From The Map Is Indestructible by O.G. Rose

Coda I

O.G. Rose
17 min readNov 15, 2023

Considering the first four essays together.

Photo by Lucas K

The first set of essays in The Map Is Indestructible have meant to highlight ways in which humans naturally “map-make,” though I don’t mean to suggest that there are not other means (such as those described by Žižek) — my hope is only to highlight a few case studies to suggest a larger point and habit (as will be the case with all sections of this book). Also, it should be noted that if we try to rebel against “theory” and “script” by not creating either (for example), then we can find ourselves existing in a world we do not understand, for we require a “map” to make sense of the world. It is thus not an option to be an “atheorist” or “ascripturist,” per se (though please note our “map” will try to convince us we are indeed in a way “a-map” to conceal itself), and yet we might be tempted to try this position by avoiding the act of “putting forth” a new theory or “script” and instead critique the old theories and “scripts” as being oppressive, manipulative, inauthentic, or the like (as we will always have justified and “rational” reason to do, for indeed these critiques can be accurate). But this is the mistake of the rebel who is not ready to rule, who deconstructs what exists without an idea of what he or she will replace it with, which might prove like the French Revolution, leading to a Reign of Terror. Furthermore, if this book is correct that “mapmaking is human nature,” then to deconstruct various “maps” (perhaps in the name of liberation) from them will only prove to make space for a new “map” which could similarly be rebelled against — on and on. “Escaping maps” is not to address them, which is to say our challenge is far harder (we must play with fire).


Where information spreads easily and quickly, there will be an increase in Theoretical-Awareness, which will easily alter how people behave and make it seem as if the theory was always right or perhaps always wrong. What good is theory then, if the presence of theory changes how people behave? This is a “measurement problem” which suggests Hegel, but the point is that a scientific discovery doesn’t just change how we understand the world, but it also means we become subjects who understand ourselves as “knowing this theory,” which might mean we are profoundly changed. Science doesn’t merely generate “science” but also scientists, people who are different kinds of subjects, for good and for bad. Ultimately, this means we’re always dealing with “subjectivity all the way down” — there is no escape.

With the problem of “Theoretical-Awareness” in mind, “Monotheorism” explores how we tend to understand the world through a single theory, which though we might never directly call “a theory of everything,” can practically function as such. It is remarkably difficult to avoid the temptation to filter all experience through a single theory, seeing as we require some theoretical framework to make sense of our experience. If we didn’t need ideas and ultimately a theory and/or worldview, the problems explored in “Theoretical-Awareness” and “Monotheorism” would not be an issue; unfortunately, we are beings who must think to function, and the moment we think we are at great risk. Furthermore, please note that the problem usually isn’t that people are “monotheorists” through declaration, but that those who are monotheorists tend to be practically ones (concealing the problem from themselves, which is why direct accusation rarely works).

Given all the information we face today and naturally wanting our theory to fit, we can prove vulnerable to “overfitting” and making the world conform to our theory more than our theory conform to the world, precisely to keep out complexity, “noise,” and anxiety — a mistake which, if we make, we will likely be unable to tell we made, situated within our “overfit theory.” Furthermore, where there is “Theoretical-Awareness,” there might be a greater push and incentive for people to engage in and identify with theory, which means the average person might be notably tempted by “Monotheorism” to help them feel right and justified in their choice for “x theory” versus “y theory.” A way to deal with the problem of “Theoretical-Awareness” is to make our theory “the theory,” a framework (we judge as) reflecting what “is the case,” and so we can be as aware of our theory all we want and it won’t change what “is.” In this way, “Theoretical-Awareness” might naturally lead into “Monotheorism,” when intuitively it would seem that the spread of theories would rather make everyone Polytheorists. Instead, the multiplication of theory makes us hungrier to escape ambiguity, and so the more we are aware of the dangers of theory the more we can be tempted to judge our theory as something more than a theory but “an image and likeness of everything that is the case” (to allude to Genesis and Wittgenstein). This forsaking of “assessment” is at least an early effort of our “maps” to protect themselves; if this fails, then they advance toward “Desire’s Masterpiece.”

