by Antonio Dias
Nothing exists solely to fulfill a single purpose or to take a singular role in a single process.
How can I realize that the “answer” is not to remake the world in my image, that no singular image of what the world “should” be is either possible or beneficial?
If these are true, then what are the limits upon my will? What is my relationship to these limits?
We are always on the lookout for the path of least resistance. We attempt to thwart our adversaries by resisting them. Our expectation is that resistance is something we would gladly eliminate from our own lives, something we would gladly maximize for our foes.
Sure, sometimes we recognize that “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.”
Sometimes we may notice that resisting a foe strengthens them. That focusing our attention on their actions and how to foil them monopolizes our time and energy and makes it more difficult for us to find another way.
But do we ever take the next step, and actually welcome resistance?
Three-D “printers,” Star Trek food-replicators, travel at “the blink of an eye;” we are wowed by these technologies, real or imagined, because they seem to dissolve resistance. What we wish for appears, or happens “at the touch of a finger.”
Where did all this fingertip control get its start? I would guess with firearms. Aren’t technological “weapon systems” still the exemplar of the form? Something we want dead is out there, a meal or an enemy, or simply somebody in our way. We point our fire-stick and press the trigger, and Presto! resistance to our will is removed.
The evolution of these technologies has proliferated and escalated. They now follow two main branches; drones and the Bomb. Drones allow someone to interject will – usually not their own, that’s “above my pay-grade!” they would say in the vernacular – out there with “pin-point accuracy.” The Bomb allows control of others by the mere threat of annihilation if anyone displeases the will behind the finger on the trigger. These developments have reached the zenith of our dreams of overcoming resistance. Drones can eliminate any individual source of resistance without risking the lives on “our side.” The Bomb counters any possibility of defeat by producing a threat that is so terrible no one will challenge it. Looks like the whole resistance-to-my-will-thing’s been covered! Of course, there’s the little question of who has these powers and how do “I” get them?
This rosy picture, along with the slightly veiled and, “Oh so optimistic sounding!” three-d printers, and that whole line of something-for-nothing, hasn’t exactly worked out, has it? There is almost a direct inverse relationship between reliance on these technologies and any chance of long term survival, not just for those pushing for them, but for anyone. Those whose wills are least fettered are most f*cked. That could be some sort of corollary.
But still, as individuals, we continue to focus on how to eliminate resistance from whatever paths our wills place in front of our mind’s eye, and seek ways to resist the wills of those we disagree with. Why don’t we see this as exactly backwards?
Take any example and don’t skimp on the long view or avoid looking at the cascade of unintended consequences our willed action is likely to generate. The result will be that once resistance is reduced beyond a fatal level, that is once whatever resists us doesn’t automatically kill us, lessening our ambient resistance, the resistance we are exposed to, not the resistance we apply, makes us worse off, not better.
This aversion to resistance can also be seen as seeking ease. In either case, what is involved is a desire to have the complexity around us cease so that we may stay as we are. We seek a plateau, either where we find ourselves now, or where we would like to see ourselves to be. From this desire, a desire to have reality stop changing for us, comes the whole panoply of related desires for reality to bend to our wills. From here we quickly reach the point at which the powerful today can be found “dedicating” their lives to the obliteration of all that makes them fearful as they blind themselves to the fact that all that they do is leading us to complete and utter destruction.
This is not just that “the bad guys” have it wrong! It is in the nature of such striving to always get it wrong. We don’t see this if we keep our attention on our foes and their heinous errors and misdeeds. A good first step is to see how “our side” gets it wrong. How any reliance on an ideological framework to filter reality and make it fit into predetermined compartments of right and wrong inevitably leads away from engagement with what is and traps us in ever less defensible positions that we feel ever more in need of defending.
So where does this lead? The straw man an Ego-defense so eagerly throws out at any sign that we are losing interest in its enticements would say that all this leads to “anarchy!” Anarchy, in this view, always meaning a lawless chaos inhabited by everything we most fear.
Isn’t that what we have now? Isn’t that the natural, not “unintended,” consequence of this entire process?
As difficult, let’s say as unfamiliar, as it may be to look at things this way, the real doozy comes when we begin to look at the implications for each of us as individuals.
Whatever the merits of the term, no matter what we might mean by individual, as this word is shrouded by many varying unexamined assumptions, we do, each of us, have some idea of what is meant by it, and can probably agree that we all have some such quality as part of our Being. I would say what follows applies, no matter how we eventually unwrap what individual might actually mean.
If we carry the weight of these conclusions on to what they imply for each of us I am beginning to think that the results are quite illuminating.
For me, one of the final – to my sight, as I see things now – illusions has been the secret-and-ever-burrowing-deeper-to-hide-from-just-this-sort-of-scrutiny-desire to make the world over in my own image. Not that I want to be God, exactly. Just that I harbor a desire that what appeals to me should proliferate, and what doesn’t should disappear. This desire, I feel, is quite widely held. It has many flavors. Some call it Conservatism, others Progress, some even call it Anarchy – taking the lack of any overweening order and proclaiming this as an overweening order! Behind it is always this desire, hidden or blatant, that the world be made over in my image.
