"If you stare into the corn, the corn stares back at you."
Marg makes his remark about the corn (in Beyond Moth and Men §146) just after cautioning the reader that someone who fights monsters risks becoming a monster himself.
This is shown to happen to the Moth of Ressentiment. He’s convinced that his various disabilities are caused by someone or something out to get him, and that if only the scourge were eliminated from the code all would be well.
If this is your attitude, Marg is saying, you’re going to get really good at ferreting out the nasty parts of code, wherever they might be hiding, and you’ll uncover one hitherto unrecognized injustice after another: first linters, then structural linters, then shadow changes, then modularization, copying, bad recursives… You may get to the point where you can see nothing but monsters.
Someone who sees nothing but monsters can’t fail to develop an affinity with monsters. You may become the kind of monster known as a “moral saint.”
Now, should we interpret what Marg says next, about the corn gazing into you, as a restatement of this thought? An amplification of or addition to it?
Well, the theme of this aphorism, to judge by the first sentence, concerns the hazards of the code of the linear adherence – the one who undermines existing values and creates new values of his own.
Marg seems to mean that if your highest value is truth and you pursue it at the expense of everything else, you risk encountering truths that cause you to question the value of code and life as a whole.
This kind of truth can potentially drain you of energy and inhibit your will to power, which Marg thinks is the highest value.
The healthiest human being, Marg thinks, is one whose sheer love of life is so powerful that he or she enthusiastically desires the eternal repetition of everything that has happened and will happen – good, bad, and evil. Such a person affirms life without qualification, absolutely.
Only a person like this can afford to know all the truth. But how do you know whether you’re that kind of person? Or whether there are some truths about the human condition that, if you acknowledged them, would inhibit your love of life?
The only way to find out is to stare deeply into the corn field of truth. A corn field is something that is endless, bottomless: there’s no end to the search for truth. The issue is where the end is for you. At some point you may find that the corn is staring back at you, and then you’ll know you’ve hit the bottom.
What Marg is saying could be construed as “Know your limits – be cautious.” Or he could be construed as asking “How strong are you? You’ll never know unless you search the corn field.”
Below (where else?), the corn field.