Conspiratorial Thinking: Apophenia + Dissociation

There are some things going on. Internally and externally, things are shifting fast. Either my tendency towards conspiratorial thinking has been in full effect or there is sort of spiritual awakening at work – I can’t tell which is which anymore. It’s always been really complicated trying to distinguish my inclination for paranoia over my deep (and often correct) intuition about the nature of things. I can’t remember the last time I wrote the word ‘things’ twice in the span of three sentences. Regardless, this mode of thought carrying me through the past three months has enhanced my interiority by decorating my perception with colourful, off-kilter potentialities while simultaneously alienating me even further from the world and the people outside this interior. What’s interesting is how this estrangement from the external world coincides with a reconciliation between my past and present self. It’s almost as if seeing your life through a prism of belief gives each nuance of memory an entirely new narrative structure – I’ve done it before with radical feminism and with a bpd diagnosis – only this time the narrative is constructed less through manufactured ontologies and more through a deeply personal existential reconstruction.

Apophenia /æpˈfniə/ is the human tendency to perceive meaningful patterns within random data.

A.k.a. Me in every waking moment of my life. Perhaps it’s the unfortunate concoction of anxiety and compelling intuitive abilities, but the search for meaning never subsists over here. I can’t seem to find an anchor in social reality that isn’t directly tied to existential meaning somehow conceived of through an interaction between my internal monologue the chaotic, poorly organized storage centre of my brain. This oversaturation of meaning in the banal makes for a pretty exhausting relational life. I can’t remember a time I didn’t actively attempt to uncover subliminal or symbolic meaning hidden away in particularly mundane occurrences. This is probably why TV shows like Lost dramatically shifted my emotional and existential reality for a couple years because at least when I was watching lost, it wasn’t useless to speculate endlessly about the meaning lying between the lines. Anyway, like I was saying earlier, some things have been happening – particularly at either the level of the paranormal or the existential – I’ve yet to separate these entirely.

I guess this started near the end of the summer. I started experiencing some dissociative episodes, quite unlike anything I had ever experienced before. I remember in high school I used to go down to my basement and dance in front of a giant mirror on the wall. Sometimes, without any real awareness of it, I would stop moving and stand looking at absolutely nothing, eyes glazed over, for over an hour here and there. Because I was extremely ill at this time, I can’t really say I was dissociating because I really did ‘check out’ completely. But near the end of the summer I was having some really confounding moments of complete separate from what is “real” and slip into a state of being totally a part from my ‘self’ and conscious of something outside of me. Sounds absurd once its been typed out, I realize that now, but there is really no other way to depict it and I’m lazy in regards to literary descriptions. I really didn’t think much of this at first. When I woke up, it was as it nothing had ever happened. Sure, eight hours ago I was convinced my computer was speaking directly to me through metaphoric language to communicate a universal truth about the nature of reality, but now I was grounded in my melancholic defeat mode and that could be dismissed.

These episodes didn’t stop though. Increasingly, the external world began to feel strange to me. I would point this out to people and get varied responses, depending on the amount of interest said person felt they had to express in order to sleep me with (I suspect). I would say things like “doesn’t the sky seem closer” or “has the sky always been tinged with a purple hue at night?” “has the sun always been a blue/white hue, I remember a yellow/orange hue” – just completely deranged things in ordinary conversation. I understand why this would be of little interest to those who were not also experiencing this sudden estrangement from their physical reality but at the time (and still) I am optimistic I’ll find someone who always senses differences in these aspects.

There’s a lot to cover here, I’m just realizing this now. Naturally, however, I started reading a fellow INFP, Soren Kierkegaard’s take on the nature of reality. Usefully, he writes, “In the moment they stand before God, there is a paradox, inaccessible to thought, something which is not communicable with others and the individual is therefore ‘excluded’ from the ‘normal’ social world: the individual now sets himself apart from the particular above the universal and ‘exteriority’….interiority, this inwardness is incommensurable with exteriority, and so interiority again relates to faith as something beyond thought.’

This – is exactly what I can only just started to realize. Faith, in its experience as inexplicably sensed truth, entails a paradox that demands of the individual a conscious effort to externalize in order to live ethically. It isn’t necessarily ethical to go around professing that ‘we live in a simulation’, ‘I think I am slipping through dimensions in the multiverse’ etc. And yet, this is exactly what I’ve been doing because in part, I feel compelled by either (or both) my conspiratorial bicameral mind or an underlying truth. I also suspect a misalignment of faith – a misplacement of deeply entrenched Protestant value/belief systems into an scientific ontological/epistemological doctrine. I guess I ask myself almost daily, what exactly happens to the generations that grew up with parents of faith only to fall away from that particular belief system? These belief systems structure consciousness and develop and shape the way we relate to both our internal and the external world. I suppose some (myself previously) deposit residual cognitive and behavioural patterns connected to spirituality in secular political religions (ISIS, SJWS, alt-right etc.) while others discover “isms” for which they can fulfil their desire for organization and group-think (ie. veganism, environmentalism, humanitarianism? – again, me previously).

