I learned something about mankind, I think...

5 min read

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SeelederSchar's avatar
Hey there :)

Last week, from Wednesday to Sunday, I was out on a LARP we've organized ourselves. It was one and a half years of work and took a lot from all of us, money, time and nerves, but it was well worth the effort. We spend a tremendous time, had a lot of fun and some really moving scenes.
And yet, only half-way related to the LARP itself, I came to realize something that's in my head ever since.

I should add a disclaimer: I'm a very peace-loving person, chose public civil service over serving the (shorter) time in the army (well, 'Bundeswehr', that is) and despite producing dark and sometimes bloody artwork, I like to sit in bright rooms with my windows open and harmony in the air.
Why that is important you'll soon see...

On this LARP, an evil army was needed and those of us that served as non-player characters (NPCs), we jumped in and doubled for that evil army ... and did all those things evil armies do. We marched lock-step through the wild, organized and serious. We reacted to the shouted commands of our leader. All that stuff.
Even more ... when our god (roleplay, remember?) entered, we gave him the same greeting the Romans already gave their caesar - we hailed him, literally.
Now, that's of course something you cannot do thoughtless in Germany anway...

But here's my point ... all this got a certain fire going in the persons involved. Although there was nearly no training involved, the lock-stepping worked. And when the leader shouted "Hail Tiotep", all others replied the very same words - unisono.
That made me think, you know? Some time during the first night where we played those soldiers, when I just finished one of those shouts, I had a certain moment of "What are you doing here?"
Now, it's all been just a game of course, but this social momentum, the thrill of just people shouting in a group, that was there. A tension arose that you could nearly hold in your hand, thick as it was. And it was just a game ... and yet we were shouting. Now, what if that would've been real?
This thrill of being part of the group, of guilt-relieving subordination, of not-being-alone, how strong must it be if you're not playing a role, if you're really dealing with something you might believe in? Are at least made believe in long enough to stand there in the first place.
What, if it's not thirty to fourty voices shouting, but a hundred? A thousand maybe? What sheer ecstacy might come from a full stadium of believers, shouting loud and unisono?

I must confess, that got me a little scared. I usually dislike those group efforts and I usually don't like to raise my voice, thinking that if people listen to me, they should be doing so because of the things I say, not the volume I say them in. And yet I found myself there. Hail Tiotep!

It goes even further. We had a pretty impressive show at the end, a battle between gods, of course realized with acting NPCs. People I know in person, most of them very close friends of mine. And yet, when the show went on and the godly father (ieks, please forgive, Christians among you) cast out his son at the pyre where that one had just given his accidentally killed love to the flames, people wept. People I know, strong and "tough" people, had tears running down their faces. Even myself - and I can count the times I cried during the last decade with my fingers (which is not me being tough, just broken) - felt water in my eyes when all this happend.
Doesn't this raise questions too? The whole intensity of the moment ... the force it is, the impact it has? The movement it creates?
Suddenly, one understands what all seems so abstract about sects and believe, and about ancient god-kings. I'll never ever doubt again that in ancient Egypt, the people saw godly power in those that ruled over them, or the said Romans, talking about Caesar.

But what scared me the most is that I saw that in myself. Me, rationally thinking, agnostic only because I do not dare to claim atheism, even organizing that event, and yet I am close to start crying when a god, played by a friend I see every week, condemns his also-godly son, played by a member of the very theatre group I do the poster work for.
And not only me, no, everyone on location just shivers and for a moment, leaves this countryside between Göttingen and Kassel and stands there, at the funeral pyer where Destrutep disparages his son.

Made me think. A lot.
We'll see if that'll find it's way into my artwork in the future...

Until then, keep up your good work ... more pictures are on their way on my side, too :)

No more marching for now,
© 2008 - 2021 SeelederSchar
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xxdeceptivexx's avatar
That is very interesting; they say that's how Hitler got the following he did.

If you can, try read a book called "The Wave" by Morton Rhue. It is about this exact same thing and chillingly enough is based on a true story. It's set in a highschool and this history teacher is telling the kids about Hitler. They make the argument that one person cannot inspire such fear in a country that the minority kills and the majority look the other way. The teacher responds by instituting some Nazi ideas.. And it pretty much gets out of control. A fascinating read.

I think it's a combination of mass hysteria and peer-pressure that results in the experience you had. I can't say I've been in the same situation but I remember when; as a kid, I was on a school trip into the veldt and monkeys wrecked our cabin. The other girls were in tears and although I wasn't even fussed (none of my stuff had been touched =D ) I cried with the rest of them. Why? Because everyone else was upset.

If only incidents like this could be harnessed for a greater good..... then again that's what the history teacher had planned and it didn't work all that well. Humans always seem to take things too far.
SeelederSchar's avatar
Well, basically, you're right, and although I should hit bed already, just a few comments...
Yes, you're right, it's the Hitler-thing alright ... important to me, though, was the fact that it's not limited to the Third Reich, but that it was the same with all other tyrannies, in the past and now, from ancient days to the modern world.
Therefore, mentioning "The Wave" is of course a good and logical thing. I know the book, it's common school literature in Germany (and there's a German movie about it coming out just these days), so I had my share of it and, yeah, it goes in the very same direction.

But, one should note again that in this case, no damage was done. Army-of-evil dudes and fighting-for-the-light dudes sat together afterwards just as much as friends as before. Nobody decided to convert to any imaginary religion or something and beyond a joke or to, nobody hailed Tiotep the day after the LARP.
You're basically right when you say humans tend to take things too far (oh god are you right about that), but in this case, like I said, no damage done. So there's no real reason to call it an "incident" or something, it was part of the game and it never ever left this boundary, it never became more then a game and everybody was very conscious about that game or play character.

So don't get me wrong - the LARP-thing was fun for everyone and a joy to experience, nobody was harmed due to all this ... it just scared me that things like this are basically able to catch me and tag me along.

So much for now, gonna go to bed now, have to get up kinda early tomorrow too...