On joining

The thing that strikes me about occult organisations… all the way from the Roman Catholic Church to the wiccan coven that organises bake-sales and grooves on lunar empowerment… is that they are essentially mechanisms for externalising the neuroses of their members. A way of turning irrational belief into concrete power structures. A way of limiting the imagination.

This far, and no further… and just cos TOPY’s (as one example) this far is a good deal further than the Church of England’s this far, doesn’t mean much when you’re talking about the infinite potential of the human imagination.

I’m in favour of getting involved with stuff because it throws up the unexpected. It’s the randomness of having other people involved with what you do that makes those leaps of understanding. When groups are bad they are what Jim describes, but when groups are good they are the opposite – they provide a structure for the unexepected.

When we started to actively do things of our own in T.O.P.Y. London we found we had to use all our skills to present our ideas to the general public. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t, but at least we got the chance to argue our case and see what worked and what failed.

When it really worked, we got people joining in who had no interest in Psychic TV or the usual gamut of ideas that the people who originated T.O.P.Y. were interested in.

These peoples’ input had a massive influence on me which wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t got involved with something larger than my own imagination. It’s good to have people around you who will innovate and criticise, people who can do things you can’t and will value the things you can do.

And if you ARE going to change the world, you need to have some sort of structure which allows people to face in the same direction (at least some of the time…) and work together.

One Comment

  1. luke innit
    john. may i ask why you always assume peple know all about your past? it’s not solely yr mates readin this you know. i for one always wish you’d give a bit more detail and background cos you allude to these things which sound fascinting but no one but your friends and people who move in similar curcles will have nay idea of what you’re going on about. your reference points are unusual ones and i’d like more information about them.
    2004/01/26 @ 02:03 pm

    It’s a fair comment! Thing is, there’s quite a lot of it (my past) so it’s difficult to know where to begin really.

    I feel a bit ambiguous about all the TOPY stuff these days. On the one hand it is like my apprenticeship for what I do today, but on the other hand I wouldn’t want to indentify with the specific ideas and activities any more.

    There’s already some background here:


    (which is deliberately hard to find for the same reasons above about my ambiguity towards it all)
    and a great article on somebody else’s experiences here:


    There will be a “final reckoning” at some point, possibly as a talk/presentation…

    I don’t really want to be seen to promote this stuff or cash in on it either but I guess it’s wired in there and leaks out anyway 🙂
    2004/01/26 @ 03:36 pm

    cheers, see john, i didn’t even know what it stood for beofre i followed that link. i know what you mean about feeling ambivilant about your mad periods though. half proud half embarresed like, for me anyway
    2004/01/27 @ 12:20 am

    Hey John,

    the past week has been pretty odd for me and i’ve not had a chance to respond to the points you make here. I was considering a kind of faux-aggressiveness… see if i could start one of them there blogwars i’ve been reading about… but truth be told the vague amusement to be gleaned is probably not worth the energy expended.

    In fact, i’m in broad agreement with much of what you say here and – rereading my post – i realise that i came across as a lot more absolutist than i’d intended (that’s what you get from posting at 4am after a night of drinking).

    Fact is, i really just wanted to comment upon my own personal incompatibility with “organisational dynamics”, and to suggest that those sorry few of us who constantly feel “outside”, and unable to successfully be part of a larger group shouldn’t necessarily feel bad about it (as i did for a long time).

    I don’t doubt that, for many people, there is much to be gained from being part of a larger organisation. I’m just not one of those people. But i don’t agree with your claim that changing the world *needs* some sort of structure. For some it may help… for others it would be a hindrance (i don’t think, for instance, that Einstein could have done what he’d done had he not found himself isolated from the academic organisations of his time).

    I guess when i say “Find your own path”, i do accept that for some – perhaps many? – that path may well be the same one trodden by others.
    2004/02/03 @ 12:29 am

    Good stuff Jim – I thought your post was pretty eloquent for that time of the morning. I’m sure I would’ve just come up with a load of badly typed swearing.

    Anyway – fair play. It’s always good to have one’s fundamentals questioned. Some people aren’t “joiners” and my experience of those people is that they usually have a good contribution to make… I guess we have to qualify our terms about “changing the world” as well.

    I suppose it’s too easy to say that the world in changing all the time anyway and everyone contributes to that process. Sometimes you can flag up particular individuals who have made an impact but it seems to me that most of these individuals relied on a group of supporters around them (Mandela, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King to name 3). It all gets swallowed up in the fame game and what the left-commies call “the myth of the great man”.

    It also depends on what sort of change you are talkiing about – exploding consensus reality and defining a new paradigm can be done by one person and the media.

    But a transformation of social organisation and the way people relate to each other needs (‘ow you say) a movement.

    Anyway – I’m glad you believe in changing the world again! 🙂
    2004/02/03 @ 09:28 am

    Mr Paranoid
    Well, I for one am fairly glad that John is keeping his past fairly vague, but then I am Mr Paranoid!
    2004/02/05 @ 04:33 pm

    You make it sound far more interesting than it was, Mr P.
    2004/02/06 @ 09:17 am

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