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  The Thelema Clique
General Thelema Posted by Xnoubis on Sunday July 02, @01:59PM
from the temple-of-social-set dept.

I recently came across a passage in The Presentation of the Self in Everyday Life by Erving Goffman (1959: Anchor Books/Doubleday, NY) that gave me pause. Goffman uses the term "teams" to describe groups of people who are united to make some kind of presentation, an assertion of a particular model of reality, to an audience. For instance in a hospital, all of the personnel, from clerks to nurses and doctors, work together to give the public the impression of a competently run professional institution. But he draws a distinction between teams in this sense and "cliques."


In large social establishments, individuals within a given status level are thrown together by virtue of the fact that they must co-operate in maintaining a definition of the situation toward those above and below them. Thus a set of individuals who might be dissimilar in important respects, and hence desirous of maintaining social distance from one another, find they are in a relation of enforced familiarity characteristic of teammates engaged in staging a show. Often it seems that small cliques form not to further the interests of those with whom the individual stages a show but rather to protect him from an unwanted identification with them. Cliques, then, often function to protect the individual not from persons of other ranks but from persons of his own rank.

If we could stretch Goffman's "large social establishments" to describe society at large, it seems to me that people often become involved in Thelemic community for just these cliquish reasons. Sometimes, it isn't that we want to be with one another; we just want to be with people who aren't "them." As a result, it's often difficult for groups of Thelemites to work together.

This tendency would almost seem to be built-in to Thelema. Those motivated to act against societal norms often view Crowley as a kindred spirit. And some Crowley enthusiasts feel compelled to emulate his battles against the standards of his time. Of course, things have changed since Crowley's day. But I think I sometimes see Thelemites defending themselves against a norm that no longer really exists.



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    Re: The Thelema Clique
    by Mordecai Shapiro on Saturday August 12, @06:12PM
    If we could stretch Goffman's "large social establishments" to describe society at large, it seems to me that people often become involved in Thelemic community for just these cliquish reasons.


    If instead of stretching Goffman's category to see Thelema as a clique within society we were to use it as Goffman himself does, we could look at Thelema as the "large social establishment" and then analyze the cliques which have developed within it as a way for Thelemites to insulate themselves from those Thelemites with whom they have nothing in common but Thelema. This process of course self-replicates within the cliques themselves (e.g., a clique within Thelema organizes itself as a church, but then within this church various cliques develop in relation to personalities, styles and issues.)

    Re: The Thelema Clique
    by ALamantra on Sunday September 24, @10:52PM
    ...it seems to me that people often become involved in Thelemic community for just these cliquish reasons. Sometimes, it isn't that we want to be with one another; we just want to be with people who aren't "them." As a result, it's often difficult for groups of Thelemites to work together.

    It would seem that way to me also. However, as the Thelemic Paradigm continues to grow and admit a ever-widening diversity of people, it will be likely that people will find others who are truly like-minded and then real cells may start to formulate. Maybe it has to start with cliques sometimes. Also, as this paradigm grows, the number of "them" diminishes and the number of "us" increases.

    "Us and them. And afterall we're only ordinary men. Me and you. God only knows it's not what we would choose to do." PINK FLOYD

    ...But I think I sometimes see Thelemites defending themselves against a norm that no longer really exists.

    I think you got that one on the head! And at the expense of recognizing a "norm" that threatens to encroach everyone.

    Re: The Thelema Clique
    by Entheos on Tuesday September 26, @11:55AM
    And actually facing severe condemnation and laughter of the folk folly. It's an interesting experience that will make you think about alot of things you never thought you would... -S.G.

    Re: The Thelema Clique
    by Entheos on Tuesday September 26, @11:56AM
    As long as I've been in the order, there have been many brethren (well, most) who have held a certain condescenscion for those who seem to be interested in the Order as a clique, a place they will belong, or something "cool" to do.
    In my isolated part of the world, trying to keep this Thelemic thing going against tremendous odds, I see alot of that...people seem attracted for the most supperficial reasons.
    I've seen people that originally showed up at mass in tow, just hanging out with their Order friends, become some of the most dedicated Thelemites.
    I've come to the conclusion they are here for a reason, despite whatever motives they had coming in. I think the 93 current intends to direct individual spirits in the direction that they need to go, despite what it looks like. It also test them, and some fail. People then fall into their little Thelemic cliques because we work more effectively when we are aligned with those of compatible energies.
    As much as we all dream of a one for all united front, I guess we just aren't as effective that way. Or maybe I've only discovered this because I had to...
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    • Re: The Thelema Clique
      by Mordecai Shapiro on Tuesday October 17, @12:14AM
      >I've seen people that originally showed up at mass in tow, just hanging out with
      >their Order friends, become some of the most dedicated Thelemites.

      Conversely, I've seen people who come along with extreme enthusiasm, even fervor, who burn out in no time, or even worse, become traitors of the vilest sort.



     
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