“My own suspicion is that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.” -J. B. S. Haldane
How do these days taste to you? How do they feel, literally in your heart? Do they sit with you, whispering confused thoughts? Do they weigh on your stomach like a heavy meal?
Life in Covid-19 lockdown has a unique feeling, in distinct contrast with all that preceded it. If you were writing the great Corona novel you’d observe the climate, character, and ambiance of this time. The form, style, and subject matter would come out of you dyed vividly with the anxious, strange, and haunting uncertainty of this collective experience.
If god forbid, someday in the middle future we find ourselves in quarantine again, all this will hit us like a lead-pipe deja-vu: The dread, uneasily watching spasmodic charts of cases and deaths. Reports from overwhelmed cities and tearful ER staff. Ourselves adrift, unemployed, possibly forever. Time dissolving, as the familiar weekdays drift out of position like objects in space. Untenable haircuts growing like abandoned yards. Every one of these experiences is more than a thought. All of them are sensations in the body, and feelings in the heart.
More subtly, there is something in the air in these altered times. An instability, or fragility, as if everything is suddenly exposed and undefended. There is an ominous sense of something bad, just out of sight. You feel vulnerable but vulnerable to what exactly you don’t know, you just feel exposed, vaguely targeted.
This is a psychological state in the wind like an odor: Strangeness like a pressure drop. It makes you check the locks. It makes you alert to small noises.
The next morning you wake up to a normal day, and those feelings are gone. You may think “That was silly getting so weirded out”. But what if last night’s feelings weren’t a mistake, but a perception of shifting reality, gone the next day like a blown-out storm.
“Reality Weather”™ is a metaphor to describe this nameless but omnipresent aspect of life. It’s silly that something so fundamental (if ephemeral) lacks a common handle so there it is. Reality weather is the mood of days, the expression on the face of passing time. Reality weather is the music accompanying the compelled dancing of strange times. I don’t mean the shifting experience of any one single person. I mean the moods and gut feelings that we in the collective experience as external shifts in personal climate. Of course, it is a subjective experience, that’s what experience IS but reality weather is like the simultaneous community experience of a powerful drop in barometric air pressure. It must be experienced, person by person, but reality weather is the connecting Venn circle of persons having a congruent experience. Reality weather is a collective mood-swing.
Our nervous systems don’t make a note of pleasant, peaceful, safe times so the experience, (and especially the recognition) of reality weather is generally weird and disturbing.
This raises some big ass questions:
How common are our experiences? Clearly different people are having the best or worst days of their life (and every sort of day in between), every day. There’s plenty of randomness in the system for individuals. Reality weather is general but not unanimous. Some are impacted more than others.
Why wouldn’t this be more obvious, if true? That would depend on most people feeling something that may only be perceptible by a few. It may be a matter of sensitivity or attunement. The experience is emotional and often uneasy. Feeling emotional and uneasy is something we commonly keep to ourselves and more importantly, something we assume is limited to ourselves. Our minds are filtered to NOT perceive very much outside our own borders.
What would be driving this effect, if real? The rub is in the causes. Reality weather frequently coincides with huge news stories, but it is not the huge news stories themselves. The kind of iconic images, themes, thoughts, and emotions that we experience when thinking about the 1930s depression, or World War II, or the revolutions of the 1960s, or the 9/11 attacks crystalize our most dramatic experiences of reality weather. Epic moods of dread, suspense, and anger. Feelings of the world shifting underfoot or cosmic gears suddenly engaged and turning, feelings that everything is transforming in a way that is as likely to turn out evil as good.
You could say I’m mistaking how people felt about huge events for some imaginary mystical energy foreshadowing and accompanying them. Reality weather is thematic, like music, it plays across events… it is tied to them, but it isn’t played by the events. We have recently watched the world swiftly transform like a plot twist, away from sanity and stability toward dictators, nationalism, and fascism. Fricking Nazis and confederate klansmen are seemingly reanimated by cultural necromancy. All of this happened as if inevitable, with a horrifying here-comes-the-steamroller feeling. The spiritual tectonic plate shift felt by all participants was the accompanying reality weather. This is a big, obvious illustration, a massive reality weather system that locks in and unfolds over several years but I think it is also short-lived and local.
“I saw it coming,” (Jung) told his fellow psychologists, “I said in 1918 that the ‘blond beast’ is stirring in its sleep and that something will happen in Germany. No psychologist then understood at all what I meant . . .” Commenting on the power of the archetypes to overrun conscious decision, Jung called them “the great decisive forces.”38 They “get you below the belt and not in your mind, your brain just counts for nothing, your sympathetic system is gripped.”
-― Gary Valentine Lachman, Jung the Mystic: The Esoteric Dimensions of Carl Jung’s Life & Teachings
Credibility for reality weather hinges on two separate big, unlikely things.
- Some system shaping human reality is operating behind the scenes. What would that system be?
- That the effect can be felt by individual people but also somehow, collectively. Why would such a sense even exist?
- I don’t know how the system operates or why it exists. I simply experience it and see abundant evidence that others do too. I am exploring, not soliciting believers. Since it is more experience than belief, it’s a question of what would it be? What could it be? The implications are instantly oversized and awkward.
- The collective experience of reality weather ties into one of my main (often repeated) ideas. Consistent with my own logic of emergence, the third mind, and the community organism, this suggests several possible reasons why and is explained below.
We all exist simultaneously in 3 very different ways on separate interdependent levels.
- Our bodies are enormous collections of cooperating individual cells. We are mobile super-colonies of loyal cellular workers. In every sense, they are us, but they can’t conceive of us, or our experience of life and we can’t identify with their experience. Our self is emergent from THIS.
- This level is our familiar individual life, our selfhood, that our cells can’t conceive of; this level is regular old every day you, the you currently reading this.
- This level is our version of being only a cell and just a tiny part of some bigger self emergent from the community of humans. We can’t identify with this emergent self whose experience, if such exists, is wholly beyond our perception. I call this being, composed of us, the community organism; it is emergent from the collective US.
Possible roles for reality weather:
The weird feelings of reality weather might be echos of this organism sensing things in its environment and reacting to them.
Reality weather might be our experience massed together as sensory input at the community organism level of existence.
Or conceivably our freaked-out feelings could be like stress hormones; metaphorically, the community organism’s experience of something parallel to Adrenaline, Cortisol, or Norepinephrine in ourselves.
In summary, I don’t have a fucking clue. Don’t ask me, I just work here.
But doesn’t anyone else feel it from time to time?