Cults of Personality: Are they always dangerous? Psychological tells of a Narcissistic Personality Disorder? Are there perks? Can a fruitful discussion about them be wrought?
Join me September 5, 2015 at 10 PM EST for an open discussion on Poison Apple Radio. Live Callers are welcome to call in to speak to the host.
Who cultivates it? Judging by my own personal experience, it’s those that find the personality type at the center of it of personal value. It could be entertainment, social interaction, a source of inspiration, or having become “caught-up” in a net of influences. When one is involved in the cult, it is rare that one is self-aware of the role of follower. While in it, it’s typically regarded as fellowship. It doesn’t seem to matter how many instances there are when outsiders point out shifts in the behavior of followers. There’s Cognitive Dissonance at play. It’s said that imitation is the best form of flattery but having been imitated, I disagree. While I don’t think there’s anything new under the sun, I find it rather odd and sort of creepy when I’m being imitated. Am I guilty of it myself? Certainly I am, yet I’m astutely aware of it. While being aware that I’ve imitated, or fan-girl it up, I do this with a incite role in place. It’s not too often that I’m called out. I ask myself: “What is it about me that causes this form of intimidation?”, “Is the way I communicate?”, “Perhaps my way of being a chaos agent in a small corner of the Internet?” I may not receive definitive answers but it remains an Eldritch weirdness.
When it creeps in, it’s not that it causes me unease, it’s more so an intellectual fascination with rather Human behavior. Recently I was sought out for discussion. At least, that’s what I consider it. I can’t speak for the other party, or rather I won’t. To me, it’s just a conversation. To the other? It may be something else entirely. What I won’t say, I feel it would distract from the matter I’m seeking to discuss openly. Having been sought out and many discussions had, the end result was I was extended the utmost respect but the practicality of associating with me, or my ‘cult’ didn’t serve the person’s end game. It was rather coincidental that I experienced this recent event that it ties into Cults of Personality.
My Internet Footprint is something to contend with, even that’s quite odd when you consider the space as a vast ocean of information and communication and I’m just a speck. The corners I harbor are more akin to what H.P. Lovecraft described as “Non-Euclidean Angles” but before you try to wrap your head around that, allow me to elaborate.
I hold many interests and I data-mine for personal reasons. If I’m obtuse about them it’s with deliberate intentions. Case in point, my reasons are simply none of your business. I share on the Internet what I want you to see, what I don’t, I keep to myself. Secrets are only that if you do not share them; Not with anyone, not even your closest associates. That said, from the outset it appears that I’m all over the place, having my hands in many things and perhaps extend a bit of influence in those pools I dip my dirty finger in. How much influence is only determined by the follower’s perceived value in my contribution. Even if only to extend time and energy to criticize it. I mean, let’s be real here. If there’s any time investment beyond the superficial dismissive statement then you’re hooked. Don’t believe me? Pay attention to how many users that pour thought into any social platform and go ignored in contrast to those that receive the most lip service.
That said, I’ve often been called a Disdain in the small corners that discuss Occult subjects. Some users distance themselves either because of a bit of gossip, influences by other Cults of Personalty, or simply being observant. If others seek me out, all the warnings and disclaimers are issued by others to an unsuspecting person, are plenty. To what end? Well, theirs of course!
I’d not consider this a negative occurrence, it’s all rather benign. There are however opinions shared with me that I should be seeking the respect and admiration of my peers. Why? Don’t I get to decide who my peers are? Who are they? There’s also the presupposition that among personal aims I’m a Teacher role model and that I should live up to the expectations of others. I giggle to myself, I mean what else can you do? It doesn’t really matter how many times I state in no uncertain terms, that as I express myself, I’m not here to teach anyone anything. Followers choose their leaders and I’m rarely clued in on the vote,( if you know what I mean).
Subscribers to content is a followship but it doesn’t mean that your subscribers are your cultists. I think beyond simply following a feed, there’s other behaviors that run in tandem to make it culty behavior. There’s pros, neutrality, and cons to being at the center of a cult. There are many cases I can think of where courtesy, consideration and respect were extended to me for no other reason than an admiration for my content value or personality type. It doesn’t require 100% agreement with what I’m expressing. Personally, I think it’s more so the Way of it. The appeal depends on the end user. It could be appreciation for things I make, my personality, behavior, any of these, a combination or something else. There’s also another presupposition at work, that I’m here to make friends. I’m not, I say so all the time, but what does that matter? Internet interaction could be more appropriately described as a pallet of Artificial Companions. A way to have dialogues vs. monologues.
More recently, I had a discussion with a close personal friend about the subject to which he expressed with a booming voice: “You are just a person!”, which sought to bring down the level of hero worship. I think it’s that knee jerk reaction incited when it’s implied that friends can become followers in a Cult of Personality. On my end, I didn’t see the shame with admitting I came to become friends this person due to his own cult of personality. When offered as a rebuttal, it was almost as if you could see the shock settle in as the blood moved away from his face. Again, I giggled to myself. If I’m just a person, then why is that so surprising? I reminded him of the many instances where we shared laughs over my expressions of his own. I had apprehended phrases, body language and even some of his interests as my own (with a purpose in mind). In retort he said he had sought me out having heard things about me in certain social circles (I get that a lot). So while seeking me out to enhance his life in some way, I was also enhanced by our interactions. We got along so well because even though we have very different philosophical views, there is that little thing in our personality types that appreciate the diversity and adversity in it. The apprehension was always my way of rib-jabbing him about those that follow him but it’s all so superficial and meaningless really. When he’s looking for his true friends, he’ll not find them counted among cultists and he agreed. Is this negative? I suppose only insofar as you understand this aspect of socializing with fellow humans while not having expectations of sincere investment, otherwise you’ll find yourself disappointed.
