8. Guilt-Induced Hubris

At no time has any era offered so much opportunity for both a delusional self-importance and a fear of the future as the twenty-first century. Moderns routinely see extremes of poverty and distress on their TVs, entertaining them with conditions of crisis and horror in the comfort of their living rooms, while video games are addicting the young and not-so-young to impossible quests and battles. At the same time, our average moderns are constantly encouraged to participate vicariously in the lives of those who are richer, more powerful, and infinitely more famous than they are. This leads to mood swings between omnipotence and impotence, between feeling overindulged on the one hand, and feeling passed over and denied, on the other. As a result, many fall prey to an engorged sense of responsibility in which a pervasive sense of guilt combines with an inflated sense of empowerment. An egotistical recreation of the world around them into their own self-aggrandizing images.

A face with a large nose and an oddly shaped grin emerged above the quicksilver swamp. It seemed to lie supine as if it were resting on a bier before it receded into a bubble of light and vanished.