The late psychonaut/philosopher Terence McKenna once said “The cost of sanity, in this society, is a certain level of alienation,” and I think my regular readers will immediately and experientially understand exactly what he was talking about.
It’s not always easy to be on the outside of consensus reality. Our entire society, after all, has been built upon consensus — upon a shared agreement about what specific mouth sounds mean, on what money is and how it works, on how we should all behave toward each other in public spaces, and on what normal human behavior in general looks like.
We all share a learned agreement that we picked up from our culture in early childhood that it’s normal and acceptable to stand around with your hands in your pockets and babble about the weather to anyone who gets too close to you, for example, whereas it would be considered weird and disruptive to stand around slathered in Cheese Whiz shrieking the word “Poop!” But we could just as easily reverse that consensus on behavioral norms tomorrow, and as long as we all agreed, we could do that without missing a beat.
In exactly the same way, there exists a general consensus about what’s going on in our world at the moment. There’s a general consensus that we live in the kind of society we were taught about in school: a free and democratic nation which maybe did some not so great things in the past, but is now a supremely virtuous beacon of light on this earth that kicked Hitler’s ass and then surfed into the present day on a wave of truth and sensible fiscal policy. There’s a general consensus that the news reporters on our screens paint us a more or less accurate picture of world affairs, that there are a lot of Bad Guys in our world with whom the Good Guys in our government are fighting, and that most of our nation’s problems are caused by the people in the other political party.
This consensus is grounded in delusion. It is insanity.