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(Sometimes) Witty Banter
|How to start a cult.
|(oh man, what, sam wrote fiction? yes yes he did)|
How to start a cult.
Step 1: To start a successful cult, you need a reason for the cult (hereon referred to as “cause”) to exist. Monetary gain is a good reason, but this needs to be veiled by reasons that will lure people in. Try, for example, citing made-up celestial beings or aliens. Messages received through direct contact with these beings are a good way to get people to believe in your cause. The messages come from a higher or more advanced power, are untraceable, and are relatively simple to create. Look at the Bible or any other major religious tract for examples. You need to make sure that the messages you say you received are equal parts tremendously hysterical nonsense and grounded notions of stereotypes and beliefs that your target audience believes in. The second part is key so that they do not write you off as another crazy person preaching from a soapbox (or, in this day and age, a weblog). This cause needs to offer possible converts something that their normal society does not offer them. An escape to somewhere is a good example, and used often. One other thing to consider is a name. It needs to be snappy, yet formal, really draw people in. A logo would help, too.
Step 2: Once you have a reason established, you will need a figurehead. This choice may seem easy—yourself—but think about the decision a little bit before finally determining the lord and savior (hereon L&S) of your operation. The first thing to think about is, what do you want the public to envision when they see your cause? If you want them to believe in a higher power, then you will need an artist’s interpretation. Find an artist that won’t ask too many questions, or, if you are skilled in Photoshop, use that. Use a picture of yourself and morph it so that, while it may not look like you at first glance, the more people stare, the more they will believe that you—the ordained speaker of this being—shares a similarity to the higher power. It will affect them on the subconscious. If you want a more concrete L&S, you will need a really good friend. It helps if they have long, stringy hair. A beard is a plus. This person will need to be willing to dress in an odd assortment of clothes predetermined by you. While this may seem fun remember, they are your L&S and they can turn on you if you cheat them. The L&S must also be comfortable walk about preaching the words you make up. This leads quite conveniently into the next step.
Step 3: Create a sacred text. You can also go one of two ways with this step. You can create one almighty sacred text that only the L&S is allowed to see and speak from. If you choose this, you are allowed a little more freedom in what is actually contained in the concrete text. You can design a book, have it bound, and put nothing in it—if you trust your L&S enough. This way, you do not have to come up with an entire sacred text at once. You can develop and tweak it over time in order to respond to your following’s needs and wants. If you are quick on your feet, this is probably the best way to go, as it will allow you to coax more belief in your cause quicker if the converts feel they are being spoken directly to. Having only one sacred text that followers are unable to handle also adds a little bit to the aura surrounding your cause. It gives everything a mystical feel—the converts do not know what is coming next and will keep coming back, hoping for more good news to guide them in their lives. Your other option is to create a sacred text that is disseminated throughout your target audience. With something concrete to hold fast to, converts may flock to you, once they realize the insight you have into life, granted to you by the aforementioned fictional higher power. The problem with this form of sacred text is that it must be completed at once. Yes, your L&S may be able to extrapolate on principles in homilies, but the text is set in stone. If you go back and edit your sacred text, weakness may (and probably will) be detected. You need to be able to draw your followers into a point of no return. This will lessen your chances of having a mass exodus away from your cause at any time. One thing you might also want to consider is using multiple media for your dissemination of knowledge. The Internet is a powerful entity, these days, and it could prove useful in the initial stages of you cause creation campaign.
Step 4: It has always been important to own land, and creating a cause is no different. In order to create a place to escape to, and where people cannot escape from, you need to find a large tract of land. This land can be anywhere, really, as long as you are willing to work with your environment in order to create the ultimate paradisiacal compound (or at least a compound that gives the illusion that it is everything a follower needs). It needs to be able to comfortably house as many people as you think your cause will have, as well as all buildings necessary to daily life: medical center, volunteer fire department, school, place of worship, town hall and food supply building or mess hall. Any other buildings, such as post offices, police departments, department stores, libraries, bars or shops that sell such frivolities as flowers or toys are not needed. I will discuss why in a moment. Before the buildings are constructed, though, it is absolutely necessary that you find and are able to maintain reliable a reliable source of power and water, but not Internet. You do not want any connection to the outside world. A large, impermeable-without-any-sort-of-concerted-effort fence will help you greatly in this endeavor. Barbed wire is also a plus. If you make sure your land is large enough that the fence is place far from view, except perhaps for the entrance gates (in order for the community to greet new converts to the cause), then your community will have a sense of freedom even if they are locked in for any given amount of time that they do not necessarily know. If they are brainwashed enough, they will not care that they are there indefinitely. Also, you will not need establishments such as police departments because of the rules of conduct you will set up once your cause has gained a large enough following to necessitate the move to your compound. As you have probably noticed, these steps are very interlocked, and it is no difference with this next step.
