An Essay Featured in (Re)constructing “A Is A” by O.G. Rose
The Idealized and Realistic
Humans hope. Through imagination and projection, humans constantly (try to) surround themselves with “What they’ve always wanted” and/or “What they’ve always been looking for.” This is easy to do, since I, like all humans, am often surrounded by that which, relative to me, lacks reality: there is plenty of room for imagination. My life/consciousness is the only one that’s reality I must really wrestle with: I do not have to deal with the consciousness of anyone else. I must wrestle with my own thoughts and insecurities, but I don’t have to wrestle with yours. Yes, people can share with me what they are going through, but it is not possible for me to experience what they are going through the same way they do. I can empathize with others, but I cannot experience their consciousness. Hence, though I can know about the imperfections and shortcomings of others, it is only my own that I can experience and wrestle with in full.
Consequently, everyone else can easily appear to be free of “wrestling” with anything: they can easily appear to be living idealized lives, affirming that my life is the only one filled with difficulties, misunderstandings, etc. that no one else grapples with or even understands. And so the lives of others can come to be my source of hope — my justification for living — a hope I can never achieve (stuck in my own consciousness). At the same time, the lives of others can also come to be my reason for discontent with my own life. Ironically, if I could inhabit the consciousness of others, I would suddenly find that reality is present there just as much as it is present in my own life: the idealized perfection I imagined is nowhere to be found. Outside, I could imagine perfection; inside, my imagination can no longer envision perfection without being “in denial” (versus “in ignorance”).
Conversely, it can also be easy to over-criticize or “under-idealize” the lives of others, thinking “I have it way better than them.” Since only I can experience my life in full, I am in a position to think “My life is full of that which no one else has,” and so come to take too much pride and hope in myself. I can ignore the realities of (my) life and pretend like everything is good when it isn’t so grand (though that isn’t to say my life can’t be good), resulting in me living “in denial.” And so my life can come to be my own source of hope — my justification for living — which could be ruined as soon as reality and “the unexpected” set in.
If I’m dealing with sadness, I can never know if the sadness another person is dealing with is less, equal, or greater than my own. There is always the possibility that “They have no idea what I am going through,’ or that “They have it worse than me, so I should be positive,” and so on. Looking at a picture of Europe, I can think “I’ve always wanted to go there,” possibly implying that there’s something in Europe which I cannot get or find where I currently live. Perhaps it’s just a new experience, and it should be noted that there is nothing inherently wrong with visiting Europe. However, if I’m trying to “escape” to Europe — if Europe has become my source of “hope” — I indulge in “hole hope” instead of “whole hope” (as will be expounded on).
My marriage is the only marriage that’s reality I will have to wrestle with: everyone else’s marriage will be experienced free of its (whole) reality. Stuck in myself, I will not be able to deny the realities of my marriage (such as the fact that my snoring at night keeps my wife up; our jobs consume time we could spend romancing one another; etc.), but I can be ignorant of the realities of other marriages. Hence, in seeing other marriages or romantic relationships generally, I’ll be able to imagine how wonderful they are without having to think about their imperfections. Yes, I may mentally ascent to “No marriage being perfect,” but not being able to experience the imperfections of any other marriage than my own, this mental ascent will have less if any emotional or experiential weight, especially against the emotional “butterflies” I could get when “daydreaming” and/or “imagining” an idealized life (perhaps this is why adultery can happen to so many). Yes, I may know “nothing is perfect,” but it is only my life in which the imperfections of life are emotionally and experientially felt: the imperfections of other lives I can only mentally ascent to — I cannot experience and/or feel them (in full). Hence, there is always room for hope, for there is always room for imagination; hence, I can always turn others into sources of hope, and in doing so, create for myself “hole hope” instead of “whole hope” — a possibly terrible temptation.
To live is to be conscious; it is to inhabit a mode of being and thinking; it is to hold a set of memories; it is to experience a wide range of emotions; it is to know a wide range of people and things. Everyone who is conscious experiences such things, but only you experience what you experience and how you experience it. This helps constitute your-self, and you can never inhabit the self of another. Hence, there is a gap between you and others, and a sort of “hole” in others that you don’t have in yourself. While that “hole” of yours is filled with memories, experiences, emotions, and so forth (with “reality,” if you will), the “holes” of others are not so filled, relative to you, because only they fill those “holes,” relative to themselves, with their memories, experiences, emotions, and so forth. Relative to everyone else, the “holes” of others are unfilled. In these “spaces,” people can project ideas, dreams, and their imaginations, while they cannot so project them into themselves. This is because their “holes” are filled by their reality, a reality brought (in)to themselves by consciousness. By virtue of being conscious, a person cannot fill his or her own “hole” with imagination (unimpeded by reality), but a person can fill the “holes” of others.
A similar logic applies to things and experiences. In everything, there is a “hole,” but once we encounter and/or realize that thing, that “hole” is filled (to some degree, even if it is filled with a feeling of emptiness). For the person who has been to Paris, Paris is a more filled “hole” than it is to someone who has never been to Paris; for someone who has been a famous actor, “being an actor” is a more filled “hole” then it is to someone who has never been an actor — the examples go on. This isn’t to say Paris or acting can’t be wonderful to those who have filled those “holes” (that depends on the person, and you’d have to be that person to know), but rather it is simply to say that these things are no longer “holes,” that it is no longer possible to project into them as much imagination as once was possible, that reality has filled them: to some degree, reality has taken up the space. Whether or not this is a good or bad thing depends on the person — my point is simply that “hole hope” occurs.
What is reality? That depends on the person; however, there are constants shared by people and realities that can be pointed out. In particular, the general constant that I would like to note is that no reality is perfect, that all realities consist of not just positives and not just negatives, but both negatives and positives. Everyone has advantages that other people do not have, as everyone possesses disadvantages that others are free from. This logic applies to all lifestyles, jobs, talents, and so on. Nothing is perfect: everything is a mixture of the good and the bad. If one is a doctor, one is perhaps respected and earning a good salary, but one can also be stressed and depressed (as depicted in “The Best of the Best” by O.G. Rose). To be poor is to suffer a lack of money and basic necessities, but to be rich can be to wrestle with people’s envy and the emotional experience of the truth that “money doesn’t buy happiness.” To be an artist is to get to express one’s self, but it is also to be misunderstood by people who don’t value art. And so on. There are pluses and minuses to everything: no reality escapes this truth. But where there is a “hole” (where reality is yet to dwell, relatively speaking), we can imagine otherwise, for though we may intellectually know that “nothing is perfect,” we can lack experiential knowledge, which is much more powerful (“ideas are not experiences,” after all). Hence, where there are “holes,” we can create hope for ourselves — “hole hope.” And we can do this constantly: “hole hope” tends to be everywhere.
