What do you do when everything becomes batshit crazy? The first thing is always to deny the crazy. Sit down, apart, and find a moment of peace. Read a book and live in a different world until this one calms down. Crazy is one of those magical things that would go away if everyone simply stopped believing in it.
But how do you preach the practice, how do you increase the peace? That takes a little more effort. As we all know, telling someone who is hysterical to calm down will probably only make them more defensive, feeding the fear which got them there.
As I work my way through writing People’s Economics, the first step is to unlearn that which makes no sense and return to the roots. Get to a place connecting guts and heart and brain all right up to the eternal. So let’s go back to the basics of Barataria for a moment.
One of the first novels ever written was Don Quixote, published in 1605. In it, the elder Don is driven mad from reading too many novels on romantic chivalry and starts to believe that they are real. When he sets off on his pursuit to slay the dragons of the world, nearly everyone looks the other way.
Everyone, that is, except Sancho Panza, whose name can be roughly translated as “Fallen Saint Belly.” He doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who would help out, but he stays with the Don out of sympathy. He’s just there to keep him out of trouble.
Eventually, Don Quixote regains his senses. The other nobles of the land want to reward Sancho for his efforts, so they give the peasant his own kingdom. Barataria, it’s called, the “cheap lands.” The swamp.
My purpose in writing this for over ten years has been my own quest to be Sancho Panza. I believe that the world long ago went crazy from believing its own bullshit. I am here to try to keep it out of too much trouble until that day when it regains its senses and I will be rewarded with my own swamp, my own Barataria.
Needless to say, if the rest of the world is Don Quixote the assault on the windmills of our minds is getting a lot more animated lately. There has never been a better time for Sancho, but there has never been a more perilous time. The idea that there could ever be a quiet peace to the world long enough to meld into a novel seems ridiculously luxurious, nevermind beyond illiterate Sancho.
Much has been said about the post-modern nature of this pre-modern novel. Freidrich Neitzsche once said that there are two types of people in this world, Don Quixotes and Sancho Panzas. Then again, he suffered terribly from dementia. He also inadvertently gave the Nazis a concept they would run with, the idea of a “superman.”
There may be a point in here which ties it back to the utter madness which took place in Charlottesville, but let’s leave it that history works in mysterious ways. Which is probably the main point when it comes to taking down false idols like statues of Robert E Lee.
What really matters is that history tells us that this has all happened before, sometimes best in the made-up history of a novel. Characters like the Don and Sancho might as well be real because they are necessary. They explain to us that this is known and that this must one day pass. The key is to avoid getting into any real trouble before that happens.
Join the cause and perhaps gain your own Barataria, your own swamp.
I grew up on the edges of one of the great swamps of the world, the Florida Everglades. The first thing that hits you there is that terrible smell which assaults you just before the cloud of mosquitoes. It smells like death, at least until you have been there a while and realize that it smells like life. The two are often hard to tell apart until you learn to love one or both of them.
But it is a quiet place away from the relentless crazy of Quixotic Miami. The only souls who venture out to it are tourists and a few natives searching for something beyond the surreal. It is a good place to set aside the crazy, ideally in a canoe, and be at peace.
In this crazy time we must remember there is always a place beyond. It may be lost in the spaces of time or fiction, but it doesn’t matter. It can be found with a little love and a commitment beyond the bullshit which made the crazy possible. We can do it. We will do it.