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The hypersane are among us, if only we are prepared to look (aeon.co)
237 points by prostoalex 12 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 240 comments
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The point of diminishing returns on sanity occurs sooner than almost everyone expects.

Surprised nobody has yet mentioned Douglas Adams' "Wonko the Sane," who built an asylum turned inside out to house the whole world. Many comedians would qualify as this as well.

I know a few people I would consider "hypersane," and you can't have too many of them around because they are immune to the various arbitrages that create need and value for everyone else. They are also very charismatic and hence, contagious. I understand traditionally the cure for hypersanity was either hemlock, or crucifixion.


>Surprised nobody has yet mentioned Douglas Adams' "Wonko the Sane," who built an asylum turned inside out to house the whole world. Many comedians would qualify as this as well.

I'm also thinking of the Terry Pratchett concept of being "knurd". On the Discworld, the opposite of being drunk isn't being sober - sober is the middle ground on the drunk/sober/knurd scale. To be knurd is to be so completely aware of everything that one can't really function in normal society.


I only now have realised it's "drunk" spelled backwards. And probably reads the same as "nerd"

the first time I read Terry Pratchett it was in italian, and knurd had not been translated, I suppose the translator didn't get the joke or thought it wasn't fun in italian.

Took me a decade or so to finally get it when I re-encountered it in english :)


Since I'm sure I'm not the only one with the desire to look that up, "drunk/knurd" is apparently "ubriaco/ocairbu" in Italian.

> To be knurd is to be so completely aware of everything that one can't really function in normal society.

That sounds like the intense world theory of autism.


Why would being completely aware of everything not allow one to function in a society if one wanted to?

Does it imply that you can't selectively focus on things?

Right now if I am to do the dishes, I am already aware of thousands other things and concepts and deep truths about reality, and sciences, etc. etc, but I can focus on this one task, it doesn't matter what I am aware of, if I choose to do it I can do it. How would being aware of more things put a dent in that?

If so, then call it for what it is (perhaps "attention deficit disorder"?), but it has nothing to do with the amount of awareness.


>Does it imply that you can't selectively focus on things?

Yes - the ability to focus on one thing necessarily involves the ability to ignore lots of other things. One of the key traits of autism spectrum disorder is an inability to filter out irrelevant information. Constant awareness of everything is often functionally equivalent to a lack of awareness, because it degrades the signal-to-noise ratio of your perception.

For example, the artist Stephen Wiltshire can draw extraordinarily accurate cityscapes from memory, but often struggles with basic tasks. Being aware of the precise number and arrangement of windows in every building you pass is an active impediment if you're just trying to get to the subway station.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2017/04/autism-artis...


You are talking about autism. Autism is very commonly described as a disease or disorder, disability, etc. How do you compare it to "being most aware", and especially in the context of the term "sane"? It seems that the two are very differnet things that have little to do with each other. "Constant awareness" as you described it is surely not the kind of awareness that they meant when talking about "sanity"? Any regular normal healthy person, if they were being "constantly aware" of everything they already know and can perceive, even though that set of things is much smaller than the set of things available to a highly functioning autist, would already be too much to be able to function. In such a case it is then more of a disorder in focusing, not the question of how less or more aware you are?

First of all, kudos for your nickname. A lot of what makes the society ticks -especially any society deeply rooted in materialism like ours today- is very hard to justify even when you are in a just-sane state of mind. See "bullshit jobs" for a longer treatise of that. Yes, you can focus better on the things you wanted to focus on but you would probably find it very hard to convince yourself to focus doing the work you currently do as hypersanity would probably have its importance stripped away.

So if I am starving, have no money for my interests, and yet have ambitions - and cannot find a fully fullfilling job, are you saying that I will not be able to go to a "bullshit job", because I will be under the impression that sitting at home meditating or looking at trees is more important than getting food through work? That to me sounds like laziness or victim complex, or a couple of other things, but really not something I would call "sanity".

Your problem starts with having a problem starving. All the rest of your suffering follows from there. If starving for a bit is not a problem then looking at trees is bliss. Laziness/victim complex is impossible unless there is a fundamental desire or conflict against just being in whatever there is. The hypersane/enlightened/realized whatever you call it have no problems whatsoever with what is happening and thus they do not suffer.

The question was whether they would be able to operate in a society. We did not discuss nor touch whether they suffer or not.

I would like to think that a hyper-rational would opt out of society in general. Not relying on the conventional ways of sustenance that we are accustomed to. One example of this is the survivalist, that lives in nature. One could start incrementally moving towards minimalism, acquiring the training and skills to farm and hurt animals and finally step outside of organized society.

This is something I have been thinking about lately. To what extent is technological progress and economic growth truly useful?


Spoken like a true resident of the First World.

When progress is so ubiquitous in your environment that it becomes invisible, it's easy to forget that people die of easily treatable diseases in places that don't have so much "technological progress", that people still starve because of a lack of "economic growth", and so on and so forth.


Actually not so much any more. So-called third world countries have moved decisively in the first-world direction for a century. Of course there's still rationed health care and narrow food choices. But easily-treatable diseases? Starvation? More rare by the year.

Also, please do not condescend to me by saying stuff like "so-called third world countries". I live in a third world country and I will call third world countries what they are.

People suffer here under corrupt kleptocrats every day, and I will not have people try to deny that suffering by saying stuff like "so called third world countries", implying that the "third world" is actually doing great or something.


No idea I was pushing your buttons. Sorry.

Actually I don't see where you did use that term?


I didn't. Guess I assumed I had used it based on your response.

Sorry for overreacting.


And that's exactly my point. We are making actual progress, we are changing people's lives for the better, but if you live in the first world, you won't feel that, as most of the Big Issues of human life have already been solved. The first world is currently struggling with Big Issues that are a level above that, such as global warming, which the average person doesn't feel impact their life so directly.

That is why technological progress and economic growth matter.


I would argue that the struggles you mention, i.e. starvation and disease, are more prevalent as a result of industrial development. Large scale starvation is a result of centralized farming and disease stem for population density. Small scale tribes don't face these issues chronically, they either overcome them or they don't.

I would also argue that specifically global warming is a direct consequence of technological progress and the industrialization of society. Human pollution would not be a problem is it weren't for materialism.

Technology provides comfort, as some expense. Either reliance on a central supply for food, water, electricity. Or in the form of pollution and exploitation of other humans.

In your opinion what is the ultimate value of colonizing mars for example?

edit: I am also from a "developing" country where the struggle is clearly visible.


> To what extent is technological progress and economic growth truly useful?

To me it is very useful and I truly believe that we live in the best possible time, even if you consider the people that have poorest lifestyle (and especially the number of people that are forced to live that lifestyle, which has decreased a lot).

Maybe you will think otherwise? Possibly, but before you decide, please go and actually do it first, live outside the society and not using any of the technology provided by it. It is very easy to discuss how easy it would be and how much saner you would be without the western developments when you don't have to worry about a small cut infecting your blood, dying from a plague, spending days constructing the simplest of tools, fending off bears or simply living through a year with very dry summer which destroyed your food supply.


>I truly believe that we live in the best possible time This depends on your metric for "best", which I get the idea has something to do with comfort. I agree we live in the most comfortable times. Is comfort something worth seeking? If that is the case what drives people to push themselves to do uncomfortable things, i.e. run marathons, climb mountains, build structures, develop careers? I would argue it is the sense of accomplishment to an extent.

I do think we live in the most comfortable of times, but that gives me no satisfaction. The lack of satisfaction makes us dwell on mortality. I don't think I would care if I was killed during a hunt or contracted a virus after having lived a fulfilling life. So to what extent is technological progress and economic growth useful if I get no satisfaction from it?


What makes you think that you would feel any different in another time?

The satisfaction you are talking about is provided by a well-developed spiritual belief system and integrating spiritual truths and teachings, to a point where they get embedded deeply into your body, mind and soul, through a spiritual path, a way of developing the inner structures and deep qualities. This is process of spiritual growth. It is parrallel to the material developments, not directly connected to it.

It has likely been like this throughout the history of humanity. Some people have been more and some less successful on this path. But there are clearly defined ways to do this, teachings that will guide you through the process and quite reliably make you enlightened (or improve your life satisfaction enough so that you will stop midway, but satisfied with your progress). Some of these teachings have been working largely unchanged for thousands of years - precisely because they work! On top of that, for your pleasure there are some new recent systems and teachings which are rehashing the new information and packaging it into new forms of information and forms of spiritual practice which might perhaps be more effective than traditional ones (time will tell), but you are free to try that. On top of that you have the good old "find your own way" of getting spiritual growth by simply meditating nonstop for a really long time (years).

The way I see it, all of those scenarios are inexplicably better, easier and more effective now than ever. The access to information, to teachers, retreats etc is just phenomenal. This was never the case to such extent as it is today. So even here the recent material progress has made it easier for you to get your satisfaction, you simply have to look.

No society progress will do the work for the person, because each person has to do it themselves. Society (or a teaching/teacher/book/guide) can only help out and show the way.

If given all these possibilities, someone still does not follow through on any of the mentioned spiritual paths in order to get their satisfaction, given all these choices and help available - my question is do they really want it then? If not, they would just end up in the same place in any other time in history.


I've actually attempted small slices of this.

The work isn't necessarily the difficult part, but the baggage to continue to exist and be recognized by the rest of the system is where things go awry.

Seeing as there is astonishingly low pressure to actually keep prices low, you have a maximization function in place that ends up ensuring that you're either having to maximize for capital influx to equip yourself for maximal time efficiency, or you end up having to condition yourself to be able to physically do the work, which tends to cost a great deal of time and regular personal upkeep.

Mind, this has just been forays into agriculture and basic manufacturing (blacksmithing/rudimentary fabrication).

All of this dive has also been done in an environment where most are content to live and let live. So the random interloper deciding to flex muscle to subduct your aspirations to self-sustainability are not a factor; and raw material processing has not hit the top of my research pile yet.

While everything is in reach, efficiency while doing it is always the most hard won fight to win.

On the other hand, you also learn a few warts of the system by doing this type of work as well. Our current society has become incredibly transaction-centric instead of people-community centric. When trivial transportation costs have effectively globalised the world, your ability to forge effective self-sustaining in groups outside the fiscal sense suffers.

I believe this may be a contributing factor to the recent resurgence of nationalistic tendencies. As every member of the market has begun to realize how tightly coupled everything has become, there is a desire to cut out the additional complexity and figure out a way to keep the in-group/culture sustainable regardless of fiscal outcomes.

Furthermore, technological advancement inevitably introduces higher severity and complexity problems, as well as extending the physical implications of addressing those very problems. Take the increasing prevalence of ant-biotic/fungal resistant bacteria/fungi as an example, or the consequences of climate change fueled by shifts in our atmospheric composition and biosphere depletion.

It's not at all a trivial matter, and when your technological carrying capacity is mated with a positive feedback loop, (drive to procreate/attain more wealth) you have a recipe for change that won't be denied.