To become a Monotheorist is paradoxically in a way to cease being someone who even ascribes to a “theory,” for if my theory is the only theory, it is more like “a description of is-ness” than it is an abstract framework. Possessing “is-ness,” I then judge everything in light of that “is-ness” (it would be immoral to do anything else), and “Theoretical-Awareness” becomes a problem for other people, one which actually should make them realize that they should think like me (the one who has transcended the problem of theory with “is-ness”). Now, of course, nobody thinks this way when asked directly, but practically this is how we can naturally organize and carry ourselves. We know there are theories in the world, and we know of the problems theory can cause — all of which is evidence people should think like us, beyond “maps” (indeed, everyone in a “map” is naturally beyond “maps”). Please note that in this “self-enclosed state” I will need ways of thinking and approaching the world that keep out critiques which might make me realize I am “self-enclosed in a map,” and this is where both “judgment” and “scripts” can play a role. With judgment, I can determine everyone else “is” wrong and thus unqualified to critique me, and with “scripts” I can (wrongly) see everyone as inauthentic and thus also unqualified to critique me. And so I am free…


The very awareness of people about theory might change how they behave in a manner that decreases the probability a given theory is more accurate and “useful” than not. In this way, we might suffer the worst of all situations: a spread of theory that tempts us with “Monotheorism,” while there is also a decrease in the effectiveness of theory. This might suggest the wisdom of philosophers engaging in and focusing on skills, arts, and the like over creating “theories of everything,” but at the same time theory is unavoidable. Anyway, to summarize the point, our world today might be one in which increasingly more people are aware of theory and thus intentionally seek theory to conform to social pressure or to handle the deluge of information from the internet, and yet the very spreading awareness of theory could render the theory unreliable. This could create a paradoxical and ambiguous situation that causes great confusion, and to escape this tension people might become Monotheorists (which aligns with our nature), or fall into nihilism and cynicism, not believing in any framework (despite how we ultimately require one). In this state, atomization, tribalism, totalitarianism, and the like become likely — a consequence of “maps” and our awareness of “mapmaking.”

Additionally, to allude to Belonging Again by O.G. Rose, where “givens” collapse and it is no longer “given” how people should “thoughtlessly” live their lives, then people will be desperate for direction, and in that vacuum people might turn to theory to help guide them. Perhaps the collapse of sociological “givens” and rise of theory correlate for this reason, but problematically theories are what people know are theories, and that can render the theories inaccurate because people change how they behave (and also the theories can feel arbitrary and manipulative, especially if something like a “Replication Crisis” occurred…). As a result, the theories either prove wrong or oppressive because people confirm their actions to the theories — once people become conscious of these influences of theory, people might rebel against theory. And yet paradoxically if theory is all people have left after “the collapse of givens” (say if we have to decide for ourselves how to understand the universe because it is no longer “given” that Christianity is true), then people might rebel against theory by creating another theory, and this time they might become subconscious Monotheorists to assure no counter-evidence ever enters their field. The same happens with “scripts”: we question “scripts” and moral systems by leaving them and creating our own. We rebel against theory with theory; we rebel against “scripts” with “scripts” (evidence that “maps” are in our very nature).

Not only do “theories” capture us and organize us without us realizing it (and we must take the risk of “theorizing”), but we also emergently arise in social interaction to “scripts” which we might be unaware of (and we must take the risk of living according to “scripts”). Social interactions and navigating relations is difficult work, and it’s not always clear what we should do and what we shouldn’t do. To help us manage and handle the cognitive load, we naturally form and operate according to “scripts,” which in one way is a blessing, but in another way can prove oppressive and controlling. Furthermore, we can then function according to a “Monoscript,” believing everyone should act x and/or y way. This might help the world make sense, but this will also prove “violent,” just like “givens.”

As discussed in the “Introduction,” lurking behind these three papers and the topics of “theory” and “script” (both of which we tend to reinforce with “judgment” and “the towardness of evidence” without realizing it) is the topic of “ideology,” as discussed masterfully and critically by Žižek, and indeed both “theory” and “script” are ideological. However, we cannot assume as some have that “theory” resists “ideology,” for in fact it can be a form of it, as we also must be careful to assume that humans outside of a State or society wouldn’t organically on their own form “norms,” “givens,” and/or “scripts” (to connect Belonging Again with this book). Though we might be tempted to think ideology, theory, and “script” as clearly different, the three easily empower one another, making a larger “internally consistent system” that is more difficult to escape. A key claim of mine is that theory, judgment, “scripts,” ideology, etc. are on the same gradient and not different in “kind” only degree, which is also why I try to categories all of these under “map.”

