“The word that can be spoken is not the true word.” – Lao Tzu
In my version of the People’s Story we were all born into a guessing game in which reality is continuously poking us with the question – “What should you do?” Through both our actions and our inactions, we are continuously responding, and those responses have consequences. We can choose to believe anything we wish, but we cannot escape the consequences of our choices.
Story is how we model the stimulus/response/consequences experience of our existence. Our story controls our understanding of the stimulus, which controls our response, which affects the consequences of our response. No one is born with good judgment. Our judgment evolves as our story evolves.
When I was six years old my brother told me that there was no Santa Claus. In one moment, I moved from inside of a story where Santa Claus was absolutely true, out into a story where it was all a vast conspiracy of lies designed to control my behavior. In the flash of epiphany, I caught the pattern. My story controlled my perceptions, which controlled my actions, which controlled my consequences. In that same flash of epiphany, I caught the geometry of motion, from inside of smaller false story, out into a larger truer story. It was the “Santa Claus Shift” that launched me on my life journey outward through story space to investigate the story of how story evolves. I just completed a “solution memoir” about this journey, The Game of Guessing Right, that describes my secret alchemical life and my search for the Peace Story.
Will the young player answer the call to adventure, move courageously across the threshold of uncertainty, and begin the rising spiral of evolving story toward reality and awakening? Or will they refuse the call, retreat fearfully from uncertainty, and seek refuge in the imagined safety of a static “true story” that promises to protect them from their fears in exchange for their obedience?
To remain certain in an uncertain reality, we must blind and distort our perceptions or they will observe evidence that contradicts our true story. We must suppress our reasoning process or it will produce answers that challenge our right answer. Certainty is a mental illness that interrupts the learning cycle at the first step, observation of the stimulus. Rather than a rising spiral of evolving story towards reality and awakening, you spiral downward into delusion and paranoia, separating further and further from a reality increasingly perceived as the enemy.
Like the binding of a young child’s feet, binding a young mind in a static true story may cripple their perceptual and cognitive functions for their entire life. Propagating true story on a large scale produces a stupefied society that is both delusional and irrational, and thus suffers the consequences of its poor judgment. Story is a model. Do not mistake the model for reality. Expose and abandon false stories, or you will spend your game enslaved by lies.
It is a natural human potential for us to become trapped inside of a true story to protect ourselves from our fears of uncertainty. This natural potential is sometimes exploited by those who seek to bind us inside of true stories designed to control our behavior to serve their selfish interest. To control our story, anything that challenges their truth must be reviled as heresy and “fake news.”
There is a play I call the Pirate Bank Shot. The Pirate Lords create, invent, or take advantage of a terrifying uncertainty to strip the people of a story that the Pirate does not control, and drive them into the imagined safety of a story that the Pirate does control. The Reichstag Fire allowed Adolf Hitler to suspend civil liberties, including habeas corpus, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and the right of free association and public assembly. The launching of preemptive war against Iraq was planned years before the terrifying uncertainty unleashed on 9/11 made its execution possible, and it was justified as necessary to prevent the threat of an imminent attack upon the United States from weapons of mass destruction that did not exist. Preemptive war was sold as a way to make us safer, and this same sales pitch is being used today by those seeking war against North Korea, and those trying to frighten North Korea into a preemptive attack to justify a massive counter attack.
It takes courage to face uncertainty. Courage is a spiritual muscle, and if it is not exercised, it will atrophy. Once you surrender control of your decision making process to another person or organization, you may become increasingly unable to push through the threshold of uncertainty and take that control back.
The Pirate Lord knows this.
Doubt is the only exit from a“truth trap.”
The Pirate Lord knows this as well, which explains why the sign hung across the threshold of uncertainty reads “Gates of Hell.”
My novel The Lord’s Bedchamber is a literary fantasy about a writer’s war between Bacchus and Shakespeare (sort of) over who will write the ending of the People’s Story. Shakespeare seeks to manipulate selfish fears and hungers to trap the people inside of a delusion that he controls, and Bacchus seeks to free the people from Shakespeare’s lies. This same war is being fought in the United States, and it has been in progress for a long time. Cries of “Fake News!” may soon be replaced by angry shouts of “Heresy!” As the stakes grow, it would be expected that authoritarians in power will increasingly persecute individuals and organizations that challenge their lies, and that the Hero Players will speak out anyway.
Ultimately, this battle for control over the People’s Story may be won or lost in the public education system. The mental illness of certainty is not only communicable, it is being aggressively propagated by religious authoritarians who need the people to believe that God speaks in order to command obedience with God’s words. Religious authoritarians insist that schools teach children their truth, and suppress the process for seeking the truth, such as science education.
All of these contemporary conflicts will come into play in Witch’s Rock, a weird kind of sequel to The Lord’s Bedchamber. The atheist protagonist of Witch’s Rock is the author of The Lord’s Bedchamber, and the story takes place in a near-future United States where authoritarians are moving to solidify power. The “true” story that the Pirate Lords will use to “protect” the people has already been written, and the terrifying uncertainty that will strip the people of their freedom is now being plotted. The Pirate Bank Shot will be the “page 17” event.
It’s also about sex and stock trading.
About Christopher Sly
I wrote my first novel, A Hand Full of Sand, on the backseat of a car parked on the beach in the Redwood National Park, living on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches spread with the handle of my toothbrush. My second novel, Threshold, is a near-future science fiction about the social upheaval caused by an incurable sexually transmitted disease that supercharges your immune system, and makes you sterile. My third novel, The Lord’s Bedchamber, is about a writers’ war between two brothers, one who wants to enslave the people in a cage of lies, and the other who wants to free them. The Game of Guessing Right is a solution memoir of my alchemical journey investigating the story of how story evolves.