The only thing people seem to be selectively blind to is The bits and pieces they are willing to accept as being caused by technological progress, and whether or not they can/should be remedied.


The progress is useless unless you get a serious tooth infection or a cancer and then you’ll die in vain alone in the forest.

Isn't that just run-of-the-mill stoicism?

Sounds more like Buddhism to me ("all existence is suffering" and so on). Stoicism has you recognize that (to simplify dramatically) you cannot change other people, only yourself. Stoicism consequently places a large emphasis on getting your mind and body in order, so it probably would not argue for allowing yourself to starve.

Yeah, I suppose... The post I was replying to just sounded to me a lot like something Epictetus could've said. As in, you shouldn't mind starving if you can't help it.

Now that I think about it, my memory of Epictetus seems to be really hazy, so I probably shouldn't try to discuss stoicism without doing some re-reading and thinking first.


Most ambitions people express anymore require a great society to provide the experience. See a band live, fly around the world... We craft ambitions within the social framework.

As I’m seeing it, hypersane people do not possess concern for “normal” social ambitions.

They aren’t nihilist, and still find life inherently interesting. Just find the usual social hierarchy and chasing those needs as secondary. As obligations foisted at them. They use them, sure, because they still appreciate life and have interests.

It’s a weird concept as it’s not as if we can climb inside someone and measure their emotional response to external pressures. And I get the feeling that’s why it’s difficult to grok; despite how it might feel like everyone around us is pretty typical, we’re individually capable of a variety of responses to external stimuli.

Lots of people might get really anxious about environmental collapse, or political unrest. A hypersane person, think maybe like Buddha, will react more like “Yep and individually there’s not shit we can do to stop a collective action problem. Imma go sit by a tree in peace rather than worry about saving normality.”


You will be able to get a bullshit job, but you will find it extraordinarily hard to keep because your managers will find you too odd unless you are good at pretending to be normal.

> Why would being completely aware of everything not allow one to function in a society if one wanted to?

> Does it imply that you can't selectively focus on things?

This reminds me of Superman and General Zod in the "Man of Steel" film.


>This reminds me of Superman and General Zod in the "Man of Steel" film.

In that Zack Snyder was fundamentally incapable of focusing on one thing at a time, and decided to metaphorically barf up every half-baked idea simultaneously, making for an ungodly confusing incompetent mess of a film?


Wonko is one of my favorite characters! I wish his point of view got more air time. The world absolutely has to be insane. There are just too many degrees of freedom for orderliness to be strong enough for normalcy.

I’m not quite comfortable using the term hypersane without further explanation. It sounds like a person capable of keeping the world in “perspective”.


I never realized you should moisten the end of a toothpick to soften it before use - the instruction instigating Wonko's asylum.

DNA is one of my favourite authors, but seems I'm on the wrong side of the asylum door...


We must have posted at the same time ;)

"the cure for hypersanity was either hemlock, or crucifixion"

Are you making reference to Jesus here? Hypersanity doesn't seem to sit well with certain other.. traits.


What do you mean? (assuming it's about Jesus)

If I claimed to be the son of god, would you describe me as hypersane?

Some (perhaps most) historians tend to believe, I think, that the historical Jesus did not claim to be "the son of God". But I'm not sure that we're talking about the historical Jesus here, so this might be irrelevant.

The historical Jesus did, of course, claim that the world was about to end. (More precisely: it will end while some people "standing here" are still alive.) For various reasons (see the many books that have been written on the subject), the passages in which Jesus describes the imminent end of the world are thought to be fairly accurate quotations, though many parts of the gospels were inserted or invented later or clearly adapted from older literature.

EDIT: Obviously, that Jesus didn't claim to be the son of God in no way implies that he wasn't the son of God. There are Christians who believe that the historical Jesus did not claim to be the son of God. Some Christians would claim, I think, that Jesus could not have truly suffered death on the cross without ignorance of his divinity.


If that is the only characteristic of Jesus that comes to your mind, then you have a lot more to learn about him.

If the state today was based strictly on religion and someone would come in and say "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's.", implying the introduction of the separation of the church and the state, you wouldn't call this man sane and a good influence?


It is absolutely a central dogma of Christianity, that Jesus is the son of God, if you believe in the Nicene creed.

I didn't say anything about whether he was a good influence. The whole son if god thing just doesn't sit well with being hypersane.

And being the son of God is kind of the 'characteristic' of Jesus, it isn't really something you can lay to one side.


You do understand that at the time that he said it the beliefs of people living at that time functioned differently and that claim was more relatable to people than it would be now? And if you would be talking to the people at that time you would need to use their terms, their language, and operate within their belief systems? (Also considering the question of whether Jesus actually said those words, or if that notion is just the interpretation of some people writing down the records, of what he was saying at the time.)

"the beliefs of people living at that time functioned differently"

What are you suggesting would be a suitable modern day analogue?

If other people are claiming that he's the son of god, rather than he himself, doesn't that also throw the question of hypersanity into question. If you were to claim that I were the son of God, would that not colour everything else you wrote about me? You are at best not a neutral witness.


He exhibited petulance, short temper, violence, and extremism. Hypersane doesn't really seem to apply.

That's probably because the people who wrote about the character weren't thinking in those terms.


You seem to operate on some other set of historical books and accounts than what is readily available.

That's an odd reply.

Mark 4, Jesus basically says he doesn't want everyone to be saved so he's confusing on purpose.

Matthew 15, he scolds Pharisees for not killing children like god commanded

Matthew 21, he goes on an anger induced rampage in the temple

Mark 11, Jesus killed a tree because he was mad that it didn't have fruit when it was out of season

Do you think these things don't count?


> Do you think these things don't count?

First of all, good point!

More people should read what the book actually says. It can be downright scary at times even if I have found it very useful.

That said, while 3 and 4 are definitely interesting I think most agree 3 was a good thing.

1 and 2 are interesting in this context only because in one case you seem to lack context and in the next you either haven't read it carefully or are deliberately misreading it.


Wow the level of dishonesty and misuse of any context is horrific here.

Mark 4: Jesus is quoting Isaiah who is speaking of a people who have the Scriptures and yet have continually ignored God and will eventually murder Him. God is under no compulsion to be clear with them. It is the sobering truth of Matthew 13:12.

Matthew 15 : I have no idea what you are talking about here.

Matthew 21: The house of God is being used to turn a profit and exploit the poor. Yeah -- that angers God.

Mark 11: You seriously can't see the bigger symbolism here? Are you really concerned about a tree?


not the GP, but the greater symbolism of the fruit tree is very interesting.

If you believe the stories, god created everything, including the tree, and the tree is 'behaving' exactly how it was created. For this, god cursed it.

I suppose this is something programmers can really identify with, but I think the greater symbolism is applying the same thing to humans.

When god created adam and eve, he created them with them with curiosity, and it was that curiosity that led them to eat the apple. For that, they were cursed.

IMO, the greater symbolism is just demonstrating the story of Eden all over again.


Interesting -- so you would say curiosity triggered the fall of man.

Most see the rejection of contemporary Jerusalem (Matt 23:38, Luke 19:43,44) and the house of the scribes and Pharisees, which produced no fruit, was about to be left desolate. In AD 70 Titus and the Romans would demolish Jerusalem and the Temple. The cursing of the fig tree, I infer, is the foreshadowing of their doom. The fig tree is used again in Matt 24:32 as an indicator of the soon return of the Son of Man.

In any case, saying Jesus hates fig trees, is missing the point.


Can you really say that a collection of fan-fiction is in any way historical?

There are no significant historical accounts of Jesus.

My interpretation of the point the author is trying to make:

The 'hypersane' are those among us who have realized, for better or for worse, that the traditional things that most in a society strive for - material wealth, social status, conformity to social structures, etc. - aren't really the keys to happiness and that when you "awaken" (and become hypersane, I suppose) you realize that along with those things come stress, anxiety, the rat race, and, well, a pretty boring existence.

I dig it! I expect to see a lot of folks reject this notion outright, because, well, cognitive dissonance. If you've built your life around conforming, it might be tough to hear someone suggest it's all for naught.

Thoughts?


> The 'hypersane' are those among us who have realized, for better or for worse, that the traditional things that most in a society strive for - material wealth, social status, conformity to social structures, etc. - aren't really the keys to happiness and that when you "awaken" (and become hypersane, I suppose) you realize that along with those things come stress, anxiety, the rat race, and, well, a pretty boring existence.

> I dig it! I expect to see a lot of folks reject this notion outright, because, well, cognitive dissonance. If you've built your life around conforming, it might be tough to hear someone suggest it's all for naught.

> Thoughts?

Sounds pretty self-congratulatory, like you think you figured out something most people don't figure out.

In reality, all those "realizations" are so mainstream that they show up in Disney movies--there's nothing nonconformist about realizing any of that. And in reality, the kinds of people who act on those ideas sometimes flee their country and loved ones and live in Russia (Edward Snowden), blow their brains out with a gun (Hunter S. Thompson) or try to strangle themselves with their underwear in a supermax prison (Ted Kaczynski).


It’s possible to encounter a concept and not emotionally “get it.”

It’s one thing to hear about something on TV and another entirely to change your entire life.

If it were “gotten” by the masses via Disney shows, we’d all stop chasing it at all.

Social ties and bonds existed before money, achieved via other means.

So yeah we don’t all “get it” in the same way. As someone with enough to retire on at 40, money feels pretty pointless to me. Same old cheeseburger or whatever Gates said.

It’s what other people gave me for satisfying their goals. ️

Economic anxiety, a policy pushed by financial planners, is what motivates. Not money.


No, even if you realized all that to it's full extent, the fact is we don't get to choose how we live if we plan to live in our current world for very long.

Imagine we lived in a violent brutal world where it was kill or be killed. Even if you realize that killing only brings you stress and unhappiness, you won't last very long if you stop doing it. As soon as you lay down your arms someone will come and bash your head in with a hammer and take what's left of your belongings and family.

You could decide money and the rat race are pointless and decide to just stop pursuing it. And you'll survive... for a time. Then you won't be able to function in society. Won't be able to eat, or have a place to live, effectively the equivalent of having your skull bashed in like in that previous world.


Go visit back-to-landers hippies from the early 70s, they lived quasi of-grid for almost 50 years now, all play music everyday, some of them (the youngest) can still ride their horses everyday, and they eat whatever they grow. Poorest people in the US, poorest than some homeless, but they still live really well, and better than most i shall say.

They chose how to live their dreams, did it for ~50 years and still ended up pretty comfortably. If they had the same viewpoint you have, they would probably have lived miserably until an Oxycontin OD.


Did those hippies take advantage of the medical insurance they didn’t have when they got cancer in those 50 years?

That also means they don't get many of the benefits of modern society, I would think. What do they do when their child becomes a type 1 diabetic? Or goes into shock from an allergic reaction?

