Saturday, April 21, 2018

Today is Charlotte Brontë’s birthday

Charlotte Brontë was born in Yorkshire 202 years ago today.

She came into this world on April 21st 1816, in Thornton in Yorkshire.

She appears in many articles on this blog, as both her novels and her life are of great interest and relevance. There were innumerable articles and reviews and some biographies already in existence, but I described some of the unseen influences I detected, producing some original material.

To mark the occasion, here is a quotation from Villette that I particularly like because it mentions London:

"I did well to come," I said ... "I like the spirit of this great London which I feel around me. Who but a coward would pass his whole life in hamlets; and for ever abandon his faculties to the eating rust of obscurity?"

She also mentions St. Paul’s Cathedral in a descriptive paragraph that reminds me of the essence of London near the river on a fine spring morning:

Prodigious was the amount of life I lived that morning. Finding myself before St. Paul's, I went in; I mounted to the dome: I saw thence London, with its river, and its bridges, and its churches; I saw antique Westminster, and the green Temple Gardens, with sun upon them, and a glad, blue sky, of early spring above; and between them and it, not too dense, a cloud of haze.

St. Paul’s with Victorian visitors in 1848, a year in which Charlotte and Anne Brontë visited London together:

Thursday, April 19, 2018

April 19th is Primrose Day

Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli died on this day in 1881.

For many years his statue in Parliament Square was decorated with primroses on the anniversary, but while the custom may still be partly observed where his tomb at Hughenden is concerned there is nothing to see today in central London.

This is a pity, but these customs do sometimes die a natural death.

This article describes the glory days of Primrose Day and the Primrose League.

Many books by and about this great man are still in print, so he is not completely forgotten yet.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Cults and the sole supplier syndrome

This article contains a few thoughts about a feature of many cults and cult-like organisations, a feature that I think of as the sole supplier syndrome.

Cult members may push the message that they and their organisation are the sole source of something - for example, information, hope for the future, democracy for an oppressed nation or even salvation. You will never get what you want without their help; only they can inform you about and explain something; only they have the answers; they are the elite and nothing and no one else is any good to you.

It is best to beware of anyone who tries to attract your interest and recruit you by playing the sole supplier game. You can expect to hear a lot of this sort of thing:

“We are your only hope.”  “We are the only ones who can tell you what is really going on.” “Without us, the evil regime will never be overthrown.” “When civilisation collapses, you will die unless you join us now and learn survival skills.”

It is important to understand that this is what they all say. It is a case of same game, different players.

If you buy their messages, they may try to get you to support or even commit everything that you have to their cause or movement.

Cults and their representatives want your money; they want to fool, manipulate and intimidate you. If you seem suitable for membership, they will want to draw you in and control you, your life and your thoughts. They will want you to reply on them for everything and depend on them alone.

In order to avoid being taken advantage of, it is essential to research everything and to expose the implied messages, subject them to reality testing and determine what the ulterior motives and hidden agenda are.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Dealing with cult members: some beneficial by-products

Some of the warnings I have been giving about what to expect when dealing with cult members and cult-like organisations apply to and can be useful for dealing with other, often very different, people and organisations.

There may not be a cult in the case, but some people speak and behave in similar ways to cult members.

For example, I have recently encountered some very familiar elements while engaged in a war with my local council:

Lying and hypocrisy, cover stories, tricking people, treating people as if they were theirs to command, denying allegations, dismissing complaints, ignoring people’s views and points they make, inviting people to meetings under false pretences, harassing people, talking like script-ridden robots, leaving people stranded ... I have seen it all before: same game, different players!

It was devastating the first time around, but the work I did afterwards has definitely helped me to cope better with the current, potentially devastating, situation.

Understanding what I am up against and knowing what to expect has helped me to stay on top of things and even get ahead of the game.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Dealing with cult members: yet more warnings

More crucially important points to bear in mind:

- Spend enough time with cult members and they may come to think of you as one of them, behave as if you are theirs to command and expect you to abide by their rules. They may even try to stop or punish you if you speak or behave in ways that they find unacceptable.

- You may become public enemy no.1 if you are seen as a threat or start to confront them.

Being lied to and left stranded, both literally and metaphorically, is bad enough; being let down and betrayed when a favour is needed and being dropped and avoided by someone you thought was a friend is even worse. Worse still is being turned against and attacked by cult members because they consider you insubordinate or a criminal, traitor and enemy - and this only because you are standing up for the truth and speaking out against evil.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Defence Against the Dark Arts Part X: Plus X and Bad Medicine

There are two very amusing short stories that I feel impelled to re-read from time to time. One is Plus X by Eric Frank Russell, the other is Bad Medicine by Robert Sheckley.

Plus X was written by an Englishman, Bad Medicine by an American. Both stories were first published in 1956, in the classic pulp science fiction magazines Astounding Science Fiction and Galaxy respectively.

Plus X is about a human prisoner of war on an alien planet; Bad Medicine is about a homicidal maniac in New York. Both men use psychological methods to escape their condition.

I don’t want to be a spoiler, so will just give a few more details.

Plus X by Eric Frank Russell
John Leeming is the hero of this story. He is a prisoner of war, captured by a reptilian race. He escapes by fooling the enemy, persuading the reptilians that earthmen and their alien allies have invisible, and dangerous, companions.

For me, one of the best scenes is when one of the enemy aliens interrogates another earthman prisoner - who knows nothing about Leeming’s lies - about these companions, to get some independent confirmation. This man has no idea what his captor is talking about, but manages to give very good answers that confirm the story.

He says, “Where did you get this information?”, and when asked whether the invisible companions might manage to take over some of the reptilians, says with great menace, “I wouldn’t be surprised.”

It is all very amusing and very clever.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Dealing with cult members: some more warnings

Some crucially important points to keep in mind when befriending cult members:

-Their friendship is conditional and may end at any time

- Everything you have done for them may count for nothing if you break any of their rules

They may let you down and not return favours. They may cut off contact and turn against or avoid you for what at first might seem incomprehensible or trivial reasons.

Once again I learned this from personal experience, and once again I later found that many other people had similar experiences.

Conditional friendship
You may think that you have a good relationship with a cult member, but there are several factors that could cause it to not be the kind of relationship that you thought it was. There is a good chance that it will come to an abrupt end too.

The members may be hoping for financial or other support, and they may cool off or even drop you when this is not forthcoming or you are unwilling or unable to provide any more. They may hope to convert you, and disappear when they realise that you are not going to join them.