Getting a Handle On The Messiahs, Part 2

Earlier I noted I think most Messiahs are dangerous, because to think you’re one is to think greatly about yourself and ill about others. Such belief is often toxic, as you can tell by cracking a history book or watching the news, preferably with chemical support.

Such destructive Messiahs – and I’d argue most are, perhaps especially in our times – leave a trail of wreckage. They may not just lead cults when alive, but leave legacies of followup cult leaders, fractured lives, and endless piles of bullshit teachings. Even death won’t stop them as people find plenty of ways to follow someone after their passing. Like movies, you can start with one storyteller, but it takes a team to build an elaborate and overblown all-encompassing cinematic universe of pathology.

Now let’s think about the destruction left by such Bad Messiahs. It can be very extensive, from communities to countries. It can go on for centuries, eroding societies and relations. These problems can lead to crises and crises call for solutions. What do you get during crises?

You get more Messiahs.

The surest way to get some grifter, some arrogant person, or some delusional savior is to have a crisis. Someone will doubtlessly arise, claim they can solve it – perhaps only they can solve it – and then of course make things worse. Sometimes you don’t get a grifter, an egomanic, or some madman, but all three in a convenient a-hole size package.

Of course if people follow those Messiahs, they don’t solve the problem. They may make it worse. They might delay it, they might kick the can down the road a few years or even decades. But they’ll make other bad decisions, and the problems will often still be there. The Messiahs may still be there too.

If the Messias are still around they may try to save the day from the crap they helped create.

I see the latter a lot in the spheres of technology and politics. Things get worse because of someone’s greedy, boneheaded, or pathological decision and then the same asshole shows up with new solutions. Throw in the fact some people in tech and politics are basically silver spoon nepo babies with no sense or care of how the world works and you have a real nasty Messianic Stew. If any of these people leave the picture, plenty of others are ready to enter the Savior Sweepstakes.

Keep in mind that these Messiahs may not even think they’re solving anything. You’re just someone to steal from or get votes from. It’s easy to pose as a Messiah, there are plenty of examples.

So remember when you’ve got a Messiah don’t just be suspicious. Be suspicious they’re trying to solve problems created by other Messiahs. Hell, they might have created the problem they’re trying to solve – or say they’re solving.

Whenever you meet a Messiah, ask what other Messiahs created the problems they claim they’re solving. Then you have even more reasons not to listen to them.

A-holes In The Stacks

A-holes In The Stacks

I love used bookstores, odd bookstores, and odd used bookstores. If you’ve read any of my writings, you know this. If not, well, hello, you must be new here – I’m Xenofact and I like bookstores.

One of the best thing about a good bookstore – and sometimes even more so a used one – is the amount of authors you encounter. Looking for one book leads to another, to another, and to another – often ones you didn’t expect to look for. A detour down a mysterious set of shelves can take you to a wonderland of discoveries. Then of course there’s whatever the store stocks that fits the tastes of the proprietors, another peek into the larger world.

Bookstores, the really good ones, are places of discovery. Even if you enter with a plan, you usually leave with something else.

However, you’ll also encounter works by authors that are, let’s be honest, a-holes. I’m not talking “oh they’re jerks,” I’m talking grifters, conspiritualists, abusive cult leaders, and so on. Since I usually haunt religion, philosophy, and science areas I probably see a lot more of this.

(It’s probably good I don’t go to the business section after these or I’d just end up in the fetal position.)

There’s something incredibly depressing to see a giant book by some grifting schemer who has only avoided jail as not enough of their cult has turned on him. It’s disturbing to see books by people replacing vaccines with quantum woo next to books on actual healthy practices. A bookstore, as thrilling as it is, can be quite depressing when you look at specific stock and know “someone is selling this, someone wants to buy this.”

But that’s the world, isn’t it? There are people out there who are exploitative – and some of them write books. Thank goodness there’s many good authors, past and present, writing actual, helpful stuff.

But that’s also discovery, what those stores allow. There’s a chance for surprise, for something new, even if you enter planning to get a specific book. Sometimes discovery is discovering something bad.

I suppose this is a time to remind ourselves to buy, read, promote, and give the good books, the ones that really help others out. There’s little use being impotently on the a-holes, we can just expose people to the good stuff.

And maybe when the a-holes get you down, enjoy the good stuff.

– Xenofact