Same thing that happens to people in New York City who can't afford fast-acting insulin or EpiPen? Your two examples are telling given the current state of pharma business.

I hate this meme; and that's what is is nowadays, a meme. There are generics for both EpiPen and fast acting insulin. You can walk into a Walmart and buy R for $25/bottle [1]; it didn't even require a prescription, the last I bought it. Sure, it's not as good as Apidra and the like, but it does work; it just requires a more controlled diet. The generic EpiPen is just over $100 for a 2-pack.

I get it, there's stories every now and then of some person that died because they couldn't afford their insulin (for $275/bottle). And every time I stare at the story wondering why that person decided to kill themself for reason.

I get it that newer insulins should be cheaper, that they're way over priced. But it's disingenuous to pretend there aren't options for people that can't afford them.

[1] https://www.walmart.com/ip/novolin-r-relion/129783484


That should probably read:

Your two examples are telling given the current state American healthcare system. I don't think its a problem in Europe.


I have visited back-to-lander hippies, and stayed with them at times. There are certainly aspects of their lifestyle I admire, but I think you're romanticizing it more than is accurate. It's particularly off-base to think that hippie-ism prevents opiate addiction: drug use is rampant in that community, and while you might see a decrease in opiates due to their social stigma in that community, there's still an opiate problem, and there are full-on epidemics of issues with other drugs. The same is true for a few related alternate-lifestyle communities I've interacted with.

The responders pointing out that the back-to-the-landers often don't have adequate medical care aren't entirely off-base. Pharma is fundamentally broken in the US, and this places strict restrictions on the freedom of many people here: if you need medical help on a regular basis, you have no option except to work--the "rat race" as it were. Work itself won't make you happy, but I think for most people, dying of illness that went untreated because they can't afford care isn't happiness either.

But some of us are healthy, and I do have choices. In the past ten years, I've worked a rat race job, then actively chosen poverty and didn't have health insurance, and finally started a company that's successful enough that I have health insurance again. I don't think it's accurate to say that individuals don't have choices. And that goes for everyone. Certainly some have more choices than others, but we all have at least a small degree of agency in our lives. So I don't think it's entirely fair to think that everyone is unhappy because they chose a life outside norms (i.e. without health insurance).

The question remains though, whether choosing to step outside of the norms actually makes us happy. I think the answer to that is somewhat individual: we all have different things that make us happy. But for anyone, there's a certain amount of hubris in assuming that you know better than the norms. Often, norms became norms because they work for a lot of people. I think, for example, we have lots of evidence at this point that percentage-wise money does buy happiness--up to a certain amount, and depending on how you spend it[1]. But those are percentages, not absolutes--there are miserable and happy people at both extremes of wealth and everywhere in between.

I don't know where this leads us. I suspect the reality is more complicated than any of us understand.

[1] https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/danielgilbert/files/if-mon...


I have friends who are doing this. They live on land rent-free which is owned by someone who wishes property ownership wasn't a thing. They grow their own food. They dumpster dive for perfectly good food. They process and eat roadkill deer.

These people live fulfilling lives and work to contribute to each others' well-being and the well-being of others. I'm working on finding a similar living situation for my partner and our child.

Your ideas about what happens when someone quits the rat race are false and fear-based.

We don't live in a kill-or-be-killed world and we have many choices about how we live.


What happens to the deer population when everyone in the US starts road-killing them for food?

There are literally a whole ecosystems to learn to be interdependent with. Farming is still a thing, too. The deer are simply a single example of a way to eat. Hunting is also a thing. Don't buy into the myths of scarcity and learned helplessness society uses to get people to play along. Everyone's capable of learning how to reconnect with and be an active contributor to nature. We simply have a society that operates competitively with nature, rather than mutualistically, and it shows.

Sorry, hunter-gatherer never supported a civilization. It took big Ag to feed a city full of people.

The back-to-nature theme is fine for privileged landowning educated people. But the vast majority of everybody everywhere is dependent on the local grocery.


That's a choice everyone's making. There are other ways, and big Ag isn't the only one. Sitting in the current solutions instead of looking to evolve them and learning from the past isn't how hypersanity works.

And yes, hypersanity is probably the most extreme form of privilege. Also, the back-to-nature theme is great, not merely fine, and something indigenous cultures are trying to reclaim as a human birthright. They're arguably way less privileged by your standards. Privilege isn't a reason to dismiss a good idea.

Treating nature as something to live with collaboratively rather than avoid or treat as subservient/separate from us isn't privilege. It's science. Mutualism > competition.


If it comes to 'hunt your own food' then no, 'living with nature' that will would starve billions. While Big Ag feeds them, in a fragile pipeline of varying yields and weather.

Its 'privileged' to preach that nonsense to apartment-dwelling two-shift-working people with barely the time to visit the bodega on the way home.

Its 'privileged' to imagine this approach to live could be for more than indigenous peoples (rapidly dying out, why is that do you think?) and upper-class first-world wealthy dilettantes.


You're projecting a lot of things onto what I'm saying. I never claimed hunter-gatherer was for everyone. Getting back to nature is. That's science.

Privilege is there to be shared. This includes privileged wisdom.

Indigenous cultures are dying out due to settlers and colonizers decimating their lands, cultures, and people. This is not news. It has nothing to do with their way of life, aside from not having developed appropriate weapons and immune systems from those who would seek to kill/displace them.

As for the global food problem, I personally hypothesize capitalism needs to fall or radically transform before that can be addressed.

Learning to peacefully and freely share food seems like the simplest way to address current food issues, but people's desire for money seems to get in the way.


And I repeat, 'getting back to nature' is a pipe dream for most people, living on a cement street in an apartment 25 stories up. Which is over half of everybody already, and growing.

No, it's simply a collectively difficult thing to accomplish on our current path.

Your take is simply a disempowering reason to stay stuck. We can always reconnect with nature in various ways. Your perspective is self-limiting and keeps you from realizing ways to accomplish it.

Other people are probably figuring out how to do it and you haven't even bothered to find out how.

Here's the first link I found from googling "how to reconnect with nature while living in a city." These are decent approaches and I would say are barely scratching the surface.

https://permaculturenews.org/2017/02/20/can-connect-nature-c...


Ok, I read that (sort of). Ignoring the nonsense about 'healing frequencies', the rest seems to be middle-class advice about taking time, becoming an urban beekeeper, visits to the zoo and other time- and money-consuming hobbies that work for first-world educated people. Not a two-job parent in a too-small apartment.

Go outside. Find a tree. Sit under and observe it. How does it change over time? Consider where everything nourishing it is coming from. Don't have a tree available? Imagine one and start there.

If you want to reconnect with nature, you can. You sound like you don't want to believe it's possible, but even the smallest amount of effort can make a load of difference. Have you done any googling to challenge your belief? Have you sought out free ways to reconnect with nature?


I live on 80 acres of treed land with wildlife. I have a kitchen garden that feeds me. I'm doing fine thank you.

But I'm hyper-aware of how my situation is utterly different from billions of humans on this planet, with little or no access to even a tree. Or opportunity to sit under it. Living in high-rise apartment blocks far, far from these imagined opportunities.

The world out there is more like blade runner, than a utopia, for the vast majority of people.


And, yet, it's still possible. Your stance denies the existence of people figuring out how to do it and people's ability to reconnect. I know they're out there because I've met some. It's that simple. Your perspective is hyperbolic and disempowering, so it can't possibly be true (unless someone chooses to believe it, in which case, they're disempowering themselves). I'll continue to tell people everywhere that it's possible to reconnect with nature, even if they live in the void of space.

The mind is a powerful tool and if people believe they can use it to reconnect, they're much more likely to find a way to. When it comes to subjective experiences, it's important to engage cognitive biases in the direction we want them to go. Beliefs are useful for that, so we need to choose them wisely. Telling people they're not capable of accomplishing things is only helpful if they're rebelling against you because then they'll take it as a challenge. For others who are already in a disempowered state, they could use your message as reinforcing their stuck perspective. I choose to view life in such a way as to promote change and well-being, not get me or anyone else who hears my perspective stuck in it.


Not speaking in absolutes; I didn't inject that into this. Just point out the vast majority of apartment-dweller who ...

With their natural predators mostly eradicated, the deer population could do with a good culling in many states. Disclaimer: I've eaten deer in the past. However, now I'm not so sure I'd choose deer as a protein source. I'd rather not expose myself to Chronic Wasting Disease[1]. It is not a pleasant way to die.

1. https://www.cdc.gov/prions/cwd/occurrence.html


That’s why I said “economic anxiety” is the motivator.

I didn’t say there wasn’t a motivator. I said it isn’t money. Until about a hundred years ago, most folks were self employed and chased down whatever they needed for the day. It’s in that last few hundred it became mostly about money for the masses.

There are people that live isolated and off the grid lives, unmotivated by money & rat race. Your idea of survival & what makes a good life may not match up with others.

But in the context of daily life of the masses, you’re correct in that we all just chase the popular social meme. It HAPPENS TO BE money, but it could be bottle caps get you stuff that supply side is selling. It’s what supply side accepts or gtfo. The threat of being evicted from the only life one knows is not literal death, but it feels like it, so we chase money, not bottle caps as a pragmatic acquiescence to social forces.


> If it were “gotten” by the masses via Disney shows, we’d all stop chasing it at all.

This is such a common thing to think, but why, where is it based on? Why would you think that most people are still "chasing it" disproportionately?

If you become enligthened (for the sake of simplicity, let's equate enlightenment with realization that material wealth is not the source of happiness and not the meaning of life) - if you realize it about wealth, it does not mean that you stop working, that you stop getting money, stop producing value, stop function in society. If you would do that you would just sit somethere in the forest and do nothing all day, which is not the meaning of life either.

Instead you see material wealth for what it is - only a piece of the puzzle, not something that your happiness is directly conected to, but somethint that still makes sense to get in a small amount so that you provide your life with basic necessities for you and your family, and so that you can dedicate the rest of the time to self-development, spiritual growth, freedom etc. It doesn't mean that you disconnect from the society completely - that's not what happiness is about. Happiness is about balance, and seing things for what they are. Seing wealth as a tool, not as a source of happiness.

And there are a lot of people who already live like that! Sure there is a small amount that strives for wealth for the sake of wealth and kill their health in the pursuit of career success, but the rest are just living their lives.

So yes absolutely there are a lot of people who get (in terms of integrating into their life, and not just hearing them as a distant logical idea) these concepts that come up in disney movies.


Edit: I’m too tired to debate, it’s not coming out how I intend, and tbh I don’t really feel any obligation to satisfy you.

Getting into a back and forth online in a no stakes social forum is asinine.


It is unfortunate that you see your own development and thinking process (of which debating is a big cornerstone) as something asinine, but it is your right of course. If you do think that, why respond at all?

