UNiversal ARticulate Interdimensional Understanding of Science
January 30, 2016 7:47 AM   Subscribe

 
Jello Biafra visits Unarius in 1992
posted by item at 8:05 AM on January 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ah, the Unarians again. I researched them a little back when I did the High Weirdness megapost. As cults go they seem pretty harmless, but I don't think they're really doing all that well now that Uriel is gone. I found a photo of a segment of a strip mall identifying it as a school of theirs.

Is it really fair to apply the "cult" name to them? I mean, historically the word means something kind of different to what it's come to mean, which is Jim Jones and Charles Manson style groups that rely on psychological oppression and walling themselves off to maintain cohesion, and ultimately end up destructive to themselves and others. But I've yet to see anything that makes the Unarians really anything other than kooky.
posted by JHarris at 8:16 AM on January 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


So back in the day, the fringe would dress up in awesome outfits and talk about messages of peace and love and light sent down from on high by the Space Brothers.

Meanwhile today, the fringe dresses in camouflage and cowboy hats and talks about messages of paranoia and hate and conspiracy broadcast from some dudes YouTube account.

I hate the future.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:33 AM on January 30, 2016 [16 favorites]


... er, "stylish"???
posted by sammyo at 8:44 AM on January 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


Back when I was a snotty teenager in San Diego a couple of friends and I went to El Cajon to eat at Tyler's Taste of Texas and mock the Unarians. We wandered in and the receptionist there just gave us this weary look, as though sniggering high school kids were a daily occurrence (which they probably were). The art was pretty tacky, and gave off this air of activity room projects for adults; chintzy dioramas with plastic costume jewels, weirdo paintings of Uriel and UFOs, 70s color palettes. Still, it seemed really harmless and well-intentioned, and we felt pretty shitty for going there just to mock them.

Tyler's Taste of Texas was awesome, though.
posted by Existential Dread at 8:49 AM on January 30, 2016 [8 favorites]


If you like the outfits listen to the sounds of an actual space man!
posted by sammyo at 8:55 AM on January 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


The tunnel of stars is an intriguing description of a galaxy. So hopeful, these people.
posted by Oyéah at 9:08 AM on January 30, 2016


Meanwhile today, the fringe dresses in camouflage and cowboy hats and talks about messages of paranoia and hate and conspiracy broadcast from some dudes YouTube account.

Those assholes were always around, you just didn't hear about them because they didn't have YouTube. At least now they're getting arrested.
posted by leotrotsky at 9:09 AM on January 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


What does Texas taste like
posted by item at 9:35 AM on January 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm with Jharris. This doesn't read as a cult in the true, sinister sense of that term. A little goofy, sure, but Mostly Harmless.

And that The Generator costume is friggin' sweet. Seriously not being ironic when I say that.
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:36 AM on January 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


That lady. That's what I want to be when I grow up.
posted by sexyrobot at 9:39 AM on January 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


So back in the day, the fringe would dress up in awesome outfits and talk about messages of peace and love and light sent down from on high by the Space Brothers.
Marge: I have a responsibility to raise these children right and, unless you change, I'll have to tell them their father is... well, wicked.
Homer: [to Lisa and Bart] Kids, let me tell you about another so-called wicked guy. He had long hair, and some wild ideas, and he didn't always do what other people thought was right. And that man's name was...
[thinks]
Homer: I forget. But the point is...
[thinks]
Homer: I forget that, too.
[to Marge]
Homer: Marge, you know who I'm talking about! He used to drive that blue car.
posted by Fizz at 9:39 AM on January 30, 2016 [7 favorites]


My wife used to do costuming for skaters and beauty pageants so I sent her the link. Her reaction after the hooting and snorting subsided was, "Oh, the poor dear! I could have so helped her..."
posted by jim in austin at 10:10 AM on January 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


And because JHarris is being modest here's his most excellent High Weirdness by Mail megapost.
posted by photoslob at 10:24 AM on January 30, 2016 [5 favorites]


What does Texas taste like

bbq freedom
posted by poffin boffin at 10:48 AM on January 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


Cayenne, molasses, and things that aren't to be messed with
posted by Existential Dread at 11:11 AM on January 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


For those who are asking "wait, how can this be a cult when it's not sinister and murderous" - most cults aren't. The definition of a cult is really hard to pin down, but it's basically any small new religious group that most people find weird. No brainwashing necessary.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:43 AM on January 30, 2016 [5 favorites]


bbq freedom

Not if your name is Kanye it doesn't
posted by item at 12:12 PM on January 30, 2016


Cayenne, molasses, and things that aren't to be messed with

I read that as "Cayenne, madness and things that aren't to be messed with".
posted by maxwelton at 12:17 PM on January 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


I would wear that solar system dress in a heartbeat. Everywhere. As a dude.
posted by Nanukthedog at 12:22 PM on January 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


molasses, madness, not that much difference there...

