Tag Archives: tears

The Unbearable Gullibility of Fraternity

by John Griogair Bell

I have witnessed, been the target of, and, I’m sure, at least once been guilty of the Unbearable Gullibility of Fraternity. I hope, and trust, that I have not leveraged it myself, and I sincerely do not recall doing so.

I am naming this phenomenon for what happens when someone within fraternal bonds tells another something and it is believed without questioning the message, messenger, or target. The message might be a claim about something that someone did that is a completely made up Internet Fact, or it might be something with just enough verisimilitude to make made up parts of the message easier to believe. Or, the message might be a catastrophized interpretation by the messenger about the target that is based on an unfair and untrue reading of events. The messenger might be unconscious or consciously deceptive about those events or the target or their motivations. The messenger isn’t questioned or interrogated about their claims, but is presumed to be communicating in good faith about reasonable interpretations of things they actually observed, whether they actually observed anything or whether their interpretations are reasonable instead of attempts to catastrophize or whether the messenger is actually acting in good faith without ulterior motive themselves. Often times the target of the message is also not asked about these things, and is presumed to have done them in the exact way the messenger says they did and for the motivation attributed by the messenger. This is all the more egregious when the target is in the same organization having the culture of that organization weaponized against them.

This seems to me to be a form of social proof that is common in groups where there exists authoritarian hierarchies around information. When there are, within any group, sub groups that have more authority and control over information, it becomes harder to both escape the tendency to believe those on equal or higher levels of the organization or to verify the information without violating those boundaries of authority and control; and this is, I think, especially true in groups with shared experiences of imprint vulnerability, either through things like, generally negative, trauma or, generally intended as positive, rites like those of passage and initiation.

One possible way to approach this effect is to apply the scientific method. Look for experimental observation that verifies and reproduces the claims about the target, in the message, by the messenger. Have you checked with the target themselves or did you act on the presumptions formed by others telling you about the target without checking your data?

A form of this kind of pitfall is a whisper network of gossip. Hopefully your group has methods and tools designed to help avoid propagation whisper network of gossip and enabling whisper network of gossipers. But, you should also consider how you can also avoid the diffusion of responsibility about checking for the validity of data and seeking whether the information is reproducible outside the influence of the messenger, essentially a form of scientific method in a kind of laboratory conditions. Keep both the soldier and the hunchback on guard to test information that seeks entrance to your mental camp.

In particular, I want to moreover call out the way that this kind of effect is acted on. When the message is accepted without question and then someone determines a course of action based on that message, their actions are tainted at the source. In my personal experience, I’ve had people approach me saying that they heard I did something and have already decided what to do that affected me based on that. Demonstratively, the message in this case was wrong, the messenger was not acting in good faith, and I was never asked about either until after action was determined. I’ve also had people approach me and say they are doing something that affects me, without saying anything about how they arrived at that decision, and I have been extremely suspicious that they have based their determinations on faulty indirect evidence they aren’t sharing or checking. Actions taken on tainted information is itself tainted, and the contagion spreads to others when not contained.

In addition to the, I hope, self-evident disfunction of the Unbearable Gullibility of Fraternity, I want to point out the danger of how this can potentially also be evidence of a group’s vulnerability to conspiracy thinking. The same kind of unverified messages about specifically unreproducible and indirect evidence communicated with appeal to authority, protected by boundaries of control, and within a group socially conditioned with presumption of good faith by group members are foundational elements to the success of misinformation groups like Qanon.

The Unbearable Gullibility of Fraternity is bad, per se, but it can also get worse.

Consider developing or further exercising good information practices for yourself, whether or not you’re in an authoritarian hierarchical fraternal group or not, but a fortiori if you are. When hearing something, especially before making determinations or acting on them, consider what is being communicated, who is communicating, why they might want to communicate it to you for you to believe without direct observation, give pause to acting on presumptions based on indirect information, and consider testing burden of proof whilst also not accepting or making conclusions that are not based on empirical evidence.

On the other hand, if your response to all this is to ask “but, why would I have any reason not to believe and act on what I’m told by someone I trust in the bonds of fraternity?” then you are part of the problem. Also, meditate on that, won’t you?

John Griogair Bell is the enigmatic super-villain, known only, to some, as Librarian.