I haven’t yet decided what direction I plan to take with this subject for my podcast, I’m still mulling it over and whether or not a dialogue or monologue is appropriate. Updates to this blog and up-coming dates for the scheduled podcast forthcoming.
Recent Topics of Interest on The 600 Club:
Recent Topics of Interest on Pagan Space:
Part II – More thoughts…
At what point are you excused from self-responsibility? Who has the power to excuse you from it?
I recently watched THE FOLLOWING series on Netflix (detailed Synopsis here) It reminded me a lot of The Family, and the conviction of Charles Manson. Vincent Bugliosi (much like Hardy) managed to create his own Cult of Personality to contend with that of Manson for the purpose of an unprecedented conviction and the harshest punishments. In contrast to person’s that physically carried out the home invasion and murders, one has to wonder how much responsibility Charles Manson should be burdened with, if he managed to attract otherwise educated college kids to a derelict ranch in California.
How much would your average person if you can fast-talk a person into running criminal errands for you?
In the case of Linda Kasabian, immunity is granted if you can throw your co-conspirators under the bus for the prosecution. Does it justify having been excused for her participation?
Society didn’t show much leniency in spite of the group having participated in a ‘Manson Cult’ as per the Prosecution’s case. In other words, they were excused from sharing responsibility just because they got ‘caught up’ in Charles Manson’s charisma and quasi-socialism.
Susan Atkins, died in September 2009, at age 61, at the prison in Chowchilla. She had been denied parole 18 times and also had been denied compassionate release after her cancer diagnosis.
Charles “Tex” Watson (born Dec. 2, 1945), Mule Creek State Prison, Ione. Tried separately from the others, convicted in October 1971. Has been denied parole 14 times. Next scheduled hearing in 2016.
Leslie Van Houten (born Aug. 23, 1949), women’s prison in Chino. After the commutation of her death sentence, she was retried twice. The first ended in a hung jury; the second ended in conviction, with a life sentence. Denied parole 19 times. Eligible again in 2018.
Bruce Davis (born Oct. 5, 1942), California Men’s Colony near San Luis Obispo. Convicted of the murders of Gary Hinman in July 1969 and Shorty Shea in August 1969. In March 2013, Gov. Jerry Brown refused to sign off on a recommendation of parole. In March 2014, Davis was again recommended for parole; in August of that year, Brown again blocked his release.
Bobby Beausoleil (born Nov. 6, 1947), Oregon State Penitentiary. Convicted of the murder of Gary Hinman. A parole hearing scheduled for February 2015 was postponed.
Steve “Clem” Grogan (born May 24, 1952). Convicted of the August 1969 murder of Shorty Shea. The jury recommended a death sentence, but a judge reduced it to life in prison, saying Grogan ‘was too stupid and too hopped on drugs to decide anything on his own.’ Paroled in 1985.
Just fucked up politics?
Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme (born Oct. 22, 1948). Not involved in the 1969 murders, she was convicted of a 1975 assassination attempt on President Ford in Sacramento. Initially incarcerated in the federal prison in Dublin, Calif., she was later moved to facilities in West Virginia and in Fort Worth. She was paroled in 2009 and reportedly lives in New York.
Are there any perks of being associated with a brain-washing cult? While subjective, I think each managed to garner some semblance of sympathy for having been duped by the ‘diabolical’. Then you have pop-culture to consider. Each have benefited from it directly (fan mail, money to canteens, paid interviews, etc.) in one way or another. Would anyone care otherwise if the case hadn’t been sensationalized by the era of pop-Icons?
The Cult of Personality of Anton LaVey:
It’s become so oft repeated that I wonder if anyone stops to consider what they are even saying. “Did LaVey attract you to Satanism and if so, what did you find once you got there?” As if it’s some place you can visit like a theme park. There’s pros and cons to being associated with that sort of thing on the outset but internally it’s enough to make your beast buck. LaVey wasn’t my doorman and yet, he was certainly the ring leader in an entertaining side-show of attractions. The would-be, could-be, Satanist that stumbles into an identity pin or aesthetic because it seems like the right fit, may find himself way out of his league when asked to articulate it. Is he excused from responsibility for not knowing the terrain? People are so unforgiving of ignorance and stupidity that these folks just end up pinatas until they tire of being poked and prodded with a stick. Either they disappear from your sight entirely or they duck and run for cover. I know I tire of the same gag-reel playing on a loop. It becomes boring like watching old re-runs. Surely there’s something else out there?
Either you are choosing or having your choices made for you by those that guide your hand like a puppeteer. Just because you can’t see the strings doesn’t mean they aren’t there. If you happen to notice them, you can’t very well blame the guy behind the curtain because you were too caught up in the show to realize you were the entertainment. I certainly won’t excuse you for it, how about a bit more self-honesty? I judge because I can, not because I have to. Question is, if I did excuse you, would that give you cause to be less stupid and ignorant? I doubt it. I don’t think it matters either way. It’s just an observation on my part. Some people go on and on till death doing the same thing, no closer to the stuff they want than they started. I can only conclude that they must not want it that bad, it’s too tough to get it, or the goals of others are just a distraction from personal failure.