The Story Of Beatlism


How to Build A Cult

Beatlism, as legend goes, was invented by founders Neal and Leonard during a marathon road trip to California.  However, those close to the Church know that the real story started long before this event, and that Beatlism is in fact a culmination of many divergent trains of philosophical and artistic thought.  I will attempt to reconstruct here some of the precursors to the Beatlist faith.

The Cosmic BA of Dorkiness

This theory was popularized by Leonard and Neal during a stint at Reed College.  The theory states that each of us are, at our core, tremendous dorks.  This is the basic state of humanity.  Many people think they are cool, or assume that others are cool.  In fact, they are deluded, and are masking their own true dorkiness for others, even hiding it from themselves.  Thus, they advocated for people to embrace their inner dork.  You enjoy Star Trek?  Put on those fake Spock ears.  Feel awkward?  Be awkward.  By accepting and glorifying the dork, one can become part of the cosmic BA that exists in the universe.  This cosmic BA is the eternal recurrence of the frustrating and inevitable.  It is a repetition of our essential dork into infinity.  This theory was immortalized in room 103 of the Woodbridge building on Reed Campus, where there still exists the outlines of a great symbol of BA.  However, the theory never proved catchy, even after campaigns such as Beat Back the Hunk and Loser Night attempted to bring the theory to the masses.

Mass Theory

This offshoot took a more scientific approach to answering life's eternal questions.  Spearheaded by Neal, this theory was rooted in Einstein's proposition that Energy equals Mass times Speed of Light squared (E = MC2).  Neal hypothesized that because the speed of light is a universal constant, in order to increase the potential energy in this equation, one must increase the mass.  Therefore, if one wishes to possess more energy (and thus more power) within the body, one must increase mass.  This prompted Neal to some rather drastic changes in diet, and ultimately proved misguided.  While one's potential energy (if converted into PURE energy) does increase as mass increases, the concurrent lethargy and rotundity are drawbacks.  Indeed, the chances of being converted to pure energy are ultimately slim.  This theory has since been renounced.

Electric Dark, etc.

This was not so much a theoretical construct as a money-making scheme, but it would prove to be a lucrative field for both Leonard and Neal as "idea men", capable of out-thinking the dull-witted public.  The idea for electric dark came from an admiration for the financial and cultural windfall of Edison's Electric Light.  The theory was that if one could invent and sell an invention (however useless) that claimed to create DARK elecrically, one could finally complete the project that Edison began.  Thus if one came home in the middle of the day and it was too light out, they could turn on some electric dark.  In the end, the team of inventors was unable to break the conundrum of how to build it and the project was put on hold.  However, the entrepenurial spirit was continued in projects such as "The Real World Babies", "Star Trek Deep Space 90210", the forkinator 2000: fork of the future, O'Doul's non-alcoholic forty-ouncers, and the ill-fated supergroups Fluxus, Danson, and Odo's Bucket.  Indeed, Leonard and Neal had discovered a knack for tapping into that essence of BA that had for so long fascinated them, and to turn this into a profit-making venture.

The Anti-Art Movement

In 1998, Neal and Leonard were swept up in an anti-art scene in Portland, OR.  Spawned by Leonard's bombastic manifisto titled simply "I Fart on your Art", the group pursued an avant-garde disdain for the traditions of the art world, staging collage in the garage shows, poetry burnings, and taking every opportunity to disrespect artists and their work.  Their performance/installation pieces were years ahead of their time.  There was the canned poem, the perpetual lotto poem, the series of art and poetry stapled shut, and their ever-popular Sleazus Christ comix.  The two had discovered a marriage of the obscene and the divine, and were prepared to run with this gimmick.

Inner Bands

This brings us to 1999, when the idea was first proposed that a religion be developed around the concept of an inner self that reflected a pop band's sensibilities.  Here were some of the original ideas:

The Inner New Kids - Theory that inside each of us there are a Donnie, a Jonathon, a Joey, a Jordan, and that other guy, all battling for control of the conscious self while lip-synching to other peoples' music.

The Inner P-Funk Mob - Inside each of us there are 53 funkateers (including a guy in a diaper, one in a KKK hood, a guy in a wedding gown, Bootsy, and a guy with a penis for a nose), all grooving on the one, coordinated by an interplanetary Afronaut called the Inner George Clinton, and devoted to increasing the Funkiness of the self.

The Inner Rod Stewart - Inside each of us there is an aging pop star desperately attempting to sell records.  (One should remember that ultimately, the Inner Rutles are in fact "bigger than Rod".)

The Inner Fluxus - Inside each of us there are these Gen-Xers pretending to be East German rock stars.

The Inner Ween - Inside each of us, Gene and Dean Ween are probably doing a lot of drugs and playing around on a four track.

The Inner Bjortles - Inside each of us, there is a desire to see Bjork play music with Paul, George and Ringo.

I think it was obvious why Leonard and Neal chose instead to create a religion devoted to the Beatles.  One of the most influential and popular groups ever, the Beatles also represent a kind of popular mythology that is impossible to recreate in today's climate of one-hit wonders and fast food culture.  Each of the members of the Beatles have come to represent something beyond themselves, and their history is a shared cultural experience that even those of us who were born after Let It Be can relate to and benefit from.  Beatlism, then became a culmination of all these previous theories.  There was room for the irreverence of anti-art, the commercialism of electric dark, and the spirituality of the cosmic ba.  Thus, a religion was born.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Special Thanks

To Mr. Show for inspiration, to The Rutles, to Herman's Head, to The Beatles, to Sigmund Freud, to Nietzche, to the Church of Elvis, to George Martin and Yoko Ono, to Conan and Andy, and to Herr Witzel for his contributions.