An interview with Bob Villa regarding the origins and beliefs of the Zii-catcherist Peoples Temple
(edited for maximum obscurity)
1 - Who are some of the more influential Zii-catcherists, that may actually be responsible for the following answers?
Stefan otoT OlivebobdadevilO Marcus Dickel Jansco Cetefus Nite Smith Appelgren Re-Re Jecusco.
Jeremy Smith, Zia al Hoq, the hor of hors, the first ray of light to strike the Earth.
The Pall Mall.
2 - In broad strokes, what are your religious beliefs?
Nature. Just that there is a perceived value to what is vs what isn’t at any given moment.
I suppose I would consider myself an agnostic. Human beings have only a few sensory organs and a limited information processing capacity. Any beliefs regarding an outside reality developed or inspired by ourselves would be limited and suspect.
I believe that there is music playing all the time, that it is our duty to hear this music and to dance to it. I believe we are here for a reason and that most of us will probably never know what it is. I believe it is our duty to stick around until our natural end in order to do whatever it is we have the opportunity and are "supposed" to do. Our bodies, our earnings, our possessions: all of these things are tools for us to use on this journey. Like a race car, we should care for these things and, like a race car, be totally consumed and effectively used up by the time we cross the finish line. Dying young and leaving a good looking corpse is a terrible waste of precious resources. I believe that all religion is complete bullshit: it is used by those with power and authority to expand their influence by making slaves out of a vast number of weak-minded, weak-willed fools.
Once I was called a demonologist. I liked that. I consider myself a magician, but I can never decide if I'm an absurdist nihilist or a dadaist spiritualist. I am a polytheist in as much as part of me believes in every deity ever imagined has a power attributed to the belief that exists in them. I practice doublethink in my spirituality, where I equally believe in fate or coincidence at the same time. I like both sides of the picture. I never really figured out what I really believe. I don't have beliefs. I have ideas. I like to entertain ideas.
3 - What is the Zii-catcherist People's Temple?
The temple is the language of my people and any who inherit it or catch it like a disease.
An art collective of smart bad kids that began as a political joke, turned into something else entirely, and keeps almost getting ruined but redeems itself by repeatedly saving my life.
The ZPT is the closest thing the world has to an organized and doctrinal true free-agency belief system. Like the Church of the SubGenius, Cthulhu, The Flying Spaghetti Monster, and others like it, the ZPT was wholly created by mortal humans in an attempt to describe and make sense of and to better understand the nature of life, joy, suffering, confusion, etc.
Is it a language? A form of intellectual shorthand for a small group of freethinking spiritualists? Is it a sort of gutter punk coffee shop intellectual death cult? Is it metafiction, like the writings of Kurt Vonnegut? Is it a spiritual guide? Is it an obnoxious nose-thumbing of conventional religious practices? Is it a “choose your own adventure“ for religious skeptics who are also stimulated by philosophy?
I don't know really.
A dead horse.
4 - What are the foundational tenets of Zii-catcherism?
Thou shalt have no gods before Zia, unless you really, really, really want to.
They’re your friends, don’t kill them. (Not a friend, well…)
Kick them when they’re down, they’ll get up. (Except when they don’t)
It depends on who you are talking to. Scripture says something like “don't starve your fe-tus” and other such things. I think it's all about exploring your psychic and spiritual body's place in the universe, flex, test, and exercise the muscle set that we call spirituality without the restrictions of conventional religious practice. Prayer, ritual, sacrifice...they're all important to a spiritual body… Zii-catcherism just tries to remove the dogma associated with these practices and give you, the user, an opportunity to play with them in a sort of sandbox-style simulation.
Bullshit. It's all bullshit. That doesn't mean it can't be real. Bullshit is useful. Fertilizer.
You dig your own grave.
5 - What is the cosmology of Zii-catcherism?
Fuck if I know. Monkeys, guns, fetuses, moons and shit.
A bunch of made-up bullshit to make grasping the ineffable more fun! Obeying the time.
It's all related? All fragments of some powerful whole? Okay, occasionally I believe that. Usually when I’m very drunk.
