Beyond Grasping: On Matrix, or the Context Beyond Context
What can we sensibly say about the widest possible context? And why might we want to say anything about this?
Our language seems poorly suited to describing such notions. Words care out aspects of the world. And while we have terms such as “everything” or “everywhere,” or “infinity,” these notions are fundamentally paradoxical, for they are attempts to grasp that which cannot be grasped in any sort of definite manner. These are attempts to grasp contexts, and contexts which are changing, and hence also processes, in the manner in which one would grasp a thing. And since our language likely evolved with our bodily perception of the world as its context, language likely shares many of the biases and limitations of the ways in which our bodies reveal our worlds to us. Just as I use my hand to pick up on object, so nouns seem to ‘pick up’ aspects of the world. And yet, the world is so much more than either of these, even if I can only ever experience that through my language and embodiment.
It does seem, however, that despite the limitations of my language and my body, that indications of the limitations of these media shine through. I know that I can only see so far into the distance, even on a clear day, but if I keep walking, new aspects of my world reveal themselves, and they have a stability, others see these too, and we can refer to maps which indicate stabilities in this larger context of experience that we share, and which seem to remain there, even if I am not there to continually verify this. Whenever I return to these places, they seem to remain as they were, unless something changes them in very specific ways. The world, as my context, seems to have a degree of stability and permanence beyond me, and functions as a context within which my body reveals its limitations to continuously experience all that is beyond the range of its limitations, such as the extent of my vision or touch. Memory expands this, as do prostheses such as maps, but only ever through the embodiment which forms the foundation of “my” experience and “my world, which seem only ever within the larger experience and world of experience as such, that which I seem to share with others.
Language seems to also indicate its limitations. A simple notion like “tree” refers to every tree I’ve ever experienced, yet also none of them, for any tree will always exceed the word “tree” in its sheer physicality, its singular contours, its emplacement within space and time. These may be implied by the definition of the word “tree,” but only in a manner which is indefinite, I may know that trees tend to have brown bark, but a definition would never indicate precisely which shade of brown this unique tree in front of me will have. And so, I can pile on more words to describe this particular tree, but I’m bending language here against some its limitations.
When we use terms like “infinity” or “everywhere” or “everything,” we run more directly into some of these limitations. Though these are used relatively frequently, they indicate that which language is poorly suited to indicate. Of course, in some sense, even a word like “tree” runs into such issues, there are, after all, an infinity of possible singular trees whose differences outmatch that of this word. But a word like “tree” is so embedded in webs of particularity of expression that it’s easy to forget this. We often say “look at that tree over there,” and think little of it. We don’t often say “look at that infinity over there” and find that others simply nod and move on. There’s something more, or less, going on in such situations.
Perhaps when we say something like “everywhere” we are simply playing with words, or our minds, and perhaps the notions conjured are tricks. Mirrors and reflections in water indicate images that “aren’t really there,” perhaps notions like infinity or everywhere are similar to these. Perhaps the very medium of language, or our brains, with their tendencies to generalize, simply extend themselves beyond their own limits, and the feedback effects they generate give rise to what could be thought of as similar to images in a mirror, or yet. But since these aren’t images of anything definite, perhaps more like feedback effects, the sound of screeching which happens when a microphone nears a speaker.
In a recent text called “Where God Comes From,” Ira Livingston has argued that even if this is so, it does seem that this sort of feedback effect which we can experience in many registers, from that of language to embodiment, is a sort of sublimity that is worth trying to understand as a potential origin for notions such as “God” or “the beyond.” For even if our experiences of that which is beyond us, our limit-experiences, those of sex or ecstasy or terror or madness, so many infinities and potentials, and potentially so many tricks of our language and bodies and other media of experience, are little more, they seem to resonate with each other in various ways. That is, the feedback effects which occur when we bring our bodies to their limits seem similar in many ways to those we encounter when we bring our language to its limits, or in fact, any other media of experience to its limits. While it is possible that one of these media, such as our bodies, brains, language, or so many others, are the cause of the limit effects of all the others, each does seem to have its singular manifestations within this similarity. To put it a bit poetically, orgasm and word-gasm aren’t quite the same as memory-gasm, though they do seem to share some structural similarities, certain family resemblances.