There is a very legitimate and valueable reason to debate anyone: is to develop your own worldview, beliefs, ability to articulate and learn something new. The worldview, at least a stable functioning one doesn't just come up in our minds by simply watching the world/other speakers, it requires active participation, whether it be simply thinking about the world, writing about it, or yes discussing/debating it with other people which forces you to make your own claims, formulate your thoughts, risk being wrong and ridiculed by other people, developing your language skills, figuring out what you actually think about certain topics, etc.

It is seemingly childish and short-sighted to ignore the value of discussion just because it happens to be through the internet.


> Getting into a back and forth online in a no stakes social forum is asinine.

Truly words to live by.


Thank you for your honesty.

>> As someone with enough to retire on at 40, money feels pretty pointless to me.

Of course it feels pointless to you - you don’t _need_ any more of it.

It feels pointless to me too, but my background wouldn’t allow me to live anywhere but on the street at my current age of 28 (without money, that is).

I hope by 40 I will eventually earn enough to retire and be the same champagne socialist as you currently sound.


You get to craft your path. Period. Don't want to live on the streets? How about in the woods? Is that too hard? How about with an old person who's dying and needs help around the house in exchange for room and board? What about living at a temple or monastery?

Living a life of service to others opens doors not available to those who sell themselves purely for personal gain.

Have you identified the fundamental needs for humans to thrive? You can google "universal needs" if not and then see if you can find ways to meet all your needs without money.

The perceived need for money goes down for those who learn alternative strategies for meeting their needs, are open to the possibilities, and trust themselves more than the world says to.


The point is not realizing what one should do but internally valuing it on an emotional level so you do it every day - not because you have to but because you want to. "Realization" is only the first step - the Buddhists would say this is "right thought" but also there needs to be "right action" etc etc.

This describes me well as I've gone through having that realization due to some extreme peak experiences. It makes life harder as well as more interesting, although I'm not sure if I'm better or worse off. I care more about things that are broken in society which I cannot fix, although I try where I can.

I would also say that if you believe it is "self-congratulatory" that is also not right. Part of the realization that comes with this is that society is just a game everyone plays, and really we're more or less all the same. I think you may believe it is "self-congratulatory" because in typical society someone only acts different from another in order to advance oneself in the hierarchy. Someone who comes to a realization of this sort simply doesn't believe in the hierarchy in the first place.


> The point is not realizing what one should do but internally valuing it on an emotional level so you do it every day - not because you have to but because you want to. "Realization" is only the first step - the Buddhists would say this is "right thought" but also there needs to be "right action" etc etc.

Agreed.

> This describes me well as I've gone through having that realization due to some extreme peak experiences. It makes life harder as well as more interesting, although I'm not sure if I'm better or worse off. I care more about things that are broken in society which I cannot fix, although I try where I can.

Okay, but caring more doesn't matter. So basically you're saying you have the right thought, but aren't taking the right action because most of the time you feel you can't. Yep, that's the problem: right action is hard, right thought without right action is pretty pointless, and even right action doesn't always produce right results.

> I think you may believe it is "self-congratulatory" because in typical society someone only acts different from another in order to advance oneself in the hierarchy.

No, I believe it's self-congratulatory because nlh (like most people) likely doesn't act different from anyone else.

I know I'm criticizing you and nlh here, but I don't mean it unkindly. The same criticism is true of me.


Someone who doesn't believe in the hierarchy wouldn't be asking it for validation. That's why it sounds self-congratulatory.

I'd also say that trying to make yourself "want" things that are inherently unpleasant can be a fool's errand, depending on your definition of "want". Cold, detached action is often needed to bridge the gaps between waves of fickle motivation.


I'm not sure the people you cite were following a Disney formula. But along the lines you're drawing, sometimes they are persecuted (Galileo) sometimes die in poverty (Van Gogh) sometimes killed by a mob (Hypatia of Alexandria) and sometimes they are hounded to suicide (Allan Turing, Aaron Swartz)

But far more often, none of those things. And either way, I never have heard such people say they wish they'd been average.


> In reality, all those "realizations" are so mainstream that they show up in Disney movies.

and yet...


I think that many people realize the emptiness of the things most of us strive for. Far fewer of us stop chasing the emptiness very much. As Steve Taylor said, "Off like lemmings at the gun/I know better, still I run."

Me, I can see that this stuff is empty, at least some of the time. I can even stop chasing it, for a few hours or days at a time. I can't seem to do it for long, though.


I think this is the dividing line - the willingness to actually completely stop chasing the void, and to instead build your own nexus of meaning. It’s a leap - we have very deeply woven memetic patterns that seem absolutely real to us.

As others say, plenty, “including Disney movies”, “see” this world-beyond-the-world - but they see it askance, through a glass darkly, with the chattels and symbols of the artifice world wrought throughout. Fear holds shut the doors of perception, because to even deeply consider, never mind act upon, the idea that we live in a consensual hallucination, presents the illusion of being capable of devaluing one’s entire existence, and therefore one’s identity. Status becomes meaningless, the system of the world looks like a sad plastic toy being fought over by children, surrounded by immeasurable bounty they cannot or will not perceive.

The thing is, the yawning chasm of gnosis is only six inches deep, but it appears unfathomable. Once you’ve really made the leap, it’s easy enough to live by the convictions it presents.

I think Philip K Dick is the prophet of the ultra-sane. He saw the artifice, described it as “the black iron prison”, and spent the remainder of his days desperately trying to find his way through the thicket, but overshot, and plumbed the fringes of madness and a kind of razor-edged hypersanity. Sadly, he, like many of his characters, used the assistance of chemicals to pierce the veil, and he, like they, was undone by them. Psychedelics are a path, but they’re like taking a sledgehammer to a walnut, and usually break something else. You get there, but all too often you lose an important thread somewhere on the way.

So, if you keep going back to the void, you’re still bound. Take the step. Stop wanting. Start being. Watch the world and laugh - it’s quite a brilliant bit of absurdist performance art.

Doing so does devalue your existence up to the point of inversion, but the thing is, your value system also shifts so dramatically that it does not matter. If anything, looking back at the past is more akin to recalling an entertaining time spent in the playground, and is by no means valueless - just valueless as a mercantile/social exchange.

A final aside: I think many find their way across the Styx as a result of trauma - feeling that the world has in one way or another wronged or rejected you often provides the instigation and fortitude to turn one’s back on it to reconsider - before emerging to engage with it once more on absolutely different terms. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that many terminal patients are blissfully peaceful, happy people, despite their own impending mortality - knowing you have no future is an incredibly liberating experience, and allows you to live Here and Now. It’s just such a shame that it takes pain and death to shake the scales from eyes that so easily could have been free sooner.

I was one of the very lucky ones - I was going to die for several years - but I didn’t. I wept, I wailed, I mourned, I accepted, I lived for the small things, the dew on an ant, the bobbing of a bird in flight, the spray of salt off the sea, the myriad specks in the sky that speak of countless worlds and a dispassionate universe. I have not once even considered reentering the chattel world - this way of being brings me joy and contentment, and allows me to share that with others. I am small. I am finite in time and space. I am dust. This is good. This is beautiful.

Final final aside: Huxley’s Island explores quite a bit of this, actually, and it’s a great read either way.


For a lot of people, psychedelics are the only path. The black iron prison is not just you and your worldview but the environment you choose (or not) to place yourself in and everyone you choose (or not) to interact with.

A consensual hallucination is kept alive and reinforced by the consensus. Take away psychedelics and few if any stand any chance of maintaining a conducive way of looking at things long enough for the mental shift / cascade / holy spirit descending on / knowledge and conversation with the HGA / initiatory state (different descriptions for the same underlying experience) to trigger. Something as simple and common as a 9-5 job is enough of a barrier, by forcing on you daily interactions / hallucinations to keep you away from the path. The black iron prison is the ultimate brainwashing agent.

Now also take into account that most don't even know there is a path, nevermind what it looks like. For these reasons and more yet unwritten, I am a strong advocate for psychedelics. They take away all the excuses and blast the gate to the mysteries to smithereens.

As it is said: "To Know, To Dare, To Will, To Keep Silent"

It is "knowing" that is so important or in other words direct experiential knowledge [1]

Once you know, you can dare and you can will.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mysticism


>> Fear holds shut the doors of perception, because to even deeply consider, never mind act upon, the idea that we live in a consensual hallucination, presents the illusion of being capable of devaluing one’s entire existence, and therefore one’s identity.

Well said. Yes people are afraid to question themselves and are actively discouraged and distracted from it. Any PKD book you'd like to suggest regarding this ?


The VALIS trilogy and his exegesis are probably the most philosophical but almost most impenetrable of his works.

Some of his intermediate period stuff, like Flow My Tears the Policeman Said and Radio Free Albemuth is a softer landing, as you can see the ideas that lead to his later work building from his earlier more facile metaphysics.

I re-read his corpus last year in the order he wrote them -and finished feeling like I understood his entire mental journey, tortured twists and turns and human fallibilities and all. He was prolific, so I only recommend that route if you have a thousand hours spare.


Thanks. I have the first book in VALIS - will start on it. It does take some effort to track things as one is unraveling it. But the feeling of realization and a new way of looking at things that you get at the other end of such works is worth it.

The problem is keeping those insights. One has to hold on to them, ensure they don't get lost in the ever increasing sea of information. To revisit them periodically and imbibe in oneself. Another problem is not knowing if you are the only one to see it this way. It shouldn't, but it is.


> The problem is keeping those insights. One has to hold on to them, ensure they don't get lost in the ever increasing sea of information.

Oh boy, yes. I find that holding on to that fragile mote of sanity is often like something you can only see on the edge of your field of vision, which, the moment you look directly at it, draws you into its complexity so deeply that you lose your image of the whole in your journeys within it.


I always suggest Ubik as the best introduction to PKD. It features the reality-bending themes he's famous for, while being more accessible than his late works.

"On one level, we all know this stuff already. It’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness."

- David Foster Wallace


the rat race (material comfort) is addictive. money works wonders.

and it's easy to get stuck in a local minimum. (mortgage, kids/family need a lot of resources)


Competition is as innate to animal life as is breathing. It's naive to think we can simply ignore our drive to compete with one another, as naive as thinking we can ignore hunger thirst or sexual desire.

And yet we can reject our nature.

To what end?

If we accept the heat death of the universe and the fact nothing can go faster than light everything is bound to disappear. Trying to better Earth based life is useless. Then why bother trying to attain something higher? Just maximize your own pleasure until your conscience disappear. Suicide by psychedelic use is the only "hypersane" response.


The unvoiced assumption here is that the universe is fundamentally knowable through rational materialism.

Among the many things we've learned from science is that there are real phenomena that we cannot perceive. We use microscopes, telescopes, x-ray machines and other sensors of all kinds which create simulacra of the real phenomena which we can perceive.

Extend the analogy to our brains -- consider that there are literally thoughts we cannot think. Our brains tells us there are no thoughts we can't think, but our brains may be liars. Is there a way for our brains to grasp the literally incomprehensible?