“The cosmology of the universe is dictated by the cosmology of my mustache.”-Salvador Dali
They wrote books about this one. And there were more books they didn't write. The cosmology goes as deep as you are willing to research. They had an origin story, and a solar system, a family of gods and demigods, relationship drama, drugs, alcohol, aliens, everything. Like Heinlen, Vonnegut, and Dick got drunk one night and tried to re-write the Maltese Falcon together. The cosmology of the Zii-catcherist Peoples Temple was what really piqued my interest… stories like Godstink, the Lunatic Feast, and some fun excerpts from iterations of the Book of Fluff all inspired me to write a script for an as-of-yet unfinished movie called “The End” where I rope junky punk rocker Bryan Rohlfing into the whole affair as a metaphysical representation of the universe going through its death throes as Brian watches life on earth begin to end… there are lots of stories that help build this rich and dense mythos that many will never hear.
“I found something on the web” - https://ziiproductions.com
6 - What are the requirements for membership?
A lot of people think when they come into the rooms, that they have to stop drinking or doing drugs before they can start coming to meetings… but it says clearly in the preamble of every fucking meeting I ever went to “the only requirement for membership is the DESIRE to stop using drugs and alcohol.”
Oh… wrong group. I think to be a Zii-catcherist you should be a bit of a misanthrope, maybe a cynic, and maybe have drunk a bottle of Robitussin at least once in your life… but nobody is checking credentials here. What it is to be a Zii-cat changes as we all get older, and as we find new younglings joining the fold, and taking up the banner, it changes more.
Saying any of the names out loud, asking one question ever = Member for life. That’s all. Probably not a friend, probably don’t want any of it, but you may pass it to someone later.
Exhibiting a response to the human condition, or as Stefan would say, “Grief channel.”
$10,000 and a pudding swastika.
7 - What does Zii-catcherist practice look like?
Security camera footage of kids playing D&D. There's a weird slowly strobing light coming in from the window, but none of the players seem to notice.
Some just complain about it. Some celebrate it with rituals. Results vary widely.
First wave: vandalism, revolution, self-abuse. Second wave: thinking and talking, making, talking, crying in public, self-abuse. Third wave: Robitussin, avoiding a job, and the I- Ching, i.e., self-abuse and magical thinking.
The most prevalent practice is probably silent daily thought. It is deep in the source code.
Smashing CRT televisions, drinking stimulant-containing brews with dairy products, consuming alcohol and tobacco products, eating and shitting, fucking, crying, laughing, traveling, creating, destroying.
There were a couple of notable rituals like the lunatic feast observed once per lunar month, then new years practiced on February 22nd, or divinations drawn from the Lunatic Deck or more covertly the Zia Tarot… those are the most well known canonized practices. I'm sure others can fill in the details… oh alright...
Lunatic Feast: Either an excuse to see your friends once a month or a physiological remedy to existence's challenge. Lactose and nicotine combined convert torque, a type of mental static… blah blah, they wrote a book or two about it. It's a ceremony where we get together and worship the moon.
New years: Smash a TV and argue over when is the exact right time to do it.
8 - How do you feel about the temple?
That’s an extremely personal question with a very long answer that might sound hostile.
Seems like a curse less than 10% of the time. Saved me more than twice? Not sure if I felt good about it when it did. A constant companion of many feelings.
I wish I had visited the Magna location when I had the chance, but there will be others.
9 - In what ways do you stand in opposition to Zii-catcherism?
When I identify as one.
On my knees.
Misused it promotes magical thinking, self-loathing, misogyny and narcissism.
How can I stand in opposition to something which is out of my hands? Why would I stand against myself?
I’m not saying you can’t oppose yourself or others, just that Zii-Catcherism is broad like recursive language itself. Go ahead and oppose it, try to take it back to where you don’t and can never exist. Good luck. Oppose the temple all day every day, that’s what it is there for.
10 - Is Zii-catcherism a cult or an anti-cult?
Aren't they the same thing?
There is no difference. Cult, culture, it’s just numbers. People you want, people you don’t want. People who treat you well, people who don’t. People ad nausium.
One observation though: Zii-catcherism has been a clear “antidote” (antibody?) to certain other cults. So some may rightly consider it an anti-cult.
From the outside looking in many people would be inclined to see it as a cult because they are unwilling to point that particular finger at their own belief system or church. But if they knew how easy it is to exist within or leave, and how warm and cozy the founders' best intentions for it were, they'd surely find a place for themselves as part of it.
It’s a cult, except at least half of its members think they are the “real” leader. Luckily for me, I don’t think that.
11 - What is the role of the moon in Zii-catcherism?
The moon keeps everything spinning in balance.
An excuse for anxious introverts or smart bad kids to try and socialize with each other at least once a month.
It makes human life possible on earth, and so makes Zii-catcherism possible.
Ask Quasi. But its important to have a relationship with the moon. If you can observe a year of lunatic feasts, you will have a perspective you did not before. Understand the moon's phases and it's relationship with your life. Understand your own nature better when you understand how they interact.