Touching again on Belonging Again, weren’t there “maps” when there were “givens?” Yes, but we were not aware of these “maps,” nor did they have to pathologically conceal their lack of “ground”: “maps without givens” are different in character from “maps with givens.” “Maps” today are in the business of concealing the loss of “givens,” but this is a pathological and impossible ideal: as a result, we end up with a radical multiplication of “maps,” because now “maps” only have to relate to themselves. As we’ll explain, this is to say our age is an age of “Pandora’s Rationality,” of infinite and unleashed “coherence” because rationalities are no longer bound by the (virtual) “correspondence of givens,” which though ultimately not “there,” still provided a structure to contain rationality and coherence from spreading and multiplying without end. Arguably, rationality has never been in the business of correspondence, but when people believed it was relative to their “givens,” that belief “practically bound” rationality even while rationality was still “technically unbound.” What people do and think is profoundly tied to their beliefs, and so “givens” could “practically bind” rationality to a (virtual) “correspondence” even though rationality wasn’t “technically bound.” Today, after “givens,” rationality is more able to be what it has always been: “unbound,” more like a dream (the realm of hopes/nightmares). And so rationality can “dream/create” all the “maps” it likes (all it needs is the material, which the internet can easily provide), and so we are experiencing a great multiplication of “maps.” “Givens” contained the spread of “internally consistent systems,” but now that spread seems infinite.

Where there were once “sociological givens,” there were also “scripts” which emerged relative to those “givens,” but once “givens” are gone, “scripts” still now form and spread, but they’ve lost their authority and “grounding,” thus making it easy for us to become cynical about them and feel that their presence is evidence of inauthenticity. This can contribute to nihilism, social withdrawal, and the like, and yet it doesn’t necessarily follow that a “script” verifies inauthenticity; at most, we can say they cause “(in)authenticity” (a situation which brings Baudrillard and Schrödinger to mind). But faced with that very ambiguity, the temptation for what Lacan calls a “Big Other” and new, more powerful “maps” which can help us escape that ambiguity grows. We cannot rely on “givens” anymore to provide us “thoughtless direction,” and so we turn to “maps” to fill/hide the gap.

That all said, we cannot assume those who follow “scripts” are inauthentic, though an Age of Cynicism which honors cynics will incentivize cynics to appear and claim such (which will be easy to do seeing as “scripts” are everywhere thanks to the internet, and because it seems true that following a “script” is a sign of “inauthenticity”), which will contribute to people either locking themselves inside their “maps” to avoid the cynicism, being existentially overwhelmed by the cynicism (which makes them vulnerable to totalitarianism), and/or isolating themselves and giving up on wider community (because what’s the point?). In a world of “scripts,” it becomes exhausting to wonder all the time “whose authentic and whose not,” and a way we can avoid that tension is simply by staying within our “script” and our “map” which we know is authentic: if we’re a Christian (for example), we may just stay around other Christians, because though we know the “scripts” of Christianity involving Salvation, John 3:16, church, and the like, these are at least familiar “scripts” that we know we believe in, and so it’s easy to feel like these are “authentic scripts” and/or “true scripts.” All the others are not so clear and exhausting, and it’s easier not to think about them by sticking to the “scripts” we trust and know. And so in this way “scripts” contribute to ideology and keeping us in our “map,” both in that everything outside our “map” feels inauthentic (and we don’t want to have to think about if it really is or isn’t), while the “scripts” inside our “map” feel like ones we can trust. The same holds regarding “Theoretical-Awareness” and “Monotheorism”: the theory which works for us is the theory we know might be wrong but that which is easiest to keep believing, while everything outside our “map” is that which we’d have to investigate, reconsider, and work through — all in this world when everyone constantly feels exhausted (and in which our awareness of theory might decreases the probability that the theory we hold to proves useful, which is to say the main role of theory is to help us feel orientated).


