“He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.” The sentence opens Rafael Sabatini’s novel Scaramouche. It’s also engraved on his tombstone. And it’s also true. Humans as the price for their exalted state of consciousness have been condemned by providence to eternal madness. The two are unalterably paired like fire and ice.
This state of lunacy is not perpetual; people have spasms of sanity. These intermissions allow us to do great works which we then degrade when light is replaced by antic darkness. Einstein discovers the interchangeability of matter and energy and we then build nuclear weapons. Newton plots the mechanics of the universe while also writing a million words on alchemy.
Knowing that most men are certifiably insane for a large part of their lives gives explanatory power to both current events and to history. The study of the latter may be instructive and entertaining, but provides no escape from the lash of craziness. The subject here is not stupidity, a condition of many but not of all, rather it’s the mental dystonia which exempts no one.
Consider some of the issues that now perplex us. I’ll start with the current viral mania that possesses the entire globe, Antarctica excepted. For two years the imposed response to an epidemic, of middling severity by historical standards, has induced widespread repression that has debased the standing of science in the name of which liberty was denied. It was clearly apparent from the start that masks, distancing, lockdowns, and eventually vaccines were not going to impede the spread of a new virus until it had burned itself out. The price society was to pay – on the economy, on society, on the education of children, on the faith in institutions – was not even briefly weighed before government imposed an ignorant and heavy hand on those whose supposed consent was required to guide its course.
The new mayor of our largest and most important city appears to be no more rational than his disjointed predecessor. His semi-relaxation of vaccine mandates caused a lunatic spectacle at a professional basketball game in Brooklyn. An unvaccinated player was allowed into the arena, allowed to closely interact with his teammates, but not to play because of a wrinkle in the vestigial remains of a vaccine mandate imposed by the old mayor. The new mayor claimed he was a prisoner of a rule he could abolish in an instant. The episode is a monument to the incoherence that has prevailed since the world’s governments threw prudence to the stars imposing rules both rigid and inchoate that made democracies indistinguishable from authoritarian regimes. Covering one’s nose (sometimes) and mouth is as meaningful an act as wearing a tricolor cockade. All of this is easily understood once one accepts the ubiquity of insanity imprinted in the human genome. The sacramental devotion to vaccines that have not been fully tested and whose long term effects are not yet known fits the pattern just outlined. The only certain beneficiaries of these injections are the drug companies who proclaim their products should be administered on a regular basis until after the advent of the second coming.
The unlawful imposition of governmental power has been meekly accepted by much of the population who fear infection more than they value liberty. They made a bad bargain and suffered a loss without recompense. The only holiday available was from reason. If you got to any destination by plane you had to wear a mask during the journey, a device without measurable utility. A sizable portion of this country, along with most of the rest of the world, exhibited bizarre behavior that could only have been the result of imprinting at the moment of conception. Lunacy to this degree cannot be acquired.
Do not assume that aberrant exhibitions are new or that they exclude the very smart. The ancient Athenians invented democracy, philosophy, the theater; they excelled at mathematics, art, architecture. They built the foundation of Western Art, which despite tilted analyses by crazy intellectuals stands as the summit of human achievement. But they also bullied their neighbors, enslaved as many candidates for the position as they could find, set off on an idiotic expedition to Sicily which ultimately led to their downfall. They regularly exiled their best people for 10 years mostly out of jealousy. Oh, I almost forgot – they executed their wisest man for “corrupting the morals of the youth.” They were as crazy as they were innovative and accomplished. Intermittently insane is their epitaph. Thus, the pedigree of demented behavior is long and uninterrupted. Include the dancing mania, the Salem witch hunts. the South Seas Bubble, and the tulpenmanie; the crowded list is endless. Today’s alpine disorientation is just a continuum of past behavior. “Nothing new under the sun” is not new.
If the arc of Athens is not dispositive consider the Jacobins of the French revolution. The fruit of a rotten monarchy they restarted the calendar at year 1, proclaimed the rights of man as they were lopping off heads, established a Committee of Public Prosperity on top of the heap of skulls they had assembled, and spread the metric system. They fashioned the model of an authoritarian central government that has persisted beyond the present. The immediate result of this unglued frenzy? A military dictator who soon declared himself emperor.
This haphazard path leads eventually to climate change. Forget about the details of a complicated problem. Focus on ‘settled science’. Anyone who thinks any aspect of science is settled doesn’t understand science. By its nature science is never settled. It is always open to question. It’s also not advanced by majority vote. Eventually scientific debates get resolved, but only after they have exponentially spawned new questions which continue to impinge on past solutions.
What sane person thinks a boy can become a girl by nothing more than a declarative sentence? Yet supposedly lucid individuals, for profit corporations, and the academy so proclaim with fervid intensity. Today the emperor’s new clothes are made on Savile Row, but they’re just as translucent as before. The academy is so deranged as to need no further evidence; it’s contorted posture is plain to all who are not masked.
Decreasing domestic energy production while encouraging it outside the country is self-evidently unhinged. Similarly, canceling Russian artists and performers because we’re angry at Vladimir Putin is not rational. Preventing Anna Netrebko from singing the title role in Puccini’s Turandot at the Met is unlikely to enhance world peace. Cancel culture is more contagious than measles and far more virulent. Its roots are entangled beyond analysis. It destroys the mental clarity of those infected. It’s time to tell those who would stifle an opinion they find disquieting to suck on a washrag.
The list of current craziness is too boundless to warrant additional enumeration. The lunatics in charge of the asylum have acquired tenure. It should be revoked. But something that is a feature rather than a bug will persist despite all efforts to debug it.