Step 5: People may wonder why there is no police department or other related necessities, unless you have created an effective protocol for daily living. Since there will be many in the community, a bond will be necessary. A good way to begin this is to make every member give all of his or her earthly possessions to the cause upon entering. This will help pay for the purchase of the land mentioned in step four. This is a tactic utilized by many cults and is quite successful in terms of monetary gain for those in charge, just as long as it is not perceived as monetary gain for the leader by the followers, this would ruin your cause and you will end up murdered in bed or, at the very least, in jail for a very, very long time. You need to assure your followers that everything will be provided for them upon entering. This means securing enough couches, beds, tables, chairs, mirrors, toilets, showers, bathtubs, and other household essentials for every follower. While not the target audience, children will also need toys to play with. Make sure each child has one or two toys. They shouldn’t be too stimulating or allow them to think too openly about the world. Computers, video games or anything that may have the ability to contact the outside world are not recommended. You need the children who are raised within the compound to believe that is their only world. All of the books they will read will be located within the school building and will be pre-determined by you. Again, try and find texts that do not go against what your beliefs are or texts that will allow for much thinking outside the box, as the term goes. This is fairly easy with very young children’s books, but will prove a little more difficult with books for older children and teens. As for a police force, this is where a sense of community is again built up and sustained. By creating a community watch, everyone takes part in the policing of crime, which, as creator of your cause, you abhor and see to it that everyone else in the community does, too. By working together, people will create bonds within the community, reinforcing the lack of need to leave the compound. Another area that will help establish a sense of community is in the field of food production. If you choose an area that is suitable for growing any sort of food whatsoever, do so. Even if it is not a staple food, grow it so that you can harvest and then sell portions of it to other places around your compound. It is important only you leave the compound to do this business. You do not want to allow your followers a chance to escape; this would not be good for the cause.
Step 6: This is the final step in creating a cause and, some may argue, the most important. You need to have an end point. When you have people convert to your cause, they will want a guarantee of something, anything really. For example, tell them that at a given date and time the supreme being will take every follower to his home planet (in the case of aliens) and bestow upon them a life of ultimate hedonism. This promise of a bacchanalian life makes the sacrifices of living in the compound worthwhile. Followers will look forward to meeting their supreme being. The problem with this final point is that, when the predestined date arrives, people will be disappointed if nothing happens. One way to circumvent this problem is to escape. With your money and earthly treasures, escape to an island or other sufficiently-hidden place where you will never, ever be found. Change your name and appearance. Once people realize they have been duped, they will make it their life’s goal to commit as many treasonous acts unto you as humanly possible. The other, less painful option is to convince the followers that something ingestible is needed in order to finally commune with the greater spirit. Saying that a trance or being asleep is a convenient way to do this. If they are true followers, they will not question you and take whatever you tell them, too. Kool-aid has been used, but why follow trends, especially when this is your cause. Why not try something that, in history books later on, the cause will be remembered for. Try lacing banana bread with something. Committing a mass murder like this will be tricky, but having a patsy is a great way around this. Here you see another benefit to not being the public head of the cause. You will be blamed for everything, making living after the cause is over very tough. People don’t tend to look too kindly on mass murderers, especially those that did it just for monetary gains. Riotous mobs don’t generally give thought to the idea that it is not your fault you gained so many followers, that so many people were disillusioned with life as they knew it to the point that they were willing to give up everything they had in order to start a whole new life. They simply know you did something wrong and want your blood for doing it. If you have a patsy, though, you can easily be free and clear. An effective way to establish a patsy is to make sure that no one really knows whom the head is. This is a little tough, if you have a very public figurehead, but if you manage to keep enough about your cause under wraps, then this will become much easier. While everyone is in the compound, select a scapegoat. Obviously, do no tell them, it will ruin everything. Up until the cause has run its course, you need to create an assortment of documents that all point to the selected person being in charge. This may be difficult, and you need to make enough of these and spread them around the compound so that they are easily found, but in the end it will be worth it. As long as there are no rolls on file and you seem to be just another member of the cause, you can slip away unseen, pocketing everything. When the police get wind of the mass suicide, they will see the “beloved leader” dead with the others, just another member of a lost cause.
