George Spencer Brown
Only Two Can Play This Game
Bantam Books 1974

page 9:
Introduction

page 11
Traditionally, there is a place called paradise.
Instead of regarding it as a place, it is equally true, and sometimes practical, to consider it as a state of mind. Looking at it this way, it may be easier to see the possibility of any being attaining it any where and at any time.
Thus, as has always been known to the deepest Christian doctrine, a human being can attain it on earth.
In the east they look at it slightly differently. They say there are many paradises, and that our Christian heaven is one of them. But where east and west agree is in the possibility of attaining it on earth. All artists, every where and at every time, are aware of this tradition. And each artist, when he has developed his discipline far enough, aims to go there himself, and perhaps record, if he can, some message.

The state, or the place, whichever you like to call it, is frequently attained by the artist while alone, removed as far as possible from the distracting influences of the world. What has become clear to me now is that it need not be alone. Two people can, but quite a different way, take a trip to paradise together.

All right, all right. The well-known magic of love. Well, if you know it and wish to stop reading', dear Reader, please do. But it is not, I find, so well known, at least in our present grossly overinformed society, as you might think. If you say "I love you" to a girl, she thinks you mean sex. We teach sex in schools, but love is a totally unmentionable subject, and a totally forbidden object. It is so forbiddenthat most of us have forgotten what it was, or even that it exists.

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It is possible to know love and still miss the «experience of total relationship. When the completeness of love passes a certain degree, a change takes place in the relationship of the lovers, and what was magic is replaced by what is miraculous.

In this book I attempt to give an account of the experience, individually, jointly, and cosmically, where love passes beyond this magic point. I feel so inadequate to the task that I ought to apologize for attempting it, but I am compelled to relate it and you, dear Reader, are not compelled to read it unless you wish.

A
man usnally approaches a woman through her physical attractiveness, normally at its zenith between 14 and 24. If he gets no farther than this, he will cease to feel änything for her when she loses her figure.

To marry a woman with any success, a man must have a total experience of her, he must come to see her and accept her in time as well as in space. Besides coming to love through attraction what she is now, he must also come to realize and love equally the baby and the child she once was, and the middleaged woman and the old crone she will eventually become. This does not mean, if he had first met her as a middle-aged woman, for example, that he could necessarily have ever found his way in from there. Nature has her own reasons for fashioning the woman's time-gate where it is, but once the man comes through it, he can and must go beyond it and into the woman's whole being, or there will be no real marriage, it will be only a temporary affair.

Before this particular encounter I might have said, if asked, that I knew this total experience. After all I'm a poet, I'd be supposed to. But in fact I didn't know it. And this was not for want of previous encounters, instructive and delightful though they were, with the opposite sex.

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In previous encounters, each of us had something particular to learn or to unlearn, the commitment did not really go much beyond this. Undertaken in the friendliest of spirits, yes, but we never expected the relationship to be permanent, and it never was. Partings, when they came, were amicable, there was not much suffering, and we remained friends.

I used to think this was all there was to it, and that getting married meant staying together like this, or attempting to, for rather longer than usual. After all, when one doesn't know the real thing, one naturally thinks what one does know is the real thing.

But now it was different. Earlier loves, by comparison, seemed thin and homosexual. Our culture confines us so much to the similarities of the sexual relationship, the all-good-pals-together act, that we can easily overlook the magic difference, the difference that in fact makes it impossible for a man and a woman ever really to be "pals together," but nevertheless gives us the chance of being very much more.

Some of us have more to learn, or unlearn maybe, than others. Anyway it seems to me to be important for people to have the chance to try themselves out, and to try out each other, and learn something of the possibilities and impossibilities of living together, without immediately plunging into a contract that is very difficult to break and, because of the nature of its provisions, can hardly ever be undone without extreme nastiness.

Even these days it is still regarded as something of a sin to live together without being officially married. The odd bit of sex is OK, maybe, but actually living together, well, what will people think, etc. Because of this I am sure there are many young people today who are living together married, but who should really be only living together. The divorce courts at least bear witness to the truth of this.

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The more advice you get, the less likely you are to realize what your relationship can offer. When all is said and done, you are the one who marries your partner, not your sister or your father or your mother or your brother or your friend.

