Here's a brief excerpt from The New Inquisition, by Robert Anton Wilson, followed by some thoughts.
The ghastly acceleration of violent, inexplicable and seemingly "pointless" crimes by Right Men in this century – and their hideous magnification into mass murders and war crimes by Right Men in governments – indicate the prevalence of this type of self-hypnosis and what Van Vogt calls "the inner horror" that accompanies it. This "inner horror" is a sense of total helplessness combined with the certainty of always being Right. It seems paradoxical, but the more totally Right a man becomes, the more helpless he also becomes. This is because being Right means "knowing" (gnosis) and "knowing" is understanding The "Real" Universe. Since The "Real" Universe is, by definition, "objective" and "outside us" and "not our creation," we are made puny by it. We cannot act but only re-act – as The "Real" Universe pushes us, we push back. But it is bigger, so we will lose eventually. Our only defense is in being Right and fighting as dirty as possible.
This, I think, is in succinct form the philosophy of Adolf Hitler. It is the philosophy of the Marquis de Sade, and of any rapist or thug you can find in any prison in the world. Where Single Vision reigns – where The "Real" Universe is outside us and impersonal – this shadow-world of violence and horror follows in its wake. [Chapter 8; pp.225, 226; all emphases in original]
When I read this, I was reminded of an interesting experience I had a few years ago. I was about to travel across country, changing planes at a major hub – either Dallas or Houston, I forget which. At the time, I would get nervous and uncomfortable in large, crowded places like airports, so I wasn't looking forward to that part of the trip.
Shortly before I left, I read some comments on this blog to the effect that it's difficult to know what is meant by something "existing" if that thing is not capable, even in principle, of ever being perceived by any mind. For instance, suppose there were a parallel universe that could never be observed by any consciousness whatsoever – neither mortal consciousness nor divine consciousness, nor any other type. In what sense could it be said to "exist" at all?
Whether or not this is meaningful to you, I found it fascinating – kind of like a Zen koan. It inspired me to try a little experiment on my trip. Instead of looking at the things around me as external, objective happenings and facts, I would look at them as creations of my own consciousness, or at least as things brought into existence in part by the active participation of my consciousness. To put it more simply, I would try to see the airport not as something that contained me, but as something that was contained within me; not as something outside from and apart from myself, but as an extension of myself.
The result? I had little or no anxiety during the trip. Somehow, looking at things from this perspective eliminate the nervousness I had expected to feel.
Now, this could, of course, be chalked up to a placebo effect (whatever exactly that means) or simple distraction. Distraction is a highly effective technique when dealing with anxiety.
But it's also possible that I was tapping into the kind of thing Wilson is talking about. As long as I saw the external world as distinct from me, I created a "me against the world" situation, in which I was bound to be overwhelmed and to eventually lose. I was, in the words of the famous poem which Wilson cites in the same chapter, "a stranger and afraid, in a world I never made." As soon as I switched to a different viewpoint, seeing the world not as external and distinct but as (at least to some degree) internal and incorporated into my own being, this sense of separation vanished – and with it, the sense of opposition and its concomitant anxiety and dread.
Given the rising tide of anxiety problems and related issues in the modern world, it's worth considering Wilson's suggestion that the hard-line split between objective and subjective, with its resultant isolation of the individual from other people and from the universe generally, encourages a kind of existential angst.
This may also explain why the interpretation of quantum mechanics that sees human observation as an integral part of the process – an interpretation that is by no means accepted by all physicists – has proven so popular with non-physicists. To the extent that it dissolves the wall between objective and subjective, it may help to ease the angst so characteristic of the developed world. Meanwhile, those physicists who are committed to a left-brain-dominant, Right Man mindset may find this idea particularly unappealing and go to great lengths to discredit it.
(Which is not to say that this interpretation of QM is necessarily correct, only that the arguments for and against may be colored by emotional needs to a surprising extent.)