It wasn't a decision, it was simply the truth, so far as I could discern it. And it was such a coherent and complete explanation, that the alternatives provided no contest.

"Like all shaman, they returned to the sky."

There is a box on which I work, with many copper pipes entering & exiting, most of which carry steam at about 250 degrees fahrenheit. I've bumped into the pipes & burnt my forearms many times, but today, while working on top of the box, I reached across to swap a tube, and in the process, was prepared to rest both my forearms, and probably much of my weight, on a copper pipe. Just a moment before I would do so, an intense feeling of doom & panic consumed me, and I aborted—somewhat awkwardly shifting my weight and arms to not land on the pipe. Of course, after another moment I remembered that this particular copper pipe carries air, and is always cool to the touch, but humans are not steam carrying copper pipes now are we?!

Dreamt a lot last night. That we were going on a trip, with many people. But then you, and the people who you were with, would go on, when I, and the people who had come with me, would stop. So we did, but then we expected to hear from you, but no one did. So I went to a town that you worked in, and I went somewhere you worked, but no one had heard from you there either. I wanted to explain where you had gone, but I felt like since they didn't know me, you might not want me talking to them. When I left, I crossed the street and was heading home, when I passed a warehouse that appeared to have a restaurant inside, so I went in, and decided to see if you worked there too. But then I had the same problem, thinking it was invasive of me to talk about you. They told me you did work there, and they hadn't heard from you, like everyone else. I explained a little bit, that you had gone on a trip, and no one had heard, and you were probably fine. Then I realized I should order something. I was really nervous trying to find something to order right away. I bought a hamburger and fries, and instead of giving me change back, they gave me some sort of gift card, which at first I accepted. It was light gray, semi-transparent, thick in the middle with the edges chamfered slightly. A piece of paper with some text printed on it was taped to the card with scotch tape. Then I got kind of angry, asking why they gave me a gift card at a restaurant. But then I didn't care, and left. I don't recall any other details.

Skepticism of the establishment, when taken too far, is not productive and provides no benefit—extreme skepticism walks a fine line between circumventing ill-guided navigation and outright paranoia. When skepticism grows so extreme as to reject all external references it risks crossing into paranoia, with little hope of preserving its orientation, since considering outside references is the greatest hope of avoiding psychosis. Unfortunately, the suggestion that we "heed cautions of skepticism inhibiting worthy rational thought without reason" itself is not a well reasoned assertion. Am I going mad?

Ouch. I watched a program once on the discovery channel, about climbing mt. everest, and how above 15,000 or 20 or whatever it was, the oxygen deprivation can cause severe judgement impairment. And suddenly I was really freaked out. Far more than any physical danger you can encounter while climbing a mountain, the idea that the thing you rely on to make sensible decisions, to make survival decisions, could be greatly impaired, by nothing other than the environment, is terrifying. Though having insufficient information to make a decision can have the exact same effect, in which case you don't need to be in a greatly oxygen-deprived environment, you maybe just need someone to not give you everything they know. With the additional handicap that perhaps you can never quite decide what other people are thinking, or feeling, the slightest obvious ambiguity in information can be enough to prevent any decision from being made. The terror emerges from the fact that a mind disabled in a particular way is incapable of even observing that it is disabled, incapable of detecting fatal flaws in very simple reasoning. You watch otherwise intelligent people do entirely insane things; damaging the reasoning machinery risks the whole organization even without a real threat. Likewise, a mind, seemingly incapable of empathizing with other minds, risks much greater consequences of mis-calculation than a empathetic mind, without having any clue whatsoever that it is taking such sharp risks. It's far more than ignorance is bliss, its a complete inability to become informed. It is an eternal condemnation of comprehension. It's as close to a curse as might be realized in a strictly physical world. And so how to recover? Can one compensate? Or must I admit defeat, and accept that verifying one's sanity will always demand external input, despite such reliance on others appearing to be the very definition of vulnerability?

And all this without any consideration of the destruction incurred in the other direction.

No comments: