What if we really are living in The Matrix and are just extras trapped in a terrible TV show from the future?

the-matrix

You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” ―Morpheus, to Neo, in The Matrix.

I read an article this morning that was probably meant to be dark humor but is also an interesting thought-experiment.    Here it is, for your pleasure (or horror):

What If There Is No Reality  — and This is Just a Bad Netflix Series? 

Laugh if you want, but listen up:  we don’t even know what reality is in these United States anymore, so can we say for certain that we aren’t actually trapped in some computer simulation, movie, or TV show intended for a superior race of aliens’ or future humans’ entertainment?

So, what if we’re really just extras trapped in a future race’s bad TV series or computer simulation?

I mean, nothing about our “new reality” seems real. Reality itself (at least as most of us define it) is even called fiction…by some.   In fact, when you think about it, this — TV series (or whatever it is) isn’t even particularly well written.   In some ways, it’s downright laughable and would probably never win the superaliens’ version of an Emmy.  It would probably rate a zero on a futuristic Rotten Tomatoes.  It’s got everything a bad (but nevertheless insanely popular with the masses) TV series could ever hope for:

It’s got one-dimensional (thoroughly evil: no humanizing qualities) cartoon villains and Central Casting heroes.  

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Roy Moore and his little silver pistol.

The Main Characters: a shady, bald, glinty-eyed, mysterious Russian dictator (“Vlad”) with a six-pack; an orange skinned toupee-wearing golf-cart-riding not-too-bright Mafia-connected ex-reality show star POTUS named “Trump” (look up the definition of the words “trump” and “trumpery” — no way can he be real!) who runs the country through his Twitter account (and was even gifted a gold toilet to tweet from); the unkempt and unbathed Lenin-loving, racist, anarchist (antichrist?), alcoholic failed filmmaker Steve Bannon;  the smug and smackable Atlas Shrugged-toting Paul Ryan with his deceptively innocent-looking baby blue orbs and Eddie Munster widow’s peak;  the Bible thumping nutcase Pence who calls his wife “Mother” and secretly harbors a mancrush on Trump; a couple of sycophantic constantly lying female supporting characters, whose facial features become ever more twisted and unattractive the more they lie;  the villainous Fred Flintstone-looking fake-news peddling Trump mouthpiece Sean Hannity; Trump’s idiotic and arrogant sons who are always unintentionally throwing Daddy under the bus with their own boneheaded tweets; Trump’s simpering but glamorous daughter and her rich Jewish corporate-elite slumlord husband; an actual Nazi (Stephen Miller) who looks like the undead and is really a self-hating Jew; and finally, a minor character (Devin Nunes) from the middle of Season One known only for his Three Stooges-like stupidity, who suddenly becomes a major character early in Season Two (Plot Twist!)  with his much-anticipated and feared “!The Memo!” which turns out to be not just underwhelming, but a four-page hastily-written nothingburger.   The bad guys, like the Keystone Kops, never stop sabotaging themselves with their desperate and bone-headed attempts to obstruct justice and escape the law.   The good guys (Mueller, Comey, a few others) are ridiculously good  — and good looking.  And tall.  They also apparently don’t talk.

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Saint Bob.

Plenty of other cartoonish characters have come and gone and sometimes have been featured in special starring cameo roles:  the bumbling would-be villain Sean Spicer, mostly remembered for his panicked dive into the White House bushes to hide from the media and later on (after he bailed out) proved refreshingly able to poke fun at himself as a guest on Saturday Night Live; the weak-willed enabler/boot-licker and favorite Trump punching bag Reince Preibus (I gotta give the writers kudos on his name), who is mostly remembered for being the Official Oval Office Fly Swatter;  a sleazy mall-stalking Bible-thumping cartoon cowboy pedophile from ‘Bama with a cartoon cowboy name (Roy Moore, really?) and the horse (“Sassy”) he rode in on; and of course, how can we ever forget The Mooch’s starring role on his own single episode — a TV trope obviously borrowed from The Sopranos.