|Tags: cult, story, fiction, how to
|(Insert Ethical Dilemma Here)
|So, this is again straight out of the field notes. I know I switch tenses, I use wrong words, I also don't care. But yeah, this is the ethical dilemma, of sorts, i guess (easiest thing to call it) that I've encountered just 1 full day into the field. huzzah.|
We’re walking along in Franklin, minding our own business when we see two dogs come up to us—a shepherd/lab mix and a black mutt. They were just strolling down the street, no owners anywhere. They come up to us. We check them—collars but no tags. So they were someone’s dogs. They weren’t skinny, or even dirty, they just didn’t have tags. Who puts a collar on a dog and doesn’t give it a tag? We continued walking, they continued following us. This was getting annoying. Why wasn’t anyone coming for these dogs? Who just let their dogs run like that. At this point we were back in front of the bookstore. I sat down with the shepherd, who was calm and kept pushing up against my legs to be petted while Michael went after the smaller dog, who jetted down the street, in and out of traffic. We went into the bookstore asking if a) they knew the dogs or b) what we could do with them. They said the dogs looked a little familiar, but also that there were a bunch of dogs that just ran free. Ran free. What the fuck? Who lets their dogs just run free in a town with busy fucking roads? Up north they would be picked up and taken to the shelter or at least have tags. There are leash laws too, for Christ sake.
Michael comes back a few minutes later sans dog. What are we supposed to do now? One dog is gone and we still have one that is following us around. We don’t know where he goes and we don’t know what to do. We can’t just leave him, he’ll get hit by a car or something. After working with dogs for so long, and seeing so many animals just left in shelters or put down, this was killing me. I joked that we should call Lisa and see if there were funds to adopt a dog. I said it jokingly but no, I was serious, I would love to keep the dog, he was big and sweet and soft and I had named him Gus. It seemed to fit him. We see the town hall; I go in while Michael holds onto Gus. This was made a little bit easier by the leash I had gotten out of my car. The woman at the front desk was no help. There is no policy in Franklin for dogs. NO FUCKING POLICY? With mountains so close, not even close but right there, and hunting such a prevelant thing, how are there no laws, no policies? Is there even a leash law? Goddamnit. Michael suggests we walk a little further. At this point we’re asking everyone we see if they know the dogs. No one does. We try a few houses. Nothing. We cross the street and are near a church, completely out of ideas. What are we supposed to do? Just leave him? I didn’t want to but I couldn’t think of anything else. Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck. I don’t want to just let the dog go. But we do, and we try to walk away, but no, Gus follows us. And he keeps following us. We ask the mailman. He says they look familiar but don’t know where they belong. We’re coming up to the courthouse and I’m hoping we see a cop. They can take care of the dog. But no, not that lucky.
On the other side of the courthouse building we saw two people talking. They didn’t know the dog either, but reiterated that a lot of dogs just sort of wander around. We needed to go so they distracted the dog while we walked away. I want Gus. I didn’t want to leave him. Being what some may call an animal activist, or puppy lover and whatever you want to call me, I know I am going to be thinking about this for a while. We keep seeing dogs everywhere, unleashed and just running. We’ve already almost hit a few. I am not liking this. People need to take better care of their pets, at least fucking put some tags on them.
|Tags: franklin, dogs, people who don't know how to take care of things
|Sitting in class, my head in a fishbowl
|So I'm in the class I TA right now. My teacher is babbling about god knows what. I have had a sinus headache and a regular headache since yesterday. The pressure is pretty intense, it feels like someone is grabbing my nose, but the tough cartilage part, so no give whatsoever. Couple that with the usual thumping in the temples, it isn't pretty. My day is only beginning to, so this is going to get fun. Haha. I have a meeting with my creative writing professor to discuss poetry, writing, and how I have mini mental breakdowns when thinking about these topics. Then there's a poet giving a reading tonight. She'll also be in our class on Thurs to workshop some student's poems. Its always interesting to have a "pro" writer workshopping. It is enlightening and humbling and belittling and awesome all at the same time, especially if the writer likes your story.|
I will post some pics from RBF a little later once my camera is charged again.
I also found out I will be taking over (I think) the underground newspaper in the spring. Look for the following articles to spring up.
Street Fighter Verse Mortal Combat: Fight!
Catholic School Girls: Why I love Them
Buffalo Wings, The King of Food
Going to Jail for the Day: An Odyssey.
so yeah, that's what
|Tags: writing, How to pass a test
|The Cheeseburger Principle, how to pass a test
|Ever wonder what to write about when you're pressed for time during an exam? Do you have absolutely nothing else to say on the topic of imperialism and how it affected the economy and environment of the Caribbean? Never fear. Employ the Cheeseburger Principle, and you will be fine.|
Question: What is the Cheeseburger Principle (TCP)?
