Complicity, not conspiracy

The subject of the last post, questions around exploring our vulnerability and finding the sources of violence, leads to, implies, an examination of the questions of complicity in relation to conspiracy.

As the objectivization of thought sends us following projections placing what we strive against outside us, we find it easy to see conspiracies everywhere. It is in the nature of this dynamic for our perceptions of conspiracies to proliferate.

The problematization of life is driven by the illusions of separateness. This can be confused with making distinctions of any kind, but they are not identical. That any well-recognized whole is made up of distinctive parts does not prop up the illusion of separateness. We recognize that our distinctions are the only way we can perceive the texture of complexity. Without distinctions being perceived no sense of wholeness survives with any useful meaning. If our sense of wholeness is of a foggy blankness we are as far from perceiving wholeness as we would be in carrying the evidence of distinctions so far as to convince us that there are gaps between parts that exist and are not merely the artifacts of our partial view.

One of the reasons I return to painting when I do is to experience the act of seeing in ways that then reflect back on how I see the world when not painting. There is the embodied experience of the totality of the visual field, a sense – not a theory – that sight is built out of relational connections and that what I see is a field, and not the ideationally reduced conception of “empty” space and “solid” objects. While painting we are constantly observing distinctions and finding just the sufficient response to present their qualities onto the surface of the painting. No attempt to make a shadow darker that does not take into account the juxtaposition of that darkness with the overall level of brightness will ever lead to its expression on the canvas. We are continually brought back to the relational quality of distinctions. Without taking into account the rest, we cannot bring forth the particularities of any part. This is a dynamic relationship between distinction and totality, experienced and not just abstracted in thought.

One could say that the parts are complicit. This is very different from a belief in conspiracy. Again, we can impatiently rush off to act dismissing this as a quibble.

“Yea! Yea! We are all complicit, but those bastards are the ones who done it!”

This is the rallying cry of urgency. It is difficult to ignore. There are times, in the heat of the moment and the unfolding of situations when we are compelled to act as though this were true. Moments during which failure to act, even acting upon an illusion of separateness, will lead to tragedy. But unless we remain attuned to what is at stake, that we are replacing one tragedy with another when we do so, and not “solving” our way out of a predicament without solution.

This profound realization was behind the dramatizations of tragedy in those classical moments when drama reached beyond the mere manipulation of emotions for profit. Behind such expressions of tragedy in art was the impulse to flesh out these difficult implications and give us imaginative absorption in such situations within a privileged location in time and space.

These enactments within such a framework, within a frame, a context that allowed us to feel what is at stake while also remaining in part an observer, outside the relentless contingency of actual living situations, creates the unique conditions art affords us to reflect on what is otherwise, too close, too powerful, even too deadly; for us to be able to reflect on them at all. From dreams to children’s imaginings in play, to great works of dramatic art; we have story acting in this way as a multiplier of experiences. If we develop by having our neural and other somatic interactive systems change as they confront experiences then this is a way in which imagination brings us into contact with an infinity of possible interactions instead of the finite and severely limited restrictions of our actual memories of past “real” experiences.

If the universe is organized within an implicate order then a manner in which we can navigate within the realm of implications gives us access to infinity through creativity. Looking at this question in this light is a way to make it more than just another theory. The challenge of having arrived at insights related to the limitations of thought and the consequences of an implicate order is not met by abstractly relating or explaining a theoretical construct, in this case one whose major thrust is that such reductivism is crippling us. It can only be met by finding ways to inhabit its revelations and experience its possibilities.

This can be put quite simply. Navigate implication. Imaginatively navigate implications. If we are suffering from delusions compounded upon illusions that resist our perception of their true nature, then the only way to avoid the morass of traps in which we continually strive – even striving to remove striving and urgency from our lives – by turning our attention – all we ever actually have to bring to bear on anything – on navigating implication imaginatively.

