Saturday, February 25, 2006

Death Cults

Which one is your favorite? I prefer Jim Jones and the People's Temple over Marshall Applewhite's Heaven's Gate cult. There's something about the whole Jonestown mass suicide/massacre that is more impressive than black track suits and Nikes, with a purple diamond sheet covering your rotting corpse. Also, Heaven's Gate followers were all about comet Hale Bopp veiling a mothership. Come on, this is not a good enough reason for me to castrate myself and live off of Crystal light for the rest of my short life.

There have been smaller cult's popping up now and then. There was the Scandinavian one that I barely remember happening after the Heaven's Gate suicide fiesta. Oh, and the Japanese nerve-gas-in-the-subway path to God. David Koresh and the Branch Davidians would have just ended up as an eclectic rock band if the ATF didn't crash their compound (damn you Janet Reno). Seriously though, that group would have ended up the same way that most of these cults do, and that's badly. I've been thinking that we're due for another wave of these cults popping up before 2012, the year the Mayan calendar ends.

Let's examine what a death cult is: A system of religious beliefs that have death as a pathway to salvation as their core doctrine (and/or the death of a central figure brings about life), all of which consists of a body of followers. What part of that sounds different from that old time religion? I bet the only difference is that it's a matter of numbers and adherence to conventions.

Aren't most of us taught that our real treasures are elsewhere and to get there we must first die? Now I can accept that things can get better when I die, but I don't want to live my life thinking that I must forfeit something here so I can get it there (that's omitting sane sacrifices). That to me smacks of social control. Now here's the most devious part of it all, these more conventional groups don't tell you to off yourself, or speed up the process. Why is this? Because there is a need for you to stick around and do what they want you to do. "They" are in the real sense shepherds and a lot of us are the livestock, or as you might have gleaned from my profile message, chattel: property. They use the death cult concept to serve themselves. They would get nothing out of it if you were to kick the bucket prematurely. However, this is but one part of the "They concept" (revealed later). Some parts would actually benefit from your death, say, at retirement; while another depends on the senior turnout at the polls--kind of a double edged sword--try to guess which ones I'm referring to, it's fun. Anyways, I digress.

Who are "They"? Good question. I don't know how to refer to them in any other way. It's so overlapping and redundant, an MLM of mass manipulation, a trickling down of dividends and awareness, if you will. I think that a number of us are aware of it and are savvy enough to use the system while not letting the system become us.

Continuing, They is a product of "We", the masses/people, and is an interaction of religion, business (who use the "live for today, buy before you die" spin), and government (you are unsafe, unless...). Business and government are the oftentimes heartless two-thirds who I said that I'd mention to you from before. They "is", and while not actually being any one of the three, the "is" is the sum of its parts. It's sort of an omnipresent entity of our own making that actually competes with God (his foil), rather than draws us closer to him.
We do this to ourselves, I believe.

Let's focus on the religious part term for a bit. They is born of necessity, convenience, and culture. They are demigods who act as relative intermediaries between the celestial authorities and ourselves. By this I mean that they are not go-betweens, rather that They are a cultural model on earth of what we perceive our celestial authority to be. It's how we relate the concept with the reality and how we cope with our own inevitable death. This is what we get out of the deal. It relieves us of the burden of the highest levels of leading with it's responsibilities, moral guidance, and salving life's ugly realities. Just be aware of their motives before surrendering yourself to their way.

Salvation is more perceptively attainable when it comes with a trademark. "This is an official pathway to God as sanctioned, certified, and anointed by the Lord himself, so said the founder who had it revealed to him in a hot dog stand." So said some guy (boy, I feel sorry for the real messengers--God's got to tell somebody). "I've never met God, but Bob said he did and I believe him, 'cause Bob would never lie. Now my eternal soul hinges on what Bob's unverifiable experience has produced. I guess that I'm caught in a catch 22 of exercising faith." Now this sounds more like our harmless crazies only cult, doesn't it? But switch out Bob with Moses or Abraham, and hot dog stand with a mountain top and what do you have?

I think that the best way to choose a death cult is to see what kind of fruit that they bare. Do they want you to make an immediate "jump" to salvation? Why do They want your money? They all do because nothing runs just on sunshine and moonbeams, right? Well, at least nothing can run on moonbeams. Make sure that your money is going to do the kind of good that you expect it to and that you get your God money's worth. It's God's money and he should know how to spend it properly, right? Find out where it goes, that'll tell you volumes about the religion that you subscribe to.

Continuing on with this process of scrutiny, what kind of men and women lead the flock? Do their financial welfare and interests depend on church funds? If so, are those leaders using that to profit unjustly? What amount of this money goes back into the flock? Is there manipulation of the flock for political purposes, saying that blessings and/or their salvation depends on their compliance? They might use the concept of one's death as a sacrifice for all to inflict guilt, rather than hope, or using your own inevitable death as leverage of fear and uncertainty to get you with the program. You perform a role in mortality so that you may "live" in happiness and paradise in the hereafter, death being the gate; They are the hinge that swings that gate, manipulating our perceptions of death.