When we see a marriage or relationship that isn’t ours, we can imagine that it is perfect or at least better off — the lack of reality so permits us — while, at the same time, we cannot so imagine our own marriage without confronting reality. When we see a couple walking down a street, holding hands, we can imagine that they are feeling the feelings we always dreamt we’d feel when we were in a relationship, a feeling we perhaps learned we were supposed to feel in the “right” relationship from movies and novels. When we look at a house we don’t live in, whether it be in a magazine or down the street, we can think about how much happier we’d be living there: the pipes wouldn’t leak as often, the children wouldn’t get in as many fights (each having their own room), and the tablecloths and furnishings would be more beautiful. When we see a person boarding a plane, whether in real life or in a movie, we can think about all the wonderful places they may visit, places we’ve always wanted to see, places that would be much more exciting than the banal places where we live. Upon the people we are not, we can imagine a story and give ourselves the “hole hope” of a different life. Regardless what it is, that which we don’t “realize” into our own reality is that which can function as a “hole hope” relative to us, and we often do this to the “mysteries” that surround us without us even realizing we’re doing it.
Hope comes naturally.
We cannot imagine where we live without our imaginations being infringed upon by reality; living there, at best, we can imagine it “unrealistically” and/or “in denial.” But when we visit a friend’s house, we can imagine it without doing so “unrealistically” (not living there to fill it with reality) or “in denial” (for we don’t have any standard to be “in denial” of). As a result, there is a “hole” — a place our reality does not fully occupy — that enables us to idealize life without being in any sort of “denial” (for when we are “in ignorance,” we cannot also be “in denial”). And so, at a friend’s house, we can indulge in thoughts about how perfect their life must be, about how they probably never have to clean as much as we do, about how their furniture never gets old, about all the picturesque meals they must have in their dining room, and so on. Not living there, we cannot know for sure whether our imagination is inaccurate, and so, stuck in possibility, we can imagine it however we want without knowing that we “know better.” However, we cannot idealize our own homes without knowing that we “know better,” having experienced the realities that everyone else, relative to their own conditions, experiences (with all the joys and hardships). Hence, our reality is, in a way, “handicapped” in comparison to our friend’s life: we cannot idealize our lives without doing so “in denial” of reality, while we can idealize the life of our friend freely (because we are “in ignorance”). And often, unfortunately, this “hole hope” is how we keep ourselves motivated to live our lives without sinking into despair.
If our parents are overbearing, when we visit another family, we can be quick to think those parents are “perfect” and wish our parents were like them. We can forget that most people naturally put on their “best face” when around people they don’t know, and, not living with the other parents on a daily basis, we lack the real experiences that can “check and balance” our idealization and imagination. Hence, we can come to think the solution to our problems would be to “have different parents” (parents like these), when really the solution might be to tell our parents how overbearing they are sometimes. Such stands are hard though, and relishing in “hole hope” much easier. We gravitate toward the easy, a nature that can keep us from actually improving the quality of our lives. We naturally prefer “holes” to action. Additionally, we can come to depend on “holes,” for they give us hope to keep going. Believing that “If I had different parents, life would be better,” even though we don’t have those parents, just knowing those (idealized) parents exist out there somewhere can give us “hope” to keep living (“hope” that the world isn’t all bad). Yet no parents are perfect, and the parents that give us “hole hope” today, a year later, may end up being just as overbearing, divorced, etc. a year later. Not living with them, we don’t know what realities they hide from us and other “outsiders.” And if they end up divorced, being the source of our “hole hope,” we may be devastated and sink into further despair, having lost the motivation to combat the original despair from which we sought escape: to “hole hope” is to put ourselves at risk of devastation (upon encountering reality).
There are many subtle manifestations of “hole hope” that happen unnoticed around us. When a person claims there are problems with a house, the person can suggest that it is possible for a house to exist that doesn’t have these problems, or that it is possible to exist in a state in which these problems were not thought of as “problems” (and so create a space in which to imagine such). Hence, there exists the possibility of a better state; hence, there is hope. In saying there are problems with a house or (insert), people can give themselves “hole hope.” Likewise, when a person says, “That house is perfect,” or “(Insert) is perfect,” the person suggests that there is a “perfect state” non-perfect houses or (insert) can achieve, and so there is hope for the fallible (of which the person can imagine entities achieving).
The person who says, “I’m stressed,” implies that there exists the possibility of a state in which one isn’t stressed. Relative to that person, the life where he or she isn’t stressed is a “hole,” one into which the person can project and image perfection. Additionally, the person who says “I’m stressed” may hope to be validated by others for working so hard, and since the other minds can’t be occupied, others are “holes” in which the person can imagine validating thoughts.
If a person who owns a company declares, “I run this place,” the act of declaring this to others can be a hope that he or she will be affirmed in being the boss (and this act can create space in which the person can imagine others affirming the boss in this). Even if we don’t mean the statement this way, the statement is married to the possibility of being a “hole hope” (and so a space which the imagination can fill). If we declare, “I’m a musician,” we utter a claim that cannot be separated from the possibility of being a “hole hope” (for being affirmed in our occupation). All claims of which imply the possibility of affirmation are inseparable from the possibility of being a “hole hope,” suggesting we need to pay close attention to our motives.
The person who lives to provide for his children may use his children as a “hole” into which to project hopes. This isn’t to say children are bad and that people shouldn’t provide for them, only that children can easily turn into “holes” and spaces into which parents can imagine hopes that give their lives meaning (putting an unbearable weight on the children’s shoulders). If a person believes that by living a certain way, he or she will live a happy life, the person has created both a ritual by which to achieve happiness (believing that in doing certain things, a certain outcome will emerge) and a space into which to project the idealizations of his or her imagination. People who think everyone should stay single, should get married, should be scientific, should be philosophical, should travel, etc. — all these people create “hole hopes,” for they all create “rituals” people can carry out, like someone with OCD, and so achieve what he or she wants.
Suffering can beget “hole hope,” both because humans can take pride in suffering, and because suffering can motivate us to imagine a(n) (unrealistic) world without it. Knowing we have more work to do than others, even though we may complain about it, can give us a feeling of superiority. Not necessarily, but possibly. Knowing we are busier, that we have less free time, that we work more, etc., can make us feel superior to those who aren’t “suffering” like us.
Additionally, to say, “You have no idea what I’m going through” can also be to say, “There exists a state of being that is better off than mine”; hence, there is hope. And even if I can’t achieve that hope, just knowing it is (possibly) out there can give me reason to keep living. To say, “I’m always so busy” can be to say, “It’s not right for me to have to be this busy” and/or “There is a state in which a person can be less busy”; hence, there is hope. To say, “I’m sick,” can be to say, “I have a disorder” and/or “There is possible a state in which a person doesn’t have depression”; hence, there is hope. Claims of suffering can have embedded in them claims of hope. Even the nihilist who claims, “Nothing matters,” can say “Nothing is everything,” and hence “Everything matters”; hence, there is hope.
When we suffer, it’s natural for us to then project out into the world states of being that we can “put our hope in”; hence, sufferers can easily slip into “hole hope,” of imaging and idealizing a state unlike theirs. Now, this isn’t to say everyone who suffers “projects” or that everyone who talks about suffering shouldn’t; rather, it is to say that suffering easily leads to idealizing and imaging a state free of suffering. In reality though, there is no state that is totally free of hardship. Yes, there are states that are (perhaps) better than others, but there is no state in reality that isn’t a mixture of the good and the bad. If during times of suffering we forget this (which can be easy to do), then when we escape the suffering, we may experience disillusionment when we eventually find suffering yet again.