A world of “scripts” is a world of “(in)authentic both-ness” (like Schrödinger’s Cat), and if “scripts” perhaps try to replace sociological “givens” (the “thoughtless” ways we organized society before “The Death of God”), then this ambiguity works against their success (now that these “scripts” aren’t undergirded by and reflective of “givens”). We might try to fix this problem by creating greater and more complex “meta-scripts” that transcend immediacy and are harder to identify as “scripts” (say notions of personality, community, and identity based on advanced theories of Physics which require understanding Complexity Theory and Hegel), but this might only work for a minority of people if at all. We are right to be wary of “scripts,” please note, for corporations, governments, etc. use “scripts” to control and “capture” us — but so does our neighbor who doesn’t want to feel alone in her Christian worldview. It is hard not to be desperate for a feeling of “shared intelligibility,” and I can use “scripts” to try to pull people into helping provide me with that “shared intelligibility” in them coming to share my “map.” And so “map colonialization” through Democracy and the internet grows and spreads, which isn’t inherently bad (it seems unavoidable and possibly generative), but it does suggest a tension which could prove destructive, unless that is we develop the personalities and skills to handle that tension and not fall instead into self-effacing conflicts or “Masterpieces of Desire” — but more on that later.

Following a “script” or engaging in “(mono)theorizing,” we are notably susceptible to self-delusion and to be self-manipulated by evidence we make “toward” us — as we must do to some phenomena in having some worldview. This problem can be mitigated if we learn to “assess” versus “judge” (to make a linguistic distinction I hold to in this paper, at least), but that would require us to resist the temptation to use “judgment” to protect us from the ambiguity caused by “scripts” and different “maps.” Tempted to treat our theories and scripts as authoritative, or tempted to cynically treat them as irrelevant (both of these are problematic responses), we can then judge versus assess the world “is” what corresponds to our “maps,” and so we will make all phenomena “toward” us as evidence confirming this “map,” which will then make us susceptible to the problem of “self-delusion,” which is to say if we are wrong we cannot know we are wrong. To judge versus assess greatly increases the probability that we are “captured” by a “map” which we will then fail to be productively critical of, and once we make this mistake, we will struggle to locate a standard by which we can tell if we are “self-deceived” or usefully making phenomena “toward” us as evidence. But for all our (performative) talk against ideology, who doesn’t want to make this mistake if avoiding it means we face the anxiety of a lifetime? A Child who creates from tension? Perhaps.

“Scripts” are hard to critique if we actually try (versus keep a cynical distance), precisely because they might be authentic — but with judgment we can “slice through” that difficulty and just say “yea” or “neigh” (which is to say we are likely to approve our “map” as good and other “maps” as bad — something that almost necessarily follows). Alluding to Belonging Again, we can see “judgment” as a (fake and problematic) way to return to “givens,” for if I say x or y “is” versus hold a more tentative “assessment,” then I am suggesting that x or y is “like a given” (even if it is not). “Scripts” and “theories” also try to “fill the void” left by “givens,” but in us recognizing them they come to create feelings of arbitrariness and inauthenticity, which works against their capacity to ground us like “givens.” Unless, that is we can harshly judge our “script” and our “theory” as what “is the case,” meaning we cut ourselves off from “assessment” and taking other “maps” with the same seriousness. In this way, we can use judgment to avoid “the problem of internally consistent systems” and enclosure ourselves within our “map,” which is to say that the first step to fighting ideology and “capture” could be the step from “judgment” to “assessment.” Once we stop judging things as what “is” and instead assess things as “possibly the case,” we are now open to experiencing the world in a new way — not that we won’t at first regret this “openness,” given all the anxiety we might face…


