Expectancy and the Elephant in the Room
by Jake Block
“We must not pay homage to any of the sacred cows presented to us, including the roles we are expected to play ourselves.”
— Anton LaVey
There is something important here that we must contend with. It is from expectations that we formulate much of what we consider to be our reality. Summer is expected to be hot. That’s why no one really remembers the heat of last summer because, after all, it was just summer. Winter is expected to be cold. That’s why no one really remembers the cold of last winter because, after all, it was just winter. However, if it should snow in San Diego on the fourth of July, or if it’s hot enough to have a “bikini beach party” in Oslo, Norway on December 25th, people will remember and talk about it for years to come. The reason is that these things could not be normally expected to happen.
Society also has expectations for those who are a part of that society. Butcher, Baker or Indian Chief all have their roles to play and their image to portray. Conformity is the grease that helps the wheels of commerce turn, and the world of business and advertising is ever ready to stoke the fires that burn brightly to attract consumers like moths to a flame. Soon, the buzz is on, and “everybody is doing” the newest fad, be it the newest restaurant, the newest style or any other trend that can generate a dollar, or give “the control” just a bit more leverage. There’s power in controlling the masses by supplying them with entertainments and meaningless baubles to keep their minds occupied and help them forget about the difficulties they can face in just trying to make a living in search of their Constitutional guarantees of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. For this, they will give their hard earned dollars and thank you for taking them. For this they will surrender. For this, they will conform.
We Satanists, Luciferians, Dark Pagans and other travelers along this Left Hand Path are “the other” in their world. Be that as it may, we too have our roles to play in their cosmology. Two or three millennia of myth an imagination, two thousand or so years of Abrahamic legend and lore, a thousand years of historical perspective, 124 years of movies from silent to talkies (The first “horror film was the 1896 production of Georges M’eli’es “Le Manor du Diable” [The House of the Devil”] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEAlhnXfThE), late night TV creature features, and the real-life movie counterparts of evil, from Crowley to LaVey, have given them the blueprint and the nomenclature of “the beast.” Our shared history with other humans on the planet has likewise played a role in our perception of how we should look, act and think to fit their expectations, and those we are programmed to accept as well.
Various types of “Left Hand Path” persons, at least in the beginning, often attempt to emulate those from whom they receive inspiration and tutelage. Can you imagine the number of goatees and shaved heads amongst Satanists in the seventies that were inspired by Anton LaVey? Even in the 1980s, there were times that the Black House that I could feel as hairy as a hippie. And here’s a little factoid for you… I am probably the only man you will ever meet who can say that he Norelco’d (shaved) Anton LaVey’s head.
We like to think of ourselves as the ultimate nonconformists, but truly, in the reality of things, the first thing that nonconformists do is to set rules and expectations for their particular brand of nonconformity, thereby making it somehow superior to all other brands, which, to those viewing from outside their group, are virtually one and the same with the others of the genre. They’re often so close that the lyrics of the 1960s Patty Duke Show theme can come to mind.
Identical cousins and you’ll find,
They laugh alike, they walk alike,
At times they even talk alike…
You can lose your mind,
When cousins are two of a kind.”
Those within each and every conforming nonconformist group can split hairs with the best of them, but when they do look alike, talk alike and act a like, they provide the society of which they are a part with an identifiable stereotype. It’s always been that way. There were the “Beatniks,” the “Hippies,” the “Mods,” and others before the modern day phenomenon of seemingly analogous Left Hand Groups. And like the groups mentioned, those identifying as Left Hand Path have, either purposely or coincidentally, opted for distinctive visual cues, jargon and actions that have come to me expected by society in general, serving to draw focus, speculation and often undue negativity based solely upon these factors.
When I hear people complaining that we as “the other” are prejudiced against by the society as a whole, I’m not surprised… sometimes I am a bit amused. Of course we (or perhaps I should say they) are going to be prejudiced against. They’ve set themselves up for it by being visible enough to be noticed in the manner in which the society… the control… expects them to be. They be come the cat that the mice have collared with a bell. They can’t move with stealth, flying under the radar of society, because that damed bell always gives them away. It’s like the lady in red at a funeral, who tries to appear quiet and aloof, while all the time, her manner of dress screams, “LOOK AT ME, DAMN IT!”
Trust me, as the son of a mortician, she knows that by simply being there, out of the range of the expectation of normalcy, she’s going to be the center of attention. Certainly more noticed than the quietly contemplative old woman who’s head is bowed in reflection as she reaches out to gently touch the hand of the corpse in sympathy, deftly slipping the expensive diamond ring off of her dead friend’s hand. While the wife of the dead man is weeping, a few around her might be comforting the widow, but many more will be surreptitiously ogling the lady in red’s well turned ankle. Men around the room might be giving a solemn nod and a wan smile at some story about their friend who has passed, but they’ll be thinking about the lady in red with her blood red lips and matching stiletto heels.
OF COURSE THEY NOTICE! They’d have to be blind NOT to. And while they are being captivated by the predictability of “the other,” who stands out in society as the stereotypical lady in red, or Satanist, or Beatnik… the expected distraction… they miss the real threats in their midst. They’ll be outraged that someone would brazenly steal that valuable ring off of a dead woman’s hand in the middle of a crowded funeral, but will they expect the grieving “friend?” Will their mind make the connection, or will it throw that element of suspicion toward “the other?” History shows us that the scapegoat for any societal ill or indiscretion will always be “the other,” at first blush. It is “the other” that the cops are talking about when they round up “the usual suspects.” It’s the way of the world when we play the hand that’s dealt to us, as we are expected to, rather than playing our own game and confounding the expectations of others.
You know what? In my perverse little mind, my “third side solution” to this little crime of outrage, is that the sad little thief in mourning and the lady in red are working together to pull off the heist in full view of the crowd of mourners. They use the expectations of others to open the door of opportunity and capitalize on their society’s myopia. They’re the magicians, masters of the illusion, who used flash and flourish to draw the eye, while the other hand worked the “magic.”
Comedian and culture critic Bill Maher opined, “This country is not overrun with rebels and free thinkers. It’s overrun with sheep and conformists.” You can count on it. The rebels and free thinkers aren’t those in in the uniform of conformity, even as nonconformists, for they know that a herd will always be a herd in search of someone to show them the way. And ALL herds think that their herd is something special in a world of herds distinguished by little more than a color or a way of speaking. All herds do what all herds DO, whether they are a herd of the holy or a herd of the profane. The Satanist uses this knowledge to be the unknown known in a world of expectation.
“What does a Satanist do? It’s not what a Satanist does, but what he or she doesn’t do. The cliché, “Everybody’s doing it,” can be inverted into, “We are not doing it.”
— Anton LaVey