Keeping us in a state of always being “toward” a “hole hope” (rather than achieving any authentic life), once we move out of a state, we can retrospectively treat it as a “hole (hope),” now not being present in the state to check and balance our idealization with reality. Once we graduate from college, though not a “hole” while actually attending it, it can suddenly become a “hole” again (as college could have been before we attended it), and now we can fill the “hole” with our idealizations (as we can also fill it with our memories, perhaps while wearing rose-colored glasses). Even though we can no longer attend it, just the knowledge that there exists in the world a state of such wonder (which we believe, unrealistically, that we experienced) can help us get through the day. Of course, when we idealize college, we overlook the negative experiences we had during it (perhaps the breakups, the terrible classes, the sleepless nights studying), and recall only the good, which makes college appear to us much better than it was in actuality. Not being in college anymore, we have the space and/or “hole” to do that, as we do once we get older in regard to our childhoods, our high school, etc. No longer “there” in those states to fill them with our realities, our imaginations can run unimpeded (like a river in which there are no rocks for the water to hit up against). And the temptation to live always “toward” “holes” in which our idealizations can roam freely can prove difficult to resist, seeing as the only alternative is to embrace reality, which entails trade-offs between — and a mixture of — the good and the bad, while the idealized consists only of the good. But it is only by facing reality that we can achieve “whole hope,” as will be expounded upon.
There is a sense in which to have “hole hope” is to live vicariously, either through others, imagined others, or an imagined self. In this sense, vicarious living might be the most prevalent way to live. Anytime we idealize, we live vicariously. This isn’t to say all idealization and imagination is bad — in fact, there is a degree of it that we require in order to be creative and to make the world a better place — but it is to say that whenever “vicarious living” comes to replace “living,” we have stumbled into a “hole” in which we fail to live realistically, cutting us off from the possibility of “whole hope” (as will be expounded on).
When we walk into a neighbor’s house and imagine how perfect their lives must be compared to “our (realistic) lives” — our lives that we cannot fill with idealizations without those idealizations encountering the realities we live through — in that moment, we vicariously live through (imagined versions of) our neighbors. When we think of how great it would be to travel, we vicariously live through a version of ourselves in our minds that is climbing the Alps, as we do when we idealize being a banker, a professional football player, someone who’s not married to our spouse, someone who’s attending a different college, etc. — the list goes on. Like the person who lives for his football team or favorite celebrity, we can vicariously live through our imaginations and the imagined “celebrity” version of ourselves.
Where there is “hole hope,” there is vicarious living.
Where there is “whole hope,” there is living.
Humans have ways by which they preserve their “hole hopes,” their “vicarious lives,” and can exercise these methods without even realizing it. If everyone thinks we are math geniuses, we may avoid public displays of math in order to avoid putting at risk their image of us. If we know people who once used to think we were beautiful, we may avoid them, wanting them to remember us “as we were” not “as we are.” And we may do this so that they can continue to remember us fondly and hope in us (aware, at least unconsciously, of the emotional happiness of “hole hope”). As we have ways to keep away people to whom we are a source of “hole hope” ourselves, we have ways to keep a distance from that which we want to continue providing us with ‘hole hope.”
We can all want to be “holes,” either to provide hope or simply to avoid misunderstanding (which entails within a hope for understanding). For someone who is not easily understood, such as an artist, keeping a distance might be a way to avoid facing people’s concerns about his or her future, and by being a “hole” to them, the artist can arrange it so that others can imagine the artist as “not a daydreamer,” making empathetic understanding easier to achieve. Furthermore, an artist can (even) hide his or her art from others so that they can imagine the artist not as an artist, hence freeing the artist from the negativity others can hurl upon those they don’t understand. On the flipside, people may criticize artists more who are “holes,” not experiencing the “reality” of the lives those artists live. Sadly, artists who fail to employ “holes” to their advantage may seek absolute isolation, which comes with its own problems.
In different ways, we are all like the artist, often hiding our true selves so people can imagine us differently. Naturally, as if rehearsed a hundred times, a couple that has just been arguing can put on a sweet face and act polite around neighbors who suddenly appear at the door. And in so doing, the couple functions as an ideal others can hope to be like, a couple who others can think “their relationship is perfect” when meeting them (and in this way, others can put their hope in the couple by believing “perfect love is possible,” for example). Just knowing that a couple is out there who is happy lets us believe happiness is possible in this world (even if we never achieve it), and so give us reason to live.
Like the couple, regardless how depressed a girl may have felt an hour ago, upon going out in public, the girl can come off as the happiest person who ever lived, inspiring others to be happy themselves. This isn’t inherently bad, but it can be. When the “reality” of the happy girl starts to show — when her depression emerges — she may suddenly cease functioning as a “hole hope” for others, which may result in her feeling guilty for failing in this way, result in others treating her in such a way that makes her act the way she “should” again, or result in others thinking there is something wrong with her, when in fact she is simply being “realistic.” But realism isn’t typically what any of us want on the onset, though it is arguably what we all need and what we seem to do everything in our power to never experience.
Many of us can want to be “holes,” even those who achieve and accomplish truly great things. Those who win the Super Bowl know that the achievement doesn’t make life as wonderful as one might think (though that isn’t to say winning the Super Bowl isn’t wonderful), but, not wanting to infringe upon the dreams of children, the athlete may keep this truth to his self and continue to be a symbol, a “hole,” of what children dream to achieve. In this way, the football player creates a distance between the person he presents to people and the person he is to himself, and thanks to this distance, the athlete can function as a “hole”: a source of hope which can make life easier for others to strive and work through. Likewise, and for similar reasons, parents can hide their true selves from their children (while simultaneously making their children “holes” and sources of hope to them, which the parents may become “holes” themselves in order to preserve), as children can hide their true selves from their parents (all while thinking they are the only people in the world who do this sort of thing). The examples abound: “holes” are everywhere.
“Hole hopes” can create hard-to-escape cycles that are hidden from us by veils of “newness.” Before we are married, for example, marriage is a “hole” to us that we can fill with our imagination, but once we are married, singleness becomes a “hole” (again). Faced with the realities of singleness, we want marriage, but once faced with the realities of a relationship, we can again want singleness. And idealizing singleness, we may choose to get a divorce, and upon being single again, we may soon find ourselves idealizing marriage again (with someone better). And so we may again get married, only to find the “reality” of it disappointing, especially when comparing it with the idealized “hole” of singleness. And so we get divorced again, caught in a cycle.
Once we are hired for a job, all other jobs become “holes” relative to us. Miserable where we work, able to imagine that the jobs of others are better, we may quit and try something else, setting ourselves up for an endless movement between imagined jobs and real jobs, a cycle in which our imagined jobs (“holes”) always fail to be as good as the reality of any actual job. Likewise, once we decide to live somewhere, all other places become “holes,” tempting us to instigate a life of perpetually migrating between realities and idealized “holes.” Once we decide a hobby, all other hobbies become “holes”; once we choose a spouse, all other spouses become “holes,” and so on. Temptations to enter endless cycles of idealization — cycles of temporary happiness that slide back into disillusionment — are everywhere.
