Monday, January 28, 2013

The Trouble with Witty Flights: The ‘Wrong’ Thread

As a whole Rigint is a masterpiece of confabulation and satire, news and conspiracy that despite blending real threats with UFO gobbledlygook somehow manages to get to the black heart of the matter. This genius new literary/news form works in much the same way as a grosteque [sic] nightmare which disguises and yet points back to some basic truth.
–Theresa Duncan, “9/11 on the Staircase: The Coincidence Theorist’s Guide,” Wit of the Staircase (11 September 2006)

Another thread where I have no idea what is going on.
–Nordic, “RI ‘Bad’ Guys: UR Doin It Wrong,” Rigorous Intuition Forum (17 January 2010).
In the very first post in this series, I mentioned the passions that once ran high in online dialogue about Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake, as well as my hopes that time has allowed for some cooling down about the topic. Of course, I realized I could be wrong, and that we might be in for a bumpy ride. 

Fortunately, things have been rather calm so far on The X-Spot itself.  But over the past several months, my inbox got lit up like a Mardi Gras drunk.  In summary, these e-mails have come from people connected in various ways to the topic.  Some have voiced suspicion about where I am heading, or what my real purpose is (and for good reason, as you will see).  Many have expressed concern about my well being should I pursue the niche of the Blake/Duncan story that we’re about to.  A couple of people have tried to warn me off of it. 

Well, fools rush in.

Almost all of these correspondents cited a certain online event that in many ways defined the Internet phenomenon of Theremy as they came to know it.  Namely, they referred to a thread on the Rigorous Intuition Forum titled “RI ‘Bad’ Guys: UR Doin It Wrong,” begun by a forum member using the handle compared2what? (or C2W for short).   The initial post, harsh and strident in tone, makes unspecified accusations against unnamed persons on the board:
I don't like to be the agent of anyone's misfortune. So I don't narc behind the scenes, -- or for that matter, in full view -- when it comes to naming names and taking prisoners. And I'd prefer to keep it that way to the greatest extent possible. However, you're the ones who set the limits there, really, not me. I mean by your ‘bad’ actions. In case that's not clear,,,,

As far as I can see, you do not have a valid cause. Apart from which, on an on-again-off-again basis, your pretensions are profoundly offensive to me personally. Because, hello? I'm a politically serious intellectual who finds something close to godliness in transgressive art

So to the pathetic extent that you're pretending to be and/or actually believe that you are intellectuals, politically serious people, and/or transgressive artists, you're pissing on stuff that's very valuable to me....

Because to be honest, I tend to lose interest in that shit once I can see that it is what it pettily is. I mean, it's not like I'm getting paid to map out every fucking non-subtlety in Thee Circle Jerk of Doom.

So there you have it. I feel for you all and wish you the best. I honestly do. But you really shouldn't do ‘covert’ if you don't know how. Because it really can be dangerous. And if you'd had controllers to whom you were assets worth protecting, they would have told you that a long time ago. Plus, just in case you're laboring under illusions on the issue: There's no such thing as a controller who cares about you. In the real covert world or in the real world, period. Caring people do not go into the controlling business....

You could say that there is an ARG. If you consider a small group of egotistical assholes having gone to a lot of trouble to establish multiple false identities with which to take over the RI forum starting (I believe, but sorry, got bored, zzzzzz) way back in the EZ-Board era (if not before, zzzzz) to be an ARG.

Also, there's a whole lot of extraneous shit that people who aren't in on it are supposed to think is happening. Like, you know: When they put your hands in the bowl of peeled grapes while you're blindfolded, you're supposed to think they're eyeballs.
You might be scratching your head right now wondering what that meant.  And as the above quote from poster Nordic illustrates, you would have had company back in 2010.  A lot of subsequent responses articulated a widespread cluelessness about what C2W said.  Some asked for clarification.  As someone going by the handle justdrew put it, “are you suggesting that some -kind of self-harm ‘driving’ is being attempted by some theoretical faction?”

While most of the posters tried to figure out C2W’s jeremiad, a handful knew exactly what she meant.  Among them was board moderator Et in Arcadia Ego, who briefly explained the subject matter at hand:
At its heart, there are two, maybe three groups, some consisting of probably a single individual, who have caused trouble in one form or another on this forum since at least 2005.

One of them simply consists (my opinion, but an educated one) of a needle-dicked fucking pest, the others, among them a certain chaos fiction author, are a bit more creative in the level of harassment and willingness to portray being something more ominous then they really are. Or more innocent than they are, in reference to Miss C2W's comments.

