What is a Cult based on thirty seconds of internet searching
By: Elena Faverio, Aged 28
I realized instantly that I don’t know what a cult is, so I googled cult definition.
Then I realized I don’t want definitions, I want transfiguration of meaning through time
so I googled “cult etymology” not entomology which is about bugs.
The word cult comes from Latin “cultus” which meant first: tended, cultivated, tilled - like a field is
then: care, labor, cultivation, culture, worship, references
And from French “culte” which is worship, homage, and late a particular form or system of worship.
Popular before the 17th century, obsolete for two hundred years, and then revived in reference to ancient or primitive systems of religious belief and worship in the 19th century.
I wonder at the difference between ancient and primitive, how the words couple and converge along Caucasian feelings and findings.
I have gotten most of this information so far from exactly one (1) website: which is:
under cult (noun)
And it looks hella plagiarized as I read it back so please leave me alone. This is how information is passed in these non ancient and non primitive Western societies. This is how we learn about shit, and learn it good.
I am not convinced by any of these definitions so far, but we’re in luck because
NEXT UP is Hugh Rawson, who apparently wrote something called Wicked Words,
which I will pause and research.
According to fifteen seconds of googling and the top link
(Amazon, surprise surprise)
Wicked Words: A Treasury of Curses, Insults, Put-Downs, and Other Formerly Unprintable Terms from Anglo-Saxon Times to the Present by Hugh Rawson is availed in Paperback form from $24.44. Condition: Good. Sold by Bay State Book Company. And Amazon.
What the fuck is an Anglo Saxon?
According to the Oxford Dictionary and Google - Anglo Saxon is an adjective (what the fuck? an adjective? Okay) relating to or denoting the Germanic inhabitants of England from their arrival in the 5th century up to the Norman Conquest.
Or a noun (yes this is what I thought):
Hmmm. Old English is hyperlinked for bozos like me who are on a late night Wikipedia odyssey of terms that they only sort of know, definitely have an idea of what it encompasses in their head, but could never adequately or accurately describe or convey that knowledge to another person. We’ll leave it for now.
Back to Hughie Rawson and his wicked words!
According to Hugh, the word cult means “an organized group of people, religious or not, with whom you disagree.” Incidentally Hugh wrote this definition in 1993 which is the year of my birth which means it’s time to talk about me. NICE.
According to Hugh, here are some things that are cults:
Wait, what the fuck is a despot?
Oh okay, according to Oxford it is a ruler or other person who holds absolute power, typically one who exercises it in a cruel or oppressive way. So I was using it correctly.
Although wait apparently there is also a rapper known by the stage name Despot, birth name Alec Reinstein, who was born in Queens in 1982. Not much info on him. Oh shit, I googled him and he’s a white guy. Weird. Is it ever possible to be a white rapper and not be constantly appropriating from and profiting off Black culture?
Some more cults, according to me:
-Anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers
-Parents who yell at Board of Education meetings
-People who want to have children
-People who’s favorite season is not fall.
-People who liked the film LalaLand.
I would turn in this valuable research, but I learned about Despot on Wikipedia, and my teachers always told me that’s not a viable source of information.
Play this game in a group of three.
Are you all met?
Are there more wheels or doors in the world?
Let’s all say what we think on the count of three, okay?
1 2 3
If one person says doors and two say wheels read this:
Like time and civilization, all things roll down hill.
Gravity is inevitable.
Newton knows about this, so does Johnny Appleseed.
Like the universe and a wheel in a dusty vacuum, all things roll until they reach the bottom.
The ending is inevitable.
Everyone knows this. Even the wind. Even the stars in the sky.
If one person says wheels and two say doors read this:
Aren’t you getting damp, out there in the rain?
A newspaper isn’t a great substitute for an umbrella.
You should come inside. Come in from the cold.
It’s too cold out, so we’re opening hotels and Airbnbs and empty Montauk mansions for the homeless.
When the nights rise again over 40 degrees, we’ll turn them out into the streets again
Let them build up cardboard cities with newspaper blankets
so we can burn them down and wash them away, into the storm drain.
Take off your shoes.
We’re not a “no shoe household” all the time, but your sneakers are damp.
I’ll stuff them with newspaper, so they’ll be dry when you leave.
If everyone says wheels:
Congratulations! Good things are coming your way. Can you feel them, floating in on the spring wind?
The pinwheel is spinning again, and the birds are waking you up at the ass crack of morning.
Get up, bitches! They carouse into the golden 6 AM.
Get the fuck up! Good news is on the way! It’s spring again
And everything is green and gold
And the pinwheel is spinning in the gorgeous, gorgeous breeze.
If everyone says doors:
Maybe this is how it is -
you’re always going out of the room.
There you go again, clearing the dishes after the holiday meal
You’re in the kitchen now, but a moment ago you were in the dining room.