If we don’t learn to be happy with the life we are currently experiencing and to ground our hopes in reality rather than idealization, we can easily get swept up in one of these cycles. Perhaps one of the main reasons people end up in such situations is a failure to identity the cause of their unhappiness. Some think they are unhappy in their marriage because their husband isn’t the right person, when really they are unhappy with having to live in a reality that is a mixture of the good and the bad (versus a reality that is only good). This isn’t to say that it is never the case that a husband is a source of unhappiness, only that one must be sure it isn’t the nature of reality itself that is upsetting to them, rather than a thing in reality. When a person fails to do this — when a person fails to realize that the cause of their unhappiness is the way the world is (in all its tragedy, “trade-offs,” incompleteness, etc.) versus a thing in the world — the person could easily keep falling into “hole hope”-cycles, thinking the cause of their pain is a thing, when really it is the pain that emerges whenever a(n) (idealizing) person encounters the real.
Along with this confusion, another reason people end up in “hole hope”-cycles is because they fail to realize that “newness” hides us from the fact that we idealize “hole hopes” — it can keep us unaware that we are even idealizing and make us think we are only viewing (the truth). There is a sense in which it is the newness itself which makes a person happy more so than any new objects. Encountering the new, we forget about ourselves and are swept up in it, forgetting that the emotions we feel come from our subjectivity, not what we encounter. Encountering a beach we’ve never been to, we can be swept up in our imagination and thoughts about how beautiful it is, how much fun we’ll have there, how it’s different from all the other beaches, and so on. Encountering the new, our subjectivity seems can “strike us” as objective — we can feel as if what we are saying is absolutely true. A reason for this is because we have not encountered the reality of the beach to know better; hence, our subjectivity has never “been wrong” about the beach to recognize itself as subjective. Where there is a lack of reality, and so a lack of encountering that which unveils the subjective as subjective (like a river hitting a rock), the subjective feels objective, and it is this feeling which can contribute to us getting swept away in a “hole hope” without us realizing we are being so swept. Rather, we can think we are just experiencing the truth, lacking experiences of reality to know better. “Holes” — newly covered traps — are everywhere.
What we experience will often be handicapped against what we do not experience: what we do not experience will have the advantage of our idealization and imagination against what we do actually “fill” with reality. The government bill we are thinking about passing will have an advantage over the bills we have already passed, as will the job we aren’t doing, the person we aren’t married to, and so on. This isn’t to say we will give into these “temptations,” but simply to suggest that if we aren’t aware of how “hole hopes” may appear idealized to us, our discernment will suffer. Consequently, we may give up the life we live for a figment of our imagination that, upon realizing and reaching, would turn out to be a reality that was a worse mixture of “the good and the bad” than the reality we surrendered for it.
Though this paper has focused primarily on how “holes” are idealized, there is another dimension of “holes” that should also be addressed. As we can idealize what is a “hole” to us, we can also be overly critical of it (suggesting another reason why we need to avoid having “holes” in our lives as much as possible). If we hated college, once we’ve left it behind, we can think of only the bad things, and none of the good. As we can idealize only the good into a “hole,” we can also project only the bad (avoiding tension either way), which is still to engage with the world “unrealistically,” for reality is composed of a (tense) mixture of the good and the bad, not just one or the other. To think of college, marriage, etc. as “entirely bad” is to think of it as unrealistically as does one who thinks of it as “entirely good” (please note that none of us probably think we do this and yet practically do).¹ Yet, even when overly critical of “holes,” there is still a sort of hope embedded in the act, for to think of college as entirely bad is to (indirectly) think “it shouldn’t have been that way,” which can imply there exists the possibility of a college experience that isn’t entirely bad, and so something in which to hope. To be overly critical can imply the existence of something better to hope in.
When we are overly critical of “holes” (rather than idealize good into them), what we don’t experience is handicapped against what we do experience. This is a different treatment of “holes” than what most of this paper has focused on, but as with the idealization of “holes,” being overly critical also skews discernment. We can all too easily criticize the government bill we haven’t passed, the jobs we don’t have, the countries in which we don’t live, the people we don’t know, etc. Yet, even in this act, we are giving ourselves hope, for we are hoping that the life we live (now) is better than the lives we could live, for example. In this act, rather than “unrealistically” devaluing our reality by comparing it with idealizations, we try “unrealistically” to raise our reality up by bringing other (possible) realities down. Both acts are “unrealistic” (and so “hole”-ish), not only because the acts consist of considering reality in terms of “good alone” or “bad alone” versus a mixture, but also because they are acts of imagination rather than acts in and of the real world.
In this overly critical act, rather than making others our source of hope, we make ourselves our source of hope. We imply, for example, that the choices we made are good ones and by extension that we are capable (of good/perfect choices); we can also imply that we are wiser than others, more discerning, and so on (we make ourselves worthy of putting hope in, by others and/or ourselves). This is perhaps less abstracting than “idealizing hopes” and has a more concrete grounding in the self, but it is still certainly not as beneficial as “whole hope” (as will be explained), for it too is rooted in an unreality, a “hole.” It is an “unreal” hope, not grounded in reality, but in an “imagined” view of what other lives are like. We don’t actually know if the lives others live, the jobs others work, etc. are better or worse than our own, and so to value our life by comparing it with other lives (lives which are all “holes” relative to us) is to ground our self-value in ignorance — in a “hole” (hidden by “newness”). And in order to maintain this value, we must keep others as “holes,” for to experience their reality would now be a threat. And we all seem to have methods to keep others as “holes”…
Being overly critical of “holes” is another kind of “hole hope,” where we idealize our own life by devaluing the lives of others. As with idealizing “holes,” this act doesn’t actually improve the quality of life, but only creates an illusion of improvement. As even the kid who runs slowly can feel like he runs fast when racing against kids slower than him, so the person living a mediocre life can feel he lives a good life if he imagines everyone else as more miserable than himself (and this imagining may result in the person not changing, when he or she may be capable of such). Such critical imagining of “holes” doesn’t raise a person up to a higher level, but drags others down (in his or her mind) either to the same level or below the imaginer, making the imaginer feel either equal or superior without any actual improvement. Only illusions are entertained, illusions that provide “hole hope” for the imaginer. It should be noted here that those who critically imagine “holes” can also do so in order to distract themselves from the “bad” of the reality they live, hence making their reality seem “good alone” versus a mixture of the good and the bad. In this way, the critical imaginer is identical to the idealizer of “holes” — both avoid reality, create and preserve “holes,” hope — and struggle to discern.
When we make choices in life, we must always choose between “holes” and our reality. In life, “holes” are unavoidable, as choice is unavoidable, but if we are aware of how “hole hopes” can appear to us better than reality or overly criticized, we will know we must try our best to picture what those “holes” will actually be like in reality if “filled with experience,” per se, rather than let ourselves be swept up in our imagination and idealization. This will help us be more discerning and more grounded in reality, and if we learn to have “whole hope” instead of “hole hope(s),” our discernment will remain grounded. But what is “whole hope?” It certainly sounds like “hole hope,” at least.
