But is the current Western culture, and its constituent members, truly sane? And what indications might we look for that indicate otherwise?
| || |
Or maybe, as Jensen suggests, we have altogether lost it.
I think people with any compassion for human life would see the US sponsored killing sprees in foreign lands for the benefit of military contractors and access to fossil fuels as more than just a little over the top. When we start to realize that this is done for essentially numbers housed in artificial constructs known as banks, in order to prop up an economy built on soul crushing jobs, questioning our collective mental stability starts to sound like the sane approach.
In the past, I've mused about the kinds of video games people are playing today, as a sort of window into our consciousness. While the modern culture derides the "primitiveness" of animists and spirit world contacting nature worshipers, it has created its own parallel realms of magic and miracles. It seems fitting that a technology and money driven culture, bereft of a sense of the sacred, would in the absence of dream work, shamanism, and vision quests, find refuge in pixelated realms of fictionalized exploration and self mastery. Amid the ultra violent first person shooters and misogynist fantasy lands are a special breed of horror games in which the breakdown of morality and sanity plays an important role. Take a look at the above trailers to get a taste of the kind entertainment kids, and increasingly older men, are consuming. This kind of entertainment, along with spinning wheels of fortune and a host of un-reality shows, are woven into the fabric of our consciousness.
But what recently got me thinking about the sanity of America was an article that discussed the revelations of US intelligence operatives infiltrating virtual worlds on the world wide web out of fear that online jihadists could be creating computer animated avatars of Osama bin Laden, in order to recruit extremists. The report suggested
“The Bin Ladin avatar could preach and issue new fatwas for hundreds of years to come, as the fidelity of his likeness would be entirely believable and animated in new ways to keep him current and fresh.”
Current and fresh? Terrorism a la Starbucks. In a nation where drone operators drive home after a day of bombing wedding parties to catch up on the latest Disney Pixar flick with the kids, the perceived threats we are lashing out at are increasingly showing themselves to be the undying products of our own warped minds. And this was when I realized that we are officially through the looking glass. Security spooks are now haunting virtual space, looking for digital re-animations of their own 1980′s Cold War creation, surrounded by 3d rendered penguins and dancing Star Wars creatures. The trajectory we have been following, while apparently parallel to a course of sanity and rationality in this so-called age of information, diverged quite some time ago. As time passes along the X axis, the gulf is becoming increasingly apparent. If in our high tech delusion we are not wiped out in the short term from ecological or economic meltdown, we will soon be sucking down genetically modified drinks, whisked away to cubicles inside our self driving cars, immersed in a Google glass augmented reality of pop-up messages and floating emoticons, while unmanned heavy machinery extracts the earth’s last resources, and autonomous drones keep the desperate rest of the world scratching dirt outside of our grinning, DHS approved, commercial-break festooned eating contest.
Homo sapiens have been on the planet for around 250,000 years, and while our saga of violence and destruction are not new, the current planet destroying scale and pathological disregard for the life system is unique. In spite of our assertions in the West that "this i just the way things are," the last few centuries can only be viewed as a thin crust of human existence. Welcome to the lunatic fringe.