The Space Conspiracy

On the conspiracy of space, and its ignoring.

I have a conspiracy theory, one which I gave to a friend recently. Not a conspiracy theory per se, I just choose to call it one. But it has to do with the way our conscious attention works. It goes into metaphysics and psychology, in so far as gestalt psychology studied aspects of awareness and its attributes in the previous century. As a disclaimer, anything I say, does not come from any concrete evidence or research, except the previously mentioned field. The point is to explore the idea, not to make claims.

This conspiracy is quite simply the way in which we dismiss and exclude information from our awareness by selecting input from the total gamut of conscious attention. You could call it “ignoring of space.” We select features, to exclude many other features from our attention. And this has the adverse effect of making the things that are selected, have a higher priority than their excluded counterparts, which leads to ignoring a large amount of information. And this is really what is known as ignorance, of everything outside of our selected field of input.

And as a result of this selection, since we give more value or significance to the selected information in our awareness, we think that the things we exclude are of lesser importance than the things we don’t. The point in all of this is that ignoring space or of features that are not important for a long period of time has the effect of making one myopic. And that is the conspiracy.

For example, in a subtle process of elimination, a child who is pointing to a point of interest and asks what it is, and the parent tells it to ignore it, we are told which features are important or noteworthy. Our attention goes to the relatively moving, instead of the relatively still, to the point, instead of the diffused area. Always to the “thing”, and thus we ignore an important aspect of experience. Imagine what is it was you were looking at, if it was all “things” and nothing was space.

But in some eastern arts and architecture, the importance of space is well recognized, but they realized that you couldn’t have objects, and unless they were in relation to their surrounding space, or vice versa. But this myopia that comes with excluding information, of ignoring space, is the great snare.

When one talks about space, usually they refer to everything 3-dimensional outside our atmosphere. Or it can mean the relative measured space occupied by two or more points. But what I want to bring up now concerns something that may as well be the answer to certain mysteries. One of these mysteries is why we regard space as being unimportant, in relation to objects. And as was said in a previous lecture, the major reason for this is selection, to the exclusion of space.

This was carefully worked out in Gestalt psychology, where they found out that our attention goes to the relatively moving, instead of the relatively still, to the figure, instead of the background. And this causes ignorance in regards to space. But I argue that space is as important as the objects that are found in it. Taking the simple illustration of one-without-the-other. You cannot even imagine a scenario, in which everything was only objects, or only space. Because you always need something in relation to either of them.

And the curious consequence of this is that we notice things by contrast with space. For example, you wouldn’t know what you meant by an object, unless it was in relation to something other than itself. If there was only one ball in a vacuum, no motion can be ascribed to it. It cannot be said to be even moving. But take two balls and they can move in relation to each other, but no one knows which of them is moving. Take three balls and they can move in a plane against one another. And a fourth ball can establish a third dimension. So existence or space is relationship between bodies or objects.

In thinking what space really is, is it mere nothingness? Or does space actually have a function other than being the necessary counterpart for objects? We can think this long enough until the realization that space is actually the mind. Because we think in terms of space. What space is, is the “accessibility of consciousness into sensory experiences,” to quote Alan Watts. In other words, we project the night sky out there, out of our skulls. Our nervous system carries pulses which either registers as a yes or a no. The only personal evidence we have that there is an external world at all out there is because of these electrical reactions inside our bodies. From a neurological perspective, it’s all a happening inside our heads.

And this way of ignoring everything, and selecting what we want, is useful, because we cannot handle more information than we contrive to notice. If we had an overload of sensory information, our conscious attention would get exhausted. Which is the phenomenon that comes to many people, and is called being overwhelmed. So it’s for our own convenience that we ignore space, only the result of this is of course that we sometimes ignore even the important things. And thus I’m writing this piece, to remind that there just might be something between the lines, in space.

There’s an ancient saying or a poem which says that if you want to find out where the flowers come from, not even the God of Spring knows. And it is referring to the concept of the mysterious void, where things emanate from, sometimes parallel to Yūgen in Japanese arts. Yūgen means many things, and one of the literal translations from Chinese is “deep” and “mysterious”. In the context of Japanese aesthetics, it means subtle profundity which is only vaguely hinted by poetry.

One would think that the God of Spring knows where flowers come from, but it doesn’t. And the reason for it, is that all existence, has to include an inherent element of the unknown. This is basically the principle of how awareness works. When you are born, you know next to nothing about the world. But gradually, you discover more and more as you move around. And we discover also more about the universe gradually.

But for the sake of illustration, let’s take discovery completely away from the picture. I cannot for the life of me, think through what would the alternative existence be. Because if everything was already known, would there really be anything? I mean, if all beings knew everything from the get go, that would be akin to being God. Or whatever term you choose to use for something that tries to designate a force or energy which is common to all things and events.

And so life is basically a game of Hide and Seek. Because we seek throughout life, answers to questions that we regard as important. I don’t think there was anyone that existed in the recorded history, who wasn’t interested in finding something out, either for themselves or for their field of profession. Even if it was something as simple as what’s behind that corner, such as is basic to a childhood experience. If there was no question, nothing would happen, in my opinion.

Because part of my system of beliefs, is that human beings move, because they are missing something, whether it’s food from their stomach, or a philosophical notion. If nothing was missing from a process, there would be no reason to move to a different direction from its current position. Because by its definition it is complete, in this case the process being ourselves.

This prompts another point of view to my mind, which is that in a way, the process is actually complete. That is to say, that things being seemingly missing from us, such as food, is part of a larger process. And if you take that to the highest point of the entire universe, is anything really missing from it? I’m suggesting that there isn’t. But because we as human beings can think that it is missing something in lesser or more degrees, leads us to feel inadequate. And it is this feeling of inadequacy, that keeps things going.

So, I’m saying that the unknown, is what leads processes such as us, to the known. But in a way, it is always ourselves, that are the ones responsible for there being anything unknown. Saying that we aren’t, is the same thing as saying, that there is someone else pulling the strings. That we don’t have a choice in being here. But I think that we do. Because ask yourself. A universe which in time comes to observe itself and know itself through its parts, like us, would there be any other possibility for it being there, unless it was free to do so? If it wasn’t free to do so, it wouldn’t have happened in the first place. That’s what I think anyway.