This year has not been fortunate for my electronics. My printer and Playstation broken down almost instantly in 2015, and then the rest started to fall. Most universal was my iPod classic. The headphone jack is, well, jacked-up, and the right channel does not come through on earbuds. This was not a problem with the earbuds themselves, because they worked on ever other device I own and other earbuds would not work properly with my iPod. Unimpressed with the iPod selections today and ultimately frustrated with Apple anyway, I made a strong decision to explore alternative channels for MP3 players. FYI, all cloud systems suck when it comes to uploading even a small portion of your music library, and there are few easily obtainable, reputable MP3 players available. In the meantime of selecting a new product, I have mostly turned to more podcasts. Already routinely listening to Mysterious Universe, Radiolab, and amethystangelletti, I burned through Serial and dabbled in other literary and conversational podcasts on a variety of topics. I have certainly become addicted now to the Bret Easton Ellis podcast and Those Conspiracy Guys, both of which recently had episodes that brought up Charles Manson. Easton Ellis had collaborated on a television series with Rob Zombie centered on the Manson family as a link to cover the totality of 1960s America – which was picked up and subsequently dropped by Fox after NBC hastily pushed out the absolutely terrible “Aquarius” – while TCG covered a bipartisan chronology of the man and questioned any likelihood his whole cult movement was an rotten byproduct of the CIA’s MK Ultra experiments. Bear with me, I’m going somewhere (I think).
Like anyone else who has an honest interest in abnormal psychology, I have read extensively about serial killers, cults and mass murderers. Inexhaustibly fascinated by the psychology and sociology of cults, I believe the Manson family is chief amongst the most fascinating because of his own absence of regret, and for his obstinate adherence to his own character. Its perpetual interest is upheld against his incarcerated former family members’ gradual decomposition and remorse; He is the consistency in an otherwise maturing environment. For years I have pitied Leslie Van Houten, Patricia Cromwell, Susan Atkins, and Charles Watson. I pitied them because they have to live with the senseless murders they committed. Note, I do not feel they should be set free. This was until today, when listening to TCG. One of the hosts asked another if they thought the family members deserve to be let out, as they claim to feel reformed. The other host said no, because they have not reformed and have never shown real signs of it. Then it clicked in my head that that host was so right. He went on to explain his viewpoint, and I could not agree more. All they had done, the still living former family members, is substitute one form of blame and one of salvation for another. It used to be “Society is who to blame for how I feel, oh please lead and save me, Charlie,” and now it’s “Charlie is who to blame for who I am, oh please lead and save me, Christ.” Although they are aware the things they have done are wrong, they take ownership of them but with a crutch.
What is true reformation then? Not just for the former Manson family, but for any and every person. That is truly the question that has been keeping me up at night. Are we ever not acting out the same format, what we interchange the beginning and end with? This has been the focus of many of my longer pieces of writing: Are we ever out of someone else’s control?
My new MP3 player, the FiiO X1 arrived last week.