• Azrael Encarnacion


‘It’s all in your head,’ people will tell you, when you read too much into a situation or misunderstand something that’s happening to you. Depending on the circumstance, this could be comforting or provide little to no reassurance. Afterall, people do gaslight, manipulate or operate through ulterior motives. And as a lot of our emotions and critical thoughts are often tied to our relationships with others, these all-in-your-head moments usually involve other people. Our previous experiences determine how likely we are to leave room for the real possibility that we’re making things out to be more than what they truly are.

But it’s interesting nonetheless that this kind of confusion, whether warranted or not, can occur and does occur in most our lives. Whether it’s misreading the intention of a text message or believing a missing item has in fact been stolen, we have these moments that spring up; low on info, while high on speculation. A temporary choose-your-own-adventure world that invites us, to our own detriment sometimes, to fill in the blanks. It’s interesting to me because essentially, these moments are misreadings of reality. And depending the context, an inability to accurately perceive the world around you is kind of what insanity is. Dissociative disorders, paranoia, and delusions, among others, are examples of what can happen when we’re unable to recognize or make sense of the world as the majority of others do.

But relax, I’m not at all a mental health professional nor am I saying if you get mad at a text you’re nuts. I’m also not clinically diagnosing us all as insane, but I am perhaps de-categorizing insanity as something that happens exclusively to the clinically insane. At any given point where there’s a lack of sensory data, predictive logic or reasoning, there’s a potential for an insane alternative or variant. Our analytical minds don’t like blank spots, incomplete patterns or unsolved mysteries; what our minds do love however, is the opportunity to ‘fix’ these problems. But increase the stress while decreasing the available info and shit can get real surreal real quick. Also, we’re misled by these instances—And I mean that specifically to imply these instances co-author our confusion. And as crazy as animating these inanimate moments might seem, I want to playfully take them more serious, because what’s outside of our heads plays a huge role in creating what ends up inside it. In short, if we’re crazy the world helps us get that way.

The fact there’s an inner perspective that can go over our eyes like sunglasses, to alter the shade of reality we see, is a big deal. It also reminds me of such statements as ‘life is what you make it’ and ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder.’ Both of these commonly uttered phrases tap into the idea of reality being less like a jigsaw puzzle picture—With only one uniformed outcome to be arrived at once all the pieces are connected—But rather, reality is more like a bucket of Lego bricks, with which you can create various connections at the whim and preference of your own imagination. What our creativity and imagination has been exposed to thus far, will set the guidelines for what our preferences and interpretations will be. In other words, it will determine our subjectivity.

Subjectivity is the world as you personally see it; your private POV. How you interact with the world outside your head is informed by this inner perspective. Not literally because I have a feeling consciousness may not be located inside our brains or bodies at all (that’s a convo for another time). For now, we’ll say subjectivity is ‘inside’ our heads, metaphorically speaking, because subjectivity is a private affair and without aid from our expressions (conscious or unconscious) it remains unavailable for others to sense.

And since we all have an individual subjectivity, it isn’t just those we call insane who see the world differently, there are as many realities as there are viewers. And likely, we are all misreading reality in some way. Every perspective doesn’t always align. The genius and the visionary make use of this counter-current to push new ways of seeing reality. It’s the queer eye between the straight lines. It’s also part of the work done by artists and mystics to share messages sent from the unseen. That these messages aren’t always received uniformly is credit to the variety of subjectivities. We all know the frustration of explaining a point another person just isn’t quite getting. While so clear in our minds, yet even when they repeat it back to us, it sounds foreign and warped as they’ve re-worked it through their own private reasoning.

But if there is an inner view, then what is the view on its own? That is, when we aren’t looking. What is the view ‘outside’ our minds? What is the thing by itself, as it truly is. As is asked of the falling forest tree, in the absence of any observer, does it still make a sound? Which is to ask, is its behavior familiar when no one is there to observe it?

Objectivity is what we aim for when we, to the best of our capabilities, attempt to not skew reality with our own subjective shades. Home to our biases, emotions, and speculative fictions, our inner view almost encourages the tendency toward the aforementioned choose-your-own-adventure realities. Objectivity however tries to see the subject as it truly is—The complete jigsaw puzzle, as it likely appears to as many viewers outside our heads.