It’s not hard philosophy but I recommend Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

“The only serious question in life is whether to kill yourself or not.” - Camus

Not everyone comes to this conclusion, one line of reasoning is: because there shouldn’t be a meaningless universe in the first place, it must actually have meaning.

The belief that the universe must have a purpose is a trap. It leads you down a particular line of reasoning that ends with you believing in a creator god (or gods), or that the universe itself is divine. You would likely also reason that you have a purpose in the universe that dictates your actions (adherence to religious dogma or doctrine). All of this is baseless and rationalized without objective evidence. Your only certain "purpose" in life is that which you, yourself make.

Yes, and everyone is free to make their purpose and choose that the universe does have meaning...

What is the purpose of this meaning for me, for my life right now? If not, than I shall not care about it. The universe can go f* itself.

I mean I can reject my nature and stop breathing. That is until I pass out and start breathing automatically. I can reject my nature and stop eating and drinking but that has swift death associated with it.

We can try and reject our nature but it seems eminently naive to me.


And yet somehow you can resist an urge to kill unknown weak stranger and taking their possession. (that's what our ancestor did, but somehow its not normal anymore).

What's your proof that this in in humanities nature? Not all actions we took during history are in humanities nature.

It seems more likely to me that humans were forced to do stuff like that due to other things in our nature like needing to eat and drink.


By the demiurge?

This comment makes no sense to me.

Gnosticism, look it up.

Yes I know what it is. I simply don't understand what that has to do with my original comment.

Some try, fewer truly succeed. It's one thing to reject your nature, it's quite another to not live in some lingering dissonance as a result.

To some degree or another, and some better than others.

As I get older, the blindingly obvious principle that we're all different seems to get more profound.

In this case we all have different drivers, and different definitions of "sane". Some people love being part of a bigger whole, so to suggest these conformists aren't sane is as patronising as calling the non-conformists insane because they don't get with the program.

An important corollary to this principle is that being different is healthy - diversity is strength.

So don't be too quick to judge sanity. Except for those who think everyone should be the same - just like them, of course! They really ARE insane.


> and different definitions of "sane"

It's even so to a point that it is funny that they use this word in such an argument. Who in their right mind would assume that "sane" (and "hypersane") would be an objective enough of a concept to even dedicate time discussing? Neither science knows what is sane, nor does spirituality teachings use that word often.


The terminology is used to paint a picture, not to introduce a new branch of science, it's not meant to be objective. It just poses a question, how can regular person tell the difference between someone who's lost their marbles and someone who is actually thinking more clearly than them by rejecting established norms.

>Thoughts?

Don't preempt people that might disagree with you by claiming they are in cognitive dissonance.


>I dig it! I expect to see a lot of folks reject this notion outright, because, well, cognitive dissonance. If you've built your life around conforming, it might be tough to hear someone suggest it's all for naught.

Be careful accepting the siren call of 'special truths' that put you in the in-group. This is the path of antivax, religion/cults, flat earthers, conspiracy theorists.


Isn't wealth and social status chasing the special truth just another in-group? Albeit, one that is dominant in some parts of the world.

I wouldn't lump conspiracy theorists in with the others because conspiracies abound. There will be good theories and bad ones but you cannot dismiss all theories outright.

Does innovation come without sacrifice, without yearning, without labor, without constraints? A sincere question.

We enjoy innovation, progress, because it seemingly makes our lives more enjoyable. At least I think I do. I think I would take this life over 19th-century farmer.

The point is that there appears to be a tradeoff - disparity, constraints, entice us to create solutions. And adopt a certain amount of stress in obtaining that solution.

Or we accept everything as-is. Unchangable. Zero stress in striving. But no progress.


It's the opposite, once you realize that going with the flow of society/what's accepted is pointless, you can work, innovate, experiment with much less constraint.

Realising and accepting death seems to work. You can then do things that will look insane and impossible to others. Sell everything and be a nomad, spend all your time building something, pursue a degree at 55+, retire to die, go build houses in Africa or something.

None of that is comfortable, stable or normal, so it looks crazy to any "sane" person. But is it really? No, because utlimately you're dead, legacy or not.


> the traditional things that most in a society strive for - material wealth, social status, conformity to social structures, etc. - aren't really the keys to happiness

> Thoughts?

Happiness isn't the point of life. Keep digging.


Is there a point?

I think so. I think it's pretty incontrovertible that the point of life is to perpetuate itself. Whether you choose to do anything with/about that is up to you. For me, personally, it suffuses my life with purpose and meaning. But I am inclined toward family life as it is.

That sounds like a claim made by people that have enjoyed immense privilege. One could also claim that, while life is intrinsically "meaning"less, the existence of a body is all there is, and making the body comfortable is a worthwhile

Of course it is. This is Hacker News.

>The 'hypersane' are those among us who have realized, for better or for worse, that the traditional things that most in a society strive for - material wealth, social status, conformity to social structures, etc. - aren't really the keys to happiness and that when you "awaken" (and become hypersane, I suppose) you realize that along with those things come stress, anxiety, the rat race, and, well, a pretty boring existence.

"Society is wrong and bad and you should stick it to the man and do things the way you want" is not a particularly clever or original point. Next to every single teenager thinks themselves very bright for thinking something along those lines. They later figure out life is a lot more complicated than that.


I think this quote sums up my thoughts pretty well:

> Seek the company of those who search for truth; run from those who have found it.

In the end, the cosmos don't care what we believe, or value, or strive for. We will die all the same. Our species will become extinct. And the universe will end.


And 600 years ago most people in existence were certain that the earth was flat. Just over 100 years ago we had no understanding of quantum physics and just over 65-70 years ago we had no idea that DNA existed.

The way you wondered your remark places you in that second camp. Irony can be a clever tool, but I’m left wondering if it was intentional.


My thought is that it is a very lonely existence.

I generally eschew most of society's social signalling. I drive only modest cars, I live alone in a sparsely furnished house (and love it!), try to eat right, keep a regular sleep schedule, try to act as rationally as possible, etc.

I realize that after my bouts of "hyper sanity," that I have to then intentionally relax some of my standards and try to selectively buy in to some of society's "insanity" in order to be happy. Because studies show that the happiest and longest lived people have strong social networks.

So while I love the idea, it's not the most fun, and it becomes counterproductive at a point.


Eschewing society's social signalling at sacrifice to personal wellbeing (ie. acknowleding we are social animals and thus thrive with a strong social net) is actually irrational behavior. By relaxing standards enough to maintain a strong social network you are behaving rationally IMO.

I’ve also seen this phenomena you describe: a strong desire for a thing you’ve committed to to be true, to the point where you’ll make continued poor and harmful decisions to avoid acknowledging you’ve been very wrong.

If that interpretation is correct, then the hypersane really aren't that rare.

As much as I have tried to internalise this over the years, all the really good stuff in life comes with worries as well. Parenthood isn't easy, working on a relationship for 20+ years isn't easy, and even if you're working nice hours from home, you're still plugged into and interacting with all the complex, aggressive and frightening processes that rule everywhere else.

There's a famous Zen koan which applies here, I think:

“Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.”


> material wealth, social status, conformity to social structures, etc. - aren't really the keys to happiness

So what makes you think not having those things will make you happy? Material wealth can make you both happy and sad, and so do all the other things.

For all I know, it seems pursuing happyness is not the best strategy to become happy.


It's not about not having those things, it's about not desiring them.

I've lived on the non-conforming side of society. It can be very difficult to live with the cruelty that brings.

Clarify, please: Do you mean the cruelty of society to the nonconformists, or the cruelty of the nonconformists?

It's the first one.

Tell that to those who are trying to get food on their tables.

Sounds like either Buddha or Max Stirner.

This article talks about sanity, but doesn't really state what it is. What it describes is essentially just alternative perspectives born out of those rejecting, or rejected by, society. This state has indeed produced profound ideas, but it has also produced even more nonsense ideas. The article makes the classical mistake of the binary: There's the mainstream, and the higher "hypersane". Unfortunately things aren't so black and white. Even black and white plus grey is only one dimension. What this article serves to inspire is pseudoscientific nonsense simply because it is alternative, by pitting all alternatives against mainstream society, without acknowledging that amongst the alternatives, there are some better than others. Unfortunately there's no good heuristic to differentiate between them, when they are already alternative and don't have all that many people researching them.

>This state has indeed produced profound ideas, but it has also produced even more nonsense ideas

Can you say with 100% confidence what is profound and what is nonsense in this Universe?

>The article makes the classical mistake of the binary: There's the mainstream, and the higher "hypersane".

The two are extreme points so that we can see the difference, of course, there are all kinds of intermediate states as Diogen was not walking with a lamp during daylight when he was 5.


> Can you say with 100% confidence what is profound and what is nonsense in this Universe?

Given that profundity only makes any sense at all in the context of humans, with a fair degree of confidence (100% is never possible), I believe a reasonable measure is possible. The funny thing about profundity is: It means the advancement of thinking in people. To further add to this, it means advancing society, by extension of advancing its people (Unless you can find exceptions for which humanity does not benefit from cooperation). Advancement of people can be measured, if people agree on criteria. You might even create a measure based on how many different, sometimes competing criteria it advances. One proviso to this is that it is not easy to do so immediately, we usually need to look at the results over time, as it is an empirical measure on society.

Never forget, it's easy to retreat to "Well nothing is absolute, so why bother". The fact that we can create measures that have broad agreement mean we can come up with practical compromises that would essentially guarantee that ideas can never be equal. Yes that does mean that broad agreement will favour society, see the previous paragraph. Also, due to the time issue, broad agreement does change, and it should. So again, not 100% but reverting to that requirement is also not useful. The other dimension in which broad agreement is slippery is, what is the population of people you're asking. This is the edge of where ideas are forged. So even though a wider population may not get broad agreement of something, time will tell.

If there's one final point which I will make which drives home that it is important to have some measure, it is embedded in this saying "We stand atop the shoulders of giants". Without measure, what giants? What ideas can we actually build upon and hope to get something that isn't random chance.

>The two are extreme points so that we can see the difference, of course, there are all kinds of intermediate states as Diogen was not walking with a lamp during daylight when he was 5.

I get that, as I said, the profound has come from this mode of thinking. However, the issue is the framing of the article, it posits that becoming hypersane essentially necessitates being divorced from society in it's entirety. That part is not so well supported. But what this framing does do, is make it seem like anyone who doesn't agree with society has an edge in their thinking (and being, given we seem to be focusing on individual capacity) and should therefore continue with what they are doing. My sense is that this is somewhat orthogonal to success in creating the cutting edge. Clearly accepting everything in society without question can't, but this notion that you must go through madness seems outlandish. The framing seems very good however, to pandering to the various counter-culture desires, and the article does state the author has an upcoming book on the subject.


> However, the issue is the framing of the article, it posits that becoming hypersane essentially necessitates being divorced from society in it's entirety.