Life continually meets challenges. Very few of these are clear-cut problems  amenable to simple solutions. Most of the time life survives by achieving conditional accommodations to circumstances beyond grasping and certainly beyond control. This is evolution. It is not a solution to anything. It is not the proof of any a priori position – beyond life’s appetite to exist which may be another way of looking at the energy of the universe acting to bring what it implies into being. Evolution “succeeds” because it continues. This success is no more or less than an unrolling of implication within a field of attention. A blunt and crude formulation of something that requires all of existence to manifest might be to say that attention evolves and persists so that implication has a witness and partner in its unrolling.

Evolution cannot exist without accommodating violent disruption. Implication boils up into actuality with such energetic manifestations that what we witness or experience as violence, disruptive acts that tear at our illusions of permanence and solidity, are inevitable. This is not some “fine print” in the contract. It is not some twist of perverse gratuity in some sky-lord’s personality. It is essential because it corrects for illusion, if nothing else. Attention does not exist for long within stasis. Perception dulls and fades away without distinctions to renew its acuity.

Our relationship with violence is not simple. Unless we are attentive to its manifestations in all ways, especially in our complicity in violence that reduces life’s ability to respond to any contingency at all – this is expressed in mega-death, in multiple, compounding, cascades of extinction – then we continue to act in ways that ensure the success of our suicidal ecocide. We chose – and the problematic of choice is implicit in this act, these series of acts of choice, as opposed to discovering what is by doing and being – to conspire in this act of immense destruction that rivals the potentials of disruption of events on cosmic scales.

But then, if we chose – again, that particular attitude expressed in this term – to react to this enormity by continuing to insist on separation and the proliferation of illusory conspiracies of others, then we abdicate any possibility of arriving at any creative response. We doom ourselves to futility as we then witness, darkly and in much obscurity, the continuation of this destructive project. A projection of destruction that we are complicit in, not out of a damnable nature, not because of any “original sin,” but because we have seen what could be something else and we have stepped away from unrolling its implications because we prefer to hold onto our illusions of control and security. We choose to be false.

Of course, this is precisely what our illusions project onto those others we insist are conspiring to bring about whatever we disagree with. They conspire. They are evil. We are good. We will fight evil and good will win out.

And so it goes. This is the path that always leads back to the same result. It is fascinating. It beguiles us with the powers of illusion turned up to their highest levels. It defends our incoherence with a power that has been able to maintain our incoherent relationship between thought and life for all these millennia. It feeds urgency which then pressures us to act in any way, ensuring we will act in the old ways.

This dynamic we perceive as a spiraling proliferation of conspiracies. Our broken sincerity attempting to right itself by negotiating between levels of plausibility, struggles between attitudes of skepticism and gullibility. What could be a useful tool, an ability to reason, lacking any traction with contact with anything outside of our delusional incoherence devolves into a reptilian reaction to “hot-button” manipulations of emotion. This is done to us and done by us, most importantly to our selves. This is all-consuming. It may be the driver behind our suicidal ecocide and not just a reaction to its increasing stressors.

One thing should be clear. It certainly works as an accelerant to the process. It will lead to the removal of this irritant upon the possibility of continued life on this earth. If our destruction somehow predates the closing off of all possibilities for continued life….

Any similarities in this dynamic to the particulars of suicidal killers of any sort is implicit. This is how it works.

Tragedy is an awareness of collisions between expectations of continuity and the inevitability of disruption. It is sorrowfully simplistic to see this as an equivalence to “giving up.” To demanding that such an awareness insists that we allow ourselves to be unfeeling monsters.

Within our awareness of tragedy it is implicit that we feel for loss. That we attend to what was, and mourn what now may not ever be. But an awareness of tragedy holds within it the lessons of complicity. It is only when our delusions  mask our complicity that tragedy becomes final and irremediable.

Each tragedy is an opportunity to correct this incoherence. Not by chasing after evil and its minions. But by stretching our attention to accommodate for the lessons in complicity each tragedy provides us.