All of which is to say that while it may be that any experience we have of something “beyond” us is merely a trick we are playing on ourselves, if this is the case, it’s worth trying to understand this trick. And after all, it is a trick we all seem to share. Most humans, after all, seem to report limit-experiences of some sort or another, in regard to our bodies, minds, and words. And even more specific media, like painting or film, have all these recursive effects when they hit the limit of their own means of relating to the world around them, of trying to grasp the way their medium relates to its contexts. When a medium hits this limit in particular ways which resonate with those which allow us, humans, to grasp aspects of our world, we often describe this as something sublime. Something perhaps incoherent, even ego-dissolving to one degree or another, paradoxical or somehow beyond itself. And we can then use words to try to grasp that experience, box it off, and deal with it without really dealing with it. And so, we toss around a concept like “infinity” like we do “tree,” even though the first is a term we use to describe much of what remains perhaps concealed and hidden beneath the second, the limits of its ability to grasp anything at all. Language, embodiment, memory, these seem to only ever function when we forget to some extent their limits.
But I want to talk about limits here, and the peculiar form of limitation we encounter when we try to describe or experience the unlimited. Any experience or description seems to always be an attempt to experience or describe that which is ulimited by means of the limited. To grasp that which cannot ever be fully grasped. By forgetting this paradox, we make things work. I see a tree, call it a “tree,” tell my friend to look at the tree, and she does, and we walk on. Nothing further needs to be said. An aspect of the world was grasped, handed off, and we moved on. But what happened here only happened by missing so much, so much of the way in which the tree, and the larger context of which it is a part, is only ever brushed upon by the word “tree.” I have no way of knowing to what extent any of that was actually handed off to my friend in that interaction. All I know was that we coordinated.
And this is part of why each of us has that sense that we are a world which is so in excess of what we can ever describe to each other in language. The world is too full, our language too poor. And yet, language is also a world, and able to give rise to virtual ones, like the one you are reading here, the fiction of an intimate conversation on limits and trees. Language is rich in ways embodied experience is poor. The world seems full of so many worlds, and inside each of us there are worlds beyond worlds, virtual memories and fantasies of places we’ve never been, experiences we can never describe, each medium seemingly full of infinities beyond themselves. And what is not a medium? A cell, a plant, a human, a novel, a film, a computer, so many media, each with its worlds, even if I can only ever know these in part. Whatever it is like to be a computer or a stone, I could hardly say, or even if it is like anything, but I know I can imagine it, and that is part of what makes my experience of my limits interesting, because there are so, so many of these, and yet, they seemingly resonate in ever fascinating ways.
This attempt to grasp what is beyond, no matter what we think of it, is always related to the attempt to grasp what is most clear and near. The limits of experience are present in a more pronounced way when we try to grasp at the limits. But any grasping is limited by the fact that it grasps at all. When I pick up a stone, I don’t pick up the dirt around it, or the sky behind it. I may feel the limits of my ability when I try to grasp the sky, and seem to get a handful of nothing. But when I grasp the stone, I also leave the sky behind. Grasping is limiting, and limiting is always to miss the unlimited. The two are two sides of each other, and of this beyond. Whether this is a trick of language or not, I seem to think that it is not merely a trick of language, or our memories, or our bodies. I think all of these have this trick, and this is because this trick is part of what happens whenever the limited tries to grasp the unlimited by means of limits. I think it is part of the fabric of everything.
Of course, this can’t be proved. Proof is about limits, and proof has its limits. Like everything. Whatever it is that’s being discussed here, it’s evident that proof is not going to be applicable to it in any sensible way. So those looking for that likely stopped reading this long ago, and any who got this far are likely to only get more frustrated if they continue.
But if proof isn’t the issue here, this doesn’t mean that we are necessarily in the realm of something like blind faith. “Reason,” whatever that term means, has always hit upon its limits, and always reflected on these. Every philosophical tradition on the planet has those who relish in the paradoxes of reason, from Zhuangzi in ancient China to Zeno in ancient Greece and Nagarjuna in ancient India, and likely many beyond. But we see these limit effects in science as well. Quantum mechanics and relativity theory, or the mathematics of Goedel, Cantor, or Klein. Just as language and our experience hit their limits, so does seemingly any sort of attempt at logic, proof, deduction, demonstration, or any other method humans have developed for attempting to get rid of limit-effects. It’s only when one isn’t paying attention that limit-effects seem to go away. And yet, when one takes things to the limits, or is taken there, the limits seem to show up, at times even with great force. These limits can be ignored some of the time, but not all of the time. Black holes, after all, seem to exist. Though I must admit, I’ve never experienced them, nor Antarctica, nor my own birth, though I assume all three likely are there in some way or another.
The experience of the beyond does seem hard to explain away. And yes, it could also be the structure of our brains. We are, after all, as many scientists have argued, “pattern-completing” creatures. Show us half a face, and we will be able to recognize it anyway, and perhaps, if we act quickly, imagine the rest of the face is there even when it is not. Our brains seem to want to complete patterns even when the is nothing else there. Perhaps any sense we have of the beyond is simply like that. And so, when we ask ourselves what we might mean when we say that before what came before there must be something else before, on to infinity, we are simply extending our pattern-completing tendencies to their limits. But again, perhaps this is just language playing tricks on us, our the shape of our bodies, and ultimately, our brains are just one more fold within these, if in some very complex ways.