I think there's a tendency toward isolation that is part of the definition of 'cult'. Which is the ONLY reason Scientology and the Mormons don't qualify.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:27 PM on January 30, 2016


My family drove past their building a lot growing up in El Cajon. The main thing I remember was their obsession with Tesla; there was a huge diorama in the window for years with a giant portrait of him next to a Tesla coil and some other "sciencey" stuff (lightning, power lines, sine waves). I'm pretty sure I saw one of their books on Tesla in the local library back in the day too, though mercifully it seems to have been weeded from the collection. IIRC, the central thesis was that Tesla was a reincarnated alien consciousness.

The Daily Show paid them a visit back in 2001 regarding their renewable energy plans (apologies for the possibly US-only link).
posted by cammimmac at 1:16 PM on January 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


The definition of a cult is really hard to pin down, but it's basically any small new religious group that most people find weird.

The denotation of "cult" doesn't even have to be religious—I've seen it applied to other small social groups. Meanwhile, the connotation is nevertheless "dangerous-seeming isolated group that deceptively lures in new members and then coerces them to stay, takes their money, monopolizes their time, and probably abuses them and does other bad things". So unless you want to encourage the association of "weird" and "dangerous", then don't call just any odd subculture a cult.
posted by Rangi at 1:38 PM on January 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


lures in new members and then coerces them to stay, takes their money, monopolizes their time

y'know, I have been spending a lot of time here lately
posted by Existential Dread at 1:54 PM on January 30, 2016 [11 favorites]


Yeah, no, I completely disagree with this notion that a cult is just "any weird group" with a dedicated fellowship. Such a thing could be described with the adjective "cult", but the noun "cult" is clearly, obviously, and culturally intended to categorize groups which exercise total control over the members, resulting in actual existential harm to them. This is exactly what headline writers and local news personalities have in mind when they use the word. They are most definitely intending to make associations with Jonestown and Hale-Bopp and all that shit.

If these folks were hewing close to that, I'd understand. But they aren't, and using the term with them honestly feels condescending and arrogant.
posted by Doleful Creature at 5:18 PM on January 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


Read about them first in In Advance of the Landing in the mid 1980s -- thanks for the update.
posted by Rash at 7:40 PM on January 30, 2016


"grandiloquent costumes"?
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:53 PM on January 30, 2016


But more importantly, are we really of the belief that the semantics of the word colt is the most important part of this FPP? Because if so, these beams are going to overanalyze themselves!
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:56 PM on January 30, 2016


(I will not make a joke about that typo, I will not make a joke about that typo, I will not....)
posted by JHarris at 8:05 PM on January 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


Stupid speech-to-text.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:57 PM on January 30, 2016


Scientology isn't a cult?
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:34 PM on January 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


What the implication is, in a real sense, is that calling Scientology a cult is a sully on the word "cult," which by a strict definition does not have to imply coercive or exploitative behavior.
posted by JHarris at 9:44 PM on January 30, 2016


I know most huge mistakes start with someone asserting "I know how to read people", but Uriel's smiles in those pictures are so purely someone having a good time doing her own thing and doing nothing other than shining out her happiness that I give the Unariusians a big thumbs up.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:54 PM on January 30, 2016


> What does Texas taste like

Well now, Texas is a large state. You have to consider how varied it is, it's like a great big neopolitan ice cream of a state. In the east, Texas tastes of the stale, damp air of lowland swamps, redolent of rot and stagnant water. In the southwest, it's the sparse and subtle notes of parched air shot through with grit. In the north, loam and rich manure. And for those who are not men of means, Texas is the taste of boot heel.
posted by ardgedee at 4:04 AM on January 31, 2016


Debating what is and is not a cult never loses its pleasure for me. The interesting argument that this discussion brought out was that the Uniarians are essentially harmless, hence not a cult. I think this indicates a change in the meaning of the word over the last few decades, since several cults have recently turned out to be truly harmful since the large-scale increase in cults in the 70's.

Since "cult" has turned into such a poisonous insult, there has also been quite a proliferation of videos online of Christians calling other Christian religions cults.

Once at a dinner table I mentioned that I had been in a cult a long time ago. A couple of people looked extremely interested and said "Really? Which one?" I replied, "Divine Light Mission." Turns out they were current members (there are some who have kept the faith for decades, but not many.) Boy, that was embarrassing.
posted by kozad at 9:30 AM on January 31, 2016 [2 favorites]


I posted about them too!
posted by latkes at 8:54 PM on January 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


robocop is bleeding: "So back in the day, the fringe would dress up in awesome outfits and talk about messages of peace and love and light sent down from on high by the Space Brothers.

Meanwhile today, the fringe dresses in camouflage and cowboy hats and talks about messages of paranoia and hate and conspiracy broadcast from some dudes YouTube account.

I hate the future.
"

Yeah, you never would have had stuff like Jim Jones back in the day.

(I'm assuming by "today" you mean 1977 and by "the future" you mean any time on or after 1978)
posted by Bugbread at 2:53 AM on February 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


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