Either through imagined idealization or criticism, we constantly use one another and anything that is a “hole” in reality (relative to us) to give ourselves hope to live against reality itself. When we get into the habit of “hole hoping,” it becomes increasingly difficult to live realistically (as the longer a drug is used, the harder it is to quit), and so it becomes increasingly difficult for us to switch to “whole hope,” regardless how much from it we would benefit.
“Whole hope” isn’t grounded in the idealization or criticism of “holes.” To be in finitude and time is to be amongst “holes,” but we can choose how we interact with those “holes.” Do we envision them realistically, to the best of our abilities, or do we let our imaginations dominate? Yes, imagination, to some degree, is unavoidable, for to pick between options (“holes”), for example, requires some degree of imagination (which isn’t always bad, and “bound” imagination is important and valuable). But we can and must choose to “check and balance” our imagining with realism, with a view of the world that isn’t either “good or bad alone” but “a mixture of the good and the bad.” We can work and choose to “catch ourselves” when we begin idealizing or over-criticizing, helping us be “realistically” discerning (and so make more “real” our choices). On this line of thought, a prime concern of this work has been to make the reader aware of the phenomenon of “hole hope” so that readers can be more discerning about which “holes” to realize and fill with reality. However, though “real” discernment and “realistic” imagining will help keep us from falling into “hole hope,” discernment alone cannot provide us with hope (which all of us need to be motivated to live). We need something else, some grounding — some “experience.”
“Whole hope” is grounded primarily in experience versus imagination. It is based on what I’ve perceived versus thought (a distinction expanded on in (Re)constructing “A is A”), the reality I’ve undergone versus envisioned. Yes, wherever there is hope, there must be some “imagination” involved, but imagination based on “what I’ve experienced” is radically distinct from imagination which is “unbound” by reality. “Hole hope” results from “unbound thinking,” while “whole hope” is made “whole” precisely in being “bound” by and “anchored to” real experiences. It is made “whole” by those experiences, while “hole hope” is missing an essential dimension it needs to be useful and complete — perception and experience — thus leaving it a “hole.” Whereas “hole hope” is missing reality in favor of imagination and thought, “whole hope” works hard not to leave reality behind. In this way, “whole hope” is filled with the world.²
Now, my experience of the world can never be identical with the world (unless I’m God), and so my experience and perception are always limited (simply because I cannot experience everything). Considering this, there is always “something missing” from even “whole hope,” but at least when I am aware of the pitfalls of “hole hope,” I can make myself “toward” experience, perception, and “wholeness.” To orientate myself toward experience is an important step in the right direction, for that means I am habituating myself to deconstructing and questioning “my ideas” about how life should be, how people should live, and what’s best. Critically, since experience and perception must ultimately be limited, this means my deferring to them is to accept a degree of limitation and level of incompleteness in my life (which ideas don’t necessarily have to accept, able to exist on an idealistic plane). I find “wholeness” precisely in the act of deconstructing all temptations and dreams for completeness: as will be expanded on throughout (Re)constructing “A is A,” I find “wholeness” in accepting that I must be “lacking” (Homo Egeo).
The person trying to live according to “whole hope” is neither an optimist nor a pessimist but a realist. Since hope ultimately has a lot to do with motivation, the person who ascribes to “whole hope” attempts to find motivation to live in real and everyday life, while the “hole hoper” mainly searches for motivation in dreams, ideas, and even denial (not to say all dreams are bad — it depends). Since reality is difficult, consists of trade-offs, and often fails us, the “whole hoper” finds motivation while “looking down” at the imperfection and still finding reason to cherish it, while the “hole hoper” looks away from the world and up at the clouds, searching for shapes and specters. The “whole hoper” is motivated by the world to walk through the world, while the “hole hoper” is motivated by the sky to wait for ascension. When we are “hole hopers,” we are motivated more extrinsically than intrinsically, but to be motivated intrinsically requires facing the “lack” which dwells within us all, the limitations of being. If we are to be motivated by what’s in us (versus an “idea” of what’s inside of us), we must accept reality, which also means accepting our own imperfections and shortcomings. This is hard, but a life of intrinsic motivation is critical for avoiding a life motivated by extrinsic “holes.”
We decide on the shape of our lives when we decide on the nature of our motivations. Our motivations determine what we are “toward,” and so what structures and identifies us through time. We are generally a collection of memories, choices, desires, etc., and the kinds of memories we possess, the kinds of choices we make, etc., will be relative to the “hope” we make all our choices and experiences in and “toward.” Divine-like, motivation, originating out of being, transcends the time which the/a being cannot transcend to guide the being through temporality so that the being may be structured as the being so wills. If we want to be a great soccer player, we will probably desire to buy a soccer ball, experience playing and garnering memories of soccer games, meet other people who play soccer, and so on. What motivates us will shape us, for our motivation determines how our being moves through time “toward” death.
To be motivated is to have purpose, and purpose entails hope (a “hopeless purpose” is a contradiction). “Intrinsic motivation” is “wholistic,” while “holes” are “extrinsic motivators.” This isn’t to say all “extrinsic motivators” are necessarily bad, but it is to say that it’s ultimately better to rely on “intrinsic motivation.” Motivation is how we drive through the changes of life, thoughts of others, and uncertainties which surround us, but if we are motivated by “holes,” we’ll probably end up in ditches. “Whole hope” is a non-contingent hope (reality is here, after all), while external “holes” can only provide hope as long as they remain “holes” — once they are filled with reality, the hope is gone (suggesting why we develop methods to preserve and create “holes”). Unfortunately, in society, there seems to be much more “hole hope” than “whole hope,” perhaps because determining an intrinsic motivation (and so purpose) is very difficult and even painful, requiring introspection. Hence, it is likely easier and more natural to “hole hope,” and this ease and “lack of pain” can trick us every time to keep “hole hoping” (a mistake that’s especially easy to make because it can be so difficult to tell “hole hope” and “whole hope” apart in experience, as alluded to by the terms being homophonous, for both feel “hope-full”).
We are either predominately an image and likeness of extrinsic motivations or an image and likeness of intrinsic motivations. Arguably, life isn’t even possible without motivation, let alone a life with a meaningful shape. Our motivations are indivisible from our hopes, and since our motivations shape our lives, taking the time to inspect and own the natures of our hopes will directly impact the kinds of people we manifest. Though it’s difficult to face and perceive “lack,” “limitation,” and “imperfection,” there’s no other way for us to manifest “wholeness.”³ And we must not look away from the “lack” once we glimpse it, which will not be easy, for it will be tempting to quickly look to others and believe that they are not “essentially lacking” but rather just “holes that can be filled,” that they are different from us. We will want to believe the imperfection is concentrated in us and make others a possible source of a relief from ourselves. But everyone is ultimately “lacking”: no one is a fillable “hole” (only a “hole” into which we can shovel that which never hits bottom), despite how much we may treat them as otherwise. That, or when we glimpse our “essential lack,” we will be tempted to deny it and believe we are fillable, which ironically is the very act which makes us unable to be “whole.”