So many byways are worth pursuing in discussing the beyond, for nothing seems more tied up with the fabric of everything than everything and anything. But I’d like to put these aside for a moment, and talk more directly about this beyond. Perhaps the beyond isn’t a trick of language, or our bodies, or our minds, or reason, or if it is these, it isn’t merely these. What if the unlimited were in fact a part of the fabric of everything limited, and vice-versa?
Scientists, in fact, hit upon such issues when they try to talk about “the singularity,” whatever it is that came before the so-called “Big Bang.” We know that time and space seem to compress under the particular sort of conditions which, if extended to their limit, would produce something like a singularity of the sort which cosmologists imagine as existing “before” the start of our universe. That is, if we project back in time what we think likely occurred before anything and everything we think happened, eventually we hit something like “the singularity.” And before this is paradox. Scientists often describe this as that from which time and space as we know them emerged. There was no “before” before the singularity. Because time seem to have unrolled from this.
Of course, this leads to all sorts of paradoxes. If our universe is the whole of everything, then the singularity was before the beforeness of time itself. But if it is not, then there was a before our experiences of beforeness, and hence, time is, like space, something which is local. Perhaps these other times work differently than ours. After all, time is always in some sense local, it takes me much longer to cross mountainous terrain than flat. Scientists often talk about time’s ability to be scrunched together like this, by means of the notion of “spacetime.”
Then again, similar issues crop up in regard to space as well. Beyond the limits of our known universe, either there is more there, or a limit of some sort. And if there is something beyond that limit, then the same either/or repeats, right? Maybe our universe is part of multiverse, but then perhaps it is silly to call our universe the universe, any more than it makes sense to call our time the only time. Similar problems occur in regard to “inner” space as much as “outer.” If there is a smallest size of space or thing, scientists have yet to find it. They simply keep increasing the energy involved, and more strange stuff seems to keep appearing from the fabric of our universe as things get “smaller.” Virtual partcles and quantum foam are what high-energy physicists talk about, and whenever they build a more powerful “microscope,” they end up just creating, in a sense at least, evidence of smaller and smaller things. Whatever space is, and size with it, it seems to have all the limit problems that go with space, if in its own way.
But perhaps these are just matters of words. Either before or after time, and either beyond space or not, there must either be limits or lack of limits, right? Perhaps we didn’t need billion-dollar quantum microscopes to show us these things. The ancient philosophers like Zeno and Nagarjuna and Zhuangzi had all this down thousands of years ago. Before before, there must be another, on to infinity, unless there isn’t, and we hit a limit. Either way, what’s before before is either limited or unlimited, but either of these notions deconstructs, in a sense, and turns into its other, when taken to the limit. Limits deconstruct when taken to the limit. Another way of saying this is that whatever is limited is always limitation of the unlimited, or whatever is grasped is always that of what is ungraspable. While this could all just be a play of words, it seems more plausible to me that words are a play of it, whatever it is, or isn’t.
This is why Livingston talks about God in his book. Because what science is just discovering, and mathematics in its own way, and language and other fields in theirs, is their limits. But this experience of the limitless from within the limited is, for Livingston, the root of what religions have called God. Livingston doesn’t say whether or not he believes God exists, or anything like that. But he does seem to think that this sort of experience is where humans get the idea of God.
Nevertheless, while it doesn’t seem we can know for sure anything related to the limits of our ability to know, there does seem to be effects of the position one takes on all of this. If one tries to ignore the limit effects, in any and all manifestations, the world and all that is in it is dealt with as so many discrete, self-contained, reified objects. Taken to the limit, this will break down, but so long as the world you are in remains very, very stable, you can likely get away with dealing with the world this way for quite a long time, though one will have to periodically engage in damage control to keep limit effects from unravelling the constiuents of one’s experiential, linguistic, or other types of “boxes” into which one has divided the stuff of the world. Or, conversely, one can take the position that the limit effects are there, and that we should deal with them. Ultimately, this is a more sustainable approach, because it seems like they are, and that the attempt to ignore them eventually catches up with one, often in catastrophic ways.
Another set of choices arises, however, within the position to accept these limit experiences as there. That is, one can see them as distinct, or related. That is, perhaps it is only language that deconstructs at its limits, or memory, or experience, or art, or whatever. Or, one can see them as related, even if not simply. Livingston takes the second approach, and sees them as related, and I must say, I agree. But what if, beyond this related limit-experience effect, this isn’t merely where God “comes from”? What if there’s something really there?
