For a long time (probably ever since I started taking the implications of my mental illness seriously), I have seen the world as a mundane place when it doesn’t need to be so. I have seen the world as lacking in imagination, as being uncreative and boring. I have seen the world as not understanding all of the possibilities that abound, the world strict and deterministic and set.
I have for a long time seen this as limiting and problematic to a much more harmonious and interesting and creative flow that could potentially exist.
Of course, grappling with the ways in which the way the world is actually mundane has required a lot of patience on my end. It’s required me to be open as well, to the way society seems to want things to be versus the way they could be.
I remember a long time ago, when my therapist said that the world isn’t decided by a few rebel outliers, it’s decided by the masses. I think this is a demeaning statement to my dreams and ambitions, and it reeks of conservativism, but nonetheless, I think the sentiment is generally true. This doesn’t mean I am not a part of the masses at any point in time, but it does mean that I tend to fall outside the margins more than a lot of people.
And how strange of an idea this is when considering that everywhere you turn, you see some kind of message about how someone has been marginalized and oppressed by society, about how someone longs to fit in, about how someone longs to see their dreams become reality.
I think the world is mechanistic when it doesn’t have to be. I think the world is set when it doesn’t have to be. Convention, custom, they also serve useful functions, and I myself am not a fan of anarchy. Nonetheless, I am a fan of possibility, and I want to see possibilities become reality.
It has been stated that the problem with Western philosophy is that it has helped build a social construct that limits possibility. The larger social construct would be anything that seeks to be mechanistic and clockwork, rather than creative and impossible.
Seeing as how I am a proponent of what could be called extreme theory, I am seemingly stuck in a mundane world … or am I?
I don’t know. I certainly have to learn the rules, I certainly have to adapt, I certainly have to taper my mental illness. These things are certainly true. But creativity is inherent and free-flowing, and I think that a person who can work with strict settings and work from an extreme theoretical construct, and pull it off, is impressive and amazing. It’s more amazing when a person can take a strict world and make their dreams come alive, than if there was no struggle or resistance.
I’d like to focus a little bit on what I mean by extreme theory. There is theory, which is simply an idea that seeks and desires to be tested in the real world. I have a theory that lemonade is in the lake, so I set about to test this systematically, employing empiricism by employing my taste buds and my eyes and my nose. We quickly learn that there isn’t lemonade in the water, that it’s full of various things but one of which is not lemonade.
An extreme theory would be to believe that the lake could actually become lemonade.
Okay, I’m probably getting a little less mystical than I want to be. Scrap that. Here’s a new theory and extreme theory, respectively.
If I get behind the wheel of a car, I can move to various places. This is a theory that we test with a car.
An extreme theory: I can fly from place to place like a bird.
Now of course, please don’t take me fully serious. I am aware of how extreme theory sounds more like code word for psychosis and delusion. But understand that I also think that there must be a middle ground, because the “normal” theories that I am testing are so boring as to be mundane and useless. We know a car gets us to drive, we know there isn’t lemonade in the lake, yeah yeah, shut up. I get the point. But is the world really this fixed?
What’s frustrating being an intellectual that operates in the world of myth, words, ideas, concepts, philosophy, theory, story, books, is that I rarely see my visions become reality, except on the page. Now of course, there isn’t anything wrong with this, except when you want that to become reality. It would seem the way to make such things become reality is to harness nature (that’s how you’d make a lemonade lake, for instance), but I think my claims are much more metaphysical than that. I feel bogged down by the ways in which society suppresses imagination, the way in which we expect everything to be set in stone, easy and quantifiable, when the most important thing we have (our subjectivity), is essentially not quantifiable.
But extreme theory as it operates with me is definitely held back. My bones are not hologram, my head is not hologram, I am not hologram. Bones break, skin gets cut. My extreme theories in the past have been so out of touch with the physical world but so powerfully in tune with something deeply spiritual (or at the very least metaphysical), that I have put myself in dangerous positions that didn’t just defy custom and convention, but also my own personal safety.
Now, just to be clear, while this is a fear I have, it’s not a fear I have completely and in full intensity, as the last time I did something crazy like that was years ago, and I know that as long as I take my medication I should be okay, and as long as I continue to improve my cognitive well-being by studying logic and how to think in a structured manner, I should be okay.
But here’s the irony: Even though my psychosis in the past took me into strange and unforeseeable and dangerous places, they made me realize the limits of the physical world. But knowing this and applying it are two different things. I may believe the world is malleable and subject to change, that even the laws of physics can be bent, but believing this is different from being able to successfully exploit it. The issue is I can’t exploit it, because I don’t know how, and so I bury myself in impractical theory, to keep my bones safe.
But I’m realizing how cowardice this is. I can do better, I need to do better. I’m not saying we need to start trying to fly and jump off buildings or we need to try to walk through walls and thus give ourselves concussions, but I firmly believe that this world is malleable.
Extreme theory is extreme precisely because if applied, it would easily challenge every single restriction that exists, every single convention and custom. But extreme theory naturally comes with risks, of course, and that’s the problem. That’s something I haven’t been able to solve.
Now, how do I want to talk about this concept, of extreme theory? So far, I’ve only listed the limitations. Don’t I need a solution?
I don’t have a firm solution, a perfect solution, or a resolution, but I have an idea of something that can happen: I can make a metaphysical commitment. This metaphysical commitment is that the world, reality, whatever we may take reality to be, should be subject to extreme theory, meaning, it should be subject to something that bends it and challenges it. Extreme theory exists to push evolution in a great leap, to challenge and change. My metaphysical commitment is that reality is not fixed, as we so like to make it seem. I’m not sure how to set about proving this claim or applying this claim, but I know that if I keep thinking seriously about it, it could happen. I could become an extreme theoretical construct.
Too often, I’ve denied my own possibilities. But I want to change that. My book Visions opens up with essay after essay of my limitations and how frustrating they are. But that’s why I make my metaphysical commitment: How foolish we would be to limit ourselves? Just because a person doesn’t know how to apply extreme theory, doesn’t make the theory invalid. Sure, maybe I’ll grant that the laws of physics are stable, and I’ll grant that I can’t overthrow the laws, but I can overthrow some laws of reality, in however we perceive reality or choose to perceive reality, whether through literature, psychology, physics. Indeed, as I’ve made clear in various ways, our greatest ally is our mind and our subjective viewpoint. It can take us to so many places. This is because the mind is not nearly as bound as other things in reality, such as social constructs and physical constructs. Indeed, if the problem is that our social constructs prevent us from seeing a deeper reality, then how do we achieve that?
Simply, by making the effort to apply extreme theory.
So what does that mean?
Defining and refining what extreme theory means. Thinking seriously about what a person could achieve if they became extreme. If they sought to understand not the superficial reality, but the deeper reality. This is hard to do, when we get indoctrinated into the dominant constructs of the time, but they are still constructs. I don’t propose that we overhaul the constructs, simply that we push the boundaries of the constructs, see how they can move forward.
So, rather than talking about all of my frustrations with pushing the boundary and with being thwarted from pushing the boundary, I’m going to end with an assertion: Extreme theory is a real thing. And it’s nothing to be afraid of. I’m asserting, affirming, that extreme theory and the consequent risk can change so much about constructs, about how we’re supposed to see things: My assertion is a metaphysical commitment, that we seek to see the deeper reality by using extreme theory.