Fundamentalism and its Malcontents
NOW at The American Street.
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Sunday, November 28, 2004
This is not a pope.
THE STARK FIST OF REMOVAL
"It's even more relative than Einstein realized."
"Don't just eat a hamburger -- eat the HELL out of it."
I have simply got to meet Robert Anton Wilson. So Bob, if you're out there, pop on over!
Last night found me poring over one of the several books I have of his, namely "Coincidance", and flipped it open randomly, as his books are so pregnant with synchonicity triggers. I must have wakened the neighbors with my outbursts of laughter.
Well, thank God for the Internet! I have found the section from which I read, and I will excerpt a few passages...
The American Coffee Ceremony
The Javacrucians, a group which looks suspiciously like a parody of the Rosicrucians, has selected the less-controversial caffeine as its sacrament. It also has the simplest theology in history, teaching that one thing only is necessary for salvation, the American Coffee Ceremony -- a variation on the Japanese Tea Ceremony. This is performed at dawn, and you must face east, toward the rising sun, as you raise the cup to your lips. When you take the first sip, you must cry out with intense fervor, "GOD, I needed that!" If this is performed religiously every morning, Javacrucians say, you will face all life's challenges with a clear mind and a tranquil spirit.
SFMB -- the Society of Fred Mertz, Boddhisattva -- was founded by the Finnish-American poet, Antero Alli, and holds that all wisdom is contained in the seemingly inane remarks of Fred Mertz, a minor character of the "I Love Lucy" TV show. By watching "Lucy" reruns continually and meditating on the apparently banal things Fred says -- e.g., "I don't know what's going on around here" or "I don't understand women at all" -- this sect claims you will find the same Enlightenment as in contemplating Zen Buddhist koans such as "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" And just as in Zen, where students are often required to meditate on monosyllables such as "Mu" (no), the SFMB sect would have you meditate on such Mertziana as "Huh?" or "Awww!" until you sense what Joyce would call the epiphany in even the most trivial.
You Too Can Be A Pope
More serious, or at least more desperate, is the Discordian Society and/or Paratheo-Anametamystikhood of Eris Esoteric (POEE), an anarchistic sect divided deliberately into two opposed groups, each claiming to be (I quote) "the first True Religion." Like the witches, the Discordians worship a female divinity, but say She is crazy. Her name, in fact, is Eris, and the ancient Greeks knew her as the Goddess of Chaos; Discordians claim she is also the Goddess of Confusion, Discord, and Bureaucracy. The Discordian orthodoxy, headed by "Ho Chih Zen" (real name, Kerry Thornly), claims this was revealed by a miraculous talking chimpanzee, who appeared in a bowling alley in Yorba Linda, California, in 1957. The POEE sect flatly rejects this, says it is superstitious nonsense intended to attract the gullible, and proves the existence of Eris by Five Proofs, which are logical monstrosities and reduce actually to One Proof -- namely, "If Eris doesn't exist, who put all the Chaos in this universe, you damned atheist?"
Discordians have set out to out-Hensley Hensley by making every man, woman and child on the planet a Pope. They are doing this by mass-distribution of Pope cards and have not, of course, neglected to send one of these to the Anti-Pope in France and to the chap in the Vatican who still thinks he's the only Pope. All employees of the Pentagon are, willy-nilly, Discordian saints whether they want to be or not, since Malaclypse has canonized them and incorporated them into a holy order called "Knights Of The Five-Sided Castle," under the patronage of St. Quixote. The Pentagon itself is a religious shrine, said to embody the perfect balance of Chaos and Bureaucracy. Everybody who opposes Discordianism as blasphemous or absurd is an honorary saint too, of the House of the Rising Hodge, while Discordians are saints of the House of the Rising Podge.
Discordianism shuns dogma but has one catma, the Syadastan Affirmation, which reads, "All affirmations are true in some sense, false in some sense, meaningless in some sense, true and false in some sense, true and meaningless in some sense, false and meaningless in some sense, and true and false and meaningless in some sense." Discordians call this the Free Mantra -- unlike the Transcendental movement, they charge no fees -- and insist that if you repeat it 666 times you will achieve Spiritual Enlightenment, in some sense.
The Order of the Golden Calf had a brief career but now seems defunct. The members, who all lived in Berkeley, California, had a magnificent gold (or imitation gold) statue of a calf and carried it around to places where other sects were proselytizing on the streets. There they would do an Adoration of the Calf, distribute leaflets describing their idol as "the first victim of monotheistic bigotry," and urge everybody else to "lighten up your act a little."
The John Dillinger Died For You Society, run by a pseudonymous "Dr. Horace Naismith" (allegedly a Playboy editor by day and a maniac only by night), accepts as its savior John Dillinger, the gunman who robbed 23 banks and three police stations before he was shot dead by FBI agents in 1934. JDDFYS members place memorial wreaths and floral bouquets at the Biograph Theater, where Dillinger was gunned down, every year on the anniversary of his death, June 22. Their major spiritual teaching comes from Mr. Dillinger, whom they call St. John the Martyr, and consists of the words, "Lie down on the floor and keep calm."
Power! Sex! Success! Money!
I have saved the best -- or worst -- for last. The Church of the Sub-Genius in Dallas has borrowed a bit from all of the above, and from every other religion on the planet, uses high-powered advertising techniques in the style of the most aggressive Christian Evangelists, and promises in capitals to teach you the secret of POWER! and SEX! and SUCCESS! and MONEY! It will also put you in touch with SUPERHUMAN FORCES, save you from THE CONSPIRACY, and even show you how to achieve SLACK and literally get something for nothing. That is admittedly a tall order, but the founder, J.R. "Bob" Dobbs, is no ordinary mortal. In fact, it is far from clear whether anybody has actually ever seen "Bob" at all, at all, and Sub-Genius advertising darkly hints that before an ordinary human can survive a meeting with "Bob" it is necessary to go to Dobbstown, located somewhere in South America, and have special surgery to "open the third nostril." Even then, it is warned, you might come back from such a Close Encounter with inflamed eyes, headache, total or partial amnesia, and other stigmata of UFO contactees, and you will probably be harassed by agents of THE CONSPIRACY who will appear at your door pretending to be Jehovah's Witnesses and try to get inside to brainwash you.
I think I have found the Secret of Power. It is in one of the cheaper Sub-Genius publications More Quotes and Gloats from "Bob" and it reads, "You know how dumb the average guy is? Well, by definition, half of them are even dumber than that." Then again, it might be in other gems of Dobbsiana such as "Don't just eat a hamburger -- eat the HELL out of it," or "Fuck them if they can't take a joke," or maybe even the Dark Saying, "GOD spelled backwards is DOG, but BOB spelled backwards is still BOB."
...as "Bob" sums it up elsewhere, "Hell, it's even more relative than Einstein realized."