Monday, October 04, 2004

"A Theory of Power", Chapter 1

Introduction: A Theory of Power

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I have often wondered about the structure of the world. What drives our actions and desires? Why do patterns appear to repeat themselves throughout history? Why do the poor outnumber the rich? Can I find the blueprints for the world laid out in some cosmic instruction manual—if not, then what forces have defined its course of development? Simply looking at the surface of the world around me has never provided satisfying answers. Stemming from my desire to understand myself and my environment, I have attempted to understand the fabric of so-called “reality,” from the microscopic to the cosmic—how and why it works the way it does. In the process, I have come to understand the difference between perception and truth. I have realized that truth “is” a perception, just as much as anything “is” at all.[1] The irrational assumption, the belief in the sanctity of “is” seems to form the foundation of our mask of reality.

For thousands of years, sages and mystics of many religions have questioned this impression of reality. They call reality “Maya”, an illusion. To Buddhists, Christian Gnostics or Sufi Muslims, the path to enlightenment requires one to see through this illusion.[2] The scientific community rejected this uncertainty and presented an opposing picture of reality. Following the examples of Galileo and Newton, scientists defined the world “objectively”—look closely enough, they said, and a concrete structure, an absolute deep-reality emerges. In the 20th century, however, developments in the field of quantum mechanics, anthropology and psychology began to support a consilience of science and mysticism—they suggest that both views appear correct, even inseparable.

Consilience, the unification of varied fields of scientific inquiry, pushed aside the veil of illusion to reveal the foundations of reality.[3] Reality, it turns out, often appears as anything but static, instead appearing as a dynamic web of transactional entities and experiences. Strikingly, experiments continue to suggest that everything in the universe influences every other thing, instantaneously, and at all times.[4] Reductionism—defining the smallest component particles of existence—will not illuminate the nature of our world. Rather, the connections, the power-relationships between entities prove illuminating, coalescing to form the “tangible” around us.

The networks of connections, not the elements connected, appear to constitute a more accurate map of reality. Consider this a critical paradigm shift: the connections, not the parties connected, may best represent our world. Take the seemingly simple nature of this very book. All of our senses confirm that it “is” a solid object, with little mysterious about it. Another of our models of reality represents its composition as that of a web of billions of atoms; nearly entirely empty space speckled with clusters of sub-atomic particles. Other models exclude the concept of a concrete “particle” entirely: quantum mechanics provides us with a model of reality without fixed particles at all, using instead a nebulous web of constantly changing energies and waves of probability. These energies and connections may represent all that actually exists! The connections, the power-relationships between perceived “entities” make up the world around us, not the illusion of particles. This concept of the connection, and the power-relationship it represents, extends to our genes, our culture and our technology. It wields great power over all areas of our lives. Our thoughts, desires and self-perceptions, our very identity, stems from this enigmatic web of connectivity. This book will explore the concept of the connection, the power-relationship, as it underlies the fabric of reality.

A closer examination of the dynamics, structure and evolution of patterns of connections will provide the foundation for exploring and learning to work with power-relationships. The complex web of connectivity animating our world did not simply spring into existence fully formed. Rather this web results from the ongoing processes of development and intensification. Understanding the process of how and why we have arrived at our present state provides the insight that will eventually give us greater control over our future. It will illuminate the fundamental clockwork of our minds, bodies and societies, revealing principles of power-relationships that govern all aspects of what we perceive as reality, from the environment and economics to politics and psychology. It will unravel the bonds that hold humanity in slavery to the patterns of history—and ultimately provide the key to our freedom. Understanding the interconnectivity of such diverse fields will yield a theory of power-relationships that will expand our understanding of the world as a whole. This theory will reduce power to its discrete nature and reassemble it into the swirling web that exists around us. Power defines every aspect of our experience of reality. Ultimately, this knowledge, this theory of power, will provide us with a tool chest to affect our world.


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[1] I have written this text, almost entirely, in the language of ‘English Prime’—English, without the “is of identity”, as proposed by Alfred Korzybski—in fact, without any form of the verb “to be”, as proposed by David Bourland, R.A. Wilson and others. This results, hopefully, in a more operational language. It avoids the irrational, dogmatic mannerism of stating that something “is” something else, without providing any further justification to equate the two terms than the mere presence of the verb “to be”. The few exceptions, noted in quotation marks, are used primarily to point out the logical fallacy of the verb “to be”.
[2] For an outstanding overview of the world’s spiritual traditions, see Aldous Huxley’s “The Perennial Philosophy”
[3] See Edward O. Wilson’s “Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge”
[4] R. A. Wilson summarizes Dr. John S. Bell’s 1965 theorem: “If some sort of objective universe exists in some sense… and, if the equations of quantum mechanics have a similarity of structure (isomorphism) to that universe, then, some sort of non-local correlation exists between any two particles that ever came in contact” (Quantum Psychology, pg. 167). In other words, any two things that ever came in contact will always maintain an instantaneous influence on each other, no matter how distant the separation between them. The far-reaching implications of this theorem demonstrate the importance of connections to the functioning of our universe.


LABear said...

Beware the tyranny of either/or. This chapter presents several diverse and sometimes conflicting models of the universe. To reject one model in favor of another is to overlook the value in holding multiple simultaneous viewpoints.

ecoarchitect said...

Yes, holding multiple simultaneous viewpoints is how one constructs a perspective.

dr.alistair said...

ra. wilson seems to get it about right in that we seem to create our reality by thinking, and in so doing create tunnel realities that we exist in until another one forms. that maybe a "nowist" statement but i don`t think ra. would mind.

chx said...


Do you know this quote? I have it in my email client 'sig' list:

'...Maya," "illusion," translated properly for Western understanding means "ideology." Every other translation is less exact. Thus a large number of Westerners express the same basic concept or idea with the word "ideology" that an Oriental expresses with the word "maya". But what a tremendous difference! What does the Oriental think of as maya? The Oriental thinks everything in the sense perceptible world is maya, everything perceived by our senses and all thinking connected with sense perception is maya, the great illusion. The only reality is the reality of the soul. ... Conversely, a large number of Westerners are convinced that the only reality is the reality perceptible to the normal senses. For them reality is exactly what the oriental calls maya.' (Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, 1919)