This process of patterning is also the mechanism that creates opinions. Our opinions are based on our experience. I like science fiction. I think science fiction is entertaining and can open my mind to new ways of looking at things. I enjoy books and films about science fiction.
I watch science fiction movies and usually enjoy them, which strengthens my liking for science fiction. My neighbour hates science fiction. He thinks it is a complete waste of time. He thinks that the story lines are usually far-fetched, a traditional story in an alien setting, or just an excuse for techno-babble dialogue and fancy special effects. He occasionally watches a science fiction movie and they confirm his negative opinion of science fiction.
There is actually no problem with this situation. Having an opinion is not a problem. Having a different opinion to my neighbour is not a problem – unless we feel threatened by our differing opinions. My neighbour can enjoy my appreciation of science fiction and retain his feeling of not being keen on it. I can enjoy my appreciation of science fiction and see that his opinion of it is sometimes true without this spoiling my enjoyment.
Problems arise because we tend to regard our opinions as fact, rather than remembering that they are the result of our subjective experience. We like to gather people around us who share the same subjective view. We are less likely to become firm friends with people whose subjective view is different. If I feel I have to start a ‘Friends of Science Fiction’ club so that I feel supported in my subjective view or ridicule my neighbour for his small-mindedness – then my liking for science fiction is functioning as a strong reference point in my life. It is not just a straightforward preference based on perception and personality; it has become a crutch to my need to feel substantial and of value.
I identify with this genre, have lots of friends who like it too, and can talk endlessly to justify the view that ‘science fiction is best’. I like science fiction, therefore I am.
In this way we attempt to feel substantial and safe in the form of our subjectivity and feel threatened by the emptiness represented by alternative views.
The members of the ‘Science Fiction is Rubbish’ club become my enemies. Ultimately I have to kill them.
We maintain our sense of existence in the process of separating emptiness and form, and defining ourselves through the form we like, dislike or do not care about. This is madness! We do exist. This much is certain. We do exist – as a continuity. Trying to prove we exist by fixing form reference points does not work and can never work.