We’ve talked about Dissensus before. This is another aspect of what makes it such a necessary guide for us today. This illuminates the depths of the radical implications of Dissensus. It shows us the why and the how of its workings in a different light.
Consensus, however appealing it is to our tired and restless souls, amounts to a process of collecting allies in whatever flavor of willful ignorance we choose to follow. This is at its depths why movements are not only bound to fail, but deeply damaging to any possibility of changing our relationship with what is.
Practicing Dissensus is a tricky thing! To do so asks of us that we look at our habits concerning resistance in a different light. I stand by the conclusions that we tend to see resistance backwards, but this does not make it easier to deal with the demands implicit in practicing Dissensus!
Within that last sentence is an example of what it sets out to describe! We assume that ease and resistance are a gradient that we see running in a particular direction as to which is desirable. Even when arguing that we look at it the other way around, it is difficult – here it’s happening again! – not to use the old criteria in the old way even while arguing after turning it all around!
Another way, and perhaps a more fruitful way to discuss all this, is to connect it all back to the differences between technology and Craft.
Technology is the uncritical acceptance that a proliferation of recipes for actions, to be amassed and then disseminated so as to “answer” life’s “problems” in a piecemeal ad-hoc fashion, will bring us liberation from adversity. Craft is an overall response to life as the only end. Within the approach of Craft we do not see life as a series of problems. We do not seek solutions that continually bring us new problems to be solved as we continue to kick the can ahead of us. Craft is an attitude towards life and living in which we see the value of resistance to our wills. It allows us room, and a way to value resistance as the crucible in which we may concentrate meaning for ourselves and imbue meaning in our responses to life’s challenges.
Our acceptance of the desirability of technology – in its specifics and in its overall approach – leaves the question of meaning or purpose begging. There is a vague notion of making things better. Or there is a desire to keep things the same. Techniques are judged by how they lessen resistance to our wills and this means that as we have less effort expended for a given result the reasons for doing an action become less and less pressing. In the end we do things, “Because we can!” That each action only worsens our predicament is lost in the urgency bred into us as our patience is bred out.
Craft expects life to include an engagement with all that resists our will. It welcomes this resistance and does not automatically seek to lessen it. There is effort in all action and this effort is respected. The act of taking a real effort to do what we will repays us by giving us the time and the inclination to figure out, “Is it worth it?” Instead of acting as a force that spins us off into increased meaninglessness, Craft is an attitude towards force that holds us to a path of establishing and maintaining integration within our lives. This internal integration breeds an integration among us, and this breeds an integration with the world.
“OK, That’s all well and good, but aren’t you still trying to make the world over in your image? I mean, telling us all this? Building up a persuasive case for things to be a certain way?”
This, or something similar, may be on your minds after reading this. There’s a lot to cover in response….
If Dissensus is recognized as one of the ways diversity acts within the give-and-take of evolutionary development, then Dissensus just is. It is met by the inability of any one actor to assert a preponderance of willfulness – It doesn’t take consciousness to have a will! Rocks have the will to resist, roots have the will to pry them apart, and hungry bellies have the will to gnaw at roots. In the world as it ever was this was always the case. Now it is not. For this reason Dissensus is in trouble. It doesn’t just happen. Those who destroy its efficacy are the ones who don’t believe in its value. So disseminating insights concerning how this is leading to general destruction appears to me to be of use.
The difference does not really appear, between arguing for Dissensus and campaigning for a consensus on dissensus, until we recognize that the former is not done with any expectation that the world would be better if my arguments became a new orthodoxy. Inherent in this view is that I may be terribly wrong. I might be right, but what I think I’m advocating is something other than what would result if this became a dominant view. It could also be that the characteristics that lead me to think this is a good idea, would either melt-away if this became dominant, or would leave the world ill-prepared for something else that might only be countered by a view I found utterly alien, even despicable.
There are two common threads here. One is that domination is never beneficial. The second is that there is no framework that gives us access to every salient point at issue. There is no way of knowing what will be needed in another time that we have no way of knowing will be one way and not another.
My organism seeks out convivial company. I would love to have some people around me who understood my ramblings! But more than that, what I need is to be surrounded by a living body that knows more than I do and that can respond in ways I cannot conceive.
As I see it, there are two things I can do to trend matters in a direction that would allow both of these results. The first is to be who and what I am, to act as, to the best of my lights, my organism can act. Then, I need to let go of the wish and the will to see everything made over in my likeness. These rely on each other. We cannot relate to one without respecting the other.
Neither of these insights leads me to accept any domination, internal or external. Neither predicts or proscripts any set of actions a priori. Together, they do seem to provide a certain rough guidance. They help keep me oriented and reduce confusion. Beyond that, they only predicate that I live until I cannot any longer, and that I accept my lack of control over my life, and my death.
To do anything else would only be another attempt to hide my reluctance to face resistance. And that, would only lead to my achieving irrelevancy sooner, rather than later.
Something for Nothing has played itself out. A Shoal Hope for us would be to reassess the value and place of resistance in our lives. As things stand we give its benefits to our enemies and hold its detrimental results fast.