Yes, and it makes it clear it's necessarily so by definition. See, there is this gaussian distribution in nature. Most people are a bit insane, not much, but just enough. Of course the hypersane would be divorced from a society that believes in fairy tales, propagates myths, and is ready to kill or die for it.


You can use the scientific method to dictate amongst alternatives simply by asking about levels of satisfaction, health, etc.

aeon web write ups feel like an attempt to be super-informative which just .. misses. They always seem to riff on things making a HUGE DEAL about THIS ONE THING which the authors feel WE ALL MISSED and I feel like I am watching a 1960s movie of stoned people.. grooving on the pattern the coffee cup makes on their hand, man.. its all one hole man.. one hole, the hole is not the cup, the hole is .. the HANDLE..

is it just me? Am I really too "thick" for what aeon is trying to say?

I hate this. I hate being critical of people doing long reads, but I think of the family of long reads, Aeon is about the worst example.

Jarrod Lanier. Jarod Diamond. Ray Kurzeweil. Rent-a-quote new-age theorists trying to be a psychopomp for the modern age, or philosophers but as self-taught, auto-didact philosophers they didn't learn how to do it very well.. And it shows.

The two line take-away is: care less about material things. Gee.. nobody said that before, 2000+ years ago. Did they?

(I should speak. I can't write for toffee either, but the point is I don't put it out there on Aeon)


It isn't just you, the article reads almost exactly like something i'd have conjured up at 15 years old.

It sounds to me like it is designed to massage the egos of disaffected under achievers to make them feel that they might be special; that the day to day humdrum is a result of a war against their special, now dampened, genius. In a world where the masses want to identify as mentally ill and where psychiatrists expand the definition of aberrant mental constructions and outward behaviours it is hardly surprising this might sell some books.

I doubt this book has much to add over Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow et al.


I wouldn't put this on the same level as an increase in mental illness cases in recent times. The scientists making those definitions know what they're doing. This article seems to just be... rambling, I guess?

I identify as hypersane (though I've been using the term hypernormal for a few years).

It's hard to put into words because it's a very personal shift from society. Everyone I've met who is like this has got their own path, approaches life differently, and seems to have shed some unique subset of society, while still carrying some of humanity's codependent ways.

To me, rhe article seemed to be trying to introduce a new idea to the mainstream without a clear grasp on what the idea is. I imagine the author either isn't hypersane and/or doesn't have many collaborators looking at the subject.


> I identify as hypersane (though I've been using the term hypernormal for a few years).

I'm sorry, but this is self indulgence on a new near psychopathic level.


Would you be willing to go into more detail as to what you mean?

And to clarify, I refer to it as hypernormal because I'm making perfectly normal choices others wouldn't today, but might in the future.

Example: I choose to abandon my taste preferences around things. Since doing this on accident, I enjoy everything I eat, drink, and listen to.

Most people I've talked to about this (everyone except for 1-5 people) have no desire to even try doing it. I have no idea why, but people seem really attached to their preferences.

And yet having such strong preferences limits aspects of the world one can enjoy. I suspect strong preferences is cultural programming gone amok, so I'm raising my child while only asking what their experience is like, instead of asking if they like or dislike something.

Being hypernormal here means choosing to allow myself to experience more things. I think it'll be normal to do these things in the future, but it's non-normative right now, so it's hypernormal compared to current times. Hypernormalcy is going to look weird compared to the status quo, by definition.


I'm sorry, but this is just silly

> The two line take-away is: care less about material things. Gee.. nobody said that before, 2000+ years ago. Did they?

Yes, seriously, how is this news? Every single spiritual teacher, every religion, even every motivational coach will tell you this in the first hours of their teachings. How is this new?

Yes, it takes time to integrate it, it is not enough to just read about but what the article is going to integrate it for me? It is just more reading. There are thousands of readily available sources for this "profound truth", it is literally everywhere.


"Everyone says so" is not sufficient justification to accept something as true. It does indicate that there may be something to be investigated, but I personally can't even begin to believe stuff like this on someone's word alone. Even if it's everyone on Earth but me.

It might be that it's beneficial to "care less about material things", but what does that even mean? I can't just randomly decide how much I care and don't care about something, so what can be done to actually effect that change? What is the mechanism by which it improves my life?


> I can't just randomly decide how much I care and don't care about something, so what can be done to actually effect that change?

You absolutely can. There are many ways to do it. (to change how much you attribute your inner value to something like material success, how you view it in your inner world.)

If you feel like you have tried and you can't change a life outlook like that, it is likely that there are other aspects of your mind and psyche that are stopping you like a hidden fear, a childhood trauma, other beliefs that you need to investigate first before you can change this one, you might need more experience before you even become aware of this part of your consciousness, etc. Any good spiritual teacher or psychologist or therapist can help with this. There are clear reliable effective ways and techniques to do this.

If you don't see the point in doing it, or don't even understand what it is that you would likely change, it means you are not ready to tackle this part of your consciousness at all, it means you are working out other parts right now that need to be done first. But then it is not really a problem either, is it?


The mind and its outlook is like any other aspect of human nature and the body in that it takes repeated practice/exercise/etc. for improvement. This is one purported reason why those that attend weekly religious service have higher levels of life satisfaction, i.e. being told weekly to contemplate these things exercises the mind and improves life quality (on average).

I don't think Jared Diamond belongs on your list of "rent-a-quote new-age theorists"

He got a pretty hearty serve for his last book in the reviews I read. Guns, germs & steel was long time ago now.

GGS has itself been served repeatedly since its publishing, it’s not at all taken seriously.

One weak book doesn't make the man into a Kurzweil

Well, if someone is taking Jung and Freud seriously, not really understanding him/her should be an average reaction. Not paying attention should be the hypersane (or, you know, rational and mysentropic) reaction, and believing the writing the insane/irrationnal reaction.

That said Jung made some philosophical points, so you can't reject everything he wrote. But it's not enough to take him seriously.


I agree that this is not a very well-written article in that the terms are not well-defined.

I think the self-transforming mind is a more useful concept: https://medium.com/@NataliMorad/how-to-be-an-adult-kegans-th....

If you can understand your own motivations and see through ideology, you aren't bound by the limited possibilities of the "normal man." Of course, everyone thinks they are further along in development than they actually are. Perhaps the author actually is hypersane... or he is just confused.


Now that I've thought about it, I'd like to posit that the Author is not in fact talking about "Hypersanity" as a state of mind, but in fact, just people particularly dedicated to spreading their ideas.

As I was reading the article, I was particularly struck by how it failed to acknowledge the threads of ideas which "normal men" may have, but never advertise particularly far. If we were to cast out the net of all the ideas that normal people have, and then also put it through some kind of heuristic to pick the best ideas, we'd end up with something far better than a "hypersane" person.

Adding to my previous comment, the issue here is the heuristic for picking the best ideas doesn't exist for either normal or alternative thinking, so amongst both sets, we end up with masses of garbage.


Interesting subject, terrible article. This wouldn't even pass on one of those sites that sells essays for students.

There are people who do well under stress. Army elite units have selection programs to find such people.


It felt like a word salad.

Certainly, there's too much magical thinking, but what the heck is "hypersane?" Is it an absence of conspiracy theories, foolish beliefs, and word-salad? Maybe giving too much attention to the histrionic, the unreasonable and the crazies is part of the problem.

Hypersanity isn't well defined but it implies 'saner than normal'. Now sanity has many aspects to it in how it is defined but it clearly isn't meant in a pure 'normative' sense. Viewing infections as caused by germs instead of miasma or evil spirits may be reacted to negatively but it is still sane.

One way to define it would be lacking 'common madness' but even that is arguably a reference problem. There isn't a need for a word for 'not a believer in alchemy'. Defining it is a problem since practically by definition we wouldn't know that it was insane and it wouldn't be recognized as such. If you were to point out said issues there would also likely be push-back and resistance.

I have noticed from being on the autistic spectrum that interviewing protocols and expectations are truly insane - like finding people more trustworthy when they fake emotional expression on demand more effectively and mimic their manners of speech seemingly authentically - when it isn't a job skill. This may be too subjective to 'truly count' and I admit to not understanding people well enough to know for sure.

As mentioned earlier sanity is multifaceted with goals and how to pursue them as aspects. Barring a far worse alternative suicide isn't a rational goal but trying to pursue it with a deadly weapon makes more sense than attempting it by painting X's over your eyes.


I realise the significance of your comment about the histrionic now. Rather than ideas, the premise and the article both focus on this ideal of the person.

Based on this article, there is absolutely no way to distinguish "Hypersanity" from just plain old insanity.

Rationality is systematized winning. Unless your actions are benefitting yourself in some significant way, you cannot be considered rational.

However, you cannot determine a person's inner drivers from the outside. Therefore, you cannot tell, based purely on their actions, whether they are winning (where winning is defined purely based on the individual's value system). Therefore, it is impossible to tell if an individual is "hypersane" or insane.

The whole concept is meaningless and sounds like something people would think is "very deep" while stoned.


> Based on this article, there is absolutely no way to distinguish "Hypersanity" from just plain old insanity.

I don't see it this way at all. Plain old insanity can manifest as typical (or atypical) behavior combined with absurd, easily disprovable beliefs. Hypersanity as described leads to atypical behavior and worldview via a reasoned dismissal of widely accepted values, but nothing wrong on it's face or disprovable. For example, insanity is believing you are covered with spiders when you are not, hypersanity would be not feeling the need to disturb a harmless spider that is sitting on your nose.

> Rationality is systematized winning. Unless your actions are benefitting yourself in some significant way, you cannot be considered rational.

Now I see why you can't distinguish between insanity and hypersanity, you are conflating epistemology and ethics, and they just aren't the same thing. A 'true belief' is one which enables you to achieve some goal, but whether that goal is 'good' or desirable can only be determined when evaluated via some kind of ethical framework. For example, if I decide that the most important thing is to make sure the Canadian flag never touches the ground I will have a very different concept of what 'winning' is compared to someone who's goal is to make as much money as possible, and both of us will have a different concept of winning compared to someone who thinks the most important thing is to teach others that their widely held assumptions are not true or important, such as Diogenes.


The article mentions "conversing with beings which cannot be perceived by anyone but the person themselves" as a canonical example of hypersanity.

I find that pretty comparable to "believing you are covered with spiders when you are not".

>you are conflating epistemology and ethics

The interpretation that the idea of hypersanity refers only to ethics is due to you and you alone, as the article states nothing to that end, so please do not make claims about my thought process that amount to "you are wrong because you did not arrive at the same conclusion as me". It is not only disingenuous, but also arrogant and short-sighted.


I'm not saying it refers only to ethics, I'm saying that you are conflating ethics and epistemology when you say that sanity==beneficial. Sanity refers to a combination of rationality and accurate enough perceptions of the factual state of the world. Rationality means able to make logical inferences, and when you talk about perceptions of the factual state of the world that is epistemology.