The person who really fits you is always recognizable, but may take time to find. The status that such a person confers upon you is the status of who you really are. Only you know this, but until you meet the right person you may not be fully conscious of it.

Meeting a person who actually fits you is rare enough to awaken extreme jealousy in other penple, especially in those who are near and dear to you. So in deference to their feelings, and in fairness to yourself, you should never parade the fact.

I can make a song and dance about it now since I lost it. But you, dear Reader, should never make a song and dance about it when you find it. Not unless you also wish to lose it. You must be quieter than a mouse. And so must your partner. It's your secret, and if that's the way you want it, then that's the way you have to keep it. It is totally unnecessary to inforrn anyone at all that your relationship is anything more than ordinary and humdrum. You can marry whom you please. You do not have to give a reason. If you must, you can give some daft reason, like you admire his/her hairstyle, clothes, intellect, anything fake. Reasons may become hostages, so make sure you give away none that you'd he sorry to lose.

All the tragic lovers in literature let on about their love. They told. So if you find yourself taking very strongly to another person, and you know you mustn't tell, how can you be sure it is the real thing? Like this. If you have any doubt about it, then it isn't.

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I suppose many people, when they first come to it, lose it again, as we did,
through indiscretion. And suffer in silence. It is after all the practice of the poet to make a song and dance about what other people accept with inarticulate reserve. And who is to say that their silence is less noble than his song.

Some people express the view that the paradise of total love is not a possible state to maintain practically for any length of time, at least not for human beings. I am not convinced. It is true that to maintain it must require great discipline. But great discipline is possible to human beings, even though rare. And we must remember that any couple who are maintaining such a state will be pretending not to. So it might be a case where the public doctrine is always opposed to the private practice.

Of course there are couples living together who are happy enough not to haye the experience. I don't think many people I know are engaged in total love, and I don't think many people even wish for such an arrangement. To begin with, it is not at alI an intellectual experience. Analytic discussion either seems incredibly funny or, if taken seriously, is poisonous.

Although more than usually intelligent, both my mistress and I happened to feel a distaste for the purely intellectual, so we did in fact welcome an involvement that seemed to deliver us from some of its worst excesses.

This being so, it appears that one may, if one wishes, and if one is lucky enough, find a partner, and then proceed with him or her to paradise, without first going through the pains of purgatory. The main requirement seems to be that the partner must be a perfect fit, or as near perfect as makes no matter.

How does it work? Well, the fit, the lock-and-key affinity, seems to be the answer. The egos or outer personalities of the partners are dislodged by the tremendous affinity of the fit as the two inner selves lock together.

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If you go to paradise alone, you must fist go through shocking pain as each scab of ego is dislodged. But when you go with your partner, your raw new inner self is immediately fitted into and accommodated by the equally egoless self of the other, where it sustains nourishment, protection, and a revitalizing communion with its own image-mate.

Dear Reader, I cannot possibly tell you what goes on in heaven. I can only recommend you to go there one day and see for yourself. Wangle yourself an invitation. It is incredibly hilarious. There are Mr. Forsytes, of course, and Mrs. Grundys, just like everywhere else, only much larger and more important and multidimensional and carefully skirted, and everyone is fully conscious of what he, she, it, and everything else is up to, because each person and thing, although manifestly separate, is simultaneously, in the unmanifest aspect, one and the same person and thing, so nobody can keep up any attitude for any length of time without bursting into laughter.

The whole manifest world, with poor serious pompous important little man perched somewhat tatteringly out at the seventh level, counting down from
the centre, which is everywhere, all comes spinning out of the nothingness in the middle of it all in the most indescribably inevitable way which is in fact, in form, and in content the only possible way.
Nothing is left to chance, precisely because
if we insist on making nothing into some thing, all this nonsense is the only thing nothing can really be.

If not, my dear Sir or Madam, what dle hell do you think all this huge meaningless universe is, how the devil do you think it got here, what the rude word do you think it came from, where the even ruder word do you think it's going to, and why? The thing that puts poor dear sweet serious pompous little man off about heaven is its simply stupendous rudeness.