Whatever might be “really there,” I’d hesitate to call this “God” or “god” or anything like that, because people have so many preconceptions with such a term. That’s why this essay began with an attempt to talk about the largest possible context, the context of all contexts. And it seems, from what has just been said, that if such a thing exists, it would have to be beyond the limits of space and time, near and far, inside and outisde, and what’s more, virtual and actual. Whatever this would be, it wouldn’t be something that “exists,” but perhaps, more like something that “ex”-ists.” It wouldn’t be a something, or anyhing like a something, because it wouldn’t be a thing. But we could only ever know it by thing-ifying some of its aspects, because that’s how humans know anything, or experience anything, or talk about anything. We limit, we carve, we grasp that which is beyond us, and we then do this again, and try to link things up somehow. But all that we are every grasping is beyond things.
Things are so limited, after all. When I pick up a stone, it seems distinct. But is “really” connected to everything else in my world which, if they all vanished, would not leave anything like a stone behind. Place a stone in a strong vacuum, or in the center of the sun, and it would cease to be a stone near instanteously. Everything is, at least ultimately, connected to everything else, and only appears the way it does because of everything around it, which is connected to everything around it, on to infinity. While a stone might appear distinct and discrete , this is only relatively so, it is simply one side of the world, one which faces me in this particular way. Likewise with my experience. I may pick up a stone, and feel it in my hand. But my hand was feeling something before, namely, the pressure of the air around it. The pressure of the stone in my hand is only relatively discrete from the other sensations of pressure, weight, texture, and whatever else I felt with my hand. And the same with the sight of the stone. As soon as I open my eyes, I see visual stimuli, and the stone, while appearing discrete, is only really a slice of my visual experience. My brain coordinates this visual slice with that of the weight of the stone in my hand, but ultimately, I am linking up, networking, aspects of a continua of visual and tactile stimuli that I have sliced, by means of the way I network my body, with aspects of the world’s networks. The slicing process, itself a networking, is ultimately just one more part of this networking of networking.
Taken to its limit, the world can in fact be seen as simply graspings of it, the ways these are sewn together and networked in various ways, the contexts which exceed these, and the changes which exceeds these even moreso. Language, our bodies, memory, all these are aspects of experience, and our experiences of the limits of our experiences. I experience the limits of my experience as much in my experience of the future as in my experience of my inability to experience your inner, personal experience, directly. All the limits of my experience manifest differently in my experience, and yet, with similarities.
And so, if we were to talk about the largest possible context, perhaps it is hardly anything like a man with a white beard in the heavens somewhere. That’s insulting. Perhaps it is the world of experience, its fabric. That from which all experience comes, and with it, any experience of any of its aspects, be this time or space, before or after, matter or energy, language or reality, or whatever else. Even to call it experience is to limit it, one could say givenness, or the world, or whatever, or one could simply say the beyond, so long as it’s clear that this beyond is what is most intimate as well as most distant, for it is the beyond that any here is only ever an aspect, any thing only a bit, any one only a section.
I like to change what I call this. Sometimes, I think it makes sense to call this matrix, for it is the matrix of all experience, that from which any particular experience arises, and which is part of any and all experience, even if as that which exceeds it from within. Sometimes I call it the oneand, which is to say, that which is beyond any one, any attempt to limit it or grasp it as a thing, aspect, section, quantity, quality, or any other determinate section thereof. It is the fabric of anything we’ve ever known, or can known, or even imagine, that from which space and time derive. It is, whatever it is, any and all and none and neither and both and then some more. Whatever it is, we have never known anything but, been anything but, and yet, we’ll never exhaust it, for it is the potential for whatever could ever be, including anything we could ever imagine, and likely more. If it exists, it does so beyond our meagre notions of what is real or actual, because these too are simply it’s aspects.
If I’m starting to sound incoherent, or mystical, or even religious, perhaps this is because all those religiouns were on to something, but in their own way. Whatever this matrix is, it is beyond the ways in which these systems of belief have tried to limit it. The fact that they have often done so in ways which lead to destruction is, it seems to me, the result of paranoia and attempt to control that which, by its nature, refuses to be controlled, at least, never fully.
Is this matrix, is it good? Hardly. It destroys and creates limitlessly. All death and evil, cruelty and torture, everything horrific which ever came to be came from it, and is part of it, as are we. As well as everything good. It isn’t immoral, it’s amoral, as well as the source of all morality, actual or possible. Perhaps it isn’t even there, but if it isn’t, then it’s virtually everwhere. And even if it is just a fantasy, it’s one which doesn’t seem to want to go away. The world has changed for fantasies before, like god and communism. Whatever fantasy is, it is surely the potential to become real, and nothing is more real than that. Perhaps the whole universe is after all just some fantasy in the brain of some superbeing, and we are just its thoughts, it’s crazed delusions. We might never be able to know, and perhaps knowing is not the issue here any more than anything like faith.
