Monday, November 20, 2017

Helter Skelter

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Definition of helter-skelter 
1 :in undue haste, confusion, or disorder
  • ran helter-skelter, getting in each other's way
  • —F. V. W. Mason
2 :in a haphazard manner
Do you, don't you want me to make you
I'm coming down fast now don't let me break you
Tell me tell me tell me the answer
You ain't no lover but you ain't no dancer
Helter skelter
Helter skelter
Helter skelter
When you get to the bottom
You go back to the top of the slide
And you stop and you turn
And you go for a ride
Then you get to the bottom
Then you see me again
Helter Skelter Beatles 1968
In 1967 Charles Manson was released from a California prison and very soon was living in a communal situation with at least 18 women. He obviously had a weird charismatic influence on them and others in what was essentially a cult. Manson portrayed himself as a Christ-like figure and preached about simplicity, but he was a violent and manipulative man. Manson gave psychedelic drugs to his followers every day and abused them sexually. Yet he talked his way into jam sessions with Neil Young, the Mamas and the Papas and visited Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys.
In 1969 Manson was using songs from the Beatles' White Album as "scripture" for teaching about an impending race war, with Helter Skelter as the theme for the chaos which would ensue. He instructed some of his followers to invade a home in a toney California to begin "helter skelter" by killing the residents. They brutally murdered five unsuspecting residents, including actress Sharon Tate, the wife of director Roman Polanski. The next day they killed a couple at another location.
Dec. 03, 1969-Charles Manson is escorted to court for preliminary hearing. (John Malmin / Los Angel
Manson spent nearly 50 years in prison for his role in the murders and overnight he died at the age of 83. Through those years he applied for parole a number of times, and denied his involvement in the deaths. He was always turned down for parole and in psychiatric sessions and interviews he contradicted himself often.
Was Charles Manson insane, or was he the embodiment of evil? Defining evil is never straightforward, although "profoundly immoral and malevolent" does work here. The bigger question is whether Manson and his followers, most from stable middle class backgrounds, had given themselves over to a force of darkness which invited them into such heinous acts. You might recall that one of the Manson cult members, Squeaky Fromme, was not charged in these murders but did attempt to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1975. What "possessed" this group to follow Manson and what motivated his hatred in what was then called the Summer of Love in 1967?
We'll never know with certainty, but the questions arise with news of Manson's death. What are your recollections from this time, if you're old enough to remember. Was Manson's cult evil? How would you define evil? Is there an Evil One?
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1 comment:

Judy said...

Wow! That is a huge question, David ! Evil exists or sure - is it embodied in a devil with horns and tail? No - it is much more subtle and pervasive - sometimes it appears as a questionable decision or action, others as a hugely WRONG, hurtful action that affects many humans in a horrible way (genocide, atom bombs, nuclear warheads, pollution, etc) And sometimes it disguises itself as good...charities that proclaim to help a lot of people, but really only the line the pockets of the CEO's ... no wonder we humans are often in a mess!

'Tis a wily foe, Evil !(Maybe that is why we should be praying the Lord's Prayer every day .... deliver us from evil...PLEASE!)