Saturday, July 24, 2021

Idiot Savants

Yesterday I learned, somewhat belatedly, that devotees of the QAnon delusion, like to refer to themselves as Autists, presumably because they imagine themselves to be savants when in fact they are almost certainly mere idiots. 

Misfit American author Phillip K. Dick was a huge fan of conspiracy hypotheses of an altogether grander variety, yet he too liked to think he had an access all areas pass for what was really going on in the world. 

One of the ideas that he explored in Martian Time-Slip (1964) was the notion that individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia (or autism) are really benefiting from a rare form of perception whereby time lands on them in one big dump — a kind of chronological derangement.* 

On better days this could lead to a near divine form of insight as reality might be appreciated 'in the round', though on others one would more likely be overwhelmed by the onslaught of sensible things. 

Dick would appear to have been influenced by Swiss existentialist shrink Ludwig Binswanger who posited that schizophrenics exist in a state of permanent death where everything has already happened and yet is also still happening at the same time. 

Dick sometimes boasted of schizophrenic episodes which he blamed in the main on the fact that his mother had accidentally starved his baby twin sister to death. On other occasions he preferred to self-diagnose as the only really normal person around. 

Yesterday it was reported that the proportion of schizophreia cases in the US associated with so-called cannabis-use disorder has increased from 2% in the mid-nineties to 8% in the past decade. 

And then today we learned that the QAnon Shaman Jacob Chansley has —  after a stint of solitary in a Virginia jail — been diagnosed with 'a variety of mental illnesses' including transient schizophrenia, which may thus explain his confused (...confounded) sense of causality and could lead to a plea bargain with prosecutors. 

* This idea was to some extent explored recently and not especially insightfully, in the Canadian sci-fi flick Flashback.

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