The Cult of Personality

I was trying way too hard to write another funny/intellectual post. I had all of this information to lay on ya to impress the wandering masses. I know you crave wantonly to fill those empty spaces with all of this useless knowledge, but I realized everything I was collecting was going to end up a 10-page research report.

Essentially I wanted to examine the associations you could make between Friedrich Nietzsche, Rasputin, and Caligula. Yeah. That pretentious. I am far too tired to concentrate on making any sense of that anymore so I’m going to give you the interesting bits.

Everyone knows Rasputin was essential in bringing down the Romanov family by basically giving them a bad rap. Having this sex-craven “holy” man who went against the Orthodox church and whispered dark nothings into the tsarina’s ear didn’t sit well with an already restless people. That’s right, he was not a member of the Orthodox church. He was a member of the Khlisti sect, which encouraged him to quench his manly thirst. Being popular with some ladies (even though looking at him you’d ask… “why?”, but that happens with celebrity), he didn’t even have to try. He was also rumored to engage in other sexual “deviations” such as homosexuality and orgies.^1 The points here are *different religious ideas from a nation; *different sexual proclivities; *supposedly mad, yet in a position of power.
The Home of Rasputin
Alexander Palace – Grigori Efimovich Rasputin

Friedrich Nietzsche is best known for The Madman, pronouncing that God is Dead. Some may conclude he is an atheist from this, but it is most likely a statement against the secularism of Western culture^2. He explored the increasing perspectivism/nihilism of society. Unfortunately, his writings were embraced by an even crazier group of people, the Nazis. Being that he was not anti-Semitic and kind of anti-authoritarian, I do believe he would have been furious about this association. His ending decade was a spiral into madness. Interestingly enough, that’s when he became most prolific. So we see *controversial religious ideas; *madness that came from any number of medical issues (most popular idea is syphilis, but not proven – some people say he was always “unbalanced”); *no mention of sexual preferences, but he had revolutionary ideas of sexual freedom for his time and there are rumors (again, unproven) of homosexuality.
Wikipedia: Nietzsche
Stanford Encyclopedia: Friedrich Nietzsche

Poor Caligula. He’s most remembered for the craziest moments of his life.
Vodpod videos no longer available.


He was a soldier, a generous emperor, and a man of the people. He allowed for democratic elections again. This ahem leads to one of my favorite quotes on his Wikipedia page by Cassius Dio: “though delighting the rabble, grieved the sensible, who stopped to reflect, that if the offices should fall once more into the hands of the many … many disasters would result.” – I might agree with that. (Not an elitist at all.) Wanting a horse for his consul was rumored to be more as an F.U. to the senate.

But then the madness set in. He declared himself God and would go out in public dressed as one of the deities, as well as have statues erected to him. He was rumored to have sexual relations with, er, family? (Unproven as most of his histories are written by people who didn’t like him.) And then there was that time he had soldiers collect sea shells instead of finish invading Britain. Whatever that was about. Eventually the senate decided it was time to put him down. These epileptics, you never know what they’re going to do next. I mean… wait, what? Connecting to our first two contestants: *mad as a hatter; *rumors of sexual scandals, but then he was Roman so I’m inclined to believe anything; *and unfettered disdain for common religious and political views.
BBC History
Caligula: 37CE Onward (last years)

That was it. Something for you to chew on. Take from it what you will. What I take from it is – as the title indicates – despite how the current society felt about them, they made their mark. Like it or not. And after all these years, we still emphasize the bad, the weird, what our culture still considers the wrong. (In Nietzsche’s case, it depends on who you ask. It also depends on if you think he would be pro- or anti-Nazi.) Yet, today we obsess over similar types of celebrity. The reality shows express a similar desire to feed on deviance and madness. In centuries to come, what will humanity be studying from this era? What will they take from it? And who will be our major historical figures if human nature is to remain so obsessed with the Id than the Super-Ego?

If anyone wants to argue this: remember, people disagree over whether we should like Churchill because he was a drunk.

^1. Rasputin’s reported sex affair with Prince Felix Yusupov led to his infamous death. Just a quick round-up: he was poisoned, shot, shot again, beaten, thrown into the icy depths of the river, and this caused him to drown (the bastard was still alive).
Check it out here.
^2. I know I’m blatantly stealing from Wikipedia here. I’m so tired. Here. I’m referencing it. Find it yourself.

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About Strix Varia

Seeking the strange creatures of the Internet while staving off the boredom of being unemployed and far from old friends. Follow the blog if you need something with which to pass the time away.

Posted on February 25, 2011, in education week, history, philosophy and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Well I defriended Caligula! Kinda glad he keft off the invasion of Britain (why does everyone call Britain England… probably because I’m Scotish) Meanwhile, I thought it might have been more fun to substitute Foghorn Leghorn or some other oddly prejudiced cartoon character from ages gone by for Goethe. Oh, wait – you didn’t get on to Goethe so maybe just add in Foghorn… Leghorn after all is related in some manner I can’t put my finger on to Voracious Boot. 🙂

    • Aw, don’t defriend Caligula. He needs all the friends (and all the help) he can get. And he didn’t *finish* his invasion.

      I also didn’t really think of Goethe and probably several other caricatures that would have been more appropriate because these were my current saves in Wikipedia. I admit it, I’m kind of lazy. But I’m not getting paid to do this nor graded. *shrug*

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