The Sleep of Reason Breeds Monsters,” by Francisco Goya. Etching, aquatint, drypoint, and burin. (The Metropolitan Museum of Art) 1799

The Constitution guarantees your right to be a dunce. Like a bathroom that hasn’t been recently cleaned, the world today is littered and malodorous with lies. Thanks to the gonzo Internet, this is a time of mass hysteria, when beliefs whose roaring flames are fed by fantasy, not fact. 

I recall a key line in John Milton’s (dull) “Paradise Lost” where hero/villain Lucifer inveighs, “Evil, Be Thou My Good!” There is a thrill, a buoyancy, that comes from saying “Screw It!” to responsibility. Sometimes, first thing, when I wake up, there comes an oddball or compelling thought – a much-less-than-normally-rational thought. The other day, there was a sense of having narrowly escaped a grave calamity: the Brane produced this wacko thought: “O.M.G. What if we’d been born onto a planet which contained nothing to eat?” (Poor Darwin spinneth in his grave.) 

In general, when I’m awake, I try to stay at least a little sane, but, while that feels normal/familiar, it sometimes seems dull. So, when my thoughts go on a tear, as when I’m stoned or just woke up, there is a lovely sense of having slipped the surly bonds of normalcy, a little like the thrill of breaking rules when you’re a kid. And, in that vein, it dawned on me: Just think how different life would be if we had hands which grew atop our heads, like stubby horns, or in the middle of our backs, instead of at the end of these convenient, limber limbs. We could not brush our teeth or tie our shoes so carelessly. I will not now enumerate the million things, both “good” and “bad,” we could not do – at least as we’re accustomed to. 

And yet, despite enjoying respites from the sensible, I’m still inclined to marvel at and, frankly, to despise, the eagerness some people have to believe all the dizziest crap that they hear, especially the stuff designed to polarize and stir up fear. How ‘bout that wacko caca we now know as Qanon, promoting baroque fantasies straight out of fairy tales, regarding pedophilia and the much-maligned “elites,” and claiming that such reprobates are kidnappers and even cannibals? You find that real??? Such lurid, groundless “certainties” are nothing more than waste-products of self-indulgent, drama-hungry minds. They’d rather buy into a lie than do the work to verify.

It makes me think of rumors spread among the backward tribesmen in Brazil – or wherever it was – when affluent ecologists attempted to buy and protect tracts of unspoiled land. Or, when, in darkest Africa, those teams of selfless doctors risking comfort, life and limb, attempt to immunize the kids against some plague du jour. The superstitious locals, who’ve been grossly disinformed, are panicked and stampeded by their neighbor/demagogues, who prey on ignorance and fear. The medical Samaritans are rumored to have come to kidnap, vivisect and kill the local kids. And so, they’re either chased away, or, more than likely, shot. 

And we have it here, too, in what we call “The modern world.” Our demagogues report that Georgie Soros and The Satanists (a heavy metal band?) have devised a nefarious plan: to kidnap your children, then harvest and market their organs for oodles of cash. We’re wallowing in toxic, superstitious fantasies with zero basis in real fact. I love, for pure perversity and minimalist purity those flags some of my neighbors flew and may soon fly again, to wit: TRUMP WON!

It feels so lovely to feel sure, no matter whether wrong or right. 

Reality, be damned! Yeehaw! Good night!