But can objectivity really do this? Or rather are we even capable of seeing objectively? To a certain extent, we can certainly be more aware of our biases, emotions, and prior experiences when judging reality, especially in the absence of context or full perspective. But how well we practice this largely depends on our prior subjective experience! What traumas or patterns are we working through? Which events, directly or indirectly triggering to these experiences, are more likely to pull the objective floor out from under our feet? And objectivity is really interesting because its ultimate goal toward absolute truth seems to almost be the contradiction of its purpose. In that, when trying to see absolute truth, objectivity has us open our eyes wider to let in more detachment, as a result distancing the personal focus of how we individually see things. The subject becomes less specific, so as to fit more subjective interpretations. In that sense, absolute truth is kinda like the most agreeable lie.

For example, a wall can be the color red but individual observers may specifically see crimson, burgundy, or brick red. Objectively, none see blue or even bright red—And so red or dark red is the common ground for placing everyone on the same page, even tho, they may not really be in agreement. Language, logic and culture work similarly to get the most people to see reality under a convenient uni-form, which allows us to share space and to an illusory degree, to share a common consciousness.

But if the agreement is an illusion, if it’s only a proximity of uniformity, then once again we’re left with the question of what is the real reality outside our minds? (Funny how being in or out of your mind equates to insanity).

The Magnificent Void is what I call absolute truth or the vacuum of absolute truth, because it’s as much there as it isn’t. It’s the most flexible lie that panders to every subjective viewer. Being various things while also being very specific things individually. The Magnificent Void doesn’t admit its contradictions, it seamlessly segues from perspective to perspective to give the objective illusion it’s the same for all. We can’t find a single uniform definition for a subjective experience like love but we know it’s not fear. If a bear suddenly jumps out a bush and runs to attack me, love is not what either of us are feeling at that moment.

Our human experiences are similar enough for most people, language, expression, and culture helps us connect these conscious experiences to those of others. But upon closer, stricter inspection we find, like words of different languages that mean almost the same thing but not quite, experiences too, are lost in translation. They are ‘found’ only in our heads…And yet these experiences are indeed the same for all who experience them, if we accept reality in its vague and raw pluriform. The Magnificent Void is multiplicitous. In a cinema, large audiences watch the same film to which they will all have various degrees of interpretations, reactions, and attachments—But at the end of the day, the screen is playing just one film, directed and edited into one specific version for that showing. The audience did watch the same movie—Proof of the uniformity of the experience comes at any humorous or shocking moment where a shared reaction is produced, when many of the viewers laugh, gasp or curse at the same time.

And still some don’t laugh, gasp or curse with everyone else. But rather than gather up our pitchforks and hiking boots for a good ol’ fashion witch hunt, we can remember the moments when we’re the odd one out—When after the film, you discover a majority of viewers found that one particular character to be an asshole but you found them kind of charming or respected their realness. Or when you can’t make sense out of that one scene, though everyone is telling you it makes perfect sense in connecting with the themes, but you can’t help feeling it was just pretentious. Our facts of reality are similar to the facts of what any piece of art means, it’s all subjective. All in your head. So our facts of reality are often enough, more like opinions of reality that are backed by large numbers of people.

In living similar lives, our similar experiences groom us to see similar realities…Therefore it’s usually those who question these uniformed lives, whether out of creative curiosity or effects of trauma, who start to slip through the cracks into divergent realities or realms.

For me, seeing the Magnificent Void is to see that the void is magnificent. As opposed to just seeing a void which can feel defeating, nihilistic, and ultimately lonely. The reception of the Magnificent Void happens when it’s awe-inspiring. When it produces marvel and wonderment. And because of its contradictory nature, being both everything and nothing, the Magnificent Void has a high capacity for tricking us. It’s the hype man for any narrative your experiences have you trek. The Magnificent Void as your personalized subjective inner-view, will follow the logic of your personal story. And not out of malice or mischief, but rather consistency, it nods “yes” to conclusions that sometimes result in arriving at the enchanted forests of fairy tales. If that’s where your experiences lead you, the Magnificent Void will give you trees that fall and turn into rivers when no one’s looking.

The world has the potential to be animated in unending variations depending how the Magnificent Void interacts with our subjective Lego bricks. It has the potential to both connect and divide the pieces and by extension, the viewers. The connecting moments are breakthroughs in the collective consciousness when a new way of seeing things is introduced and it sticks. The dividing moments make you feel alone, or like the world has lost its mind and from the world’s perspective, as if you’ve lost yours. I wonder what would result from more often remembering reality isn’t as real as we think it is. And that along with the practical use of arriving at a baseline-reality that we can all agree on, we remind ourselves that the baseline is a shapeshifter and can be anything to anyone even as it also pretends to be the same thing for everyone. Perhaps we'll find ways to rest in the wonderment of that thought; in the emptiness but also the fullness of it.