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Is Reality Really Getting More Weird Right Now Or Does It Just Seem That Way? (Author Erik Davis Answers) – Mike Swanson (01/29/2020)

The internet is getting crazier and crazier all of the time. As someone who has been running this website now for over 18 years I can tell you a tipping point came around 2015 as I saw more and more after that year people start to make strange comments more often in emails to me and posts everywhere on the internet.

And now today’s political environment certainly seems more crazy than we have ever seen with an internet social media echo chamber quickly spreading rumors, fear, and mayhem. How quickly will it be before someone makes a conspiracy video about the Asian coronavirus?

This is some of the theme of the book Human Time by Carmine Savastano available pre-order before its February release. The book “presents experts and scientific evidence to expose the aggression and violence hardwired into the human condition from our earliest ancestors. It offers several instances of war, diplomacy, and government to unmask the human desires beneath the policies of Earth’s twentieth century superpowers.”

But are are things really getting stranger in our daily lives? I just read a book by author Erick Davis titled High Weirdness: Drugs, Estorica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies that traces much of today’s cultural strangeness to the early 1970’s by focusing on authors influenced by it such as Philip Dick, Robert Anton Wilson, and Terrence McKenna.

The author gave a talk put on Youtube a few months ago. Someone in the audience made the comment that yes the news and internet creates an eerie feeling, but things seem normal in “real life” when it comes to just going to the grocery store and driving around. So which is real?



So, on one frame, when I spend a lot of time on the internet, I really feel this weird thing, like things are getting really weird. And then when I’m sort of walking around the city, living my life, things seem pretty normal. With the food in the stores and we drive places, and just do jobs. And then when I think about… I guess I’m curious about your takes on this, do you feel like this sort of normalcy in the physical world, do you feel like that’s an overhang that we’re sort of spinning down, some surplus past stability, or even actually as a sort of coexistence. Things keep getting weird.

Erik Davis:

That is a very, very interesting question. I often inhabit the tension of those two possibilities. It sometimes feels like we’re still riding an earlier investment in collective social norms and consensus rules and sort of operative models of how things operate. And there was so much energy and attention put into them that we’re still kind of feeding off of them, even as the reality is actually much more chaotic, in your face, than we might think.

And then there’s another side of me that sort of thinks… And I tend to think this way a little bit more, I don’t know whether because it has a kind of… I don’t wanna say hope in it exactly, but it’s the idea that part of human experience is kind of normalizing things to sort of a mundane slightly irritating vaguely pleasurable kind of anxious okay-ness. You read accounts of people in the concentration camps, and you’re like, “This is just an absolute unimaginable nightmare,” and yet people fell in love, they gossiped about each other, they did little things, they had… And it’s not like they weren’t living in horror, but there’s this sort of way where there was a familiar humanity social reality that gets played out particularly in physical space of interactions.

And so I kind of feel like we carry it with us. And the interesting consequence of that is, I sometimes imagine a very intelligent forward-thinking person from 1650 who has a sense of how things might change and that the world is actually gonna change and there’s these machines and there might be more machines, and they start to think kind of science-fictionally. And you pluck this person and put him or her in the city that you’re talking about, the city you walk around and feel kind of, “Hey, this is really happening.” And they would just think we’re fucking bat shit crazy mutants. Like, “What the… What? This is insane. The things and the swoosh and the… What? It’s just un-livable. These guys are crazy.” But for us in the inside, at least in the way that you’re talking about, “Whatever. We’re getting by. It’s sort of annoying, but there’s some cool stuff, meet new friends, blah, blah, blah. Girl, dah, dah, dah.” That that’s something we do even as the situation gets extremely weird. And I think that’s something to take a lot of solace… Not even just solace, but to actually affirm. And I really believe that the only way to sort of keep your shit together now is to re-invest at least some of your time in the local, in the physical, in community, and places, and the body, and nature, and animals, and dirt, and just dealing with your stuff, and all that kind of stuff… Those things.

Not necessarily ’cause that’s reality, but it’s like the only ballast that’s gonna have it… People who get lost online and who just, that becomes their thing, it’s like in a way they’re just sort of… They kinda lose the plot even if they’re really smart, or even self-critical. So I think it’s kind of both in a way, but I think that the dynamic you’re pointing to is super keen right now.