It’s got a hackneyed theme/plot too unbelievable to be real. 

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Vlad knows the joke’s on you.

The writers of this show must have known how popular James Bond like-characters and Russian espionage capers have always been with modern Americans, so they dreamed up a TV series that had those elements and so many more that we know and love.  And then they gave us an unexpected goodie: they put us in the show! They dropped us right there in the middle of the action, as the confused, overwhelmed, and terrified “American people.”  How sweet of them!   I’m still waiting for my paycheck.

Basic plotline:  The United States Government is covertly attacked and all its institutions dismantled and destroyed by Russian oligarchs (who better than the Russians for covert operations?), led by a power-hungry ex-KGB agent still mad about the Cold War and intent on revenge.   Vlad is as smart as he is wicked though, and he knows how gullible the American people can be, and how desperate they are for “change.”  He realizes the best way to wage war against the United States is not to nuke it from without (like Reagan feared), but to divide and then destroy it from within — by hacking into its presidential election and rigging things (using a flood of propaganda-spewing social media bots and Eastern European fake news mills) to ensure the new president is the dumbest, most embarrassing, most vile, most morally bankrupt — and also the most butt-licking and obedient — character he could possibly install for his coup to be successful.  The GOP enablers look away as if none of this is happening or it’s just business as usual.  None dare call it treason.

It’s got TV tropes and stereotypes galore.

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Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci: Trump staffer or cast member of Godfather Part IV?

The way this all plays out is a disorienting cascade of increasingly surreal and sometimes unintentionally hilarious episodes and vignettes worthy of David Lynch at his weirdest, complete with insane and incomprehensible plot twists completely lacking in credibility or realism; and a crazily revolving door of cast members constantly jumping ship or getting fired.

Almost every overused stereotype and TV trope is here: torch-bearing Nazis, slippery jet-setting crooks and traitors (Manafort and Flynn), actual Russian spies; the beautiful but unhappy foreign-born First Lady who never smiles and apparently hates her husband; dumb-as-a-brick Southern yahoos straight out of Deliverance, an Attorney General with a name from the 1850s South and values from the same time and place; silent — and did I say tall — White Knights who stand for Truth and Justice; a simpering and spineless assortment of enablers and sycophants who come and go like flies on a pile of drying dog turds; a low level “Coffee Boy” who turns out to be a key player in the Russian caper (Plot Twist!);  an inept and bumbling Congress populated by glowering old white rich guys who would be the first to kick your kids off their lawn (and toss Grandma off her Medicare); backstabbing and stupid minor villains who keep turning on each other; and more chaos and drama than a Kardashian can shake a well-manicured index finger at.  There are shady Mafia-esque characters who would put Don Corleone to shame.

Far in the background — really part of the scenery — is the presence of something called The Resistance:  an amorphous motley crew of racially integrated pink pussy hat wearing folks of all ages who stand behind the tall, silent, and moose-jawed lead Good Guy Bob Mueller who is trying to take down our lead villain (and maybe the whole cabal).  There is also “The Base” — a virtual cult of thug-like Trump worshippers all wearing identical red MAGA baseball caps, waving Confederate (and sometimes American) flags, singing God Bless America, and who go home to watch Fox News every night after a long day at the plant or clerking at the Piggly Wiggly, attending a family barbecue, or rooting for Heather and Gracelynne at the cheerleading tryouts.

It’s got lots of unintentional humor.

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A Spicer in the Bushes is worth 2 gallows humor jokes.