Paradoxically, in denying “essential lack,” “hole hope” is ontologically negative, while “whole hope” is ontologically positive. When “holes” are our hope, we ourselves become empty and unreal “holes” instead of “whole,” while if we accept our “essential incompleteness,” we can find “wholeness” in that “lack.” When we are externally motivated by the “holes” of others, we become like those “holes,” for we make ourselves into the image and likeness of our motivations, but when we are intrinsically motivated by the “lack” of our self, we can become “whole.” Becoming “whole” requires living by and accepting experience and perception, which is to accept limitation, imperfection, “trade-offs,” tragedy, and the like. We then give up the possibility of “filling holes,” for we stop believing in “holes” at all (a “self-forgetfulness” which paradoxically is a “kind of way” to fill “holes” by making them disappear, per se). This is because “holes” are spaces that can be filled, and the “wholistic” person accepts that life entails incompleteness that cannot be filled or effaced. As “negative space” is necessary in art for images to be possible (an image without space between subjects would be a messy blob), so our lives cannot erase “spaces” without being messed up. We become “wholistic” when we cease trying to “fill holes” and instead accept our own lives on their own terms. Wholistic, we seek to make our world better by walking in and through it instead of rising above it.
“Hole hope” is based on “an absence of reality” (and imagines “unrealistically,” putting the imagined and real at odds), while “whole hope” strives to be grounded in reality (and imagines “realistically,” blending the imagined and real together, however imperfectly). “Hole hope” can emerge from a refusal to accept the world as it is, while “whole hope” tries to create motivation rooted in experience and perception. “Hole hope” is threatened by (sudden realizations of) reality, while “whole hope” grounds itself in and readies itself for experiencing reality, a “mixture of the good and the bad.” Action committed out of “hole hope” is typically done to preserve the “holes” (the “ground of their possibility”), while action committed out of “whole hope” is done to help us live in the real world. But “whole hope” is hard to maintain, and even if we stop living according to “holes” today, we can slip into the temptation tomorrow. The effort to fight “holes” must be daily.⁴
It is doubtful that any of us avoid “hole hope” entirely, though hopefully with time we can improve. It sometimes even seems that our brains are wired to be everything but realistic, and yet we associate our brains with “thinking,” which is supposedly in the business of “knowing the real,” and, believing this, we don’t “check and balance” our thoughts as we should. Naturally and unconsciously, we surround ourselves with “holes”: we must fight our brains to free our minds. The brain doesn’t seem to naturally think in terms of “trade-offs” or mixtures; instead, it seems to approach the world in terms of “all good” or “all bad” (perhaps due to survival mechanisms of some kind). We seem wired to idealize and project, and the nature of reality presents us with countless opportunities to fall into the temptation to “vicariously live” and fall into a “hole.” But knowing better, we can work to change, and even do our best to stop functioning as “holes” for others. Each one of us will always be a “hole” to some degree — we alone can inhabit our minds, after all — but we can avoid feeding “hole hope” by avoiding “status anxiety,” by telling the truth, by not contributing to existential escapism, and more. None of us can live perfect lives, but not all failures are equal.
Anyone at any moment can choose to cease living according to “holes” and strive to be “wholistic,” as anyone can cease living according to “vulgar time” in favor of “ecstatic time” (as Heidegger discusses and Johannes A. Niederhauser teaches on brilliantly). We simply must make a choice and stick with it: a decision can transform all time. If we choose to become a pilot, suddenly, as if reaching back in time, all the moments before that choice can suddenly turn into moments leading up to it. As discussed throughout O.G. Rose, the choice is a “flip moment,” a moment that redefines the nature of all moments. If a person spends years working on a book, the second the book is accepted for publication suddenly transforms all those previous moments into “good uses of time,” even though up to that moment everything possibly felt like a waste. Rarely are there no opportunities for “flip moments,” meaning there is always a chance to transform bad choices into good ones, redeeming the past as if it was never in need of redemption at all. Our life can always be redefined — there is always hope — the question is only: what hope will we have?
¹Granted, there are extraordinary circumstances, such as the Holocaust, that are wholly bad (other than acts of courage, acts of bravery, etc. that occurred to combat the grave horror), but normally our life doesn’t entail such circumstances (and such horrors do not usually make up a person’s daily experience, though that isn’t to say they don’t matter). However, when such circumstances arise, it is still the case that failing to recognize our idealizing tendencies can impede our capacity to discern these situations and how to stop them.
²Though it’s dangerous to use this language (for, ultimately, I think the “self” is a “lack,” as will be explained, which do note is ultimately distinct from a “hole” even if incredibly similar), it could be said that “whole hope” is hope grounded primarily in our “self” versus our imagination. Determining, defining, and realizing our self takes imagination and abstract reasoning, but imagination doesn’t necessarily include the self. “Hole hope,” in a sense, could be called “self-less hope,” while “whole hope” is “self-ish hope,” yet unlike the traditional uses of the words “selfish” and “selfless,” in this context, “self-less hope’ is more selfish than “self-ish hope.” In this context, I am using the word “self” to mean “the sum of experiences, perceptions, impressions, etc.” that I have undergone — we could say it is “the total and best understanding of reality I have accumulated (which could easily be wrong), which is primarily based on the actuality I have undergone versus my ideas of what I have undergone.” Now, it’s impossible to make a “hard split” between ideas and experiences, thinking and perceiving, but generally the “final vote” goes to experience. “Whole hope” strives to be real, regardless how imperfectly.
“Self-less hope” uses the “holes” of others to provide the self with hope, and yet, ironically, there is no “self” present: when we use others as “holes,” we make ourselves a “hole,” per se, for we fail to give ourselves a self (we outsource that self to others, others with consciousnesses we cannot occupy). “Self hope,” on the other hand, doesn’t treat others as a means to an end of hope, but uses oneself for that end, treating the “lack” within as reality. What constitutes that self is up to the individual to decide, but when the person embraces it versus live according to external “holes,” the individual becomes “whole.”
Now, a reason we can want to avoid making a “self” for ourselves is because that requires taking a risk, as does “taking a stand.” Also, we must ultimately fail (which can be humbling): the “self” must always be “lacking,” something we can never completely capture, and so any “self” we posit will not be what we actually “are.” It could be a useful “map,” sure, but it will never be the territory. Also, “ideas of a self” can tempt us with dreams of “Absolute Unity,” and it can be easier to deny any identity at all versus learn to live always avoiding that temptation. But we cannot avoid forming “an idea of who we” (Homo Ego is naturally forming, as will be explained in “Homo Egeo”): if we don’t take the time to consciously and meaningfully form and dialectically manage it, what formulates will not be something we possess any control over. If we practically deny we have a self, we’ll still have one: the only hope is that we actively correct the self. If there isn’t dialectical tension, there is likely error.
(I repeat, “self” a risky term to use, precisely because the term itself suggests an “A/A” is present when it’s rather an “A/B,” but it can admittedly be difficult to avoid the language. Please forgive any confusion this might cause.)
³Arguably, it is in our hope that our self is most “revealed,” considering that the self cannot ever be fully conceptualized, for the self is that through which conceptualization occurs (as expounded on in “On Thinking and Perceiving” by O.G. Rose). As a video camera, through recording, can only make images of itself (if even that), so the self is a whole that, to think about, breaks the self into parts (relative to experience): only (divided) images of the self can ever be viewed. But, perhaps giving us hope, it is in the “image” of “hope” that the “whole” of the self can perhaps be most revealed.
