Let me start by saying that Warren Ellis is a name you'll most likely hear mentioned a bit here. He's a writer of comics, screenplays and prose and a favourite of more than one contributor. Just so you know.
Some time ago, Warren Ellis wrote a piece on David Icke, delightfully loopy British ex-celebrity who believes that the world is ruled by shape-shifting snake people. Ellis concludes:
This is a man whose absolute belief in the hidden world he documents must make his life burn. This is a man who constantly braves humiliation and deportation to communicate his message of horror – that we are ruled by things that eat and rape us. Everywhere he looks, he must see evidence of this. Everything he sees must remind him that this world is not ours and just around that corner something truly disgusting is happening to somebody and no-one else knows but him.
Mad or not, David Icke must be in Hell.
And this never sat right with me. Does this guy really lie awake at night in perpetual terror? Or does he sleep soundly in the knowledge that he's in on the Big Secret -- that he Knows How the World Really Works? (These people tend to think in capitals.)
Did we imagine Neo, Morpheus and the rest of the gang jumping at shadows and shivering in terror? Did they wish they weren't in the situation they were in? No (apart from when they sat through all that shite with the Merovingian and his orgasm cake), they were the heroes; they Knew What Was Going On. Rather than being portrayed as objects of pity, they were objects of envy -- how much trade did those films generate for the PVC clothing industry?
Returning to reality (for want of a better term), while I've read the stuff that Icke has put online, I've never actually seen him talk, so its hard to get a good feel for what the man is really like. I did however, see Radar's piece on Eating Media Lunch where he interviewed the host of a conspiracy theory TV show in the States. His show did the whole bit: alien abductions, highest-level conspiracies, not to mention the good old reptilians, and he clearly bought it all. This man was not a quivering wreck; rather he was a smug bastard who's Seen Things You People Wouldn't Believe, all dark utterances and knowing looks.
These sort of beliefs clearly make a person feel special -- "The world is out to get me! ME! Well, all of you, too, but especially me because I Know Stuff!" Not to mention reassured - bad things happen to good people because the Evil Reptilians are Behind It All.
The belief that the world is a terrible, terrible place; that the world is not ours; that we are ruled by an invisible power is, in a way, very comforting. Hence religion. (I'll get into that another time -- I think the sleeping pills are starting to kick in.)