Hermetic Library Zine John Griogair Bell Librarian the Unbearable Gullibility of Fraternity

It was a weary while before they raised him
Boy as he was, none dare disturb his grief.
And for his grief was strong, they loved and praised him
For son’s devotion to their dear dead chief.
Long, long he wept, nor brought with tears relief.
He knew the loss, the old head wise and grey
Well to assoil him of his spirit’s grief,
The twilight dangers of a boy’s dim way,
His dragons to confront, his minotaurs to slay.

Aleister Crowley, Why Jesus Wept

Hermetic quote Crowley Why Jesus Wept none dare disturb his grief dragons to confront minotaurs to slay

I crave the small, tactile simplicity of my new Kindle Paperwhite in its purple leather cover, which is currently home to what would make up around three boxes of physical books, but whose screen’s digital imprint is flattened of all memory and association. It’s soulless and almost weightless. On the other hand, the smug little ereader has not broken my spirit and my knees in the way that disposing of half my library has done, driving me to tears, rage and paracetamol.

Linda Grant, I Murdered My Library [Amazon]

Hermetic quote Grant I Murdered My Library ereader not broken spirit knees disposing library driving me to tears rage paracetamol

In Nomine Babalon, CXIV


The brine of the sea is the salt of Her tears

As man has forgotten for two thousand years

That the earth is sacred, his holy matron!

I raise up the cup and adore Babalon!

In Nomine Babalon: 156 Adorations to the Scarlet Goddess


The Hermetic Library arts and letters pool is a project to publish poetry, prose and art that is inspired by or manifests the Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to submit your work for consideration as part of the Arts and Letters pool, contact the librarian.

Synthesis in The Gate of the Sanctuary from The Temple of the Holy Ghost (Collected Works, Vol I) by Aleister Crowley.

“Then I perceived the stars to reflect a single sun—
Not burning suns themselves, in furious regular race,
But mirrors of midnight, lit to remind us of His face.
Thus I beheld the truth: ye are stars that give me light;
But I read you aright and learn I am walking in the night.
Then I turned mine eyes away to the Light that is above you:
The answering splendid Dawn arose, and I did not love you.
I saw the breaking light, and the clouds fled far away:
I was the resurrection of the Golden Star of Day.
And now I live in Him; my heart may trace the years
In drops of virginal blood and springs of virginal tears.” [via]

The Nameless Quest in The Gate of the Sanctuary from The Temple of the Holy Ghost (Collected Works, Vol I) by Aleister Crowley.

“Yet the thought chilled me as I touched the reins.
Ah! the poor horse, he will not. So remains,
Divided in his love. With mastered tears
I stride toward the parapet. My ears
Catch his low call; and now a song complains.
The bridge is bleeding and the river hears.
Ah! God! I cannot live for pity deep
Of that heart-quelling chant—I could not sleep
Ever again to think of it. I close
My hearing with my fingers. Gently goes
A quivering foot above them as they weep—
I weep, I also, as the river flows.
Slowly the bridge subsides, and I am flung
Deep in the tears and terrors never sung.
I swim with sorrow bursting at my breast.
Yet I am cleansed, and find some little rest.
Still from my agonised unspeaking tongue
Breaks: I must go, go onward to the quest.” [via]

All Night in White Stains by Aleister Crowley.

“But we will wrest from heaven a little star,
The Star of Bethlehem, a lying light
Fit for our candle, and by devils’ might
Fix in the vast concave of hell for us
To lume its ghastly shadows murderous,
That in the mirror of the lake of fire
We may behold the image of Desire
Stretching broad wings upon us, and may leap
Each upon other, till our bodies weep
Thick sweet salt tears, and, clasping as of yore
Within dull limits of Earth’s barren shore,
Fulfil immense desires of strange new shames,
Burn into one another as the flames
Of our hell fuse us into one wild soul” [via]

All Night in White Stains by Aleister Crowley.

“Yea, king and queen of Sheol, terrible
Above all fiends and furies, hating more
The high Jehovah, loving Baal Peor,
Our father and our lover and our god!
Yea, though he lift his adamantine rod
And pierce us through, how shall his anger tame
Fire that glows fiercer for the brand of shame
Thrust in it; so, we who are all of fire,
One dull red flare of devilish desire,
The God of Israel shall not quench with tears,
Nor blood of martyrs drawn from myriad spheres,
Nor watery blood of Christ; that blood shall boil
With all the fury of our hellish toil;
His veins shall dry with heat; his bones shall bleach
Cold and detested, picked of dogs, on each
Dry separate dunghill of burnt Golgotha.” [via]