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That and its illogicality. The same thing really. After all, what is logic but a set of polite formalities to hide everything? Imagine Beethoven's fifth symphony, about twenty million times ruder. And that's only the rudeness aspect. There's all the other aspects to consider. All infinity of them. Not to mention the more intimate arrangements. Punch and Judy. And the completely perfectly carefully careless dilettanteliberate infiltremendenditious circular formula love-game we are playing in the First Division. Oh, dear, and I haven't even begun.

You think it's in the Bible? The arrangements for ehe Vicarage Garden Party? My dear Sir, you haven't even begun. Whereas you, Madam, you knew it all along. Nearer to it all all along, and more patient than your miserable menfolk. Quite patient enough to wait several thousand years for it to dawn on us again. Mind you we won't accept all the blame. Bue we won't heap it all onto you any more either. We realize how unfair it was of naughty old God to make you eat that rotten apple and then go on and on at you about it for thousands of years as if it was your fault. Just one of his practical jokes, I'm airaid, not in frightfully good taste, what.

Honestly, what do you think heaven is? A polite tea party? Well, I wouldn't put it past it. It could be. We could get it arranged. If this is what you wish. And when we are all tired of the tea party, we could arrange something else. There really is no limit to what we can arrange, as long as you are willing to take it seriously. That's all we ask. Otherwise you'll see through it. Then there won't be much point, will there? After all, we could save ourselves the trouble.

Suppose we divert ourselves for a moment into the appendix called history. Down this particular alley we find a peculiar blindness that can be traced back to the Jewish Old Testament. In this document, God appears without a partner, a Creator without a Creatrix. If a god of this magnitude is supposed to exist, then what about his corresponding goddess-mistress?

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If, in His household, She is never mentioned, it looks very suspicious.
To put it bluntly, it looks as if the male is so afraid of the fundamentally different order of being of the female, so terrified of her huge magical feminine power of destruction and regeneration, that he daren't look at her as she really is, he is afraid to accept the difference, and so has repressed into his unconscious the whole idea of her as another kind of being, from whom he might learn what he could not know of himself alone, and replaced her with the idea of a sort of second-class replica of himself who, because she plays the part of a man so much worse than a man, he can feel safe with because he can despise her.

Boe: Note 1 - "a sort of second-class replica of himself ": On levels of Existence pg 127

What follows is a typical psychoneurosis, with all its evasions, explanations, and paranoid compulsions. Man becomes afraid and resentful of the archetypal woman within himself. He begins to paint her out, to block off his experience of her. But as soon as he loses sight of the archetypal woman, he loses sight of the physical woman too. And because it is the man's business to be articulate, not the woman's, when the man forgets who the woman is, then so does the woman.

Heaven knows no fury like a woman scorned. The archetypaI woman, now deeply unconsciaus in both sexes; begins to take her revenge. She starts to destroy, and destroy quite ruthlessly, the fabricated civilization that treats her this way. If man will not acknowledge her, if she cannot thereby acknowledge herself, then of course she must destroy the negativity of the existence that refuses to come to terms with the way she is.

We keep thinking the destruction is coming from the outside, from the Russians, from the Chinese, etc. Just as they keep thinking it is coming from us. Really, of course, it is coming from the inside.

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All man's philosophy is a rationalization of his inner experience (or lack of it). And a lack of inner experience of the archetypal woman is expressed in a very obvious manner, by academic materialism, or its modern offshoot, logical positivism.

Some logical positivists would not call themselves materialists, but they still share the same attitude. They maintain that what is real is only what can be described when you look outwards, when you look at tables and chairs and suchlike. What you see when you look inwards, the archetypal pattern, the divine love, the sense of how it all fits together, this they say is unreal and ought to be ignored. At the same time they manage somehow to suggest that it is dangeraus and ought to be done away with.

Of course the way they teach it is more sophisticated than this, and very effective, I know, when confined to its own discipline. But where it carries over to other disciplines, poetry for example, or psychology, I think, without being unfair, this is rather the sort of impression that generally gets across.

The original empiricist philosophers, men like Locke, Hume, and Mill, were amongst the people who got this academic materialism working for them in a big way. Their philosophies were in some respects sadly contrary to normal experience.

Some of them taught a doctrine that the mind of a child starts by being perfectly blank. All it ever knows, they said, is what is imposed or impressed upon it from the outside. Oh yes. Where, then, do original ideas come from? What about mathematics, what about music, what about poetry?