See how the concept of dying to live can be used to benefit a few relatively powerful people? See how government could use a benign facade in religion to affect minds and votes. Think of how a crafty politician plays the religion card and how religious leaders apply pressure to politicians to get what they want. So it is what it is, then, right?

Well, there is hope for religion, I believe. In a good religion this element is minimized enough to where it doesn't effect your spirituality and at least some of us on this earth have a choice of which religion we'd like to follow. But, we still can be slave to the concept of death and making deals to overcome death's trappings in order to secure a better life beyond--our insecurities can betray us into making hasty commitments and life choices. We have words and exhortations that tell us what is beyond and what to do. We get warm fuzzies and revelations of our own as to what's true, but still we do not actually know. It is our lack of knowledge of the hereafter that is our weak spot and the reality that only death will bring about the answers is the real kicker.

We need placation and succor. That is why cults can get a number of people to commit suicide and why a good deal of the rest of us are willing to go along with the name brand "safe" religions, some of which might belong to the They. I know what I believe and it's as arbitrary as the next differing view, yet I continue. However, I continue with a knowledge that while I must have conviction and faith, I must also be humble enough to accept the possibility that I might have been misled. Because, if I am prideful and not open to this possibility, if I have not the truth, truth will pass me by unnoticed.

Just remember this and you'll be okay: If you live your life so that you won't have to fear the reaper, no one will be able to hold your afterlife as collateral. I don't have a problem with following a path to God. I just have a problem with the traffic cops, tour guides, the idiots, and toll booths along the way.


(This post has been updated and altered since)

Friday, February 17, 2006

Somnambulist Awake!

I've had suspicions for some time now that my reality has not been what it seems. Between catching myself doing things unexplainable, and having the wherewithal to ask myself what it was that I was doing, I noticed that I'd been sleepwalking most of my life. I've been part of an apparatus unaware--perhaps the liver--I've had to deal with poisonous tasks. I don't know why I've allowed myself to be taken over by them, but for most of my life they have been my caretaker and lord. Now that I've had some time to process and overcome some of my programming, I'm beginning to see. There are many like me who sleepwalk and few who are free.

It's not as mysterious as I once tried to believe, this controlling force that compels me. I see that we all tend to immerse ourselves in tasks. Where is our free time? Tasks that are given to us by our "masters" in order to exert control over us are forcing us into a sleepwalk state. I've wondered, who wishes to keep us sleeping most of the time and why? Whoever it is, needs me, don't they? There seems to be redundant and varied levels of sleepwalkers, but I've found that I'm unique, special. I'm required to be entirely controlled. There are things, terrible things, that society needs to be done. It's my job to do those things; to be inhuman and ruthless. But with my new found awareness I ask, Is it too much to ask to feel human?

It seems that I'm like an action figure, taken out of a box once in a while when I'm needed to do dirty deeds. It is in this action mode that I'm closest to waking. It is also in this state that I'm sent to drive the dagger in, so to speak. Somewhere between the victim's struggle for life I have had chances to wake and stop what I was doing--a realization that one person's struggle to live may be the only life that they experience. It is in this moment that demonstrates how dead I am in contrast. A realization that I do not truly love, that I do not have real passion or vitality, that I have no tangible identity, that in my mindless obedience I learn neither discipline or have any real satisfaction, only that I consume and continue to move about as if on a wire.

I'm not a full sleeper now; I'm malfunctioning, and this is the source of my inner discord. I'm half aware of my bondage and too weak to deviate from my purpose. I assume that if I were a sleeper again then it would not be an issue at all, so I must fully awake.

I've wondered what happens when one awakes and breaks free from the apparatus. Is the sensation of liberation dangerous? Will it arouse other sleepers around you? Will they seek the destruction of their masters, or reject the fact that they are not free and turn on their liberator? Will the body reject me?

I wonder if there is anything more threatening than the concept of real freedom? I'd like to think that we are indeed free, but may I ask, are you and I truly free? Who owns your dwelling, really? Who can take your property at the mention of immanent domain? Who pipes suggestions at regular intervals for you to consume? Who carefully selects what you read, think, and believe? What resources do you have, really? Who has an inordinate amount of resources at their feet? Why will it never matter who becomes president anymore? Go ask William Hearst; go ask the Rockefellers; go and ask the elite with their secret societies. But thoughts like that are for the paranoid, aren't they?

I'm tired of fleeting belief, hope, and placation. I itch for more control of my swinging limbs, my routine, and the ability to stop doing these horrid errands that I'm sent on. Although my box is comfortable and warm, I know that it is my death. But, I don't have to worry in my box--invisible, but real--I spend most of my time thinking in there about baseball, reliving childhood memories, the kind of car I want, and what women I'd like to have. In my box I live syntheticly. In my box I sense no time. In my box I die. Life slips away while I dream up more and more fantasies. Those fantasies can't be used to pass time anymore. My anger fills this box, oozing in like antifreeze, sweet and deadly, thawing out the dormant awareness which overcomes the cattle-brained yearnings of a worker bee.