There is plenty of comedy to be had, though most of it is unintentionally funny (and in some cases, not really funny but horrifying in a “this cannot be real” way, so you have no choice but to laugh because otherwise you’d shoot yourself in the head):  Sean Spicer hiding in the bushes from the media, James Comey (who turns out to be a good guy after starting out early in Season One as a possibly-bad guy) hiding in the navy blue curtains in the Oval Office in his navy blue suit; Trump handing Reince Preibus a flyswatter during an important meeting and ordering him to kill a fly that’s been annoying him;  Trump “I’m a high energy person” riding his golf cart in Brussels while other world leaders walked;  Trump curtsying before the Saudi Arabian king and rubbing a mysterious glowing Orb with the Saudi leaders (what was that all about?); Steve Bannon looking as terrified as if he’s just seen the face of Satan while surrounded by the Saudi elite during the Ceremonial Sword Dance they put on to honor Trump;  the “secret meeting” in the Oval Office with the Russians where no American media was allowed (but Russian media was); the ongoing game of “Nuclear Chicken” Trump and the equally unhinged grinning “Little Rocket Man” keep playing on Twitter; Trump sulking and pouting after having been politely snubbed by the leaders of all our former ally nations because of his tackiness, lack of couth, and complete lack of a moral compass.

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Bannon’s worst nightmare comes true.

Recently, I watched a black comedy called “Idiocracy.”  This administration reminds me of that movie, which although made in 2005, was eerily prescient.  It was also uproariously funny.   If you want to howl until you can’t breathe, watch the “Docter Lexus” scene.  That may be our future.   You have to laugh or you’d never stop crying.    But I digress.

I’m more than ready for this TV series from hell to be cancelled.   Give me the damn blue pill.   I never wanted the red one.

Another possibility.

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But did we really?

There’s another explanation for all the weirdness.   Maybe we aren’t actually living in a Matrix simulation or as extras in a TV show from a superalien culture at all.    Maybe it was Y2K.  Maybe it really did happen and we never knew it.  You have to admit, things did start to get weird after 2000.  Maybe when all the computers in the world were set back to “Year One” we never observed that happening because our timeline got crossed with one from a parallel Earth that looks exactly like this one, except that Earth defines reality differently than us captives from the Original Earth do, logic as we know it does not apply, and it’s populated with cartoon villains and lots of other things that seem incongruous, surreal, ludicrous, or impossible to the rest of us.

Maybe TV series and pulp fiction writers have always been able to tap into that other earth’s reality, and now we are all living in it and can see exactly where their ideas came from.  The tell-all book writer Michael Wolff  is able to make sense of it in a way the rest of us rubes from pre-Y2K reality cannot.    He can explain it to us and it starts to make a sort of horrifying sense.  He’s a kind of “rabbit hole whisperer” to the rest of us and that’s why his book is one of the bestselling books of all time.

 

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Where I stand on “positive thinking.”

I was going through some old posts, and the last sentence of this one demanded my attention, because it looks like it has finally happened. Time for a reblog.

Lucky Otters Haven

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Positive thinking taken to extremes is deluded thinking.

I’ve seen several blog posts about the problem of forced positive thinking lately, and since this is an issue that has concerned me for a long time, I thought I’d add my own take on it.

In recent years, there’s been an increased societal pressure toward “positive thinking.” I think two factors have led to this trend–the New Age philosophy that we can “be as gods ourselves,” and the continued glorification of the Reaganistic optimism of the 1980s. The signs are everywhere, in self-help and pop psychology books, in countless popular slogans and memes that appear on bumper stickers and coffee mugs, on motivational posters, on calendars, on the political campaign trail, and all over social media such as Facebook. The forced positive thinking brigade has even infiltrated churches. Motivational speakers like Tony Robbins and preachers of the “Prosperity Gospel” like Joel…

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The weirdness of my dreams.

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I’ve been doing a lot of Google searches about dreams to find out if anyone else knows what I’m talking about, but I haven’t seen anyone else describe this exact same thing, which makes me wonder if it’s just me, or if it’s one of those things that’s so hard to describe it’s just taken for granted as something that comes with the territory of dreams, which are weird by nature.