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Well, modern logical postivists have a very slick way of dealing with these things. Not to put too fine a point on it, they say they are all nonsense.

It is easy to see that the logical positivist, and to some extent the modern scientist also, following the empiricist, have come to treat only the masculine husk, the outward appearance of things, as the reality, and to ignore or pooh-pooh the less obvious feminine reality of their inward nature.

The mind, like the body, has an outside and an inside. It has a superficial, obvious aspect, but it also has a deeper and much more subtle aspect.

Each is just as real as the other. Neither can exist on its own. To suppose that the mind starts off perfectly blank, without an internal reality of any kind, is not only unwarranted: it flies in the face of the evidence.

Anyway, as materialists often tell us, the mind is a reflexion of the body. Do they think, then, that the body starts off by being perfectly blank (whatever this would mean), and grows into its present shape because of what is imposed or impressed upon it from the outside?

Of course not. We know that the shape of the body is organized and grows from within, and that there is very little we can do to it from without except decorate or deform it.

At the very least, we have no evidence whatever to suggest that the realest and most important structures of the mind are not formed similarly from within, and that what we can do to it from without, in the nature of training and education, is scarcely more, by comparison with the body, than impress it with a few decorations and deformities. In fact, those of us who have the courage to turn away from our obsession with what is outside,

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which has be
come with us now a sort of racial neuroses, and back within, find here a whole world of tremendous significance and familiarity, which the poets of all languages have always kept alive, a world just as complete and real and "objective" as the world outside, to which it appears intimately related, and without which the outside world does not make sense.

This is of course to be expected. The essential shape of the body does not vary from man to man. We should expect the essential shape of the mind to be the same. In fact, we can set about to explore this inner microcosm. It takes many years, and indeed it has been charted in many different ways, badly and well, but in all cases quite recognizably in respect of its salient features, over many centuries, in many textbooks which our civilization now poo-

This is not meant to be a textbook, so I don't intend to rechart much of the ground that has already been charted elsewhere, except to say that, as all textbooks agree, what we find in the microcosm or inner world contains a complete image of what we find in the macrocosm, the outer world that the materialist thinks is the only reality.

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The words "microcosm" and "macrocosm," although they have to some extent been, used as I have just employed thern here, are not entirely suitable, either from their root-formations or their historical associations, for the two aspects of reality that I wish to consider further.

In the pages that follow I shall use the word "holocosm" for the aspect of reality that is observed by exploring inwards, and "merocosm" for the aspect that is observed by exploring outwards.

In the familiar Biblical analogy, the acorn is a holocosmic aspect of the merocosmic oak tree, because, perfected (as it were) within the relatively spaceless and timeless compass of the acorn, is the essence or completion or kingdom of the oak tree, the signs that, when interpreted, become the laws of its being and possibility, irrespective of whether, in the merocosmic world, it may emerge stunted or dwarfed or diseased or lopsided or otherwise accidentally identified, or even not emerge at all.

These two aspects of being are equally real, but our education at present leads us to attribute an exclusive degree of reality to the merocosm, and practically no reality to the holocosm.

As we all know, any failure to see a reality can be dangerous, but this particular faIlure is unfortunately not one that can be corrected immediately. This is because, even if they would, not many teachers could instruct their charges in the holocosmic law. Our degree of departure from this reality seems now to be nearing its nadir, and although the vacuum of its absence is strongly felt, there is not I think one teacher in ten thousand today who has found the lonely road that will take him to a sufficient mastery of the holocosmic forms to enable him to teach them, and above all to relate them to our present inflated, overburdened, and sprawling knowledge of the merocosm, with any degree of confidence and authority.

It is necessary, I think, to be familiar with both sides of the curtain. But it is always difficult to maintain any sensible basis for' discussion with someone who will keep on insisting that one side is "the wrong side".

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The merocosmic materialist begins and ends his account of the world with matter - more or less hard lumps of stuff flying about in outer space. But when we try to find out what the "matter" is, we find we can't. Apply the usual scientific tests, and what happens? It fades away, dissolves, leaves "not a rack behind".

This is not just a practical difficulty that could be resolved with better instruments. It is a necessary and absolute limitation of our knowledge of the externai world, embodied in what we now call the principle of Heisenberg.

The principle of Heisenberg was not clearly understood in western science until 1925, although the Chinese had already realized2 it as long ago as the fourth century BC, and possibly before. It amounts to this.

To observe anything in the outside world, we have to interfere with it, for example by shining a light on it. And the more sensitive it is, the more the interference changes it. In respect of the most sensitive reality, what we actually see can bear no resemblance to what it really is.

In any objective investigation, this principle operates at every level. The social sciences are perhaps too young to be very conscious of its effects in their fields, but it operates here in two ways. First, if you publish what you suppose (from your investigations) people will do, they read it and do something else. Or they do it because you suppose they will. Secondly, in any case, people (like other things) that are being watched don't behave like people who aren't being watched. In a very material sense, the eye of the investigator alienates whatever it rests on, from the electron upwards.

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It follows that any sufficiently sensitive reality, of any kind, material or otherwise, is completely unavailable to the kinds of probing investigation that are, in fact, our only means of identifying anything in the outside world.

Just supposing (as we might) that the ultimate reality, the basic ground, as it were, that renders everything exactly as it is, is something so incredibly sensitive—like a sort of infinitely fast film —that the minutest outside probe, of any kind, obscures it so that we cannot see it.

If this were so, either we should never know it at all, or we should have to find a totalIy different way to approach it.

As it happens, there is another way. It is still possible (although the out-and-out materialist of course denies it) to reveal, to ourselves at least, what this ultimate reality is by looking not outwards but inwards. This way we do not disturb it because here we are it. Indeed the faculty by which we do this is utterly familiar. It is called, appropriately enough, insight.

Like any other faculty, the faculty of insight can be developed. If you are to become a mathematician, or an artist of any kind, you must develop it to a very high degree. And indeed, when we have developed our insight far enough, we can begin to see how the excessively "real" appearance of the physical world is in fact brought about.

It comes through a very clever trick. It depends on an elaborate procedure for forgetting just what it was we did to make it how we find it.

Amongst other things, what we have to forget so carefully is the fact that we drew up all the hazards ourselves. Indeed the principle of Heisenberg ensures that there really is no "outside world" other than the one we constructed. It is, in fact and in fantasy, a projection of the shape of the instruments we used to investigate it.

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And the instruments (i.e. ourselves) are of course an introjection of this projection of this introjection of this projection of etc. Our forgetting how it is made up is our way of fixing the apperance of the world in just the particular way it happens to be. Of course we can't undo it if we can't remember how we did it, and the less we can undo it the more independent, the more beyond our control, it seems3.

In other words, what we forget, partly involuntarily, partly deliberately, is that, many levels of existence back (seven, to be exact), we (or, as we were at that point, it) made the original decision, the original introjection that eventually, like dealing a pack of cards, became projected as the distinctions between one thing and another.

We only have to do it a different way, and the whole outer world looks and sounds and feels and is quite different, although the inner world, containing as it does all the possibilities of its interpretation, remains always the same.

Only from the inner world can we see the outer world as one of an infinite variety of arbitrary constructions. The magic and the miraculous, of course, are the apparition, in the outer world, of a change to the boundaries, a reshuffling of the cards, originating in, or at least conducted from, the inner world.

In the whole science of physics there is no such thing as a thing. Hundreds of years ago we carefully forgot this fact, and now it seems astonishing even to begin to remember it again. We draw the boundaries, we shuffle the cards, we make the distinctions.

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In physics, yes physics, super-objective physics, solid reliable four-square dam-buster physics, clean wholesome outdoor fresh-air family-entertainment sciencefiction superman physics, they don't even exist. It's all in the mind. If you separate off this bit here (you can't really, of course) and call it a particle (that's only a name, of course, it's not really like that, more like waves really, only not really like that either, not really
(space is not what you think, more a sort of mathematical invention, and just as real, or just as unreal, as the particle.