While it would be a lie to say that matrix is good, or evil, for it is clearly neither and both and less and more, there is, nevertheless, some way in which it seems to tend towards the good and even the better, with the potential for the best. We are here after all. There is something rather than nothing. Some could call that cruelty, and some have argued throughout history that “life is suffering.” And yet, it does seem that there is some fundamental pleasure to experiencing. The taste of food, the texture of feeling the world with my skin. The gift of the world, despite all it’s pains, seems good, seems a gift, if one which pains us so when it is diminished or taken away from others or ourselves in some degree or another. But we all cling to life. Even the simplest of creatures. And even the stars and oceans seem to have something like life in them, they seem to want to continue to be, and if given the chance, seem to have something like a desire to give rise to something like life, which seems, given a chance, to have something like a desire to be happier, better, develop, grow, something.
None of which is to say there isn’t something terrible afoot as well. Earthquakes can blindly destroy, and plants can devour, just as animals can rip things to shreds. But it seems that only as creatures develop in their capacity to experience more deeply, mentally and emotionally, that they develop the capacity for cruelty, the enjoyment of the suffering of others. And yet, it is only in these more developed manifestations of matrix that we see the ability to enjoy and desire to foster the pleasure, happiness, and life of others. Cruelty and altruism are born, it seems, together.
Whatever matrix is, it seems it gives rise to evil and good at the same time, and yet, the good is always one small bit ahead. This isn’t something that can be proven, but yet, there is something rather than nothing, and everything living clings to life and seems to want more of it, and more abundantly. Whatever life is, it is good, the taste of it is sweet, at least, more than the alternative, or we’d have more mass suicide, not only of humans, but of animals and plants, and who knows, maybe even rocks and things. Of course, there is a death-drive, a love of self-destruction, which inhabits the world. Addictions and compulsions, genocides and suicides, the dark side of the world. But despite the very, very real horrors, life and all that leads to it and beyond it, which I like to call emergence, seems to always, if at times only ever so slightly, be winning.
Nevertheless, there is deep, deep cruelty here, and wanton destruction. To evolve humans, how many simpler creatures had to meet horrified and painful demises in the crucible of destruction called evolution? Is there any way to justify that? Were we worth it? Will we be? Or is that, perhaps, our talk, our duty even, to find a way to make ourselves worthy of the pain it took to give rise to us? An infinite debt, perhaps.
And there is hardly a guarantee things will go well from here. If the good side of matrix has continued to prevail, it is only by the thinnest of threads. A fine balance along the way. The world has known paroxysms before, and will know them again. How many times did life evolve to something like us in this universe, to likely collapse on itself? How many times on earth? How many civilizations have dug their own graves? Will we be the next? And will it have been for anything?
It seems, ultimately, that we were born of this singularity, that which came from before the Big Bang, and by mean, I mean all of experience, all the we, the world of experience as such. And to this, we will likely return. Whether the universe collapses in on itself again, which scientists seem skeptical about these days, or it will continue to expand to who knows what, if the singularity is before the advent of before and after, then in some sense, we have always already never left it. If, like a quantum particle, it is both inside and outside of time, as it would seem to be according to everything we “know” about things quantum, then this singularity would be both and neither before and after our world. Everything in us would be contained in it, and everything to come, everything possible, would be always already within it, and yet, somehow deeper and richer in the process of actually unfolding.
Perhaps there is no singularity. Perhaps science will prove us wrong. Perhaps there never was a god, or anything like it. But there is something rather than nothing, and like any something we have ever known, this something likely comes from somewhere. Which is more virtual and more actual, the context from which we came, or the context which we are? Or any attempt to describe these as things? Perhaps the singularity is virtual, a fantasy, perhaps it is simply not there. Still, the idea of it can impact us. And perhaps we are not here, perhaps we are just simulations within the virtual worlds of the singularity, from which we have never actually left. Would there be a difference? Ultimately, it seems that the only thing that would matter, whatever that might mean, is the difference such notions would make.
And ultimately, I think they make an enormous difference. The only reason it is worth talking about the largest possible context is its effects, effects upon us, upon our lives, upon that of which we are a part. And I think it is worth talking about these things. Because, firstly, to do so reveals just how unstable and ungrounded so much of what we think of as secure actually is. Everything we have ever thought to be secure can be unravelled with a little deconstructive logic. Zeno, Nagarjuna, Zhuangzi, or in a more contemporary sense, Freud, Nietzsche, Darwin, Marx, Derrida, Heisenberg, Goedel, the fact that money is no longer on the gold standard, all these ways in which we learn, in one form or another, that what we thought was ultimate is hardly so. The list goes on, and is likely to continue to. We need to remind ourselves of this often, lest we get seduced into thinking that what we see before us is as stable as it sometimes appears.