Whatever the apparatus wants it must get. What am I to have other than a stay of execution? My life is maintained so long as it is useful. I sense that I'm not supposed to be thinking about these things. I wonder if they are aware that I'm learning?

I am a somnambulist waking.

(Inspired from the classic German expressionist film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919). This was loosely based on the somnambulist character, Cesare's, point of view, but it probably comes across as a Matrix rip off and could be confused with some Dune references. This is just a riff on the whole puppet/puppet master theme.)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


This is my other remaining cyanograph. I used an old picture, got a large blown-up negative of it, then did the graph. It's a lot of work to turn a picture blue, but it looks cool. You can see some texture in this one. I used a course paper, very pulpy. Sorry, this isn't weird. I've included extra pictures for you. Of course, I can't take credit for them.

This is Vern. He's hanging out on the ranch sitting on the tub of an old Lizzy in this graph. Vern was born 1899 in Ferron, Utah. He started herding sheep when he was eight. Even at that age, he'd stay up with the sheep and his dog overnight, by himself. At age nine Vern bought an 1889, 32 caliber Winchester Special rifle off an old outlaw/prospector. This helped him kill off coyotes and other predators, so as to protect his flock. Vern also was a crack shot, so long as his target was moving. He has been known to hit a deer running at full steam between the eyes. If he had to use more than one round to do the job, then he was pissed off. He liked to ride the rails and always carried his Winchester Special or his Colt Savage pistol.

(Dapper Vern with a stogie, left picture; Cowpoke Vern, right picture, sitting on the left.)

The amazing thing about Vern was that he was such a hard worker, fighter, and determined individual. He was afflicted with polio at three. This withered one of his legs to a degree, but he never made it an issue. By age twelve, Vern was old enough to work in the coal mines of Carbon County. His first job was setting explosives in the small crawlspaces and also drilling the holes for the dynamite, using a hand cranked drill. Vern worked in the mines until in his late thirties.

One of Vern's passions was fighting. Whether it was a boxing match or a bar room brawl, he would always win, or make the other guy wish that he'd lost. Vern also made many trips to Tijuana during prohibition. That's all that was said about that. You can figure out the rest.

(Vern and his gal, Genevieve, or Gennie.)

Vern was turned down by the Army during WWI for medical reasons (leg). He kept working hard and playing hard, until one of his fellow mine workers got killed in a mining accident. Vern got to know this man's widow and soon married her and adopted her soon to be born daughter. Vern began to change his ways, slightly. He still had tattoos up and down his arms and across his chest and back, made the odd trip to Tijuana; then, in time he had his own son. With a family to feed and the coal mines killing off his friends, Vern decided to take up a trade and become a machinist. After becoming a qualified machinist, Vern moved from his desolate hometown to the capitol, Salt Lake City.

Vern showed up one day at the offices of a machine shop that did work for Kennecott Mining Corporation. He walked in unannounced into the manager's office and told the manager that he was going to work for him. After some conversation, the manager said maybe. Vern said to hell with maybe and then instructed the manager to give him his own shop so he could cut gears for the big mining worked. Vern got his shop, and Kennecott didn't have to wait for complex parts to be shipped from the factory, because he could do a gear in a half day. Mind you, this was before computer controls. Vern could do the complicated conversions of decimals to fractions, and any other machinist math in his head, as well as handle measurements, blueprints, and schematics with ease. This is from a guy who didn't finish the sixth grade.

Vern eventually got religion, had his tattoos removed the old fashioned way (grafted off) and grew old, enjoying his grandkids. While he was a mechanical genius (I have dozens of his tools that he made), he had a passion for raising ferns. Yes, that was his sense of humor shinning through: Vern's ferns.

When Gennie died, he came to live with my family. I came along later in my parents' life and when Vern was in his seventies. When he lived with us he would tell me stories of his youth, but never the ones of his "past". I found out about that stuff later from my dad. Vern was a good man. I remember going shopping with him and if there was a long line he'd push his way to the front, pissing everyone off. But, that was grandad. He was quite the rascal, even in his nineties. He told the nurse, on his dying bed, that his dink itched and then winked at her. I learned a hell of a lot from him in a short amount of time. Thanks, Vern.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Inside the Mind of The Grunt

I scanned the inside of my mind today and this is what turned up. I think there's a story in here somewhere. Actually, it's a scan of a cyanograph that I did a while ago. Except for the horrible scan, only horrible artwork was involved. But, yeah, this is the kind of weird stuff that floats around in my noggin. I hope I didn't frighten anybody too bad.

P.S. click on the image, then enlarge, to get the full detail.