If you thought Kanye West’s tweet over the weekend recommending the ideas of right-wing activist Candace Owens was a fluke, well, prepare to think again. Early Monday afternoon, West tweeted snippets of a 22-minute video by Scott Adams, the erstwhile “Dilbert” cartoonist and would-be pro-Trump thought leader, in which Adams framed West’s praise of Owens as heralding the dawn of a golden age. West’s tweet had, according to Adams, “altered reality”: Suddenly, the fans of Owens, a black woman who’s made a career for herself calling Black Lives Matter protesters whiners, were exposed to the possibility that Kanye West was one of them, and West’s fans were doing a double take as well. To Adams and West alike, it was clear that cracks in the walls of our “mental prisons” had emerged: Existence was on the verge of shifting to a higher plane, and Kanye West was the catalyst of its transcendence.
Anyone online has something to promote; usually, their own selves. Adams’s video, which suggests, among other things, that the Civil War was resolved within the heads of white people and that the civil-rights movement was a matter of tinkering with laws, concludes with a shout-out to his Patreon; West, meanwhile, has several forthcoming albums to promote. They have, for now, different followings on different scales. Adams has roughly 228,000 Twitter followers; West, 15 million and rising. But the ultimate social media self-promoter seems to live inside their heads. Though West excerpted only the portions of Adams’s video having to do with West himself, a quick listen to the original finds it filled with fulsome praise for Donald Trump, unconventional thinker par excellence. Trump’s genius, according to Adams, lies in his ability to break out of the mentalities we take for granted. Trump wasn’t a politician, but he became the president; he talked about immigration despite the puny-minded finding his talk racist; he’s in the midst of trade wars and negotiating with North Korea when no one said either could be done. And Kanye, for his part, is still onboard the Trump train: A recent phone argument with Ebro saw West avowing to the Hot 97 radio personality, “I love Donald Trump.”
It’s a matter of optimism, for them, that the president is where he is and has done what he has done: to hear them and countless other alt-right personalities (like Alex Jones, who immediately extended an invitation to West to appear on his show) tell it, Trump is shattering the hidebound logic that restrains us from a true apprehension of reality, and thus deserves support and emulation. It’s hard to deny that Trump’s candidacy and administration have altered reality. In the crumbling of established liberal norms one can, if one is so inclined, read glimmerings of a golden age, a future paradise, the emergence of a superior order. Nowadays, the world, for Trump worshippers, is no longer what it is, but how you see it; change your mind, and you change the world.
That this mentality, where the cults of self-improvement and free thinking converge with a reactionary lust for national restoration, is experienced in a manner similar to mania should come as no surprise. The emphasis on thinking conceals a distaste for the soiled body, the fantasy of individual sovereignty presupposes the pollution of the masses, and fascism promises a society cleansed of waste materials; what better state of mind to correspond to them than schizophrenia, in which the “waste” functions of the brain, its ability to reject its attributions of meaning after measuring them against a standard of reality, have been disabled? The only surprise is that Kanye should find himself on the edge of joining with a crowd (striking, how all those liberated minds uniformly confirm their preexisting social prejudices) that views black people as a subhuman class, and even that’s only a mild surprise at best; after all, he’d always had a craving for approval from white thought leaders, from Anna Wintour and Elon Musk to Scott Adams and Donald Trump.
To be clear, there’s no need to label Kanye, or anyone else, as clinically manic. It is to say that, as in the case of his newfound friends on the right, attempting to correct Kanye or the YouTube right’s beliefs with lectures and facts would be a losing battle on par with trying to talk a manic person out of mania. All of them are unthinkingly committed to their current course of speech and action. They’re united in believing that their ideas will aid them in achieving new levels of significance and purity; nothing and no one can halt their ascension. The ecstasy of falling headfirst into the abyss is getting to imagine you’re rising upward by your own will, and the high grows more intense the closer you approach the bottom.