12 - How are coffee and tobacco important in Zii-catcherism?
They are essential.
They make human life possible on earth, and so makes Zii-Catcherism possible.
They are the death meditations/life accelerants that are prevalent, cheap, and legal. Anything else can do but they are chosen.
Things smart bad kids like typically include Kurt Vonnegut, cigarettes, and coffee.
Smoking is a social ritual that can bind people who have little else in common. Coffee, meanwhile, is forbidden to devout Mormons for totally arbitrary reasons. Coffee is also a social ritual; one that can keep conversations going long past their expiration date.
Ask David Lynch. Also, did you know that if you buy a pack of Pall Mall non-filters (they're in the soft pack) you can find a hidden UFO on the logo? It flies around the coat of arms “in the name we conquer” and “from thorns to the stars” and “wherever particular people congregate” I could write a lot about those cigarettes… but I won't.
Coffee and the Pall Mall are both archetypes in a calendar/cycle that the Zii-cats developed. Coffee gets things going, and the Pall Mall is the celebration. Coffee and cigarettes, both the most important dynamics in the beginning and end of every great story. There's more… I'll write it later… maybe.
13 - How do you view agency; Is it a right or responsibility?
What or a what? I think it’s a what. What does consciousness think about consciousness and it's own level or merit? Relative to what?
It’s neither, agency is an illusion.
Agency is an illusion, but a very important one for maintaining sanity. You were drawn to this for a reason. As with everything related to freedom, it's a responsibility. Want more freedom? Take more responsibility!
Humans can have their external agency removed by force, but internally they are in control of how they process that forceful removal of agency. We call that trauma. The Zii-catcherists called it torque.
I often ask this question when thinking on ideas I've had in the past, and wondering, “Am I a prophet? Or am I actually steering the universe? Did I make those things happen? Did my friends? How do I fix it?” It's neither a right nor responsibility than it is a burden and a privilege. We are all free to dis-corporate at will at any given time. The universe may exercise its ability to forcefully dis-corporate us against our own will. What is agency? It's the illusion we build inside our heads as we are hurtled infinitely into existence. The horror… the horror...
True agency is a mirage.
14 - Is existence a planned event or a happy accident?
That would be telling.
Existence? Likely a happy accident, but there is something to it. That music keeps playing...
No level of planning could possibly continue long as what is observed, so it must be an accident by now, but was the first cell eating its neighbor happy about it? Do tell me.
15 - Is there life after death?
Of course! I killed a spider earlier today, I'm still here.
No one here knows. 50/50
When I die, all forms of sex, sexual reproduction and regeneration will immediately and forever cease. So yes, briefly in the scale things, life will continue after death. But soon enough, there will be no life left after death. I am certain of this.
I really fucking hope not.
16 - How has the Temple changed over the years?
It's gotten less bloody. I guess some would say that's a good thing...
It got less funny, progressively more misogynistic, dogmatic, and absurdly, awkwardly complicated.
Like any good weed, it shot up, went to seed, and has been scattered in all directions. Diffuse and deceptively tenacious, it moves across the earth picking up useful mutations as it feeds those in need.
It has changed with membership, leadership, schisms. It's an evolving thing.
Everybody left their 20s behind, lived threw their 30s, and now look upon the approaching 50s with dread. The Temple never changed, but just like an art collective, party scene, band, hip hop crew, production team,… there's a point where it no longer benefits a large enough demographic of its members to justify holding it together. All the Zii-cats moved on. It's still in our heads and hearts in one way or another, but it didn't catch on like SubGenus did, it didn't have the marketability of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and most importantly, it was founded by misanthropes. You're gonna have a hard time gathering a crowd when all you really want is to be left alone.
17 - Which parts of Zii-catcherism are best left untouched?
Above my pay grade. I promote the parts I think useful at the moment but possibly the most useful parts will be lost. Reinvention at least keeps the teenagers busy.
This is an essay question. Zii-catcherism kept me off the ledge many times but that is very specific to me. It has nothing to do with anyone else.
Given current events, I don't think Negrothax aged that well… Boo Boo and Tani are gonna be a hard sell in this day and age too… what with the… you know.. the raping...
With this Q. it's starting to seem similar to the marketing questionnaires which the LDS church sends to their more solid membership. Ummm... Coffee, Tobacco, Alcohol, smashing CRT's, feasts, communicating with Aliens.
18 - What would you add to the Temple?
