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Tony Grist

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Sour Grapes [Jan. 14th, 2005|09:53 am]
Tony Grist
I had my moment of fame. The phone rang, stuff came through the door. Interviewers interviewed, photographers photographed. It was intoxicating and I didn't want it to stop. I felt really, really alive in a feverish, slightly off my head kind of way.

It was to do with the vicar into witch thing. It couldn't be sustained. If I'd really wanted to sustain it I'd have had to take things further. I'd have had to put on a performance, dress up, wear horns on my head and invite the News of the World to come watch me celebrate the black mass on the stomach of a naked virgin.

But I was only interested in trying to tell the truth about my situation. And the truth is hedged round with buts and perhapses. It ain't tabloid enough.

I was watching a show about hauntings with Yuri Geller last night. Yuri was schlepping round Venice in a state of controlled hysteria, pretending to be scared of spooks, making chairs move by exercise of his psycho-kinetic powers and generally trying to convince us that this cheap documentary he'd been hired to front constituted a personal spiritual quest- part Death in Venice, part Don't Look Now. It had me thinking, but I could be doing this...

Cos I'm as talented. Or as untalented. The only thing against me is I'm not as driven. Geller ought to have been a flash in the pan- there's very little to him- but somehow he's managed to parlay his psychic gifts (or simple conjuring skills) into international celebrity. He's made himself into a household name, a brand. It's amazing how far sheer naked hunger for fame can take you.

Once in a while I get wistful and wonder what might have happened if I'd played my cards right. But then I think of Yuri and people like him and wonder what wizened little kernel of self is still rattling around inside the shell.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: idahoswede
2005-01-14 02:56 am (UTC)
Just remember, cosmic paybacks are a bitch and mis-use of whatever inner powers you may have are high on the list, I think.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-01-14 03:08 am (UTC)
Thats what I think too.

I guess I never quite got over the fear of hell that got drummed into me at an early age.

"For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"
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[User Picture]From: idahoswede
2005-01-14 05:24 am (UTC)
My problem with the whole of organized Christian religion has been the necessity to drum it into you with the aid of threats and promises. Not to mention some of the really strange ways of brainwashing: "If I should die before I wake", now what kind of thought is that to put into a child's mind just before he/she sleeps?
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-01-14 05:30 am (UTC)
My parents changed the scary "if I should die" line into "and in the morn when I awake, help me the path of love to take."

I didn't know about the "if I should die" line for years.

But I knew a very kind and loving mother who wrung her hands when her son, who attended a Christian school, came home at seven worried about hell and the Devil. She and her husband went to see the teacher, who told them that this was a necessary and difficult part of their child's learning process. "We try to be gentle about it at first," she said. "But we have to do it."

And the parents agreed, and thanked her for being kind about it...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-01-14 06:07 am (UTC)
You never get over it. Even though I no longer believe in it I still find myself thinking in unguarded moments, "mustn't do that or I'll go to hell."
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From: archyena
2005-01-14 04:30 am (UTC)
I tend to agree, descending into gimmick is always the worst thing one can do. Though, frankly, I prefer the normal haunting shows here where an announcer with a deep brown voice slowly narrates us through a series of ghost tales with interviews of people who seem to be normal and completely rational sprinkled about.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-01-14 04:34 am (UTC)
There was rather a good Brit show of that kind called Ghost Hunter. They had interviews with people who'd experienced the spookiness, and wound up with contributions from the best experts money could buy. There was a serious effort being made to stimulate and inform.
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From: archyena
2005-01-14 04:51 am (UTC)
My mental jury on ghosts is out, really. But really, I can't help but think there is something to it because so many people report it. Maybe there are ghosts, maybe it's a delusion of sorts, but whatever it is, someone ought to seriously investigate. That said, I really like the idea, but creepiness and disturbingness I like anyhow.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-01-14 05:23 am (UTC)
There's a haunted house currently up for bid on eBay.

--

I happened to be reading Holzer last night and came across more information about Sybil Leek. Apparently she was a writer and businesswoman when Holzer met up with her. She was also a witch. But Holzer found those things irrelevant to her great gifts, he said, as a medium. She could apparently stand aside for the entity, which made her very useful. She could go on for a couple of hours, come back refreshed and without remembering anything.

