across the world and began being radically honest with themselves. Things could change quickly.

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