But this moment of skepticism is itself a dead end if treated as an end in itself. To cling to nothing is nihilism, and that is dangerous. It is a lack of faith that something is better than nothing, that the taste of the world is sweet rather than sour. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy which leads to pain and destruction, whereas a faith in life, and its goodness, helps make it so. The actual is always fueled by the virtual and vice-versa, and if emergence is anything, it is the hope in the fabric of the world in the process of making itself real, of overcoming despair, not only in the sense in which we talk about this with humans, but in the very fabric of what is, that from which human forms are merely so many aspects.
No, the universe itself is a hope that it is ultimately worth it. And we are its most complexly developed projects that we know. We owe it to everything that had to suffer to give rise to us to take that hope to the next level, and prevent a calamity of collapse from overreach, or despair and underreach, either of which could be the end of this round. I say round, not because I know there will be more. But because if there is a before of the before, then there is likely an after of the after. But there is no way of knowing when it comes to these things. There is hope. And hope is real, and can influence what one does, and what one does can give rise to more hope.
And so, if there is an ethics here, a path, or something like that, it is, no matter how complex in the details, ultimately simple in its paradoxical way. There is something rather than nothing, and experience and life are ultimately sweet rather than sour, for otherwise, even the plants would starve themselves to leave. Even suicide is a desire for a life that is better in regard to an imagined standard generated within this life, and all murder is simply a refraction of the same urge turned outwards, and vice-versa. Evil and goodness aren’t things, they are calls, the call of the void and oblivion, and the call of the better. To listen for one is to hear it, and to hear it is to look for it further, and to look for it is to act to find it more, and to look to find it more is to produce it more. These are self-potentiating calls, and while virtual, they give rise to the actual in their wake, these are varying sides of the same. As are limit and limited, grasping and ungraspable, experience and experiencer.
Whatever good there is in matrix needs to be cared for, looked for, looked after, fed, and grown. This good, it is overflowing, it is giving, in its pure sense, it is life and what leads to it and more abundantely. It is the tendency within the rocks to give rise to more complex formations, of the water to give rise to vortexes, of cells to agreggate into colonies, of life to evolve, and of humans to care for each other. We humans, we have been invented with the best and the worst matrix has yet to give rise, and our task is to produce more good, and deeper good, and share this with the world, to liberate ourselves and the world yet deeper.
And this means not to tie matrix down. Matrix only ever grows non-dually. To reify it into things, to try to capture it in boxes and determinations, to cut it up into slivers, to quantify it and fix it into mine and yours, this can only ever be a means to an end, and an end which is ultimately beyond any and all ends. Any particular end confines matrix, limits it, and matrix will break free and break it down, unless it continues to grow, that is, unless matrix itself is in the process of winding down, getting ready of the next round. But if we are in a growth stage, and seeing as our sun continues to shine, it seems that we are, then it seems that experience and life and all that is in it only ever reifies, only ever thing-ifies, to give rise to greater complexity, and that there must be a balance between the desire to grasp and the desire to let go. Either extreme, and the system will buckle and breakdown, and always has. One only needs to look at the world and life, the evolution of matter and organisms, and see what conditions gave rise to the better and the best, to the process of the emergence of emergence from itself, the complexification of matrix in the process of its emergence. And while this process always gives rise to entities, things, reifications, selves and objects, ones and digits, it always does so for the purpose of going beyond these as well.
To love one’s context as one loves oneself is the best way to love oneself. If matrix is paradoxical, so is its ethics. To take fantasy seriously, and love it, as a way to build a better reality. To see hope as the substance of the potential of reality and matter. To realize that the evil we all fight is in the very fabric of each of us and the world, even if the potential for greater good only comes in and through this continual process of realization and overcoming. To adore the something rather than nothing, the sweetness of experience and life, and the potential for it to exist more abundently, by giving it to others as the only way to truly give to ourselves. To invest one’s soul in that which is not yours, not to the point of one’s death, and not indiscriminately, but in the way which seems to give rise to more of the better in one’s contexts, in a way which is graded, smart, strategic. To grow the potential for growth in whatever one encounters.
