Beware of self-reverential reality tunnels

Georg Solti's interpretation of Berlioz's drug-induced episode in the life of an artist in its original LP release provides the graphic for this post because the veteran conductor was in the audience at the UK music industry's 1994 Brit Awards. During their performance that evening the duo Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty of the band The KLF fired blank machine gun rounds at the audience of record industry luminaries as a PA announcement declared "The KLF have left the music industry" - see this video. Solti's unsuccessful attempt to leave the auditorium during their act - he was persuaded back by his Decca minders - was viewed by Drummond and Cauty as the only reaction from an audience member that showed any understanding of what they had done.

Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty were heavily influenced by Discordianism. This is a quasi-philosophy based on the now scientifically-supported belief that chaos is as important as order, and it pioneered the concept of self-reverential reality tunnels. As we now know, self-reverential reality tunnels are not only the malignant force driving religious extremism, but are also the overriding dynamic of social media and a powerful tool of the music establishment. Robert Anton Wilson (1932-2007) was an American futurist, agnostic mystic and author. He was a leading advocate of Discordianism and is best known for The Illuminatus! Trilogy of novels. The following explanation of reality tunnels comes from John Higgs The KLF: Chaos, Magic and the Band Who Burned A Million Pounds - band members Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty can be seen burning that million pounds in this video.

This was getting confusing and lesser men would have given up and gone quite mad at this point. Robert Anton Wilson, instead, made one of the most important philosophical leaps of the twentieth-century, although admittedly, it is not yet generally recognised such.
As well as undergoing drug-induced schizophrenia Wilson had been raised as a Catholic and had also been a communist in his earlier years. He had fully accepted these two powerful belief systems before rejecting them both. Thanks to this background, he was able to recognise what he would later call a self-reverential reality tunnel. This was a philosophy, religion or ideology that was complete and satisfying and which fully explained all the details of the world, assuming you did not question its central tenet. This central tenet was an idea - and often an appealing one - for which there was a distinct lack of evidence, such as the idea that there was a judgemental patriarchal creator God or that a property-less communal utopia would be the final stage of society. The surrounding ideology was an elaborate commentary which developed in order to support the central concept in much the same way that a pearl forms around a piece of grit in an oyster.
All the theory and education that is needed to fully understand an '-ism' or religion functioned like a sophisticated defence mechanism which protected this central tenet from crashing and burning on the rocks of reality. The reason these ideological defences were so painstakingly built up over time was because, once inside a self-reverential reality tunnel, you had a model that made sense of the world.
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John Blackburn said…
Wonderfully put.
Philip Amos said…
Superb post. Self-reverential reality tunnels: social media, the music establishment, most certainly, and also the alt-Right, Fascism (insidious because not properly understood, which is why it is now ubiquitous), totalitarian Communism, UKIP, religious fundamentalists, etc. I'm inclined to think that, having read the excellent passage from Higgs' book, a most concise summing up, further exploration of this should really start with the soi-disant 'longshoreman philosopher' Eric Hoffer and his The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements...published in 1951. Hoffer was truly ahead of the game re this phenomenon. One key observation he makes is that the adherent of a movement of this type is chiefly seeking to escape the burden of the autonomous self. There's nothing like an algorithm for helping a person escape from autonomy, just as much as does a political movement such as Nazism, Fascism, Soviet-type Communism, or any of the fundamentalist religions. They furnish all the answers for you. And then they provide you with your questions.
Pliable said…
Philip, John Higgs' book, which was published in 2012, is a very rich read. It demands to be read in its entirety, but another section that particularly struck me is worth quoting.

'The spectacle draws out attention away from what is real to what is merely a representation. The Situationists saw in our culture a shift from being to having, and then from having to appearing to have. This is a process that the users of Facebook will probably grasp immediately.'

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