Alien Anthropology

Convenient Fictions of Non-being

None of us actually exist, at least not in the ways we generally believe that we do.

None of us actually exist, at least not in the ways we generally believe that we do.

Convenient fictions: random thoughts on emptiness and life written on a cold Sunday afternoon, sitting in a garden in the sun…

One day you will no longer exist. You will have once existed, the ripples of effect you leave in your wake will remain imprinted in a brief moment of time across a diminutive portion of (all of) space, and whatever influence you had, whatever genetic or cultural effect you may have incurred – that will slowly but surely fade away, washed away as so much statistically insignificant white noise and random entropy in the Cosmological immensity within which you once lived.

It seems sad, doesn’t it ? To think that the opposite of existence for us humans might be utter negation and eventual erasure to a submicroscopic ripple in energy or information and then even that, to less than nothingness – existentially and materially, at least.

One day you will no longer exist. How should you feel if you were to discover that you never actually did, not merely by virtue of your infinitesimally small bit-part in history, but by the fact that this self and perception (or burden of responsibility and inverse cultural projection) was never really any more than a statistical ripple and fluctuation of narrative convenience through which the self-propagating patterns and flows of information and energy that constitute all of this world express themselves?

The more we learn (in science) about the world around us and our actual role in it, the more it seems that this is a truth, perhaps The truth, of our existence. No surprise, then, that so many rail against the perceived threat of scientific fact and attach or adhere to variously implausible fictions, political grotesqueries and ideological absurdities. We live, we lived, we felt emotion, we expressed language internally and as a focal point in the consensus ocean of evolving symbols and culture, but we were always aware that there was a vacuum at the heart of it, an emptiness, in those rare moments when we were honest with ourselves.

This is not to say that life is without value – far from it. The shift in perspective is more to acknowledge that the implicit value and beauty of this experience is, has been, the extent to which the only logical way an entire Universe can manifest in any singular point or entity is precisely as such an emptiness and enigmatic vacuum. There is something in this of the mystery of a self-contained Cosmological mystery in which the essence and core could only ever be, has always only ever been, nothing at all.

It sound crazy, I know, but then again it would hardly be wisdom if it was not the antithesis of consensus opinion in what life is, what reality and existence actually consist of. Once you open your mind to this kind of thing, most of the behaviour and futile grasping you perceive in the world around you reveals itself for the frenetic misunderstanding that it is. Ironically, to perceive the emptiness in all of these things does not free you (or anyone) from having to participate and play this silly human game. Life, whatever else it may or may not be, is an experience to be valued and embraced – just with less selfishness once you realise that this self was only ever a contingent, ephemeral and convenient fiction.

The conspicuous absence of substantive personal being
and self is also its unique and singular, enigmatic, reality.

2 replies on “Convenient Fictions of Non-being”

A compelling antithesis to all theses. Is your conclusion based on the idea that all matter, energy, space and time are merely fluctuations in the quantum vacuum? Anything derived from our convenient fictions, our values, the value of life, would also be convenient fictions. In the multiverse, might there be universes that are not fluctuations in the quantum vacuum, that are something else? So the Hindus and Buddhists were right all along. I must admit that some of my fictions are more convenient than others. By and large, I do love my fictions and I do love the fact that we often can share our fictions with others so that they are less burdensome. Somehow I feel a kind of poetic justice in that I write fiction while I am myself fiction. Yours was a brilliant article (as usual).

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You are far too generous. Thanks again for your kind words.

A(nother) postscript – if we were to take it seriously, this concept of creatively generative emptiness and void, we might perceive that even these few words on fiction (no less than the effervescent cacophony of human illusion which encapsulates us) would reveal themselves, as much as you or I, as merely being this emptiness inflecting, reflecting itself back within and through itself, as itself. You need only turn one mirror to face another to simulate infinity, regardless that each of those reflective surfaces is paper-thin and quite utterly insubstantial.

On the topic of material reality and the Universe – there are more wonders to discover than we can ever imagine and when (or if) all of our science finally outgrows it’s infantile, narcissistic and psychologically wish-fulfilling aspirations to an utterly impossible epistemological and teleological closure, we might begin to appreciate this Universe, and ourselves, both for what we (and it, our necessary shadow) are and what we might become. A logical negation (in or) of emptiness is a subtle matter.


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