A cool mural with like skulls and atom bombs and big breasted Frank Frazetta type warrior women beating the shit out of a TV.
An actual temple and a couple of pyramids to start with. Glass cases. A hacienda. Fuck, a homeland. Yes.
Just to even touch the tip of the iceberg, the Boo Boo and Tani dynamic is missing a lot of stuff in terms of it being a useful communication model, but if I talk about more I’ll just start getting mad.
I did it. I might do more. It is what it is, it's big enough, it just needs a new scribe. Write down these stories, flesh them out, make a game… like if there was a tabletop D&D style game that was Zii-catcherist themed, I'd be all over that shit… or a choose-your-own-adventure book.
19 - How do Zii-catcherism's originators conceive of anti-Orientalism?
They don’t. Do they?
A shame, really.
I have labored over this question because the "originators" are not the same people who are involved with it now. This was something that was first conceived in 1987/88 by 14 & 15-year-olds who were a lot more politically versed than most in their age cohort. Consider what was routinely on the TV news every evening during that time period, and also consider the effect The Watchmen comics had on angry teenagers, and also be aware that this came out of Utah, just barely for a start--Mormonism is a doomsday religion in many ways, and each of the originators had some kind of tie to Mormonism either directly or indirectly.
Does this have something to do with Sika and the 500-year-old Chinamen? And by the way dude, uh, Chinamen is not the uh… preferred nomenclature...Asian-American, please.
20 - Why would anyone care, or should they?
They definitely shouldn’t. It’s nobody else’s business, as far as I’m concerned. Never should have been.
Zii-catcherism engages with need/desire in some ways other language does not, or does less of. The people who need it already need it. I wouldn’t call it caring, or devotion, or attachment but it is sharing and sometimes community.
Agency. It's fun. Choose into learning about a thing, and explore a strange mythos, spiritual set of beliefs, practices, communications... and divination.
You should care because it's how we move forward, grow, and progress as humans. Not caring is akin to not taking responsibility for your life, it's allowing other forces to determine your path, sucker.
They would care if they were being made to care. Yes. They should be made to care.
21 - Given the opportunity, what message would you give the world?
The Lunatic Deck with Tuesdays Song and the Syncretizia Recolere. (Then a Mangas world tour of Haciendas if they haven’t lynched me after the first messages.)
You are vermin. You are diseased rats. You deserve to be obliterated. Try to act better.
If you assume this life is all we have, then the best we can hope for is improved communication. Parts of Zii-catcherism could help you with that a little bit, but so could a lot of things.
Sigils are real and they work. Really!
I feel like after this I still haven't really talked about Zii-catcherism… I had fun when I was young, reading the weird stories, trying to solve these strange puzzles in the form of incomprehensible equations and illustrations emphasizing the importance of a thing that was seemingly impossible to understand… it's almost like that was the point right there… enabling a skozy fetish… we focus really hard on the incomprehensible, and marvel at the new associations we create. It got me together with good friends more often than not, and I was convinced on many occasions that the weird rituals we had come up with were saving the world once again…. Being an active Zii-catcherist in a community of active Zii-catchers was like being a character in the doom patrol… like we're all weird and fucked up, but we all have secret special powers, and we all fuck up horribly despite having, for the most part, good intentions…
It felt like being a part of something important. Even though we all knew it wasn't. We created importance in our own spirits. We embiggerned ourselves mentally and emotionally… it was art and religion as one, for the sake of itself. Nothing holding it up, no reason to do it either, but it was magic and beautiful sometimes… the cards though. They're still available, now with a fancy magic book.. do go buy it.
22 - Why are you such a stupid, lazy asshole?
Because I made you wait a month for a first draft.
Chemicals in my brain program me. Behavior comes from feelings, feelings come from neurotransmitters and hormones.
“Had the police already gotten to me? No, I was born like that…”
It's impossible to constantly maintain the intensity of focus necessary to not be. Law of Entropy. Michael Jordan, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Stalin, Pol Pot, Hitler and others have come close to escaping it but we are only half aware monkeys on a rock spinning around a dying sun; you can't expect perfection 100% of the time. If you wanna call that lazy, well, clean your home and cultivate your garden before you go pointing those dirty fingers, asshole.
Because I'm a Zii-catcherist.
Better go ahead and say it: These responses represent the individual points of view of the interviewees, not necessarily ZPP or the Temple at large. Please don’t bomb us with comments about Stalin or Hitler. Thanks. Also, this should not be interpreted as all of the people involved agree with all of these statements. I can promise you, that is not the case.