It could have, and maybe should have been made more apparent to members here, but the management has labored extensively on your behalf to provide you with a stress free environment where you are unconstrained to shit your pants on more important things like crappy CIA-made Hollywood films.
Other forum members pressed for more information about the who and what.  But in the haze of vagueness, posters then began making accusations and counter-accusations.  One commenter, Smiths, saw the cryptic nature of the allegations as problematic in itself:
i would like to say that the most obvious way that someone fucks around with the board is by posting threads all about the state of the board, the way that someone sows dissent and division is by banging on about losers who are somehow against the forum but not naming names, creating a kind of mystery force that is out to get us all.
In the very next post, C2W, for the first time, named a person she thought was one of the “bad” guys, a fellow poster going by the handle Wombaticus Rex.
I wasn't going to name you [Wombaticus Rex] if I didn't have to. You're a very good writer, by the way. I have absolutely no idea what goal or cause you think you're advancing by prepping the board for the Last Statue (and associated) bullshit.
Although it wouldn’t ring any bells for someone new to RigInt, more forum members finally began to comprehend C2W’s initial accusation, namely the derailing of forum topics in order to, among other things, promote The Last Statue.  She also pegged someone she thought lay behind these activities: specifically, blogger dreamsend.  By this time, dreamsend had become persona non grata on the RI forums, in substantial part due to his speculation about the ARG-like qualities of Blake, Duncan and Wit of the Staircase.  Many of the members could also see the similarity between the handles Wombaticus Rex and StegasaurusRex, which many had linked to dreamsend in another online forum

Other members began to eye Wombaticus Rex with maximum suspicion, prompting the beleaguered netizen to protest his innocence, insisting that he was not dreamsend. To this end he offered considerable personal information about himself, including his real name, age, location, occupations, workplace, musical aspirations and previous residence.  Curiously, C2W, the poster who prompted the attack, subsequently chided other posters for following her lead, writing, “The personal attack on Wombat was horrifying.  And every bit as bad as what I’m trying to expose.”

Some members saw the thread going out of control.  Moreover, they could not understand why Wells, the host, had not taken on a more active role in moderating what might become either a witchhunt,, or the entire usurpation of the forum by posters hostile to its reason for existence.  Yet Wells offered little direction, joking that he was a “graduate of the Arthur Carlson School of Forum Management.”*

With no other elaboration forthcoming from the original poster, Et in Arcadia Ego explained the situation, as he saw it, in greater detail:
I was contacted by Jeff in December. He was basically venting over what appeared to be a new mystery person working along similar lines as the much despised fucking nick spoofer, Mrs Et in Arcadia ego Eve....

This new person, Mrs Tina fucking Delgado, is the apparent author of the Last Statue material, and several blogs, Untermuyer, and Kid Kenoma among them. Dream's End latched onto these, because that's what he does.....

Via these blogs, the author was dropping what appeared as ominous references to RI members. This was facilitated in several ways, among them gossip from members here who don't know how to keep their fucking mouths shut when speaking about others who have placed trust in them....

Consequently, I was data mined, information on me was distorted BEYOND FUCKING BELIEF, my ex-fiance, who committed a horrible double suicide was dragged into this, and facts about her life twisted into making me appear the reason for her tragedy.

During all this I have been in constant contact with Dream's End, who has maintained a consistent disavowal of not knowing who this person is, and I believe him having discusses [sic] the matter for COUNTLESS fucking hours over the last three weeks.

Factor in the merging of the recent interest in the Octopus story, which attracted this forum's WORST unknown troll, Socrates/Last_ Name_Left/Proldic and countless other screen names, with the Kid Kenoma author, and you have what Jeff referred to as the ‘Perfect Troll Shit Storm.’”** [caps original]
elfismiles offered further explanation of C2W’s initial accusations, in the process invoking the memory of past domestic operations aimed at political dissidents:
C2W seems to feel there is evidence of a long-term concerted effort among the seemingly disparite [sic] incidences of RI community derailment. A variant on the Cointelpro shenanigans we often discuss here but possibly more a matter of a group of trolls that she believes may be working together and have been here for a very long time.

The users in question have often used sock-puppets to hide their identity and C2W is suggesting they were sleeper-sock-puppets waiting to be activitated.

All of which are ideas I'd not really thought about until DreamsEnd began his similarly minded suspicions and suggestions regarding our host and his moderators back in 2007.”
The “UR Doin It Wrong” thread subtly  reveals a coherent narrative. Here, as the story goes, we start with a vibrant, possibly thriving online community, comprised of individual members confident in themselves and each other, collectively doing its best to unravel the arcane mechanisms of power.  The members sense an outside presence slowly creeping into their sphere, one that distracts, demeans, undermines, threatens and belittles their efforts.  They can cite seemingly disruptive behavior.  Yet, they cannot see this alien influence. They remain uncertain about the exact actions taking place, the intentions of the disruptive forces, if in fact the people behind the myriad sock-puppets number in the scores or in the single digits, the direction from whence this presence came, and the direction it’s heading.  And even though they strongly suspect at least three to five trolls among their midst, it is unclear whether or not they can offer or garner court-quality evidence to establish (1) the identity of the perpetrators, or (2) their actionable deeds to a preponderance standard of proof.  A frustrating turn of events.  And it came to a head with the investigation into Theremy and such related topics as The Last Statue.