In these moments compassion is not a pablum, not a salve upon some irritation on our discomfort at being disillusioned. It is a force that heals. It heals the tears incoherence insists on perpetrating. Turned towards those we are inclined to see as the other, it dissolves the separation we project on the world. Turned upon ourselves, it gives us space to mourn and space to find sincerity without succumbing to the violence of our internalized coercions.

In these moments we are provided with a compass. There is, in that brief space and time between our perception of a tragic action and our rushing off into restoring illusion’s incoherent dominion over us, an opportunity to listen to that whisper of our complicity. If we allow this to enter us with all the power it has to disrupt our sense of security, if we accept our precarity and ultimate vulnerability, especially to the powers of delusion to rob us of access to life itself, then we have a chance to respond creatively, to break out of the inevitability of finite, repetitive, and futile reactions. Nothing more, but also, nothing less than what living in touch with implication entails.

We sense at such moments the driving momentum and intoxicating appeal of following conspiracy to its insane conclusions. It takes courage to decouple from this juggernaut’s course. The first step is to allow our complicity to be seen by us. From there we gain sensitivity to the ways in which violence manifests itself. We can then distinguish between responses that can only escalate its impacts from the possibilities of response that preserve and respect whatever it is about what has been lost in some part from finding another way to make itself explicit in another way. Continued, insistent delusion escalates violence and threatens to compound enormity. Acceptance of complicity and the growing awareness to violence’s implications opens the door to coherence.

Coherence is the property of integrated wholes. Fragmentation and destruction are the results of our efforts when we deny this. Complicity, its awareness in us, its spreading of awareness within compassion, works towards integration. Conspiracy’s siren song can only further fragmentation and destruction.

This may appear to be a choice. It isn’t. A choice is an illusion of “taste.” That we come to life as its consumers.

Within the order of implication attention and result are one. Action in this realm is not chosen, but accomplished. It can neither be predicted, chosen, or negotiated with; and still be true. Implication does not offer paths to be chosen, argued over. It is only visible as a trail. What it offers us is the opportunity to leave the prisons of paths and find our own trails. It offers us the chance to live.

Published by Antonio Dias

My work is centered on attending to the intersection of perception and creativity. Complexity cannot be reduced to any given certainty. Learning is Central: Sharing our gifts, Working together, Teaching and learning in reciprocity. Entering into shared Inquiry, Maintaining these practices as a way of life. Let’s work together to build practices, strengthen dialogue, and discover and develop community. Let me know how we might work together.

2 thoughts on “Complicity, not conspiracy

  1. Original sin, eh? Let me offer an (only slightly…) blasphemous version of the so-called Fall: Taking that famous apple was not a problem. Curiosity happens, you know. But then the all the bad stuff starts. Eve, she recommends the apple to Adam. She asked Adam to believe her rather than his own insight. The first breaking of boundary (Eve breaks Adam’s). And then, as Adam takes the apple and they get caught, he puts the fault with the woman, as if he was not responsible for what he did (Adam breaks Eve’s boundary). Second breaking of boundary. And what the merciful, all-good god does then? Punishment!!!! Boundary-breaking all over the place. Fast-forward to today: we have become adepts at pretending to be nice to each other while, in truth, violently breaking each other’s boundaries concerning integrity (This is my job: apply inherently violent bureaucratic rules on humans. I say sorry and thank you, but violence it is, though I am not permitted to sneer and growl and they are not permitted to lash back at me). We are so adept that we don’t even notice or know what we are doing. I’ve been learning about healthy boundaries and authentic communication with my horse for quite a while, but I have always thought it is a sort of private perversion for me to only want this kind of communication. But on Friday I happened upon this exchange in, of all places, Facebook, about aggressive behaviour Don’t know how it shows if one is not member, but an extremely useful discussion, that gave me a new clarity about why it is so immensely important that everyone learns about each other’s boundaries and how to be authentic.

    I’m not christian and I don’t believe in sin. But there are things we do to each other that we have to figure out how to stop. And right now it seems to me that just learning this kind of communication is only possible with people (or animals) who are fiercely authentic and know how to respect and deal with boundaries. So, choosing who I spend my time with is becoming more and more important.


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