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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation

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books: helter skelter by vincent bugliosi
children of dune - leto 1
This is one of the reasons that Kindles' are dangerous; I'm finally getting around to reading all those books that I always meant to but forget about. Now I can do it instantly when I remember!

While still reading:

I'm actually much more freaked out by the unproven retaliatory murders committed after the Manson Family's arrest. Which is partially because I didn't realize that was happening, but the list of people who died and had a connection with Manson is goddamn chilling.

One of the things I like about the book is the author's skeptical but growing understanding of the hold Manson had on his followers. Even cult theories don't encompass what he was doing, and the author being the prosecutor and interviewing the different members of the Family, his impressions of them, both defense and prosecution witnesses, showing his uneasiness with them without being self-conscious about the fact he's narrating things in a way that sound crazypants neo-mysticism is refreshing. And he knows that's how some of it sounds. There's a really strong impression that he also wants to add If you had been here, you'd get what I'm saying.

Being sentient, I still find it bewildering (it could never happen to me!) and extremely unsettling (remember ages sixteen through twenty-one?) and oddly frustrating, the same way I feel about Jonestown and the millennium group suicides for the coming of aliens and Scientology. I know it's slippery slope--very few people dream of the day they will be drinking down poison in South America after killing a Congressman or embracing a movement based on the secret meaning of Beatles lyrics and committing mass murder--but there's slippery slope and then there's the chasm between the moment you aren't a murderer for a truly bizarre reason and the moment you are (assuming you are neither a sociopath nor a psychopath nor a variety of clinical sadistic narcissist).

Slippery slope is often more about giving away more than you thought you were--aka personal freedoms or rights--and realizing suddenly the dangers. In general, murder is an action taken where realization is kind of hard to miss when you're holding the weapon and there's a body in front of you: I don't get that. Even suicide--which is understandable to me, considering--kind of throws me, but part of that is I have clinical depression, and suicidal thoughts are weirdly enough my sharp inner line that is literally the one thing that forces me into some kind of frantic activity, even stupid activity, until my baseline misery isn't on that level; if something that can hold me hostage for two years in a morass of utter self-inflicted misery cannot make me do it, a person telling me to would probably make me laugh hysterically.

It does feel like something that you have to be there to understand, very literally.

This is interesting reading; I'm glad I saw the article on Manson's parole hearing tomorrow and remembered to go grab it.

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When I first read Helter Skelter, lo these many years ago, I was so unglued by the side stuff that I couldn't sleep without a light on for a while. Also, I still can't listen to The Moody Blues' Question of Balance without freaking out a little every time because that's what I was listening to when I read it.

/random memory

I liked Bugliosi's book and I also loved Ed Sanders' equally thorough "The Family" which I think of as its companion. Vince's book sorta gives the "Square" version of things and Sanders' gives the background and context to Manson and his lackeys. One book is not better than the other, they're both equally rich in detail and revelation. But Sanders' is a contemporary of the Manson kids and he's able to show the youth culture in which Manson was able to become important to these kids, where his ideas came from, the preambles and foreshadowing that pointed towards where things ended up.

It fascinated me because Sanders wrote at the time of the crimes and has such immediacy in his delivery without being at all stuck in hipster bullshit of the day. And it explained a lot I didn't know or understand about how cults became so big in the 1970's with hippies who became disenchanted.

Also it explained Manson's ideas in a lot more detail- they seem even more nutty if you can imagine.

I wrote an article on Squeaky Fromme a while ago and the editor wanted me to put in a little more background on the Manson Family. So I read up about the Tate-Labianca murders and--there are some things I wish I could un-know, you know? It actually made me change my mind about the death penalty. I'm still against it, but for practical reasons. I used to think no one deserved to die. I don't anymore.

It actually made me change my mind about the death penalty. I'm still against it, but for practical reasons. I used to think no one deserved to die. I don't anymore.


I read Bugliosi's book when I was in late high school or early college, and I'm still unable to look squarely at pictures of Manson.

I was very luck to have found a first edition signed copy of this in a book store in California. When I saw it was only 5 dollars I asked the clerk if he wanted more for it, he said no and gave it to me for free! I have it next to my David Lynch signed book and my QAF signed scripts :)

Edited at 2012-04-11 02:44 pm (UTC)

I read this book for the first time when I was about 11. It left me terrified, but I found some comfort in the fact that manson didn't kill children. (Not that I wanted my parents to die or anything. But I figured I'd probably be kidnapped and made to join the Manson family.) Yeah, I was a weird kid. And probably too young to read the book, but my parents didn't believe in censoring me.

Re: slippery slope, I had a similar reaction to The Story of O. Every time I reached the point where I was thinking, I can kinda maybe see how one would do that, something would happen that would land me squarely in OH HELL NO territory. I don't think I'll ever be a hardcore masochist, but it was interesting (and somewhat alarming) to see those boundaries shift, even if only in the context of this particular fictional universe..

Kindle! I'm so in the grip of kindle. I downloaded tons of out-of-copyright stuff and it is a marvel!!! I have read things I've been meaning to read since 1982! I download scanned books whose font is so tiny on the kindle that I will go BLIND but I MUST HAVE THEM.

Charles Manson is proof positive that Evil is a real tangible enitity no matter what they choose to call it; Satan, Lucifer, Iblis, Mara, Azazel, Baphomet, etc...

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