If we can never fully conceptualize “the self,” there a sense in which the self is always absent (a “lack”), as the video camera is always absent from its images of itself? True, but it should be noted that the self may only be absent “relative to thought” — it can only be thought about in parts (as the video camera can only be observed in “images” of it), but that doesn’t mean the self “is” only parts (or that the video camera “is” only images). We are present (somehow, perhaps only as bodies), though we’re “apparently” absent (in thought, as “unified selves”), while the selves of others are “actually” absent (allowing them to potentially be “holes” to us). However, without intrinsic motivation, there might not be a “meaningful” difference between absent and present selves (though that isn’t to say there isn’t actually a difference).
⁴Ultimately, we will likely have to make a “real choice” to prevail — but what is meant by this will be addressed in “Homo Egeo.”
1. On the lexicon of this work: I believe “hole hope” is a good phrase because it implies there is nothing there in and of itself. Yet a hole is always in something, and a “hole hope” is a “hole” in reality (in the “w-hole” of reality). A “hole” is where people carve out a space in “the mixture of the good and the bad” so they can imagine “good (or bad) alone.” Additionally, “whole” and “hole” can only be told apart on paper — they are homophonous — which alludes to how hopes can only be identified by a given person in experience.
2. When we encounter people who seem to always be happy (as people can try to appear around others), we can come to think there is something wrong with us. Considering this, a natural tendency to function as “hole hope” for one another can unintentionally make people feel as if they are broken. By functioning as that which others can idealize and find “hope in,” we can unintentionally set up others for disillusionment.
3. “Whole hope” blends thinking and perceiving, while “hole hope” either thinks over perception or perceives over thinking.
4. To borrow from the thought of Bernard Hankins, humans are (partially) “what they like,” and to know what a person is like entails knowing what the person likes. Our likes are glimpses into what we are like. Therefore, when we do what we don’t like, we are in a way confusing ourselves, for “what we are like” doesn’t match with “what we are doing” (which should be what we like). When these “likes” conflict, alienation and unhappiness are likely. And when there is a dissonance between “what we like” and “what we are like,” “hole hope” is especially likely to help us “project ourselves out of” the dissonance.
5. To borrow the thought of Sartre, we cannot feel as if we are living in a prison unless we desire that which, within our life, we cannot obtain. If we conform our goals to the conditions of our life, we won’t feel imprisoned (even if we are). By choosing the right hopes, we can always be free, which means the one who hopes realistically and “wholly” avoids ending up everywhere in chains.
6. The artist, who must work and practice for years before achieving a “flip moment” that makes it all worthwhile, must take on a necessary risk that no “flip moment” will ever arrive. The artist must risk it “all being a waste” to make it “all worthwhile.” This is reality, and no “whole hope” can ignore it.
7. Realities are mixtures of the good and the bad, and this being the case, it is wise to be careful to tell someone who lives on a farm (for example), “I wish I had a life like yours.” Such statements imply that the lives of others are easier than ours and that they don’t undergo the difficulties that we do (which might imply that we are worthy of affirmation). Everyone suffers tough circumstances: the artist, though not having to perform surgery, suffers “an operation” whenever the artist is asked about occupation, while the doctor, though making good money, has many sleepless nights. It’s dangerous to suggest others “don’t know what we’re going through” or “have it easier than us” — everyone has their own unique challenges — all realities are mixtures of the good and the bad.
8. Opposites attract often because of “hole hope”: it is easier to imagine that which is different from us as that “without reality” than it is to imagine “without reality” those similar to ourselves. This isn’t to suggest that opposites can’t be in a relationship or happy together, but to claim that if we aren’t aware of “hole hope,” our discernment will be impeded. And when it comes to relationships, discernment is needed to the utmost.
9. We do not experience nature and inanimate objects as “holes” as much as we do humans (though that isn’t to say they can’t be “holes”), because humans have consciousness. To “fill with hope” a non-conscious thing would take our agency, our “reality,” which we have experienced as “a mixture of the good and the bad,” hence making idealization more difficult. People though, in having entirely different consciousnesses, can be thought of as experiencing a unique subjectivity that is “good alone” or “bad alone,” unlike our own subjectivity, which we must know as a “mixture.” That said, un-conscious things that (subjective) humans relate to (via ownership, etc.), have a higher likelihood of being a “hole” than does an inanimate phenomenon without (much) human interaction. In other words, a house, being where a human lives, is easier to make a “hole” than a random rock in the forest, for it is easier to imagine the house “making better” a person’s life (and so possibly our own life).
9.1 Facebook, movies, etc., make “hole hope” much more frequent, possible, and difficult to avoid (as does the desire to “please people,” for this entails trying to know what other minds are thinking). Marketing, Silicon Valley, and Hollywood thrive off creating and feeding “hole hope.”
10. We can stay single to keep imagining ourselves never hurting anyone, as we can get married to imagine ourselves never being hurt.
11. Perhaps we can prefer talented children to talented adults because there is more room for “hole hope,” and perhaps the same can be said about artists who die young.
12. When we “hole hope” about the life someone else lives, the house another lives in, etc., we should use the language of “I can’t know” versus “I don’t know” — it helps curb the idealization.
13. To wonder “What do people think of me?” is to consider a “hole,” making us susceptible to idealization and being overly-critical. And it is a “hole” worse than a “hole” of Europe or something like that, for we can visit Europe and find out if our idealizations are wrong, but we cannot enter into another mind.
14. If we live by “hole hope,” all we’ll have to offer others will be “holes.”
15. Romance culture often thrives off “hole hope.”
16. Disappointment requires expectation; where there is only acceptance and adaptability, “let downs” are avoided. Expectation is an act of imagination, for it requires abstract thought and an envisioning of the future (and “what it could be”). Furthermore, to have expectations is to prime ourselves for “hole hope,” for it is to train ourselves to imagine and hope for expectations about the future (and the results of those expectations).
17. Drugs can come with a feeling of the high “never ending”: in the act of taking the drug, we can be simultaneously blinded from its temporality. In the high, there is a sense of “timelessness” (time just seems to fade away). In other words, drugs are taken, consciously or subconsciously, in hopes that they can “always work,” and when we are high, they can feel like they will. When the high wears off, it can come with a feeling of “that wasn’t supposed to happen.” And so we can think that maybe next time will be different. And so addiction forms.
Like drugs, “hole hopes” can create in us a sense of elation and timelessness, a sense that the “hole hope” will always sustain us. In “hole hoping,” there is inherently embedded a belief that “It will always work” (to “hole hope” is to hope “timelessly.” And hoping for a “hole hope” that will always sustain us, like druggies searching for a drug that transcends the addiction, we end up as/in “holes.” But like the druggie, the “hole hoper” can easily partake in self-deception, blinded by the “high.”
18. The existential “void” (or “hole”) people feel can lead to “hole hope,” which is an attempt to transfer the internal hole to an externality. (And nothing changes.)
19. Never underestimate the human capacity to preserve states from which the human can (w)hole hope — humanity’s creativity knows no limits when so called.
