“Twilight Zone” host Rod Serling would open his show with the following:
You are traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s a signpost up ahead. Your next stop: the Twilight Zone.
As I recently wrote, all the signs currently point to the world entering the Twilight Zone. What I mean is that it is really difficult to determine whether a lot of people are living in reality or fiction.
For example, when I turn on my computer and choose to watch the news instead of entertain myself with science fiction, I see protesters explaining to a reporter why they are out in the street. What comes out of their mouths are best termed conspiracy theories, devoid of logic and truth.
The media aids and abets this warped thinking with its twisted reports. Their reports are seductive, for they pose as news.
Further, news organizations are in charge of what we see and hear on our devices. We may not be getting the most important news.
To be fair to the mob, we are full of false beliefs and memories. As I was writing this an article popped up in my Twitter feed from the Wall Street Journal which discusses research about individual self awareness.
“Most of us are not as self aware as we think we are,” writes author Elizabeth Bernstein.
Reporting on the research of psychologist Tasha Eurich, Bernstein notes:
When it comes to self-knowledge, she says there are three types of people: those who have it, those who underestimate how much they have (she calls them “underraters”) and those who overestimate how much they have (“overraters”). Underraters beat themselves up unnecessarily. Overraters believe they do everything well.
Some of us think that we have wonderful memories, also. I personally think mine is flawed, but I do have a close childhood friend who I believe has an exquisite ability to fill in the blanks for me on my lost memories. However, he may not be as astute as I think he is.
In a 2013 piece, The Atlantic asked “How Many of Your Memories are Fake?” Erica Hayasaki reported that even people with something called Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory sometimes have their remembrances wrong.
One of the reasons for these mistakes in memory is that that our minds are subject to manipulation.
Simone Weil, one of the great philosophers of the first half of the 20th century, wrote that imagination and fiction make up more than three quarters of our real life. Unfortunately, she herself was evidence of this.
During World War II Weil contracted tuberculosis while in England. She was there hoping to be sent to France to work for the Resistance. As a show of support for the French, she only ate what she “believed” the French person under German occupation would feed on. She died.
The coroner’s report said: “the deceased did kill and slay herself by refusing to eat whilst the balance of her mind was disturbed”.
Despite this sad end, Simone Weil is credited with seeking for truth during her short life.
A great student and thinker, she had a higher degree in philosophy. Weil also studied several religions. In 1935 she was drawn to the Christian faith. She wrote in her “Spiritual Autobiography” that her concept of life was Christian.
In the same work, Weil described Jesus as the truth. She also had a high regard for the Bible. Weil wrote:
Christ made promises to the Church, but none of these promises has the force of the expression “Thy Father who seeth in secret.” The word of God is the secret word. He who has not heard this word, even if he adheres to all the dogmas taught by the Church, has no contact with truth.
Weil chose to live out her faith outside of the traditional church. She believed that Christianity was “catholic (i.e., universal) by right but not in fact.”
“So many things are outside it, so many things that I love and do not want to give up, so many things that God loves, otherwise they would not be in existence,” she wrote.
Weil was not only an intellectual and devoted person of faith, but she was also politically active. Like a lot of young people, she was a political leftist. At the age of 10 she decided she was a Bolshevik.
Weil supported Communist movements in Europe. She wrote articles debating both capitalism and socialism. Although she was a terrible soldier, Weil tried to fight for the republicans during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s.
If she were alive today, Weil would grasp the attraction of modern groups such as Antifa and Black Lives Matter to today’s youth. She chose to try to reach the revolutionaries of her day and with truth outside of the Church.
Social enthusiasms have such power today, they raise people so effectively to the supreme degree of heroism in suffering and death, that I think it is as well that a few sheep should remain outside the fold in order to bear witness that the love of Christ is essentially something different.
Would that our latter day young social justice warriors, so full of a desire to change the world, add the zeal for truth possessed by Simone Weil to their repertoire. They could do it if they wished.
After months of inward darkness, I suddenly had the everlasting conviction that any human being, even though practically devoid of natural faculties, can penetrate to the kingdom of truth reserved for genius, if only he longs for truth and perpetually concentrates all his attention upon its attainment.
I can only hope and pray for this kind of effort toward intellectual honesty today. It is severely lacking.