“The map is not the territory.” - Alfred Korzybski
Let me start off by saying that my writings should be served with a big fat grain of salt. I am definitely not a spokesperson for absolute truths and in no way an authority in the field of philosophy. These texts are merely a collection of ideas that I find interesting and draw strength and inspiration from. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about reality.
“Reality” is just the collection of denotations and connotations we ascribed to the result of our five-sensory input computing, molded into a model we can understand. Language is its vessel because we ourselves “tell the story” of what “reality is to us”, and we do so often subconsciously. Our Bio-computer has a coding-language and it is often our native tongue, “Reality” being our OS.
How would you know that a car is a car or a tree is a tree if you have never seen either before and never talked about its existence in the first place? They don’t exist, to you. Like so many things don’t exist, to us.
So “Reality” is just a personal map, with here and there some overlap with the map of your neighbor, friend, fam or foe, fellow citizen or exclusive digital echochamber. But In a multicultural society it doesn’t really matter what the map itself looks like, because we are learning to co-exist with more and more unique cartographers, but that’s just it;
What matters is how we read them, and especially the ones that are not ours.
If I just compare my reality map with someone else’s by holding them both over a bright light to find where they differ and overlap, I’m neither reading theirs nor my own. I’m just finding out if this person is like me (added to the “IN-group”) or unlike me (added to the OUT-group). “Oh we have so much in common, we must be friends” or “i’m not vibing with this person because we are just too different”. This categorization of people through “like and dislike / in- and out-group” is called othering which is the source mechanism of all prejudice. I personally believe that othering is a result of projecting one’s own map onto someone else’s which, funny enough, doesn’t give real insight in either one.
Instead, I like to put my own map completely aside when I try to engage with someone else’s experience of reality. Knowing how the lines ended up on someone’s map leads to a much deeper understanding of this person’s world, at which point relating the position of their lines back to your own line structure becomes irrelevant.
Ok but let’s explore our own reality map a bit more and its relation to language.
First of all;
The more you are able to read, the more you are probably able to understand as well. The more words you know, the more precise you can be at defining the nuances on your map.
High bit-rate = a high definition picture; you can see more. (“ah, I forgot I parked my olive-green rectangular shaped car next to that slightly slanted black birch tree.”)
Second of all;
There are a lot of languages and symbol systems out there to draw up a map with. Which one do you use? One thing is certain, We all drew the first lines with the closest symbol system we found in our direct environment and upbringing, and I consider a digital space on a screen a “direct environment” as well, because it makes no difference for the 5-sense input computing which we call “experience”, it enters the same processing algorithm, extra lines on the same map. What lines are created by an ipad with a kid-friendly casing, do the parents know?
Where is your coding-language rooted?
The fact that we all started with a blank piece of paper to draw our map on doesn’t mean that we can’t draft up new ones, or use an eraser (for the sake of the metaphor).
“Whatever the Thinker thinks, the Prover proves.” - Robert Anton Wilson.
In his book Prometheus Rising, R.A.W. argues that, for instance, a Christian person will see a Christian world around them, following the rules set by that paradigm of thinking: everything within the borders of the map. But that doesn’t mean that there is no territory to be defined outside its borders, or even more nuance within.
Columbus Believed that he had reached India, so the fact that up until recently everyone referred to Native Americans as “Indians” without knowing any better, shows that belief is a powerful agent for the cartographer. For instance, someone has told you a very convincing lie for a long time; you didn’t question its validity because you didn’t know that there was something to be questioned. But when you found out, something you saw as an island on your map, suddenly completely vanished. Reality Changed.
Most of our beliefs are not even metaphysical, but merely the result of the most normal, mundane, matter of fact cumulative experiences we encounter; Why is that a car, and why is that a tree?
These things just are, or are they?
Quantum physics models of reality already give us a whole different vision on this particular question than its Newtonian and even Einsteinian predecessors. So collectively, the maps are changing too.
Most of us have experienced this first hand: “well, I hear you say that, but new research shows us that…”
There is a split second moment of choice that happens: do you allow this new information to reshape your reality map? A lot of factors come into play like testing the credibility of the information, the source, the social consequences if not subscribed to, etc. Depending on where you are on the cynical - gullible spectrum, it either happens easily or not. But the fact remains that we potentially could bring about such a change ourselves as well, if we allow ourselves to fully believe in it; it would be true to us, and we would most certainly see its consequences in the world around us, for better and for worse.
To give some extreme examples:
“ALL GOVERNMENTS ARE EVIL AND TRYING TO CONTROL US!! THE WORLD IS DYING, AND WE SEEM POWERLESS, HOWEVER, TOGETHER WE ARE STRONG. WE MUST FIGHT!!”
“WE ARE ENTERING THE REVOLUTION OF MIND, NOBODY CAN BIND US BECAUSE THERE ARE NO BOUNDARIES TO OUR COLLECTIVE EXPERIENCE, WE ARE MIND, JUST HEALING TOWARD ONENESS, AS ABOVE SO BELOW, GET WITH THE PROGRAM AND STOP FIGHTING!!”
I DON’T REALLY CARE ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS IN THE WORLD, AS LONG AS MY LOVED ONES AND I ARE LOOKED AFTER, TOGETHER WE CAN TAKE ON ANYTHING!!
And these are just three very outspoken one sided examples of the many many many ways of thinking about “what is going on”; just a bunch of lines on the map.
Here follow two side notes, open to your interpretation:
“Brainwashing or subliminal programming is not just reserved for cult leaders, advertisers and governments, it’s just a tool they sometimes use. Are we brainwashing ourselves when we try to redefine our unwanted convictions? If I had referred to “drafting a new map” and “using an eraser” as brainwashing yourself, would you’ve felt less comfortable while reading this text? Why is that?”
“self confidence and ever expanding love in the form of contextual awareness and attentiveness towards the reality cartographers around us, are the two most revolutionary and promethean mentalities to develop within our consciousness. I personally like to believe that to be true”
So what if belief could be used as a tool to make edits on the map, or can belief only arise as the result of experience? Could I curate my experiences in such a way that it results in a belief I intended to gain? What would happen if I authentically pray to Christ every day for 6 months while not being a Christian? How would my perception of the universe respond?
Either way, I really hope we eventually evolve from bickering about our individual reality maps as Cartographers into a species of Architects and Landscapers with impeccable teamspirit and collective understanding.
Thank you for reading :)
Will it happen the way that you think, or will it happen to think in a way?