20. We love to be followers; from there, we can imagine how we would lead differently and perfectly in a world where nothing is perfect.
21. To put it generally, “hole hope” is from the future/past to the present, while “whole hope” is from the present to the future/past.
22. Much of modern literature, film, and art in general orbits around the issue of “hole hope.”
23. As it favors children, it is a possible that “hole hope” favors celebrities, artists, etc. who commit suicide or die early, for we can imagine freely “what could have been” and/or “what they dealt with within.” Likewise, “hole hope” may favor those who put off marriage and children, for it gives us space to imagine how such people can “become anyone,” and likewise such people can feel that way about themselves. Additionally, in avoiding marriage and children, such people can feel as if others think of them as having “infinite potential,” and that is comforting: it makes them feel as if they have (potential) significance in this world where so few do. It is possible that one of the main drives of human action, along with ideology preservation, is to maintain “hole hope” being in our favor for as long as possible. Considering this and “Homo Egeo” by O.G. Rose, a “real choice” is anti-“hole hope,” and it is always hard to oppose “hole hope.”
24. According to Eric Hoffer, a doctrine that inspires a mass movement has to be unverifiable, and perhaps a reason for this is because what cannot be verified is that which leaves open space for “hole hope.” (Perhaps “hole hope” is indispensable for mass movements of any kind.)
25. Something like “hole hope” can also be used in debate: I can say, “I don’t think x is always true” or “You can’t say everyone is y” and not explain myself further. By doing this, I leave a “hole” where people can imagine I have justification for my (self-evidently true) position — that I would go into those details if I had more time, didn’t have to run off for work, or wasn’t so emotionally hurt. Just saying, “I don’t agree” and nothing else can also create “a hole,” and the silence that tends to follow this hole-creation suggests that the other person is on the hook for explaining themselves (especially if the person who is upset is considered to have the upper hand).
26. Alexander Bard suggests that we, with our eros, are attracted to ambiguity, that we “sexualize ambivalence” even. This is an interesting thought, for sexual attraction does in fact seem that it can weaken when dealing with actualities versus ambiguities: we fantasize about the man and girl we don’t possess, only to grow bored with the one we do (perhaps suggesting a cause of declining material sex rates). It seems that possessing can be a goal and a poison.
Theoretically at least, perhaps the perfect entity to sexualize is something that is forever ambiguous, because even if we hold it, we can’t be sure what we hold (as if we hold a box in which Schrodinger’s Cat lives), and so there is still space for fantasy. And as long as we can “plausibly believe” our fantasy isn’t a fiction, the sexualization will prove fruitful (this suggests the temptations of “holes”). As discussed in (Re)constructing “A is A” and The Fate of Beauty, the perfect goal then is found in accepting our “ ‘A/(A-isn’t-A)’ is ‘A/(A-isn’t-A)’ (without B)” ontology (versus “creating ambiguities” to avoid it), for such would maintain a permanent ambiguity. But accepting that we are essentially ambiguous and “(in)complete” seems like an entirely different ballgame from accepting that something is forever ambiguous which is external to us. We want ambiguity, but we don’t want to be ambiguous — that is to possess it far too much.
Considering this, I fear the ontology we naturally sexualize is often more so “ambiguity we create” versus “ontological ambiguity,” precisely because accepting A/B requires us to face and accept “essential tension.” And yet if we accepted “ontological ambiguity,” we could discover a great source for sexuality (as discussed above), which we tend to miss out on because we are too busy being sexually attracted to (false) “ambiguities we create” for the sake of achieving endless sexuality. Irony is a skill humanity has perfected: for the sake of achieving ends, we create means that make those ends unreachable.
26.1 We need to treat our truths and worldviews as if they aren’t ambiguous: to allude to Wittgenstein, we must be “certain” about certain things or we’d be unable to function (as discussed throughout the works of O.G. Rose). Yet since it is the case that we actually can’t be “certain” or “verify” our fundamental truths (we just must “act” certain), these truths are ambiguous. But we tend to treat other things like they are ambiguous, not our fundamental foundations or assumed truths — it seems we have no choice.
Assumption is necessary for thought and indeed logical, so it becomes logical not to treat our foundation of thought like its ambiguous when indeed it is (especially considering A/B): our relationship to the “a-rational” or “(un)rational” is actually ambiguous, but we must necessarily act as if it is practically unambiguous. We seem to make ambiguous what we shouldn’t and solid what we should consider fluid.
Thus, it becomes logical to do something that seems illogical, but it’s actually more “(un)logical,” per se, because it is in regard to a premise that must come before rationality to make rationality even possible. For me, this is further evidence that paradox and tension are “built into us,” a reality we are forced increasingly to personally experience as “givens” wane (under Pluralism), eros is unleashed, and we see try to “see” ourselves (A/B) with (incomplete) A/A.
26.2 Transcendence (into an A/A) seems like a natural response to ambiguity, for then we can tell ourselves that the ambivalence will be resolved “one day,” at some point of a “second coming.” This can give us a sense of a solution to the problem, which can permit us to ignore ambivalence versus learn to live with it. But as discussed in “Belonging Again” by O.G. Rose, as sociological “givens” fail, losing plausibility under Pluralism, our ability to “plausibly believe” in some “second coming” wanes, and so “the floodgates break” and the problem of “ontological ambiguity” (A/B) comes roaring back, finding us ill-prepared. We need philosophical and critical “ways of life” to handle and manage living with A/B versus the more comfortable A/A, but “givens” allow us to habituate ourselves to A/A. When “givens” fail, we may be unable to “handle ourselves,” which could feed a temptation to “hole hope.” Strangely, where “transcendence” wanes, so can increase “idealization” to escape that loss.
Today, generally, the supposed solution of (Platonic or religious) “transcendence” no longer feels plausible, and so ambiguity becomes something we feel deeply. This can cause existential anxiety, and it’s while suffering this anxiety that totalitarianism becomes appealing, as I think we see around the world today. Thus, there is indeed a need for a “new transcendence,” per se, one I will attempt to ground on beauty in Beauty Saves.
27. “Hole hope” can give rise to an “elation” as can the imaginary, one that supersedes the real (temporarily), precisely because the real is a mixture of the good and the bad, while a positive “hole hope” is compromised only of the good. Furthermore, the imagined can be thought of as better without being “in denial,” while the real can only be thought of as better “in denial,” and this contributes to (ignorant) bliss. Hence, “hole hope” gives rise to elation in the same way as does a solution to a problem: it gives us a sense of solving what is wrong with life (a life that cannot be solved).
28. “Perfection projection” — the projecting of “the good alone” over “the good and the bad” — is a phrase that could refer to “hole hope” (in a purely positive sense). Ironically, “perfection projection” can create a standard that, in us being unable to achieve it, results in our disillusionment, or it can set us up for disillusionment when we encounter reality.
29. If we are in a prison and tortured, it is not “hole hope” to believe we will be happier outside the prison (assuming we don’t think of the outside world as “without problems”), for this hope is grounded in the reality of the torture and misery (and is in fact “whole hope”). To warn against “hole hope” isn’t to warn against hope.