Kurt Anderson wrote a book that touched on many issues I have been thinking about lately. It is called, Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire. It describes how a country has gone crazy. He calls it a 500-year history. He goes back to the founding of America. He says during that time the changes in America have been astonishing, but often largely unnoticed because it has happened so slowly. As he said,
Little by little for centuries, then more and more and faster and faster during the last half century, Americans have given ourselves over to all kinds of magical thinking, anything-goes relativism, and belief in fanciful explanation, small and large fantasies that console or thrill or terrify us. And most of us haven’t realized how far-reaching our strange new normal has become. The cliché would be the frog in the gradually warming pot, oblivious to its doom until too late.
I think Anderson is exactly right. The war on truth is fueled by a centuries long abdication of reason in favor of faith that has resulted in a persistent American (though not just America) determination to believe without evidence since the time of the Puritan arrival in America.
In recent times the fantasies people have come to believe in have constituted a tsunami. Surprisingly many of them, believe, that the country is under peril from a government that together with its co-conspirators “are hiding monstrous truths from us–concerning assassinations, extraterrestrials, the genesis of AIDS, the 9/11 attacks, the dangers of vaccines, and so much more.” I have heard these from intelligent people. What has led to this? This is what interests me.
The result has not been pretty. It is damn ugly. As Anderson describes it,
“We stockpile guns because we fantasize about our pioneer past, or in anticipation of imaginary shootouts with thugs and terrorists. We acquire military costumes and props in order to pretend we’re soldiers–or elves or zombies–fighting battles n which nobody dies, and enter fabulously realistic virtual worlds to do the same.
And that was all before we became familiar with the terms post-factual and post-truth, before we elected a president with an astoundingly open mind about conspiracy theories, what’s true and what’s false, the nature of reality.”
We have passed through the looking glass and down the rabbit hole. America has mutated into Fantasyland.
I want to emphasize at the outset that fantasyland is everywhere. Not just in America, but it has truly blossomed in America, and I believe that has happened for some important reasons. Part of goes back there to their history as a nation. People lust after crazy stuff!
Why is that?