16 November 2006

Belief follows practice

See, I remember Discordianism, so I predict that the ultimate irony is going to be in 15 years when, given the resilience of the religious impluse in the human mind, many of the people who use the Flying Spaghetti Monster as purely a giddy way of scoffing at traditional religionists will find, to their surprise, that they have become *sincere* Pastafarians.

- isntitironic@journalfen.net

The above comment encapsulates the central secret of all politics, magic, psychology, mass-marketing, etc. I am reminded in this context of the history of my personal favourite mindcontrol cult. SubGenius started as a mockery of batshit religion, in particular fundamentalist Christianity and Scientology. It took self-evidently ridiculous dogma and proceeded to sell it successfully (to a niche market) using exactly the same "sales techniques" (i.e. applied metapsychology / magic) as the aforementioned cults - preaching as performance art, "artwork" which reused and "subverted" powerful commercial memes, etc. Remember that "Bob" was originally clipart from that most powerful of commercial grimoires, the Liber Paginarum Fulvarum.

The niche market, as Ivan Stang said himself was the kind of person who "catches themselves starting to fall for smooth-sounding lies all the time" - i.e. exactly the kind of open-minded and unconventional person who would have joined a cult if their native intelligence didn't get in the way. Now, twenty-six years later, the founders of SubGenius are disturbed that they were too successful and people ended up believing the "self-evident garbage" - to the point where people were actually upset when the Saucers of the Sex Goddesses didn't put an end to the world on 5 July 1998.

This just goes to show that you can't wake people up with the technology used to put people to sleep. The technology does not short-circuit itself just because what it's conveying has nothing to do with reality. Some fundamentalist Christians in the US, for example, seem to believe that Hezbollah now has Saddam's WMD - even long after their masters had given up on trying to push the lie that the WMD ever existed. To use Situationist jargon, d├ętournement which remains on the symbolic can always be recuperated. The only thing which really can dissolve all magic spells whatsoever is the self-activity of the masses.

(Another secret is: the main indication that the future will be different from the present is that the present is different from the past. Be extremely suspicious of anyone who uses the word "always" or "naturally" in this context.)

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A question. Have these guys ever heard of this?? Or vice-versa?