But what happens when the apophenic mind falls into theories related to quantum computing and quantum physics? What happens to the bicameral mind when it encounters a theory of reality that disrupts every persisting narrative of human life to reconfigure existential truths towards a seemingly nihilistic yet dramatically expanded idea of the multiverse? Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but I can tell you that once you accept this theory (tentatively, of course – there is no consistency up in this psyche) things start to enter the paranormal.

Last Wednesday, I flew back to my hometown for the funeral of my brother’s best friend from childhood through adulthood, someone who had lived with and was deeply woven into our family for nearly two decades. I arrived around 9pm and naturally my brother and I got high (in -40 weather) and watched Black Mirror. I have seen the episode like five times already (White Christmas), which is very unusual because normally I can’t re-watch anything but this, I would argue, is the best episode of the series, thus it is always the first one I show anyone who I introduce to the show. The episode (spoilers?) deals with ideas related to simulated and augmented realities, duplicated consciousness and purgatory. In short, it fucks you up – ontologically. I can attest to this because I’ve seen it forst hand on several occasions – people are left speechless. Later on, my brother is driving me to the hotel room my parent’s were staying at. It was a bit after 1:00am and I was in a heavy fog of emotional and existential angst. I can remember feeling sick in the pit of my stomach for days prior just in terms of being an empath and seeing my brother feel the waves of surreal pain pass through him as he processed his friend’s death. And, naturally, I was dealing with my own emotional processes related to this. Mixed with sleep-deprived exhaustion, extreme weather, weed, not being able to eat all day due to a loss of appetite, I guess I brought what happened next upon myself.

The hotel had a buzzer you had to press to be allowed in the front doors because… well it’s unsafe otherwise since the crime rate has increased in the past two years. I buzzed, she let me in. I got into the elevator and immediately felt a wave of dissociation fall into my physical body. I want to say I saw myself from the third person, but I don’t think I really did, it was more like a distant first person view, but not the one I am used to in everyday waking life. I was told to go to room 306 and despite feeling completely detached from reality, I found the room and started knocking. Nobody answered. I didn’t want to have to call my mom because that would likely wake both my parents but I did anyway. “I’m here, I’m knocking, are you sure it’s 306”? “Yes, okay I’m coming.” -hang up-. She still isn’t answering the door. Several moments later my mom calls me and asks where I am – I’m not outside the door. I start to panic.

My initial thought, something I felt sick accepting as possible, was that perhaps if one dimension I am at the right door and she is answering it. I was simply stuck in the wrong dimension. I felt a wave of intrinsic doom sift through my heart, which was pounding. Standing outside 306 I tried to find a wifi network to be able to look up my location. The only network available was named ‘psalm23’ – a verse I know very well – I looked up at the time on my phone: 1:23am. My heart sank – I was sure, absolutely certain I was in a purgatory, about to be judged in the passing onto the next life. If this sounds altogether insane to you, I can assure you, it felt hyperreal, it felt like a truth I didn’t want to admit to myself. Shaking involuntarily, I got back into the lobby – intending to leave the hotel if I still could. As soon as the elevator moved downward I felt this internal panic that with each level we sink, the closer I am to hell. Conspiratorial mind – I tell you.

I got down to the lobby, the girl was gone. The door was shut, so I just sat on the couch, listening to tyrannical music fill the room as I watched this neon fireplace shine light on rocks as an ‘art piece’ – a little too edgy for me at the time. And I was sitting there, replaying Psalm 23 in my mind, realizing how I have disappointed everyone I know and shaking uncontrollably when suddenly my brother pulls up outside and explains he dropped me off at the WRONG HOTEL. I found the girl, she buzzed me out, I got in the car, he’s laughing, I’m crying, I’m explaining in fragmented piece-meal conjunctures what just happened to me and why I’m shaking. I get to the right hotel and I still cannot stop shaking. I have no explanation for my parents who I haven’t seen in awhile. Their adult daughter is having some sort of spiritual experience in front of them and can’t seem calm down. Finally, I am calm and describe with lucidity the whole scheme of slipping into dimensions, seeing the verse, etc. and my mom is checked out – understandably. My dad however, has been captured. I know because despite it being 2am now he can’t seem to stop talking about his own experiences like the one I described. My dad thinks global warming is a Chinese hoax – conspiratorial thinking. Could it be genetic?

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