In face the particle and the space are the same thing really (except that we shouldn't really say "thing"), the sort of hypothetical space got knotted up a bit somewhere, we don't know exactly where because we can't see it, we can only see where it was before we saw it, if you see what I mean, I mean even that's not what it was really like, it was waves (or rather photons) of light carrying a message that may well be very unlike the thing, sorry, particle (remember this is only an abstraction, so that we can talk about it (it? sorry, we don't have an it in physics) ) it (sorry !) came from. After all, we don't know that a thing (pardon !) is telling the truth about itself (would you mind looking the other way while I change into something formal?) when it emits (excuse me !) a blast (do forgive me !) of radiation, do we?,

THEN (if you have followed the argument so far) this (I mean all these mathematical formulae, of course. What did you think I meant ?) is how it happens to come out. Of course, if you start in a different place (no, I'm afrald I can't tell you what a place is, although I could of course draw you a graph) and do it a different way (do please stop interrupting, darling, or we shall never get done), it (it? What we are talking about, my dear. It is convenient to at least pretend we are talking about something otherwise there would not be much point in doing physics, would there?) would naturally come out different.

The significance of this way of talking, which, as everybody knows, is called modern science4, is maintained by means of a huge and very powerful magic spell cast on everybody to put us all to sleep for a hundred years, like that nice Miss Sleeping Beauty, while the amusements are being rigged up. We don't want people strolling all over the place asking awkward questions and making it collapse before it is ready do we? All in good time, when we have carefully finished building ourselves this nice big house of cards, we can, if we all keep our eyes shut tight and

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hold our breath and wish hard enough, we can all play this nice game of houses and all go and live in it before it all falls down. Except of course there isn't enough room there for everybody all at once, so we all have to not be too greedy and take it in turns.

It is not to everyone's taste, of course. Some don't seem to care for it much. Others try to change it when they get there. But if, for example you want to change the big dipper, the time when you are least equipped to do so is the time when you happen to be taking a trip on it. They forget that. Some buy another ticket and go round again.

Well, Reader dear, we got a glimpse of the holocosm from the merocosm, and now we seem to have managed a squint at the merocosm from the holocosm.

We have to be a bit careful about doing it this way round, the authorities are none too keen on letting every tom dick and harry behind the scenes, we built all these amusements you see and of course we want them to be used. Come along, ladies and gentlemen, gods and goddesses, your last' chance to visit the Universe, unbelievably realistic, have your tickets ready ! Our representative on the course is waiting to greet you, so hurry along please, stand clear of the gates, mind the doors, be good, see you all again soon !

Well, here we are, dear Reader, back in the old physical world again, Bridlington pier and the old dip-the-dips, hold tight, woops, how's it feel, you can take your ear-plugs out now and I promise not to say anything improper.

There happens to be a whole section of the holocosm that you are still quite freely allowed to revisit while you are here as guests in the merocosrn. It is called mathematics.

Perhaps it never occurred to you that mathematical things such as numbers are not in the physical universe ?

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Search as long as you like, dear Reader, you won't find a single nunber, not even of any kind, down here, although there are, of course, enough numbers to go round whenever you want to count things. The source of supply just happens to be in a deeper level of existence, that's all. The ancients were well aware of the divinity of mathematics. The material world and the mathematical world are different orders of being, yet we can still see how closely they marry and complement and give meaning to one another. It is the same in other disciplines.

What we know in the holocosm, we can know for certain. That np = n to modulus p when n and p are natural integers and p is prime, is not a matter of opinion.5 A mathematician knows it is so, withou t the slightest doubt whatever. How can he be so certain? Precisely because he does not use his human eyes to see it with, he uses his insight to observe it as a spectacle or play (theatre and theorem have of course the same root) put on for his benefit in the holocosm where numbers exist, and evoked by the particular way he learned, through his initiation into mathematics, to conjure with certain symbols.

The precise secrets of the mathematician's discipline or craft, the cunning6 evocations whereby he calls up, from the depths of his being, what can be known with absolute certainty, took him many years to acquire, and in history took mankind as many thousands of years to establish. This is why they are called secrets—the mere telling of them carries little or no conviction. As in all holocosmic arts, the certainty of the truth they display comes from the mastery of the law they embody.

Our direct vision or insight into the holocosm, once we have learnt to use it, is no less certain than our ordinary (and, as any neurologist will tell you, extremely indirect) physical vision into the merocosmic world of tables and chairs and what we are having for breakfast.
The main difference, apart

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from its added clarity from directness, is that what is seen in the holocosm is so much more interesting because it is prior to what is seen in the merocosm. "Prior to" means exactly what it says: more important.

