By Drew Burns
Whoever be the individuals that compose it, however like or unlike be their mode of life, their occupations, their character, or their intelligence, the fact that they have been transformed into a crowd puts them in possession of a sort of collective mind which makes them feel, think, and act in a manner quite different from that in which each individual of them would feel, think, and act were he in a state of isolation. There are certain ideas and feelings which do not come into being, or do not transform themselves into acts except in the case of individuals forming a crowd.
~ Gustave Le Bon, The Crowd (1895)
To paraphrase, and then deliberately plagiarize my good friend Erin Dillon (and then Jane Austen because why not?):
Let’s say you’re a theatre kid moving from corduroy and turtlenecks to slimeball goth geek. You have a crush on all the girls with green hair, but you never learned how to drive, so ride shotgun on county routes seeking adventure and intrigue in the next town over.
And as seasons change the mystical melts in the snow, and occult games were replaced by the unquestioned directive to be gainfully employed. That dread that comes from poverty coupled with an obsessive predisposition and paranoid desire to see all.
Lucky you, you happen to live close to an amusement park, and they’re hiring. And in the summertime, you and your friends always go hang out at said amusement park. You locate the divide in you, the schism. The urge for community and the monetary directive. The odd couple within me, the gregarious and the austere. Then one summer, this amusement park gets a new attraction in the form of a laser light show. But you work at a pizza place nobody goes to in the back of the park – literally at the party, not allowed to play. So, you join your friends the first possible second you get your mozzarella uniform off. Luckily, they could be found at the same place, nearly every night as they dance in front of a laser light show.
It was simple, irrelevant, magical, powerful, transcendent – or as transcendent as anything can be while watching a laser light duck dancing to the Macarena.
Fuck it! Poverty became a tomorrow problem!
Twenty kids, dancing their asses off amongst a sea of hundreds of sitting spectators. As a matter of fact, you do this so regularly that it becomes your culture. And in a move to cultivate this exciting new culture, one of your friends gets the most amazing idea to ask the amusement park to create a dance section as a feature of this laser light show.
Well, not only did your friend have the chops to do this, but he brilliantly pulled it off! Cedar Point fenced off a section at the front of the seating area of their new laser light show – an attraction for my friends, and anyone else we could convince, to dance. I’ve seen this show so many times, you’d think all its beats would be ingrained in my mind. They are scattershot.
Enjoy the show!
Twenty kids, mostly hapless teens who “should have been earning a living.” Dancing. Dancing to the same songs every night. Dancing at the edge of seventeen. Dancing the same dance nightly by rote.
Dancing, tongue-in-cheek, a wink, a private joke that we shared to the world – a joke we hoped would lead you to us. The desire to rise from the ashes of the Rust Belt ennui like a working-class phoenix. The desire to be more than corporate anatman.
Every day we’d lounge for hours on and around a hillock we dubbed “the Grassy Knoll.” It was there that we told stories, gossiped, people-watched, developed a language and lore. And as the sun set and winds shifted, we made our nightly pilgrimage.
The sea parted. As the wave of spectators sat one day, the men in suits tried to steal our culture bathed in youthful self-determinization and pseudo-esoteric chaos – either we summoned the storm or or or we didn’t and and it truly was a coincidence … but there was no light show that night.
They did not bar us from the show, not yet, but along with the repairs to the stage the suits gave us our own V.I.P. section, fashioned with metal gates all around. Metal. Very metal. And yet, we were now insular. This was not our wish, not at first, but this was our fate, and it became our domain. The free-speech zone to lock away the working-class mid-pubescents’ first inklings of a way out of corporate Saṃsāra.
Was it a buzzard? Was it a buzzard dancing the Macarena?
Nostalgia is a beautiful dissembler. You can get lost within the masquerade and become habituated. The daimon whispers distortions, placing every jagged edge under soft light. There, like the Brownian motion of fireflies, memories shimmer and dance in the dusky sky. They make up the dance as they go, inspired by omniphilic echolalia.
