Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Rafael Sabatini: equality is a by-product of envy

I recently came across a quotation from one of Rafael Sabatini’s historical novels that is very relevant today:

“The idea of equality is a by-product of the sentiment of envy. Since it must always prove beyond human power to raise the inferior mass to a superior stratum, apostles of equality must ever be inferiors seeking to reduce their betters to their level. It follows that a nation that once admits this doctrine of equality will be dragged by it to the level, moral, intellectual and political, of its most worthless class.”

From Scaramouche the King-Maker by Rafael Sabatini

This quotation is sometimes said to come from Scaramouche: a Romance of the French Revolution, but it comes from the sequel. The two books were published in 1921 and 1931.

Rafael Sabatini, who died in 1950 so never lived to see what life in the 21st century is like, got it right. What he said about the lowest people trying to drag everyone down to the lowest level is very true. It is getting worse and worse.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Cults, occultists and Stella Gibbons: Part V

Four articles so far; what more can there be to say about Stella Gibbons’s novel The Shadow of a Sorcerer?

One element of particular interest is something I think of as the big anomaly, where people who seem to have everything behave as if they have nothing. They are the exact opposite on the inside of what they appear to be on the outside. They are a combination of glamorous image and empty desperation.

I have some ideas to explore about this phenomenon.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Help and hindrance: luck and chance or unseen influences?

Stella Gibbons’s novel The Shadow of a Sorcerer has inspired a series of articles. A minor incident mentioned in one of them has reminded me of a similar but complementary incident in the life of a colleague.

As described elsewhere, Esmé Scarron had to travel from Austria to Venice to get his final answer from the young girl Meg. He was in a rather desperate state and uncertain about what awaited him as he drove over the mountains.

He was delayed when he reached Venice; he finally rushed into his palazzo to find that his ex-wife and daughter had got there first and had been speaking against him and revealing his secrets to Meg and her mother.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Kathleen Raine died 15 years ago today

The mystical poet and scholar Kathleen Jessie Raine died on July 6th 2003 at the age of 95.

Her poetry - and that of her master William Blake - resonates with me much less than the poetry of Rudyard Kipling and many others does, but I find some of her other writings of great interest and relevance.

She has been featured and quoted in some articles on here, and there are some incidental references in others.

To mark the occasion, I want to say a little more about Kathleen Raine and her life.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Cults: they are all in on it

There is an important lesson to be learned and borne in mind when dealing with cults. This lesson can be applied to other areas too.

The lesson is, they are all in on it.

An example of what I mean comes from a horror film that I saw on TV ages ago. It is a good illustration of the point I want to make:

Some campers witnessed a sinister satanic ceremony in the woods late one night - people dancing round a bonfire, maybe a sacrifice, that sort of thing. They reported it to the local authorities - sheriff, police, the church - and were told that it would be looked into and taken care of.

Nothing was done, because, as the campers found to their increasing horror, they were all in on it. It was no good reporting people to authority figures, because everyone in the neighbourhood was a member of a satanic cult!

Not only that, it was dangerous to let them know that their activities had been discovered. Behaving like a good citizen resulted in retaliation.

Common goals
We may naïvely think that reporting bad behaviour to someone’s colleagues or senior manager or whatever will have good results, but if a cult or group of people with the same agenda is involved, nothing will be done.

I am involved in something like this at the moment. My neighbours and I sent a formal letter of complaint about someone we are being forced to interact with to the very senior bureaucrat who is in overall charge of the operation. Some of my neighbours actually expected our letter to be taken seriously; I knew better.

We got a patronising, dismissive response. Of course we did. 

These people are not interested in justice and establishing the truth. They don’t care about the bad effects they are having on us. They probably condoned or even encouraged the bad behaviour. These people are all working together towards the same goal.

We supplied evidence to support our claims, but it was ignored or explained away. Not only that, but the accused man made some counter-claims against one of us in revenge from being reported. They were all lies of course.

We let them know that we are on to them, and we are paying for it.

We have responded, but I doubt whether much will come of it.

Avoiding disappointment
Knowing about this may help to prevent much frustration and disappointment. It will stop people from expecting much in the way of results.

I remember a time when I blamed myself for not being able to get through to people. I thought that I had not explained myself well enough. I later realised that I was up against a wall; the lack of understanding was deliberate on their part.

So if there are no satisfactory results after reporting or complaining about something, it will not be because the case was not made well but because they are all in on it.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Vance Packard and the Hidden Persuaders

Vernon Howard has been featured and quoted in a few articles. 

Although he did not mention cults specifically, some of his words of wisdom were relevant to this article .

He is not the only American writer to have produced some material that is incidentally useful for understanding how cult members operate. Journalist and social critic Vance Packard wrote a book that exposed the sinister and unethical techniques, the influences and manipulation, the propaganda, the hooks and bait used by advertisers and politicians to make the public buy products, people and ideology.  

It is not just sales people and spin doctors who employ these techniques. Many others use them to overcome resistance and objections and manipulate people into doing something against their best interests: for example, cult members may do it to get people to join or give money and positive publicity to their organisation.

The use of techniques that play upon people’s subconscious minds started in post-war America. The Hidden Persuaders was first published in 1957, but it is still very relevant today.

It is an excellent but very alarming, depressing and disillusioning book. The content speaks for itself and there are many reviews and analyses online, but I want to highlight some of the material that is of particular interest to me and make a few points.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Cults, occultists and Stella Gibbons: Part IV

This article covers more elements that Stella Gibbons’s sorcerer Esmé Scarron and Madeleine L’Engle’s Zachary Grey have in common and goes into more detail about the final betrayal and showdown.

Zachary Grey, Esmé Scarron and the big anomaly
These two people are very different when it comes to attributes such as age, generation, nationality, background and lifestyle yet they both have the power to remotely influence people, they both have a similar bad effect on the girls they target and both behave in much the same way when faced with the loss of the girl. Once again, the similarities are uncanny.

I described a big anomaly in Zachary Grey’s life here. Sometimes his glamorous image disappears and he becomes lost and frightened.

Scarron is much the same. He begins by appearing mysterious, glamorous and charming, then he is shown to be sinister and malevolent and finally he is seen as empty and pitiable.

Just as Zachary tells Vicky Austin that she is all that stands between him and chaos and she is his reason to live, Scarron begs Meg Lambert to help him and says that she is his only hope.
Describing this anomaly and making connections is much easier than finding answers to the questions it raises:

If they are so superior and their lives are so marvellous, why are they so desperate, why do they stake everything on one outcome and why are they destroyed when they lose?

I have had some ideas about this, which will appear in the next and final article in this series.