A soldier who jumps on a grenade to save his friend isn't automatically insane, but it's certainly not beneficial to the soldier. You would probably counter by pointing out that 'beneficial' depends on what the soldier thinks is best, but that is ethics!

So to say sanity (which is an epistemological concept) is the same as benefit (which can only be defined with reference to an ethical framework) are the same thing, you are directly conflating two very distinct things.


Sanity does not mean necessarily "holding only true beliefs". I believe the issue here is we do not define sanity in the same way.

Given your example of the soldier jumping on a grenade - clearly they value the life of their friend more than their own. Therefore, it is beneficial to them.


'true belief' is a philosophical term used in epistemology.

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/truth-pragmatic/

The question is 'what does it mean for something to be true', since Hume and Kant largely demolished any possibility that we can access 'objective truth'.

http://www.autodidactproject.org/other/panova1.html "On these grounds, David Hume posits two systems of reality: the first—the reality of perceptions and memory, and the second—the reality of the mind. The mind is able, on the basis of its judgments, to compose a picture of the Universe in spite of the fact that it never perceives all its parts. But as the "first" and also the "second" system of reality exist only in our sense experience, they do not say anything certain about the nature of the external world, the existence of which even remains problematic."

Regarding "true beliefs", you would probably agree with William James who held that "truth be defined in terms of utility", in other words, a belief is 'true' in so far as it is useful in accomplishing things, and another belief would be more true if it is more useful to accomplish that thing.

As for the soldier, you are missing the point. Different people can disagree on what 'beneficial' means without either being wrong. What is 'beneficial for a person' basically means the same thing as 'good for a person', and there is no objective way to decide what is 'good'. Any time you say something is 'good' or something is 'better' than something else, you are assuming some kind of ethical framework.


I never said that 'good' was an objective measure. Quite the opposite, in fact. I quite explicitly said that rationality is about acting toward achieving what is 'good' for oneself.

I wonder whether you are reading my comments with an open mind, or just trying to find something you can disagree with. I'm not saying you are wrong, I'm trying to give you a framework to understand your own opinion.

When you say sanity=success, you are expressing something that is purely an opinion, and can never be anything more than an opinion, based on what you think success is, and your belief that in order to succeed according to your personal definition people have to be sane, or that sanity is just the same thing as being able to achieve your goals.

- What if I feel very guilty and I think I deserve to suffer? I'm sure you're already getting ready to type "if suffering is your goal that just means you are succeeding at suffering!" Fine.

- What if you feel like you can't go on, so you kill yourself? Are you sane because you are succeeding at killing yourself? Maybe so.

- What if my goal is to go temporarily insane to see what that is like? Then you are claiming that I'm only sane if I'm insane... It gets worse though, because what if I fail to go insane, even though it's what I put all my effort into every day? No matter what I just can't make myself insane. Well actually, then I'm not succeeding, so it turns out that by failing to go insane I've succeeded at going insane... which makes me sane.


>I'm not saying you are wrong, I'm trying to give you a framework to understand your own opinion.

The fact that you don't seem to comprehend how absurd and arrogant it is that you think you need to help me understand my own opinion (which you continue to misrepresent) is the reason why I am not inclined to do a charitable reading of what you're saying. You seem to think very highly of yourself, to the point where you seem completely unable to conceive that you might have misapprehended the words of others, and assume immediately that anything that seems illogical to you must be the result of others being confused.

While I'm sure you think you're helping me by showering me with your amazing knowledge and clarity of mind, or something along those lines, you're actually just being annoying. Which is why I'm not inclined to read your comments "with an open mind", thank you very much.

>you are expressing something that is purely an opinion, and can never be anything more than an opinion

Yes. Indeed. You are 100% correct about that. You seem to think I believe "sanity=success" to be an objective fact. I do not.

What I believe is "rationality = acting in a manner one believes they will further their own success, however they define their own success", and that rationality requires sanity. When I state this, I am not stating it to be objective fact. I am making it clear where I stand. If you disagree with me on these premises, well, that's that. We disagree, and that's OK. The rest of my argument stands on the premises that rationality = taking decisions that one believes will further one's own success, and that rationality -> sanity (and therefore insanity implies irrationality, but one can be sane and irrational).

Your example about temporary insanity is actually interesting, because it reveals exactly what you have misapprehended.

>What if my goal is to go temporarily insane to see what that is like? Then you are claiming that I'm only sane if I'm insane...

You seem to think I am saying that you are only rational while you are succeeding, but that's not it. I am claiming you are rational if you act in a way you believe will lead to you succeeding. Or, in other terms, if you strive to act in ways that you believe will maximize your own "success" metric - or "utility", if you will.

So if your ultimate goal is to go insane (and going insane will not interfere with any other goals which are more important than going insane), if you are doing things you believe will make yourself insane, you are rational.

However, once you make yourself insane, you will, by virtue of the fact that insanity implies irrationality, not be rational anymore.

Failing to go insane does not mean you are irrational, just as someone whose greatest goal is to become rich does not become irrational simply by failing to become rich, as long as they keep trying to become rich while becoming rich is their goal (or "increases their utility").

If I believed what you seem to think I believe, I'd have to believe that every single person who makes a resolution to achieve some goal is insane as long as the goal has not been achieved.


> I am claiming you are rational if you act in a way you believe will lead to you succeeding

This is worse than what you were saying before. Even irrational people believe they are acting in a way that will lead to success, why would someone ever act in a way they believe will fail to work? There has to be some kind of external test of whether it is 'reasonable' for the person to believe that the way they are acting will work, right?

I mean lots of people do things like making hats out of aluminum foil to prevent the CIA from reading their thoughts, and they believe it works, but I don't think you can say they are acting rationally by any definition.


Unless their action involves measurable metrics to gauge happiness, etc.

A Man that steps aside from the World, and hath leisure to observe it without Interest or Design, thinks all Mankind as mad as they think him. – Lord Halifax (1633-95)

An R.D. Laing story happened to be discussed here the other day: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20601466

Reminds me of https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terror_management_theory for some reason (not that I necessarily subscribe to either of these "theories" in any particular form).


Not sure I would call it hypersanity (as people said, it is a bit self-congratulatory), but I think it is closely related to the "Jester" archetype, which I kinda like (and hacker - probably Wizard in terms of archetypes - mentality is close to it).

The Jester is a free thinker, who ultimately doesn't want to be encumbered by thinking about how his own thoughts or observations affect other people. In order to do that, he makes an implicit deal with the society. He rejects power or authority, and therefore, he is not going to be a threat for powers at be, whoever that is.

This can be made clear by, for example, wearing a funny costume all the time, therefore the image. In exchange for this postulated harmlessness, the Jester gains access to information and also ability to speak freely with powers at be. Of course the latter is also limited, his free speech cannot be used to undermine the authority, because then he would actually had a real power.

Therefore, Jester often uses non-serious, funny manner of speaking about things. Being laughed at by the unprivileged (while making witty and true observations) is a part of his strategy. It is also beneficial for the powerful (and sometimes part of the deal, in fact origin of the term "court jester"), because they get to pick his brain while not being threatened by him or his motives.

Some examples of Jesters in our society: John Oliver, John Stewart, Richard Feynman. But they are at every place (in programming, the most obvious celebrity examples are Erik Meijer and Steve Yegge). Look around, I am sure you will find people who are deliberate in attempt not to look too seriously, and you will probably have a Jester on your hands.

Some Jesters still decide to actually get power, but it is very risky, because the whole freethinking schtick relies on general belief that the Jester is harmless. (There is also an occasional literary trope where a Jester temporarily and discreetly uses his privilege to influence the world as a force of good.) These are, strictly speaking, not true to the archetype, they just mimic it, so let's call them "Mimes". A good example is Boris Johnson, who is consistently trying to look harmless, but in actuality is interested in power.


There are two main elements to sanity: having a rational and sound interpretation of reality, and acting in a way which rationally benefit's ones interests.

I think hypersanity would constitute not only a hyper-rational worldview, and to reconcile common cognitive dissonance, but also the ability to integrate that awareness into better self-preserving behaviour (to improve ones safety or efficacy), rather than to respond with depression, terror, self-ostracism, etc.


Jane Goodall has created quite a bunch of problems for Africans and I certainly won't class her as "hypersane".

This concept seems unhelpfully reductive and transparently targeted at people who feel a need for self-congratulation on account of being alienated by the "normal" people, although alienation is paradoxically also portrayed as one of the markers of being painfully ordinary.

  "Many ‘normal’ people suffer from not being hypersane: 
   they have a restricted worldview, confused priorities,
   and are wracked by stress, anxiety and self-deception. 
   [...] In contrast, hypersane people are calm, contained 
   and constructive. It is not just that the ‘sane’ are 
   irrational but that they lack scope and range, [...]"
All of these things are orthogonal traits and can occur in an individual in any combination. For example, I would categorize myself as having a moderately open worldview, mostly straight priorities, not wracked by stress and anxiety, moderate to severe self-deception, calm, contained, and mostly constructive. So which one am I? A barely conscious pleb or an advanced rational intelligence?

It seems to me these kinds of characterizations are really the product of people trying to build a framework that appreciates their (subjectively underappreciated) positive traits. It's obviously not wrong to celebrate those traits, especially when confronted with their opposites so publicly on a daily basis, but the problem arises when we're trying to bundle those traits up under a buzzword package name. People are very diverse, and their traits and behaviors develop over time.

I allege that it is more helpful to look at the positively connotated traits mentioned here in isolation, and work on improving aspects of ourselves in a targeted manner, as opposed to subscribing to a blanket identity (in this case hypersanity, which is ultimately meaningless). There needs to be less emphasis on "what identity am I innately" and more emphasis on "what properties do I like about myself and which ones do I want to improve". The difference here is not only one of nuance and constructiveness, but also one of fundamental outlook.


I'm not agreeing or disagreeing but I feel like you should read some of the books mentioned above and ponder a little more because I feel like you missed something.

That's a very generic dismissal. Are you saying that I can't contribute to the discussion because I'm ill-informed or because I failed to grasp the significance of the concept? Could you be more specific about what it is that I'm missing?

Sanity is the ability to correctly perceive what is real. Hypersanity, then, is a nonsense term used to sell books.

I would say this article is making the case that sanity is the ability to correctly perceive what society conceives as real, while hypersanity is the ability to correctly perceive things outside of societies norms.

That leads to the idea that society and the sane people within it cannot distinguish between the insane and the hypersane.

As illustrated by a lot of angry comments by those who feel threatened by perceived criticism of their devotion to societal norms.

The concepts of money or nations or companies are good examples of what lives between "sane" and hypersane. Those are all fictional stories, and while useful to organize humans they do not have any physical representations. Yeah I know cash, or written laws or a signed printout of the articles of incorporation are a thing. But these only matter because the story keeps being played out.