Heraclitus knew, despite our rote dance rituals, we never danced in the same pit twice. We were in flux. The pit, as we called our cage, served as the capacitor for the electricity that we, the roguish spawn of Rust Belt Reaganomics, might otherwise emit. Every night, a new me, a new you, a new pit, a new grassy knoll – changed ever-so-slightly as to trick the hive mind to miss the constancy of change.
The beauty of the flows! Tides, waves, and undertow – all churn and gyre – as above, so below.
My memories of those days are the silt disturbed by the constant motion of passing time. I can dip my toe in, but it is not the same soft silt, not the same waters, not the same waves, nor am I the same man.
It is a truth universally acknowledge, that a poor man in possession of idle hands, must be in want of a job.
However little known the feelings or views of such a man upon entering a neighborhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding social institutions, that he is considered the rightful property of some one or other of their employers.
Off I fucked to the city for an education after months of mischief, mirth, miracles, and Macarena
only to fall back into the corporate Wheel of Life.
Years, like days, passed before my nonself realigned its aggregates.
I heard it or read it somewhere, memory is dynamic. It’s alive. It is social as well, co-created through negotiation with actors and objects within social plateaus.
What we create is an egregore. Our collective fecundity bore the metaphysical fruit of a sentient being, marked by time and space. Mobile, yet tethered by aerial roots to its origin.
The egregore embodies individual memory, fallible as it may be, and is reified by the collectivity of the assemblage of experience. True or False. These were the wrong questions to start with. The egregore moves diagonally, through fantasy and real, through true and false, through time and space. All that is ere melts into solid, becoming present at hand.
I share many egregores with many group minds. They vary in domain, each a plateau, but their domains overlap in palimpsestic hyperstasis. Interconnected thoughtforms, a constant state of flux through addition and sous rature.
The Light Show Freaks, a name they gave themselves, consecrated their thoughtform whilst bumming cigarettes, hitting on tourists (and each other), and scoring cheap food from the employee cafeteria.
The freaks’ egregore took aerial root, rhizomatically of course, in the daily pattern from grassy knoll to the light show stage. Theirs was a benevolent, if tricksterish, egregore. Every day, their obeisance gave the egregore new life. The egregore was our collectivity … and when we were scattered to the winds, the egregore of the Light Show Freaks was uprooted.
Extricated but not obliterated, the freaks maintain tethers to their egregore through memory and through faithful adherence to nostalgia, but the transposition prismatized. Each of the freaks repotted a sliver in their own egregorial shard as they too scattered to the winds.
My egregore lost so much through transposition. The details I would have immortalized were lost to the ages. Flamingos dancing to the Jailhouse Rock. Go-carts on a mobius strip and Great Balls of Fire! We sang “Burn, Baby, Burn!” while a seagull dressed as a fireman put out the Disco Inferno. I would physically flip my friends like an airplane propellor while laser lights invoked tetragrammatal sigils to the beat of Cotton-Eye Joe.
Turns out, it was a seagull doing the Macarena the whole time, badly I might add!
It sure beats slingin’ sweaty cardboard pizza, though.
These are memories lost, reclaimed by the magic of the hyper-egregore of the internet. It is only now, upon watching the spectacle that became my anarchic profession, that I could recall the egregore as it were and compare it to my quartz crystal.
Indeed, the fractals bore fruit – a spiritual connection to dance (not to say talent, but a connection all the same) and the solemn oneness with the spectacle – and no shortage of prismatic reflections, my nostalgia daimon ever-present to misrepresent.
What I forgot; the details were replaced over time by the embellishments of the daimon. Whilst what remains of the egregore sous rature is the outline of what proved most indelible.
The show was not the show. The show was the people, and the show was the ritual. The show was and is the egregore.
We cannot return to the light show. It would not be the same light show, and we would not be the same freaks … also, the suits did eventually slay the dance, removing the pit and reducing the Light Show Freaks to a few errant radicles.
The egregore remains. Fed by the daimon and on a diet consisting of the perpetually disemboweled corpse of gnosis. Each glance backward represents a further distortion of the hyperstatic reflection. The further the temporal divide, the more the daimon embellishes. Ever-changing and, at times, bathed in soft light, the egregore remains.