The result: chaos.  Discord.   Individual members were now at each others' throats.  Worse, they feared themselves.  They wondered if an online collaborator might be a sock-puppet of one of the “bad” guys, or a dupe (intentionally or unintentionally) doing their bidding.  Some complained that others had appropriated their online identities, posting spurious, incendiary or defamatory content in their name, behind their backs.  Many worried about intrusions upon their private lives, similar to what happened to Et in Arcadia Ego.  Some, like Wombaticus Rex, even felt compelled to bare all for public scrutiny so that he could stay within the community.  Although some might characterize the accounts of personal harassment as grossly exaggerated or perhaps non-existent, the fact remained that the stories themselves had a chilling effect on cooperation, and eroded trust among the conspiracy researchers rallying ‘round the Rigorous Intuition brand.

Elsewhere, in other online venues, some seriously considered, the possibility that behind all the “bad” actors and their sock-puppets stood a malevolent puppet-master pulling everyone’s strings. 

*Arthur Carlson, played by actor Gordon Jump, was the enfeebled, do-nothing radio station boss on the sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati.     

**Elsewhere in the thread, Et in Arcadia Ego complained that the proprietor of the Kid Kenoma blog had dug into his personal background and posted an inaccurate account of how his actions supposedly led to his fiancee’s suicide. 

Kid Kenoma later responded on her site:
And to Et in Arcadia Ego’s credit, he neither whined nor threatened me when contacting me by gmail. He simply stated the facts of the matter in surprisingly eloquent terms, as one human to another, and the offending material was immediately taken down. He seemed to understand that there was no ARG, no plot, no data mining, no stalking, and that certain persons were wildly exaggerating, or outright fabricating their claims of personal harassment.

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  • At 1:55 PM, Blogger Charles Gramlich said…

    Wow, so this is what is meant when one says the real world is not only stranger than we imagine, but stranger than we can imagine. I thought my imagination was pretty good, but some of these folks are....out there. Or are they?

  • At 7:36 PM, Blogger X. Dell said…

    Charles, someone once joked that being judged paranoid on RigInt board was meeting a high standard.

    At the same time, there was precedence for some of these fears, and most of them would have been known to anyone who has studied the history of domestic ops. The problem is sorta akin to the one Oed faces in The Crying of Lot 49. Does she really see what she thinks she sees, or is she simply imagining it?

  • At 10:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Glad to see an update to this! I honestly thought I had a grasp on this story, but I was unaware of the controversy that continued after I decided to stop following it, back in 2009 or so. Stuff got nutty!

    When I first encountered the 'ARG' angle of this story, my curiosity was piqued and I sent an instant message to one of the main 'players' asking what the deal was with Anna Gaskell (many articles and bloggers referenced the WOTS blog post that had been removed, and I had no clue what they were going on about at that point). They replied cryptically, "Anna is one of Theresa's alters"... it took a bit of reading to figure out what they were referring to (they meant alter personality, as in: Project MONARCH - which you referred to a few posts back). That's when things got a little strange. I will say that the short experience of looking into this topic led to a real-world mind-f*ck for me - and reading the comments on RI's forum, others were similarly harassed/affected by persons unknown with a great deal of time and surprising access to personal information... I have theories as to who was behind this, but never could figure out the why part, and was happy to drop out of 'the game' and have that rabbit hole boarded up.

    Anyway, you got my attention... (same anonymous poster from last comments)

  • At 7:40 PM, Blogger foam said…

    This is certainly 'stranger then fiction' ..

  • At 11:38 PM, Blogger X. Dell said…

    Welcome back, Anonymous. You indeed piqued my curiosity. "Main players" in the story of Theremy, or in the actual lives of Blake and Duncan (or both)?

    The speculation that Duncan was referring more or equally to herself when she wrote the phrase "mass-produced Monarch girlies" is an interesting angle. But if she were indeed referring to herself, could that not be metaphor?

    If you ever put your hypotheses in print somewhere, I'd be happy to read it. Just shoot me an e-mail (

    Foam, part of the (ahem!) fun of this story is that fact and fiction are so intertwined that they are difficult to separate. And if one manages to split the two apart, it's hard to tell which is more intriguing.

  • At 1:43 AM, Blogger Ray Palm (Ray X) said…

    An observation, not a criticism. There is a downside for me with your in-depth series: sometimes I have to go back and review previous posts because I didn't completely remember the details of a particular aspect or topic. I do suffer from information overload; there is only so much I can retain.

    Case in point: The Last Statue. Fortunately with Google I could quickly locate the post about it with the search field on your blog. I must admit that I've used that search field on my own blog because I can't remember everything in detail that I wrote.

    Anyway, don't change a thing. I can keep up as long as I can go back and review. A topic like theremy does need a long and deep analysis.

    Getting off-topic, have you heard about the Atlantic Magazine - Scientology ad controversy?

    In case you ever want to do a series about advertising and propaganda. (I like the part about comments being "pruned" of negativity.)

  • At 2:24 PM, Blogger X. Dell said…

    Ray, I didn't get to see the Atlantic controversy. I'll take a look at it.

    I'm afraid part of the problem is that I'm slow getting these posts out, so memory retention of all the characters and themes might be more difficult.

  • At 11:48 AM, Anonymous web lol said…

    kul post


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