The inner levels strictly determine how the outer levels can be, not the other way round.

To fly to the moon we must know, and strictly obey, amongst other things from the holocosm, the mathematical laws of motion. But, to discover the laws of motion, it is not necessary to have been to the moon.7

Poets and other master artists who visit other places and levels of the holocosm observe them with the utterly clear direct vision and precision of a master mathematician, and they see how it applies with equal rigour to other fields of being and activity in the material world, and it is because they are able to speak, however obscurely they do it (let's be fair, even the best mathematicians are often very obscure indeed), with a certainty equal to that of a mathematician, that people who cannot see8 the reason for their certainty find it so irritating.

We all adore or hate in another what we have alienated in ourselves. Adoration is not love, it is hatred in reverse. Those who merely adore the Original Male Being in the holocosm, see Him as two beings, God and the Devil, as the alternation of the opposites, desire and disgust, with which they have polarized their vision9.

What we have alienated in ourselves is in fact what it is possible to know in respect of the complete and universal totality of being and non-being. Why do simple discoveries of the obvious take so long? Not berause man is incapable of seeing them, but because he is neurotically prevented from seeing them by his own self-imposed alienation from what he knows must be so.

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One of the profounder secrets of getting so much of heaven out via a mere earthly work of art lies, in fact, in the particular form in which the work is cast. The artist, and his translation, not only respects the holocosmic content, but he moulds the form in which it is to make its earthly appearance so that it itself resembles, in some way, the formal balance of the holocosmic place where he found the content. The result, if he gets it right, is that the work possesses a sort of magical incandescence from the “beats” or interference patterns produced when the heavenly light shines through the formality of an earthly window or grid that is itself, in some appropriate way, also heaven-shaped. The master artist marries his form with his content to produce this effect instinctively, and rarely makes a mistake. The would-be artist, alas, rarely gets it right, because he hasn't yet reached the place in his knowing where he feels all those powers of expression to be so inadequate that he instinctively reaches out for some new magic to render the impossible possible.

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Every artist when he speaks as an artist, is speaking from the holocosm. The patterns he makes, although in the merocosm, are not primarily representative of anything in the merocosm. If they are he is not an artist but a craftsman, and although every artist must be a craftsman, not every craftsman needs to be an artist. The artist is creating artificial patterns in the material reality of the merocosm in the likeness of what exists in the nonmaterial reality of the holocosm. By this, and by no other, criterion is his work, apart from its craftsmanship, truly judged. How else, in all conscience, could a work of art possibly make sense? Materialist "explanations" of art, regarded dispassionately, are impossibly far-fetched. Indeed, the best the materialist can do, if he wants to stick to his guns, is to deny the reality of what the artist is expressing, to say that people don't in fact experience what they palpably do experience.

This is of course an utterly fraudulent trick, a dishonesty so brazen that it takes the breath away. What the materialist is doing in attempting to dictate to us what we are to call experience. Some of our experience is okay, he says, is in fact experience, but, on the other hand, some of our experience is incorrect or mistaken, and is therefore not really experience. Oh, very clever! See the trick? A calculation can be incorrect, an opinion (i.e. a judgement or an interpretation) can be mistaken, an argument can be wrong. But calculation and opinion and argument are ways of processing experience, of acting on it and removing ourselves from it: they are not, repeat not, themselves experience. We can no more experience in experience incorrectly that they can dream a dream incorrectly.

True art is spoken directly from experience. A true poem cannot be wrong any more than a dream can be wrong. It can, however, like a dream, a clear or obscure, polite or rude, profound or trivial, sitting or disgraceful, well or badly recorded. And, and this is the really huge distinction between art and other walks of life, it never, repeat never, expresses an opinion.

To those who are perhaps trying to feel their way towards it, the doctrine that attempts to deny them this way, although it may be an inevitable outcome of how we suffer our reality, has consequences that are, to say the least, unpleasant, both individually and collectively.

For by ignoring what is within (what is underneath, fundamental, what has to be finished out or divined) and concentrating on what is without (what is superficial, mutable, fashionable) we tend naturally to replace what is important with what is trivial.

And the most disastrous effects of this trivialisation of experience are first apparent in and to the people for whom the prevailing fashion has not quite blocked off what it was they once knew.

George Spencer Brown


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