Chasing the dog down the hallway into the breezeway into the driveway -
A door you don’t even remember open, left -
Propped by a stone or a brick or a child’s shoe.
And you’re ducking under stone archways of cathedrals and cave mouths,
rushing into the tunnel at 80 miles per hour - because it’s late and even the city is sleeping -
Rushing out the other end in the same breath.
Do you feel it?
Even now, you’re going out of the room, into the next.
Into the next.
TO BE READ AT THE END:
Let’s linger for one moment - on the threshold.
On that perfectly balanced point.
our dream is to sail around the world
and he has the yacht to do it.
his name is jeff
dick has the yacht to do it
and it is a huge yacht
girthy and long and firm and pulsating with desire.
we are the maid who has been hired to keep dick’s yacht spotless
and our name doesn’t matter all that much
because we are a literary device created to allow lonely, horny readers to self-insert.
we cross our legs tightly under the table.
we push our silky hair back over one shoulder, exposing a slender neck.
we bite our lip, and bring blood to the surface - red.
our cheeks flush prettily and we have never
NOT EVEN ONCE
or had diarrhea
or period cramps
or mental health issues
or invisible illnesses
or learning disabilities
or physical disabilities.
we have no money,
but honestly, who the fuck does these days?
dick had money, but he spent it all on his stupid fucking pulsating penis
sorry, i mean yacht
and spends his days loving scrubbing the gleaming sides with a soft cloth
stroke stroke stroke
pulling and pushing
gripping and twisting.
the yacht is not a thinly veiled metaphor for dick’s dick
it is a blatant metaphor for dick’s dick.
dick would love for us, the maid who has been hired to keep dick’s yacht spotless
to climb aboard and take a ride
in another blatant metaphor for sexual intercourse.
this is not what we meant when we said
our dream is to see the world.
It is dark inside the belly of the beast
I read a news story, or perhaps someone mentioned it over dinner,
about a person who was swallowed by a whale
a real life Jonah
And this was recently.
There is air in the belly of the beast
You can breathe deeply
Lungs within lungs
And wait for the perfect moment.
A hurricane touched down the east end of my island
Some weeks ago now
And I wondered how long I could move along inside the eye of the hurricane
Traveling at the same speed as the winds
It is quiet inside the belly of the beast
And dim yellow light
Like when morning creeps and casts itself over the warm and purring body of my cat
Asleep on the foot of my bed.
I went to the London Zoo and walked along the tiger enclosure
High walls and netting.
They are so orange against the grey and grim skies of Camden
So striped and still.
Why run in a room so small?
And their bellies expand with hunger for space
And I know that in any other circumstance I am their meal, walking.
It is empty inside the belly of the beast
Pang-ed and unsatisfied, even after a five course meal and dessert.
It is the Platonic cave echoing
And the black hole that scientists are creating in a laboratory in Haifa
And the well at the edge of the Coraline woods
And the space between your bed and the wall.
It is dark inside the belly of the beast
Like a womb
Like a swamp
And some days I am the belly
And some days I am the beast.
In my softest and most precious times
I can understand how lucky I am
to sit warmly in bed, with a perfect cat clawing her way across my stomach
Nails clipping awkwardly into the duvet
Knees angled and awkward like a chicken
Strutting and yowling at 2 AM
It is no one’s fault but my own
That she believes 2 AM is the perfect time to complain
Or announce her undying love in caterwauling tones
As I was the fool who woke, one night, from woolen dreams
To pull her close and tell her she was perfect
And pet her velvet ears and let her know that I will wake up when she calls me
In my softest and most painful times
I can understand how brief and stacked the time is
We have had wonderful days of kittenhood and claws out
Of blown-eyed catnip wondering and nighttime mouse haunt stalking
And years of coming home with a backpack or a suitcase or nothing
To know that she remembers me still and will still crawl warm into my lap
And let me pet her little belly
I don’t want to lose this, I think up into the midnight
As she curls awkwardly on the floor in a pile of my clothes
Or sprawled across a cardboard box that I bought with things for me
Or meowing and nipping at my fingertips
I don’t want to lose this little life
Why did you come into my life this way?
And make yourself so perfect
And so fragile
And so wild
That even a wind could blow you far from me
And nothing but death could come between us two
My cat doesn’t care.
She sits on the floor and licks her asshole
And understand that it’s enough.
All of it, taken as one.
This soft and precious time
It is enough.
I’ve been expecting your call for years now
Both elated and deflated when it doesn’t come
I hope that I am growing into a softer and greener self,
That I have less moments of glitching one inch to the right of my skin like
Why are you this way when you know it’s not so deep
I have collated the mistakes in with the good things
And I am no longer worried about where they stack up
So at night, I sleep whenever I am tired and do not lie awake
There is the future, ahead of me
Like a road
And I don’t know where it ends or what happens on the way
But I am not afraid to walk
Can it really be that simple? I ask in the quiet moments when dread has edged away
And I can just sit in the perfect, temperate, breezy summer
And there are not too many bugs
Can it really be that simple?
