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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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