Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Can We Make It Less Bitter?

When I was a child, I got my dad's Time magazine taken away from me, the one with all the pictures of the dead bodies at Jonestown. He had a subscription from work to Time and Newsweek and one of my big joys at the end of the week was rifling through his briefcase and hoarding these treasures. I learned a lot about the issues of the day and spent many hours clipping articles about women being beaten and torture victims. It passed, as they say, the violet hours. But at five years old, the aerial views of the bodies were a bit too much, and I started to have bad dreams about that distant jungle. Thirty years later, it seems like yesterday, and I spent a lot of my youth researching the People's Temple and other cults. What caused people to put so much faith in a preacher who started out selling pet monkeys door to door is hard to fathom. But like so many shitty situations in life -- families and marriages and jobs that we are born into, have to take, doomed to repeat -- it's like one big roach motel; you come in, but hell if you can find your way out.

I have a copy of the last tapes of that fateful day in Guyana, one of the more unusual gifts I have ever received. There's a lot of crying once people realize that some nut was going to take them out, a lot of "Can't we call Russia for help?" and so forth. One woman, resigned to drink the Flavor Aid, asked if there was a way to make it less bitter. But alas, all the sugar was gone. I think of that question a lot, about so many sadnesses in this life, but usually the answer is no, try as we might with all the potions we can force down our throats.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. Is not life a hundred times too short for us to bore ourselves?" Friedrich Nietzsche

Cocktail Hour
Drinking religious book suggestion: Religion Gone Bad: The Hidden Dangers Of The Religious Right Mel White (He's the father of one of my favorite filmmakers of all-time, Mike White!)

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday!


chris said...

Good lord girl,hit close to home here with this one.

I can't help but notice the Ammount of young people who voted for Obama,he is going to be there great leader and they are willing to follow him at all cost.

Some people made informed decissions,others are just following blindly.

You timing and execution for this piece could not be any better. Very well written as usual.

Anonymous said...

My fellow Americans blindly followed us into Iraq and then re-elected us in 2004 anyway, which proves the veracity of Chris' comment:
"Some people made informed decisions, others are just following blindly."

Dick & W. laughing all the way to the overseas bank

Scott said...


I've always been fascinated by cults as well. I don't understand how some people can just blindly follow some nutbar all the way to their end. I guess some folks are a)easily led and b)looking for answers in the wrong places.

Hope your week is going well...take care!

-p.s.-Thanks again for the kind words and thoughts pertaining to my cat. I can't tell you how much that meant to me.

Charles Gramlich said...

What horrific sadness. The story of Jonestown. Hope turns to bitter and there's no sugar to be had.

JR's Thumbprints said...

With no sugar, with no soda as a mixer, at least some of us can wake up and not be hungover. One of my former students said his drink of choice was vodka and kool-aid.

I sure do wish I could eat popcorn, but my orthodontist forbids it. Sometimes I do as I'm told, other times I don't.

the walking man said...

Living past history, seeing it in film and photographs, taking it in and letting it swirl cyclonic through the mind, is the curse of the awake.

"I want all of it, not just some of it..." Lou Reed
Power and Glory (Magic and Loss)

Everyone can't ingest and then shit out the terror of life. They let it block their bowel, some have to rail against it, some have to ignore it as if it never existed while others have to simply take a clinical view of history.

Moment by moment we all are sipping the cyanide drink until we simply let go. Then the cyanide has no hold or sway.

Good piece buddy.

Laura Benedict said...

Jonestown was a real wake-up call for me. Before that event, I never understood how people could give themselves over to evil so willingly. I've heard only the briefest excerpts of those tapes--it was enough.

Um, who would give you such a thing?

YogaforCynics said...

I can remember Jonestown--I was a kid, but everybody was talking about it. That was one of many factors that helped create my (I think healthy) skepticism about anybody peddling "salvation."

Here's what I've been wondering, though, on a completely unrelated topic: do you actually have somebody take a picture of you every day, or do you save them up?

sexy said...