To review, “Theoretical-Awareness” makes us aware that we are in theories, which risks reducing the effectiveness of those theories, and then (to perhaps feel like we are “practically” beyond theory and this risk) we tend to engage in “Monotheorism” which makes us stuck in a single “theory of everything” that is likely in its exclusivity to be “overfit” and wrongly employed. This logic applies to all “maps,” and these “maps” will generate “scripts” which organize our activity and thinking organically, transforming us into “actors” without us realizing it (all while we realize it is happening to others who we can thus discount with their “maps,” protecting our own as “something special”). So organized, we are then at risk of engaging in “self-delusion” which further traps us in our “map” and corresponding “script,” which will make phenomena “toward” us as evidence which primes us to engage in “judgment” which gradually transforms our “map” into “practically the territory (even though we’d know better when asked directly) (the break between “the practical” and “the technical” might uniquely serve ideology). With every judgment that indirectly suggests our “map” is right versus tentatively or conditionally right (assessment) (for if we say “You are a liar” we also require our hermeneutical model to be right through which we make this judgment), we become more invested in it, which means we will become more invested in our “script” and in engaging in means to defend it (like “Monotheorism”) — all ironically while the likelihood of our “map” working might decreases due to “Theoretical-Awareness,” and/or while we use “Theoretical-Awareness” as a concept to label what other people are doing as “ideological” (precisely to avoid facing our own ideology). There is no limit to what we will do or come up with to defend our “map” (suggesting a hurdle we must overcome to become better decision-makers, as we’ll later discuss).

As described in The Conflict of Mind, we learn from David Hume that “good philosophy” is a form of self-defense against manipulation, power, ideology, and the like, and the first four papers of The Map Is Indestructible suggest that we must defend ourselves from ourselves. Our own minds are prone to “naturally” structure the world “toward” us in a manner that makes us vulnerable to manipulation, self-deception, and “a self-enclosed structure” that we will not easily escape — and once we begin navigating ourselves into such a system (“rationally”), whether it be an ideology, a conspiracy, a form of religious fanaticism, or the like, we will not easily escape. A single step through the entrance can be the last step in a lifelong commitment (“rationally”) — which we might only realize after we take the step (and “sign the contract,” per se). The stakes are high, and the only mistakes might be large.

We are already primed by our own brains to slip into “self-enclosure” and “self-deception,” let alone if we find ourselves in groups, associations, or the like which encourage us to “self-enclosure” and/or “self-deceive” ourselves into something “internally consistent.” Social pressures are remarkably powerful, and we are already primed just by being ourselves to fall into ideological deception and manipulation; considering this, the likelihood we avoid such a fate without training is remarkably low, and yet (in my view) education is mostly in the business of teaching us to think of “thinking” not as a tool of self-defense but as a tool for “research” and gaining “a true picture of the world,” which though not entirely false, leaves us woefully unprepared to deal with manipulation and our own “frenemy” brains. Thinking is a matter of self-defense, while hopes for “correspondence” in a manner that makes possible certainty are a fantasy that only leave us unprepared for what’s coming (and especially given AI, something is indeed coming).

What we see today are people who don’t want (oppressive) “maps” but cannot help but form them; we are cynical of “scripts” and yet also don’t trust where “scripts” are lacking; we know it is bad to be judgmental but cannot help but do something like judge to make choices; we know the world is too complex for a single theory but make that point part of our “theory of everything”; and so on. We are a mixed paradox in which our social situation is in conflict with our “mapmaking nature,” and in this paradox arises an ambiguity which creates an anxiety we are desperate to escape. To accomplish this, we are naturally vulnerable to “seal ourselves in” a single “map” we never question (which seemingly makes “maps” disappear as does water for a fish), for that helps us “forget about” (“like thoughtlessness”) all of these ambiguous tensions. And so we search for methods of “map-sealing” and moralities which make staying in our “map” (as “is-ness”) the right thing to do…

If “mapmaking” is human nature, then we are subjects “all the way down,” and that means we cannot escape the subjectivity which proves the source and creation of “maps.” What does this mean? Ultimately, it means we might have to be more Hegelian than we want to be, but for now we will say that it means we must be at risk. And to avoid realizing that risk and facing it, we might turn to methods to keep us from ever-venturing beyond our “internally consistent systems” (not that we could ever find “reason to leave” if we tried — the levels of insulation are thick), which is to say we engage in methods of “map-sealing.” What do I mean by this? I mean we employ the Apocalypse and blood to the benefit of our “maps.”




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O.G. Rose

Iowa. Broken Pencil. Allegory. Write Launch. Ponder. Pidgeonholes. W&M. Poydras. Toho. ellipsis. O:JA&L. West Trade. UNO. Pushcart.