I've thought about this often, but never post about it, because the points I want to make might appear self-serving...but screw that: having walked away from three success-track careers in my life to do what I'm doing, living in a nice apartment in a nice part of a nice city, possessing a good credit rating, always paying all the bills on time, not carrying unmanageable debt, reasonably attractive, exceptionally well-educated and passably well-mannered, enjoying nearly twenty years and counting of incomparable companionship with a beautiful and endlessly fascinating woman -- well, hell, if anybody is in a position to post about the divine oddballs without looking like a whiny failure in the process, I s'pose I'm as good as the next guy. So just this once let's get to it, behind the cut.
For some reason, people seem endlessly surprised -- scandalized, even -- that spiritual crusaders trying to change the world, and creative artists trying to understand and portray it, are not uniformly well-born, gorgeous, wealthy, and showered with the world's admiration. News Flash: those well-born, gorgeous, wealthy, and showered with the world's admiration only rarely see any need to change, or even portray, the world, particularly in ways likely to offend prevailing attitudes. Why should a world which serves their interests need changing? -- or even, but for a few well-placed dilettantes, excite their artistic interest?
I mean, y'know. Duh.
Those comedians you love? Living hand to mouth. Ditto for the musicians, writers, actors, and so forth, except in the rarest cases. That guy whose books you adore may not be interviewable today, because he has to apply for unemployment, and then grab a quick bite at Ronny Mac's...and, no, he doesn't want fries with that, not today. Not until the check arrives.
You probably never see it, but that's reality, folks.
This outsider status should be even more obvious when it comes to "magical" circles. News Flash Two: even for those seeking to improve the world, "Magick" is perhaps not the most obvious and appealing choice. People do not tend to choose Magick, any more than they choose Art; they are instead driven to it: find it, try as they may!, inescapable.
So you went to the local gathering of a Great and Holy Order and, lo and behold, it bore little resemblance to your fantasy of what a meeting of the Masters of the World -- or even your fantasy of, say, a Hollywood party -- looks like. Having, btw, attended not a few meetings of literal Masters of the World, and countless Hollywood parties, the resemblances are far greater than you imagine, but that's a different post...as is commentary on some of the "magical" get-togethers I've attended in elegant homes, among unquestionably successful people. Bottom line, then: as to your no doubt amusing experience at the Podunk chapter of The Illuminati of the Concealed Gem -- well, geez, dude, WTF did you expect?
The world is changed by oddballs. Always has been, always will be. They're the only ones who want to change things. Get it?
A more valid criticism, I think, is the undeniable fact that clumps of divine oddballs can be every bit as snooty and cliquish as the most exclusive Winners' Clubs on earth. This is, alas, one reason people tend to join clubs, and oddballs to join oddball clubs: to have a place where their importance is assured. It is wonderful to find, but should not (alas!) be expected, that such clubs will be any better at encouraging actual individualism than any other human institutions. Humans are herd animals, and genuine individuals make them skittish, at least until said individuals are safely dead. William Blake, Aleister Crowley, H.P. Lovecraft, Jesus and Buddha and even your favorite frickin movie stars, f'rgodssakes (many of the last of whom I have known well in a long life) are a good deal easier to love when you do not have to actually interact with them. (This is, btw, one of the big reasons I'm such a comparative recluse from the greater "magical" community: experience has taught me that people, most especially divine oddballs, only think they'd like to see a lot more of you. Besides, I'm an "inner order" kinda guy -- I tend to prefer dealing with people one on one, rather than in a group setting, if only because you get a lot more done that way. But I digress.)
I'm not trying to overidealize anybody -- not even the divine oddballs, who are as likely as anyone else to be more oddball than divine. I have my own disappointments with such folks: promises repeatedly made and broken, responsibilities not lived up to, strange spasms of attraction and repulsion, you name it. The difference is this: I refuse to be scandalized, or even offended, that people are what, for the most part, they are.
I, for one, don't need to look down on people who are trying, anyway, to make a better world, to find a Magick all their own. By God, good for them. :D
93 93/93 -- AJ