The Wonderland Effect
I commented recently that the feeling of being triggered was like waking up submerged in cold water and having the breath sucked out of your lungs. Sometimes I think I went too far: I found the border between worlds and got turned around. It’s the land of the lost where things found can’t be retrieved. Maybe it’s the world of dreams, but it doesn’t end when you wake up in the morning. And while you feel it can’t be real, you can’t deny that it happened. This is the Wonderland Effect…in between losing your mind and finding the end of the rabbit hole, is the netherverse between realities.
When I was a little girl, my mother gave me a choker with a blue butterfly on the center. I wore that choker without taking it off until the plastic it was made out of deteriorated enough for it to fall off my neck. I estimate this took about seven years. The blue monarch butterfly has come to signify many things for me: mind control, illusion, unreality, the mysteries. When I see this symbol, I cannot help but feel the message I am seeing has been arranged especially for me. Of course I know that this is not true. But on many levels, it feels real. And living in a world, where it is real, is perhaps more interesting, then living in a world, where coincidence abounds…
About three years ago I followed the white rabbit, intent on finding the truth behind our reality. That means I have explored the darker domains of the conspiracy theorist’s territory. Here, there are Gangstalkers who call themselves “the smurfs”, strange coincidences where things you are talking about turn up “mysteriously” on the internet hours or sometimes immediately as they are being spoken of, “archons” which possess friends and family, seeming to make them act like robots or people you’ve never met in your life. As crazy as this sounds to outsiders, when you begin to venture closer to the “Secret World”, it begins to make its way closer to you. Slowly, the boundaries that defined what you thought were real begin to change. They blur. Until, eventually, they become sloppy watermarks, and you don’t remember where they used to begin and end. At that point, your mind really hurts.
Of course, what I am describing sounds quite close to the delusions found in Schizophrenia. Read the following quote carefully:
The entire field of fictional communication, defined as the narration or depiction of a series of events with more or less of a label of actuality, is most relevant to the investigation of schizophrenia. We are not so much concerned with the content interpretation of fiction […] as with the formal problems involved in simultaneous existence of multiple levels of message in the fictional presentation of “reality”.
Literal is confused with metaphorical. Instead of directly making an accusation for example, because they either can’t or don’t want to, they tell a story which might be interpreted as an accusation. Whether or not to interpret the ‘hypothetical story’ as an accusation is a choice on the part of the listener.
“The Wonderland Effect” makes schizophrenia a home delivery. You begin reading news articles, and substituting ‘Code Names’ for people mentioned, ‘Allegories’ for stories. All of a sudden, anything you are reading can become something else. You are never sure if you should interpret something literally, or read between the lines and make a leap of logic that might be complete folly. Of course, ‘Rabbit Hole’ factors can compound the confusion of this effect. Obsession, amphetamines, nights without sleep – stress, paranoia… all symptoms that add to the general stigma against the conspiratorial mind as one riddled with schizophrenia and conspiracy theories as worthless to the sane mind. And looking at things that way, you can see their point.
If mainstream psychology has the last word, there is really no reason to look into this any more deeply. We have arrived at our explanation with the DSM’s diagnosis. But lateral thinkers may find there is more to these “Wonderland Effects” then meets the eye. Why is magick so closely tied to madness? It is because demons plague those who hunt shadows. Remember what Nietzsche said about the Abyss…
Many who venture here become “temporary schizophrenics”. They “break” through and end up falling, falling. They often end up psychotic for a short period, and mainly because they do not understand what they are experiencing, and get scared. Part of the reason many are warned not to ‘Dabble’ in the esoteric arts is this very reason: few are prepared for the things that take place in this ‘netherverse’.
When I see a monarch butterfly, a strange grip seizes my stomach and my heart skips a beat. Even fantasy can impinge on reality. Somebody else’s story may become one’s own. When I hear Ariana Grande on the radio, I am plunged into descriptions of the trauma “Illuminati Handler” claims to have created her with. I become a creature frozen like a deer in the headlights, the music pulsing through my bloodstream and making my bones cold. It’s not a bad feeling. Sometimes I feel like Arial from The Little Mermaid – singing, “part of your world”.
I saw a ton of monarch butterflies for the few weeks I was back in Irvine this semester. I don’t know how they found me, or how they knew the way that I was feeling, or how they knew that my soul was dripping out of my ears, and that I needed to see them manifesting out the gardens of my prison cell just to keep my heart alive. But they must have known. I spent all the time I had with my headphones on, listening to pop music, songs that are now dead in terms of my capacity to handle them – they raise all the specters of bizarre untenable emotionality, so recently in the temporal sense, but a world away in space and thoughts.
When I couldn’t do anything else, couldn’t read, couldn’t think, entirely dissociated, couldn’t even look around without my head floating into the mesosphere – there they were. Orange ones, monarch butterflies. I’d fallen upon the grass of Aldrich park, white vans all around with giant satellite tech rising out of the back – melted into the greenery, my backpack became a pillow, from which I watched the treetops wistfully, not a thought capable of crossing my scrambled mind. There in again a monarch butterfly would scoot across my field of view and dance in the canopy. I scrambled for my phone, to take a picture for some obtuse fuckery purpose like twitter or god knows what, and of course I couldn’t get the shot of this tiny symbolic creature that seemed to have appeared just to sooth my dissociated spirit. I let my phone fall and just contented myself to bake in the sun and watch it flutter for those moments the image lasted – as if it meant to say, I know you, and I know where you have been, and what you have done – and even if it is never real to anybody else, know that you and I have shared in this strange wonderland, if only for a hairsbreadth overlapping.