Answer: The Cheeseburger Principle is a unique concept in literature whereby, if done correctly, you can fool the teacher into thinking you know much, much more than you actually do.
But Sam, however will I be able to use this? It seems nigh on impossible!
You need a few tools before you can perform this first:
A) A teacher, preferably older, who has given the same essay test so many times that his soul has been sucked down and away from him so far that is stuck somewhere between the fourth and sixth levels of hell. If your teacher is young and fresh and still cares about teaching, still cares that you, his or her charge, still needs to know about the Romantic period in literature, well then DO NOT TRY THIS METHOD. I repeat, you will fail if you try this on a new teacher. It is imperative that you try this only on an older, I-don't-care-anymore professor. If you try this on a younger teacher, you will not only fail the test, but they will make an example of you. This will hurt you more emotionally and psychically than hit in the crotch with a 9-Iron by Tiger Woods would do to you physically.
B) An essay test. This is much easier to find than letter A. I would say that the only way this would not work would be in a Math test, where you would need a lot of numbers (Then again, I do not know if Math tests even have essay questions--I am not a Math major, I avoid anything to do with numbers, except when they are on a value menu or when I am using them in snarky footnotes in my own writing, like this would be if I could do footnotes on here). Literature, History or Anthropology Tests seems to work well.
So there you are, you have an old teacher and an essay test. The teacher is sitting at his desk in the corner, glasses sitting on top of a stack of papers, his eyes closed. He may or may not be dead. This isn't important. If he is, that is sad to a certain degree but just think, you can say you saw the old guy kick it. "He went so quietly, doing what he loved," you would say. Issues of death aside, you are at your desk watching the clock slowly slide towards the end of class time. You still have a whole essay to do. You are in a literature class on the Jacobean period of English literature and how it is reflected in contemporary literature, if at all. You know some of the famous names--Willy Shakespeare, John Donne--and you know the names of some of Shakespeare's stuff--something about some pervert who Lear(s), and that one about those two kids who kill themselves--but you have no clue what they are actually about. You make a reference to West Side Story in your introduction. You have your hook, but nothing else. You manage to get through two short paragraphs detailing, well, you don't know, and now you're completely out of information. What to do, what to do. This is where TCP comes in.
You need to sculpt a sentence that, while the teacher is skimming and scanning your essay, they will not think twice about thinking whether or not the sentence belongs there or even makes sense. You need something that does not make sense, but fills up a lot of space, because as we were taught in freshman year high school english, the most important sentences are the first and last of every paragraph, so as long as those are relevant you're okay. One thing to think about is carefully inserting the name of a popular theorist/writer/critic of the time you are writing about.
Bad Example 1: Shakespeare liked cheeseburgers, he thought they were yummy but he did not eat them on Fridays because he was a Christian and that was wrong.(25)*
Bad Example 2: Shakespeare ate cheeseburgers daily.
Example one, while clocking in at twenty-five whole words (a hefty amount for any sort of writing), there aren't enough large words to make it seem scholarly to the grazing eye. Example two is bad because it is only four words.
Good example: While Shakespeare may have eaten a myriad of cheeseburgers in his lifetime, the sisypheon task of circumlocution around the Jacobean era only leads to sophistry.
First, you have Shakespeare and Jacobean in the sentence. Second, there are twenty-five words in the sentence (what a multitudinous sentence!). Third, there are three big words in that sentence; sisypheon, circumlocution and sophistry (and maybe even four, if you include myriad, but that is debatable). Hot damn.
Sentences like that should fool the professor into believing you may actually know what you are talking about. The problem, then, is this: how often do you employ this tactic. To figure this out, you must employ a little bit of simple math (I know, I know, but trust me, it is easy, even I can do it).
(# of Sides of Paper the essay must be) x (# of paragraphs you feel will explain your topic) / (est. amt of sentences per paragraph) = (# of faux sentences allowed per paragraph)
(3 Sides) x (6 paragraphs) / (8 sentences per paragraph)
18 / 8 = 2.25.
This means you would be allowed 2.25 faux sentences in this essay. Round down though, you can't be too careful, just in case the professor decides to maybe actually read an essay. You can only hope then that he is a) not wearing his glasses or b)really, truly doesn't give a damn.
This is the Cheeseburger Principle, I hope it serves you well.
Epilogue: People say you cannot write about cheeseburgers. I realize this, it is an example, folks. Though, if you do manage to sucessfully talk about cheeseburgers, please send me the essay, i want to see it.
* I do not know if Willy S was a Christian, I am going to assume he wasn't, but for all intents and purposes in this sentence, just go with it.
|Tags: Writing, How to pass a test