I’m talking about the feeling or mood that accompanies dreams, not the strangeness or illogic of the actual actions taking place.  In fact, it’s in the more mundane dreams–those that imitate real life or take place in familiar settings or situations–where the feeling is the strongest.   It’s almost impossible to describe.   Things just feel different–not in a bad or good or scary way–but just different.  It’s not that things seem flatter or the colors seem washed out  because my dreams have as much color (sometimes more so) in them as my reality and things certainly don’t appear flat or two dimensional.   It’s not that fantastical things happen either, because in most of my dreams, nothing much happens at all (if anything weird happens, it’s more likely to be of a slightly absurd or random nature than anything resembling a fantasy novel).  It’s not anything you can actually point to in the dream and say, “That’s it, right there!”   It’s a vaguely eerie mood or feeling, but it’s not really an emotion.   I always think of it as a “parallel universe” effect–things can even be the same as they are in waking reality, but you know it isn’t waking reality because it just doesn’t feel the same.   It’s as if my everyday reality were transported to another universe.   All my dreams have this same parallel-universeness about them which makes me able to distinguish them from waking reality–most of the time.

Sometimes my brain makes errors though. I’ve been a little obsessed over the past day or two with two or maybe three memories that I can’t figure out were memories of a dream or memories of a real event.   Complicating matters is the fact that I occasionally experience dissociation, especially derealization, in which waking reality takes on that same odd feeling dreams have.   When that happens there’s nothing much (other than waking up) that distinguishes “dream” from “reality” and that makes me feel a bit insane sometimes.

Question #51: What if limerence is NOT a delusion?

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This was a question I thought of after posting my list of 50 things I ponder about, but I want to explore this further because I’ve never heard anyone else ask this same question.

Limerence is a term coined by psychotherapist Dorothy Tennov in 1979 in her excellent book, Love and Limerence. Limerence is a newer word for the state of infatuation, being “in love” (as opposed to real, agape or mature love), or simply “having a crush.”  I’ve always liked her word because I think it sounds exactly like what the emotion feels like.  I never liked the term infatuation because it sounds disgusting, having a crush implies an “unserious” problem only teenagers have, and being in love is probably not accurate.

She hypothesizes that limerence is an evolutionary adaptation that makes it possible for men and women to meet and mate, and lasts just long enough for them to marry and reproduce. That’s why the typical limerent episode lasts on average two years, and why it more commonly afflicts the young.

I’ve always been what Tennov calls a “limerent”–a person who gets crushes easily. Not everyone does. People with Cluster B disorders, especially BPD, are more prone to limerence than others, because we tend to idealize other people without really knowing them well or at all. It’s actually very narcissistic, because the other person serves as a kind of mirror, reflecting back the ideal qualities you want to see in them–until they don’t. Tennov calls the object of a crush a “limerent object.” In some ways, when you’re limerent about someone, you do see them as an object, because the idealized image of the other person isn’t based on reality or even accurate. At least that’s the common belief.

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Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss – Antonio Canova (Italian, 1757–1822) – Eric Pouhier (May 2007)

But what if it IS accurate? What if limerence is actually a hyper-real state where you see another person as they really are, and just aren’t seeing everyone else the way they really are? What if it’s kind of like the idiot savant phenomenon in severe autism, where the autistic person seems to focus ALL their intellect into one narrow subject at the expense of everything else? In other words, if we were all created in God’s image, then maybe we are all far more beautiful and closer to perfection than we can perceive in everyday reality, and only in the state of limerence, when all our attention is focused on one person, we can see that person the way they really are, which is the way God perceives each one of us.

If you’ve ever been limerent about someone, and especially if they return your feelings (or you believe they do), you feel heady, giddy, euphoric, almost high. It’s a very spiritual feeling, and falling in love with someone does feel very spiritual. When we look at someone we are limerent about, are we really seeing them through a small window that lets us see them the way God sees the whole universe and everything in it?

Maybe the people who are closest to God and the spiritual, and who are the happiest, walk through life feeling limerent about everything. Being able to feel that way all the time about everything is the closest thing to heaven I can imagine.

That feeling can also be induced by certain drugs. Limerence could be closer to a drug high, but I prefer to think it’s a small peek into the divine.

I read somewhere that limerence is being considered as a mental illness in later editions of the DSM. Whether or not it’s real, I think that would be a shame, because limerence can be one of the most profound and magical experiences in life.

Further reading: Do Narcissists Fall in Love?