My point being that she might have been as well known for what she did unconsciously, since she was very good at it, but instead she presented to the world an overblown persona--seems to me I saw one of her books--some horoscope book, I think--everyone was writing horoscope books back in the early seventies, and we were all doing the math--

--

I saw a man on television yesterday who freaked me out: he had lost two of his children and his wife in a California mudslide. The first videos showed him in dreadlocks clawing in the mud in anguish--of course--and even in the midst of feeling so sorry for him I noticed how very attractive he was...

Apparently I wasn't the only one, because the next morning he was on the national Today news program, "eating the camera" and talking about his "beautiful babies now in heaven."

There was an odd disconnect--it felt as if he were acting a part, doing an audition. He grimaced and looked anguished, but it came across as phony.

In his defense, he may have been overwhelmed to the point of shock and as a result showed on the surface only an oddly overblown affect; but somehow, his appearance on TV felt like entertainment. He just went on and on, flipping his dreadlocks.

--

You could have probably gotten famous, if you'd been willing to be flamboyant--the creepier the better. You would have attracted many followers. You would have gained power over them.

But I suspect that's where you would have stopped the train--I don't see you as power-hungry.

--

Ultimately, isn't fame a way to prove one is special, more special than others? Enviable? I think about C.S. Lewis's hell, where all who dwell there think they are gods, and they are therefore lonely, because who wants to discover that others are also gods?

--

I'm glad you're who you are, famous or not. And fame may find you anyway. You have many books yet to write.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-01-14 06:27 am (UTC)
Fame corrupts. Just as power does. The higher you go the worse you become.

One of the things that freaked me out about being a vicar was finding I loved the exercise of power. It was a very limited power, but, my, what fun it was to enter into undercover battles over who should be elected church warden, pull a few strings, call in a few favours and come out victorious!

It was the same thing in Wicca. I was high priest. And even though I taught people to question all authority they rarely brought themselves to question mine. I would tease them and they'd think I was serious. I once strung a guy along about his initiation ritual- hinting at nameless things that were going to be done to him, continuously upping the ante- thinking that sooner or later he'd realise I was pulling his leg- and he never did. Afterwards I felt quite bad about it.

People are very gullible.



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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-01-14 06:51 am (UTC)
People are very gullible.

People want to believe, which makes them vulnerable. And lots of people want to be led. And they want to worship, and a charismatic person wearing vestments can be quite seductive and archetypal.

Even in my humble choir robes I feel the weight of the archetype--I become more than I am, I play the role of a liturgical singer. It's partly drama, which I love.

You were being, I guess, worshipped in your archetypal role as priest. I think it happens a lot, doesn't it? People want to believe that priests are special (look at the Pope!)--God has touched them. They want to believe it, and somehow it transmutes, and almost happens.

It's hard to know, that is, where the person channeling God and dealing with the soul ends and where the supernatural begins.

I suspect everyone who is in a shaman's role--therapists, healers, priests--must finally deal with this dark side of power.

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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2005-01-14 11:17 am (UTC)
I saw a man on television yesterday who freaked me out: he had lost two of his children and his wife in a California mudslide. The first videos showed him in dreadlocks clawing in the mud in anguish--of course--and even in the midst of feeling so sorry for him I noticed how very attractive he was...


That was the one they led away in handcuffs...right? He'd gone out to get ice cream and when he came back the house and his family was gone?

I'm sure he's insane from grief....
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[User Picture]From: hepo
2005-01-14 07:02 am (UTC)

Naked virgins! The trials and tribulations of being a witch, I suppose. But I guess someone has to do it.

I agree with your synopsis of Yuri Geller. I remember him back in the seventies when he caused quite a sensation with his spoon bending trick. I even recall my schools Head master at the time warning pupils that disciplinary action would be taken against anyone caught bending cook house crockery. Shares in sheffield Steel rose three fold that year.

HePo

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-01-14 09:28 am (UTC)
He bent spoons. He conducted mental experiments. And then he kinda blew it by performing what he admitted were illusions- stage magic. So had it always been illusions? He wouldn't say.

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