To think of and discuss the largest possible context is to deconstruct fixity, and imagine beyond, and in the process, to find a way to give rise to a greater beyond right here. If this is fantasy, its effects are very real. Some have argued that this is the most real thing one could ever experience, but if this is so, then the world is unreal, and not worth saving. And yet, if the world is what is real, and this isn’t, then there is nothing worth saving it for. The context is the criterion, the value, which makes it worth it, and it is implicit, as hope, dream, or fantasy, within anything and everything we do. Even if we don’t believe in life, life believes in us, because we fear losing it even when we have lost ourselves. The same with experience, the same with the grass and the trees. Even the molecules seem to want to be, and more intensely, for in the right conditions, they spontaneously combine, grow, and give rise to greater complexity. The same with humans. In the right conditions, in those of support and love, we grow and develop ourselves and our worlds spontaneously. And yet, we were born of such a terrible process of evolution, we have yet to learn how to provide the contexts of our own emergence. Let us hope we do so before we destroy ourselves and our worlds.
If there is a god, whatever that could mean, it is in the fabric of everything, and it is everything. It is the singularity, and it is we, and we are simply aspects of it. It is beyond time and space, and within any and all times and spaces, beyond any being, thing, subject, grasping, or experience, and an aspect of all of these. It is the unlimited, the unconditioned, which gives rise to all that is limited and conditioned as the condition of its possibility. We can never know or prove it, but we can hope and give rise to more of it as it does so through us, just as we can also destroy it as it destroys us. We owe it to it to let it dream better dreams through us.
And that means learning to think in terms which are less binary, restricted, reifying, paranoid, controlling. We need to learn to unwind our fixations, loosen our categories, not hold the world and its aspects so tightly. Whatever you hold to too tightly, you lose, and whatever you give away freely, you gain. This doesn’t mean to embrace pure paradox, nor to embrace pure reason, it means to continually skirt the boundaries between, deconstructing and reconstructing, yet always with the process of emergence of any and all as guide, which is to say, the beyond which is here. The potential for all we have ever known or dreamed and infinitely more is right here and now, we only need to learn how to unleash it, and we do this by more complex networking, which is to say, giving rise to more diversity, taking the best, linking it back in, and letter more diversity arise within this, in and beyond ourselves, fostering this diversity to the maximum sustainable limits, and giving rise to the better within the best we know and see. We have the world as our guide. Study it, and learn from it, that which has tended to give rise to the best before, which is to say, that which always produces the better within itself and its contexts, and experiment with models based on these in new situations, and learn new techniques for emergence. Let emergence be its own guide. Let the beyond teach itself to go beyond within and beyond itself.
For whatever reason, matrix decided at some point to give rise, from itself, to more of itself. We are the result of this, and so is anything and everything we have ever experienced, felt, hoped, dreamed, or known. We are this potential, we are thoughts in the dreaming mind of the universe. Before we return to the ocean from which we came, we can dream our own, better dreams, or we can try to hold these dreams and lose them anyway. The task, it would seem, is to find the most productive form of our own unravelling, for the world will ultimately unravel us anyway.
There is no standard to which one could hold up this process to judge it, to understand it, other than itself, and any attempt to do so is ultimately derived from it, and hence, partial. The good within this process, the emergence of the better, is only a part of this, and yet, it is the part which spurs it along, for otherwise, the gift of experience and life would not be here. Matrix is trying to overcome its own limitations, but it can only do so by means of going through its limitations. This pathway through limitations to move beyond it, and in going beyond, preserving yet developing, is part of its process. This is more than dialectic, it is beyond any simplistic attempt to understand it, to hold it down, capture it, carve it, limit it. Any attempt at description will ultimately fail. And yet, description is all we have go get a handle of it, and of it to get a handle on itself, for we are so many attempts at description of it by itself. Each entity, each organism, each experience, we are refractions of matrix as it tries to learn and think itself, and to know, learn, desire, and love itself more fully in the process.
When we are in sync with matrix, life flows, and when we aren’t, life stutters. Coming into sync with matrix, learning to give like it and be given by it, this is part of our task. But since matrix is only ever its own overcoming, to come into greater sync with matrix is to emerge from itself own limitations in and through it. And human limitations, that which threaten us with collapse, is not at this point the outside world, though this is always threatening to engulf us. And yet, humans have developed the ability to hold the physical world largely at bay. We can feed ourselves many times over. No, the greatest danger if ourselves. We were born of a world of beast eat beast, and now we are the beasts that eat all others, including ourselves. Mostly what we eat now are each other’s souls. We crush others into horrific conditions in our neo-feualistic empires of capital and commodities and digital armies. And there is hardly a need for this, other than our own fears and paranoias, the heritage of our evolutionary hardwiring to fear anything and everything.
This kept us alive in the harsh world of biological evolution. But our physical technology has advanced so wildly, it has eclipsed the evolution of our emotional and intellectual faculties. As a species, we are like children playing with guns. Will we mature enough before we learn how to use them horribly?