When a group of lions gather together and sitting,
shake their perfect golden manes up at the sweltering sun
And melt like butter into the short rustling grasses
And the wind is not too sharp and not rushed, but trickles in a gentle way
Then it is summer - hot and full and burgeoning with the promise of fire.
They will speak in one voice, “We are here, together
Those of us who remain.
Gold and unapologetic and immovable.
Sacred and untouchable
Under this unmistakeable sky.
let’s start not at the beginning
a very bad place to start
the middle of a busy highway at rush hour
cars zipping by at 80 miles per hour in a 55 zone
with honk if you’re sexy bumper stickers and metalica blaring from rolled down windows
this is what frogger feels like, you muse
as your fringe ruffles in the hot dry breeze belching out of the exhaust pipe of a semi
as it clips past, one millimeter from your right ear and HONKS
as if you’re the problem
as if you haven’t just arrived here
as if you weren’t just hatched into this hot and sweaty speedway
with no helmet and no car seat and no one to pass you gummy snacks and fruit juice and ask if you can feel the air conditioning on your tiny baby face
my sciatica is acting up again
for real, this time
not like usually when i’m just depressed and don’t want to explain it to people
it’s fascinating how much more appropriately people respond
to pain that they find visible and “valid”
either way it gets me upstairs, under the cover, and without interruptions
so i’m happy
or well. not happy.
not the opposite of happy, either
my back hurts like a MF
and i’ve done literally nothing physically strenuous for the past week or so.
fucking stupid body
fucking precious vessel
i want to start over again
and tenderly acknowledge every inch of myself, reverently
as i hobble up the stairs, rubbing aspercreme into my ass
or whatever it’s called.
i obviously know what my ass is called.
ass ass ass.
my cat doesn’t care that my back hurts, because she is a cat
it doesn’t bother me so much that she wants the same things no matter how much pain i’m in
or if i’m horrifically grumpy
or crying my eyes out
there’s something nice in the familiarity of a paw batting my nose
and her reedy little meow (not cute)
no matter what i’m about.
i threw out my back sometime in 2017 during a dance class
and when i told the teacher about it
she patiently and meticulously explained why it was my fault
for not doing the movement right.
maybe she was on to something.
i went to the hospital then, because i was told to
and england has the NHS so i wasn’t terrified of bills.
they checked me out
and told me it was sciatica
which i thought was something old people got, or maybe something to do with your eyes
(it is not).
i took the tube back “to my flat”
but two stops before i got there, came the stop for my stupid ass drama school
and the doors opened and i felt my whole upbringing flash before my eyes
and i knew what i would do before i’d even made the decision.
and i got off the fucking train
and went back to school
because the devil works hard.
and i -
i hope you don’t mind the lateness of the hour
but sometimes i can’t sleep at night
because i am haunted
by the knowledge that this life isn’t it for me
i see my future unfolding as a series of days
and i don’t know that i’ll ever get to where i want to be
and it haunts me
i spend my days moving stacks of textbooks from one shelf to another
and i am an actor
i spend my days lifting heavy packages and sorting mail
and i am an artist
does any of this matter?
some months ago, while writing
my collaborator made mention of that story about a person walking down the beach
throwing sea stars back into the waves
it’s especially of interest to me, this story, because i was born on an island
and live on an island
and every time i sit down to make something
i imagine myself, standing at the shoreline, a delicate starfish cupped in my calloused hands
and i am the hero of that story
but it’s late and i’ve been sad all week, remembering things from the past that i did poorly
and things that it’s far far too late to go back and change
or apologize for
and i am suddenly struck by the feeling
that i’m not the person on the beach at all
but one of the starfishes, dry and gasping and waiting to be rescued, gently.
like a ghost, the knowledge of my smallness haunts me at nights
and stands over my bed, making it impossible to sleep
so i reach for my phone to text my best friend.
at this late hour, i can admit things freely
my fingers flying fast across a luminous phone screen
i’m scared that i’ll never be successful, whatever that means.
i’m scared that people are not interested in my art, my words, my thoughts.
i’m scared that i will never become the person that i want to be
i am haunted by visions of my future, and the knowledge that there are parallel universes
where my left sock is red instead of blue
and i have everything that i ever wanted at my fingertips.
my best friend is smarter than me, and better, and she always has been
so she writes back (many things)
and of all of it, i hear this:
“life matters, too.”
and so maybe it’s enough to strike that fine and flinty matchpoint balance
and swallow down one hundred disappointments
and show up: not backlit, or on the silver screen, or in a limelight
but on sidewalks and roadsides and train station platforms
and wait softly as the tide creeps ever closer.