How do you know test such concepts for not being real? One example test: can it be "destroyed" by someone's or some group's declaration? Just words? Yes to all the three: money when it's being forbidden and for example replaced with new money (ex: Hong Kong during Japanese invasion), nations when they stop being recognized (Poland during 17th century), corporations that are deemed monopolies and are broken up by the courts (Rockefeller's empire).


I like the way you view these concepts as narratives and we all agree to play "pretend".

> One example test: can it be "destroyed" by someone's or some group's declaration? This is a really good test.


That's about relativity. Most of the people are conventionally (and clinically) considered sane while almost all of us suffer from all sorts of cognitive biases and unreasonable illusory beliefs. I don't know how many but I'm sure many people also have extremely low (hardly too much above that of a anon-lucid dreamer) levels of conscious self-awareness, introspection, rational reflection and self-regulation skills (not because they were born "NPCs" but because they have never been taught nor had to exercise these things). Yet, again, all these people are diagnosed as sane. So, when sanity standards are so low, it makes sense to introduce the "hypersanity" category to describe a person whose mindfulness and rationality skills are developed well above average.

Hypersane sounds a little smug, but it feels close to something.

Like, there seems to be a difference between how smart a person is, and being [effective? rational? non-reactive? introspective?].

It feels like there's a spectrum of to which extent people are programmed by, and are reacting to, their environment. A spectrum that might be separate from how smart they are. Give them a text-book or an IQ-test and they'll do great, give them the news and they'll ineffectually berate and hate each-other, and so on.

So while a sane person might have a common social programming, an insane persons programming would be corrupted/deviant.

And a "hypersane" person would be someone who is more able to see their own (and others) programming, and to a greater extent be able to opt-out of some of it?

Maybe there are better words for it.


May be the Unsane ? :). Seriously, there is already a name for it.

"The name that can be named is not the eternal name."


This strikes me as a concept designed to cater to those willing to place themselves above the fray.

As in "I am not crazy or asocial, I am only being hypersane".

In other words, it's just another way to rationalize the lack of empathy and the will to diss any efforts to correct it.


I feel like there are a lot more layers to this that aren't discussed. I think it's a lot like enlightenment, in that there are sometimes considered different levels. Some can be comforting (money isn't everything), and some very sane thoughts are very disturbing (is humanity's nature to destroy itself?)

It seems like one of the SV buzz phrases is "fake it till you make it"/"be insanely optimistic and project that excitement". And that rarely comes from a place of sanity, but it can still work too.

Being sane and self-aware can be great, but I think it's overrated in terms of creating happiness.


I read Lang's bird of paradise when I was a kid and was thoroughly wowed by the fact it was so deep I couldn't understand it. When I grew up I realised long obscure words used to conceal self-indulgent ramblings wasn't a sign of anything good. I can't find an extract of meat of the book, can anyone else?

As someone who also has had, and likely always will have mental health problems, anyone who glorifies that which is fundamentally an illness deserves a good kicking. It's miserable, destructive, isolating and no less a disease than, say, cancer.


I believe that for some philosophical insight to be truly profound, you need to be able to state it in a manner that is completely unambiguous. It is easy to make yourself sound smart by allowing the listener to "fill in the gaps" with their own interpretation, but it doesn't really contribute anything meaningful.

Language does not allow for complete unambiguity. Any sort of communication requires context (eg. agreeing on a similar meaning to the words we write/speak). Any difference in context will derive in differences in meaning. We can never not "fill in the gaps". Listening or reading are exercises in translation and interpretation of meaning, which implies always having to fill in the gaps.

Interesting concept. Sounds more like an astute sense of critical thinking. Would a machine (i.e. AI) with vast knowledge, driven solely by cold facts and results be considered hypersane?

Might be a bit of a tangent, but I was looking at the names referenced to support the article. Temple Grandin, Jung, Jane Goodall, etc...

While I have my doubts about the validity of MBTI testing, I Googled the names, and each of those people appear to tend towards *NFJ types (most likely INFJ).

Not sure if that means anything, just thought it was a fun observation.


This is a meaningless article. Define hypersanity or shut up. Don't tell me what hypersane people do. Tell me what it is or else the word is an entirely subjective and therefore useless distinction.

You can select any arbitrary set of behaviors and pin a label on it. That doesn't make the label meaningful or useful.


"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." - Krishnamurti

This seems perhaps over stated and the second half is extremely elitist in its phrasing. I think my favorite version of a character like this is Wonko the Sane from HHG who lives 'Outside the Asylum.'

When I think about hypersane people, what come to my mind are: Josha Bach, Frans de Waal, Thomas Ligotti (The Conspiracy Against the Human Race), and, a non-human, fictional character: Mr. Spock.

For all that, the author does not provide a definition of hypersanity by which an individual may be judged to be or not be hypersane. His examples of hypersane individuals are questionable. Nelson Mandela ordered the torture and murder of political enemies and their families, including teenage children. Tenzin Gyatso is a deposed theocratic dictator whose subjects toiled under abject serfdom before his exile. Jane Goodall is guilty of the admittedly minor sin of being a plagiarist.

It's not hard to win an argument that all of those people had a more positive effect on the world and on history than negative, and I would agree with you, but I believe it is an error to put them on a pedestal as examples of some sort of transcendental rationality.


Who said transcendental rationality had to be something that completely aligned with sustainably contributing to life or honesty?

He didn't make the word. I you don't like it, maybe propose a different one to describe people who intentionally shed the teachings from society?


I stopped reading at Nelson Mandela. A white-washed caricature, a media construct of certain Western power structures, that entirely collapses the moment one pays even a little bit of attention at his deeds and the people he freely associated with (such as his notorious wife Winnie).

Aeon having been on my shitlist for similar drivel in the past, I think I'll go ahead and completely excise it from my life.


There is Alan Watts video on the topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4wa0tSBdOU

"It's not really a measure of mental health to be well-adjusted in a society that's very sick." -The OA

Seems like myth dressed up as pop science.

But we basically live in an insane world, and navigate it only by denialism, tunnel vision, ignorance, or distraction.

If we were to actualize knowledge of the massive destruction of the natural world and the insanity of the path of capitalism, it would make someone crazy by the definition of the masses.

Imagine someone screaming at the top of their lungs about the forthcoming destruction of the world and the evils of our economic structure, like some stark raving mad lunatic man of religion pounding a book.

Well, sensible people will turn their head and start talking about football, traffic, money, or a tv show.

Huxley was right, in the end.


We cannot destroy natural world. We can only change it. Just like cyanobacteria did. Was that event any less natural? I take an extreme(?) view that humans are a product and a part of nature, so whatever we do is still natural. It may affect other parts of the nature by a different degree, it may make out living more or less comfortable, but it is still natural.

Haha, I'm delighted to see this argument as I often provocatively bring this up in lunchtime conversation. It seems to be a rare point of view but one with which I'm sure alien Earth scientists would undeniably concur.

Right, so there is no such thing as complex form, and you'd be juuuust fine with living in a small bubble on an airless earth.

Your reductionism ad absurdum is not useful on any level of practical discussion.

Why, by your nihilistic logic I can murder you and burn the body, and that's absolutely fine by your line of thinking. I'm not destroying any atoms, dear judge, all the atoms he was composed of are still there. There is no such thing as a complex form. There is no he. He was atoms, and those atoms still exist.

"Disruptors" I'm sure love these arguments, because it absolves them of any latent subconscious guilt that they may have destroyed something better than what they disrupted it into.


Feeling hypersane and being hypersane is not the same thing. I guess drug users can tell more about this.

Is it anything like this? https://ebookoflove.com

>But what if there were another route to hypersanity

Em, there are many, including Zen, Yoga, and Mysticism.


These do not help everybody. For many people (including many of those who practice it and even those who "believe in" spirituality) yoga is nothing but a kind of physical exercise. As for mysticism - trying to practice it seems more prone to make you insane than hypersane, it's not for everybody. As for Zen - many people will probably just fail to get it, get bored and give up trying at some point.

It's a canonical fact that one of The Joker's super powers is hypersanity.

You actually bring up what I think is an interesting point.

People automatically attribute virtue and goodness to the idea of sanity. The more sane someone is, the more rational and, therefore, the better decisions they will make.

But what if a higher level of "sanity" leads to actions that are ultimately bad for those who are less sane? They could perceive the world exactly how it is and conclude that destroying that world is the best course of action. How does one differentiates this behavior from actual insanity? It makes sense that one could tell whether someone isn't sane, since someone who is insane probably wouldn't have an experience consistent with other people, but hypersane bad guy seems difficult to accurately assess; they might be sane overall, but be totally insane in one particular facet, or perhaps not at all.


There's a book called "The Killing Star" where humanity is wiped out by an alien species because "Why take a risk?" That's a hyper rational position.

If that's seriously canon, then your reward is "citation needed."

One of my hobbies is comparing and contrasting apparent synonyms and trying to discern the contours of thought through language usage.

This made me want to muddle around in the middle ground between rational and sane. Immediately at hand we have the 'human being' use case; when do we call humans 'rational' and when do we call them 'sane'?

Similarly we can ask what sorts of non-human things do we call sane and which do we call rational.

Rationality in humans appears to be quite temporal, while sanity moves much more slowly. A person can be rational one second and irrational the next, then 'get over it' thereby becoming rational again. Whereas generally we speak of sanity 'slowly slipping away'.

The outcomes generated also seem to have an effect on which words we use. When the outcomes behind events seem outsized relative to proceedings, we might call the whole thing 'insane'. Whereas 'irrational' seems to refer more to smaller-scoped outcomes, the operative aspect simply being that they're intransigent to ordinary reasoning.

As such, 'hypersane' seems to be a similar quality of sanity, and on a continuum you might put 'insane' at the far left, followed by 'irrational' then 'rational', then perhaps 'hyper-rational', followed by 'hypersane'.

What does this leave out? Could someone be hypersane and irrational at the same time? I don't think that's the intended understanding of the hypersane concept. In fact, I would venture a definition of hypersane to be someone whose 'irrationalities' are actually expressions of a more universal rationality. When Diogenes did seemingly irrational things, he was really picking up on broader social themes and dynamics and acting in ways that would confound and amaze rather than merely annoy and hinder. Diogenes' self-expressions might be more or less rational at any given time, but that he had a finger on the pulse of ancient Greek culture is undeniable, so he's eminently distinguishable from a 'mere' madman.

Whereas someone who is insane's irrational expressions are expressions of individual rationality, hopelessly entangled with the individual's own personal foibles.

So what is sanity, if rationalism captures the idea of 'self-expression being intelligible to others'? Even a madman is going to have prescient moments, perhaps they abound in them, as far from the mainstream they are. Perhaps it's the 'capacity of output' that makes up the difference. Terry A. Davis' life, may he rest in peace, was made infinitely better by his masters-level education and programming skills. They gave him a form of agency and ability to fascinate and participate in society that the guy in the red outfit that I pass by frequently on my way to and from work doesn't seem to have.




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