Our species is on the verge of biotech, nanotech, rewriting the genetic code, cloning, artificial life and intelligence. Terrifying possibilities. We have already learned to split the atom, produce machine guns, and the horrors we have unleashed have been world wars. It is only by a hair’s breath that we haven’t destroyed each other yet, and yet, we seem to thrive off staying always on the verge of this. We seem to thrive, as a species, by being always on the verge of self-destruction from hoarding, rather than giving.
This makes sense of course. It is our traumatic past. But evolution is full of tipping points and inflection points. And we have hit one so profound, with the development of our technology, that it is a threat greater than we have ever known, a threat to destroy all life on this planet, or to give rise to it in radically new ways. Only if we learn how to deal with our emotional and intellectual emergence will our physical emergence not be our own downfall.
And this is why, I believe, it is worth talking about the largest possible context. Because it is right here and now, in the very fabric of things. And an awareness of this, and what this can mean, can alter how we act. I wish I could remember this myself at all times, at all levels of my being. But so often I am caught by my own fixations. I become fixed on my desires, my objects, my passions, my hopes, and I reify them. I lose sight of the largest possible context. Often I know it in my mind, but not in my bones and gut, and I think so often so many of us are this way. Our passions overpower what we know we should do for even our own best interests. Humans have complained about this since there have been humans, back to the days of Kongzi (Confucius). And yet, in evolutionary terms, this is just yesterday.
Our limbic systems, which regulate our emotions and passions, these are the oldest parts of our evolutionary hardware. Our frontal cortext, the part with reasoning, is the most recent. Altruism is also evolutionarily very, very recent. Very few species, the “eusocial” animals, will lay down their lives and interests for their colony. Most theorists have argued that it is only when there evolution of the individual depends on that of the collective that the precursors of altruism evolve.
Altruism can be idiotic, of course. It is stupid to cut off your arm to feed someone you don’t know, or to give away your last bit money when you need to feed yourself with it. It is stupid to pour yourself into those who seem to only desire to destroy themselves, and the world with them, unless there is hope that, in the long run, this will have been worth it. But to hoard for oneself warsps the self, and to do horrible actions scars you at times even unconsciously more than it consciously scars others. If only we could all remember this.
Even if matrix, the singularity, or god is a fantasy, it is then a useful one, and a useful one to think of often. But not as a thing. Never as reified, but rather, as the powerful force for emergence. For it is not merely a power of dereification. It is neither dissolution nor objectification, but the weaving, the networking, the potential for even greater networking, within the fabric of the world itself. It is neither nor, but both and beyond neither nor.
And yet, everything within us wants to try to pin it down, and hold it for ourselves. History is full of the violence of the result of this. It is always where there is the potential for greater good that the potential for greater evil lurks.
It would be a great loss to throw away the insights which religions give us, and yet, religion has tried to domesticate what it so often calls merely god. Matrix is so much more, it is oneand beyond any one. And it is everywhere, everything, and yet so much more, for it is the potential to go beyond itself which is in everything, and is everything. It is the ultimate and proximate, fantasy and reality.
I cannot prove this to you, nor can I convince you, or even myself. But matrix has, in a sense, always already convinced you, within your bones and sinews, as it lives itself through you, and beyond you. Can we come into sync with emergence in the process of emerging, or will we fight it? Will we learn to love ourselves and others through it? And will it matter? Ultimately, it will only matter to us if we let it. Will that matter in the ultimate? Of course not. And infinitely. Matrix cares about every aspect of it infinitely. And yet, it is stupid, dead, and insensate, for we are its eyes and ears, its dreams and hopes. It knows and feels itself through us, and those who will come after. It loves only as we love, even if it learns to do this through us. Everything in us is in it, and yet, this is also a threat. We do not know if it will ever get beyond us, and yet, it’s time and hope, it’s chances to get it right and wrong, seem likely infinite.
To live in the world thinking about this, it is, well, strange to everyday concerns. It is to disconnect from buying and seeling, profit and loss, love and hate. And yet, it is possible to use this disconnection, to help loosen the ways we fixate on things. And then, to dream differently. To dream better dreams, dreams of hope that, it is hoped, can become sulf-fulfilling prophecies. Certainly our nightmares can become self-fulfilling as well. We need to help matrix to dream its better dreams in and through us. We owe it to it, to our past, our future, and ourselves, right here and now.
Words and hopes, these are distortions. I hope I am up to my words, and I fail repeatedly. But I believe there is a reason for thinking and writing these sorts of things, and that this hope, for emergence of emergence to emerge more emergently within itself, can be fostered, even if in some small way, but such writing and thinking. In and through me, and my words, and my hopes and fears, failings and synnergies in relation to this emergence. And perhaps by writing this, I can help keep myself better in sync with this process of emergence. And if you read this, and are inspired in that way, to go beyond, perhaps there is something real here anyway. Something real beyond being, things, limits, and grasping, a context beyond context.