Blue Trees and Orange Skies, or, The Mind of Jared Loughner

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I understand why people want politicians to be nicer to each other on cable television. It's not an overwhelming concern of mine, but I understand it. However, please don't tell us that the corrosive state of political discourse in this country has much of anything to do with the shootings in Tucson. This is the latest information on Jared Loughner's interior life; it does not seem as if he has been operating under the influence of Roger Ailes:

The new details from Mr. Gutierrez about Mr. Loughner -- including his philosophy of anarchy and his expertise with a handgun, suggest that the earliest signs of behavior that may have ultimately led to the attacks started several years ago.

Mr. Gutierrez said his friend had become obsessed with the meaning of dreams and their importance. He talked about reading Friedrich Nietzsche's book "The Will To Power" and embraced ideas about the corrosive, destructive effects of nihilism -- a belief in nothing. And every day, his friend said, Mr. Loughner would get up and write in his dream journal, recording the world he experienced in sleep and its possible meanings.

"Jared felt nothing existed but his subconscious," Mr. Gutierrez said. "The dream world was what was real to Jared, not the day-to-day of our lives."

And that dream world, his friend said, could be downright strange. "He would ask me constantly, 'Do you see that blue tree over there?' He would admit to seeing the sky as orange and the grass as blue," Mr. Gutierrez said. "Normal people don't talk about that stuff."
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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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