In the Temple of Surrealism’s fourth annual bulletin, we bring you news that the human race is in grave peril due to the mutation of a common virus we identify as MASS HYSTERIA. Also known in medicine as Mass Psychogenic Illness (MPI), MASS HYSTERIA sweeps through all societies that do not heed the calls of our LEADER, and the messages and attitudes of the SURREALISTS.
It may surprise you to learn that until the Temple’s landmark enquiry into the subject, commissioned especially for A Void #4, there were no immutable laws of MASS HYSTERIA. Many “experts” could not even agree on basic principles, such as whether the disease is fundamentally ethereal, psychic, psychosomatic, biological, or if it exists at all.
After only a couple of hours researching the current global outbreak, however, our genius managing editor and head of experimental research at the Temple, Chairman Lev Parker, had the mind-blowing revelation that there are common properties that can be observed in all outbreaks of MASS HYSTERIA:
The more severe the hysteria, the less willing a sufferer will be to accept a diagnosis of MASS HYSTERIA. (This shall henceforth be known as the Iron Rule of M.H.)
MASS HYSTERIA can only be transmitted via the medium of abstract symbols: written and spoken language, and visual signs communicated by other humans. (Our trials with saluting monkeys yielded inconclusive results.)
Since transmission takes place on the symbolic plane of representation, folks who are not sufficiently educated in abstract thought are more vulnerable to MASS HYSTERIA.
Babies and the severely mentally impaired are unable to perceive or process language so they are, mercifully, immune to it.
Narcissistic personalities are particularly susceptible to MASS HYSTERIA due to their inherent inability to think on a level above the personal.
The narcissist is a more likely spreader and intensifier of MASS HYSTERIA, since the narcissist is biologically programmed to draw attention to himself via the contaminated symbols of the hysterical group’s cohesion.
Not all cases of MASS HYSTERIA are symptomatic. It is possible – indeed, common – for passive or ostensibly neutral members of a community to unwittingly infect others with poor thinking habits.
When cases of MASS HYSTERIA are reported, those who resist a diagnosis of MASS HYSTERIA are most likely to be infected next, if they are not already contaminated.
On the plus side, MASS HYSTERIA is hardly ever fatal in isolation. The symptoms are largely psychological/ behavioural, and include irritability, paranoia, panic attacks, and new superstitions appearing out of nowhere.
The more MASS HYSTERIA there is in a society, the stronger this disease becomes. The larger the pool of infected recipients, the more powerful its grip over individual minds. The more hysterics there are in a society, the more they are likely to display symptoms such as uncontrollable shouting, random acts of cruelty when they think nobody is looking, and taking an active role in mob justice.
When a population reaches a critical mass of hysteria, it can achieve “herd immunity” to vaccines. By this point, symptoms will include the fetishization of power and authority, and the total subjugation of individual will to the energy of collective passions. The more irrational and cruel a society becomes, the more logical, kind and morally right its population will believe itself to be. The only way to flush out MASS HYSTERIA from such a society is by forcible extermination, psychological warfare, and/or waiting and hoping that future generations are less hysterical than their parents.
Given our frightening discoveries, this anthology will educate you about the dangers of the deadly virus before we all go mad. A Void #4 therefore serves as a learning pack that gives you a brief history of the deadly mind plague, presented with deliberate ambiguity, from obscure angles, alongside artworks by the sensible and sane. While there is no definitive test for MASS HYSTERIA at present, we present you with a handy, yet convoluted diagnostic tool to help you determine if you or one of your loved ones is coming down with the “Idiot Flu.”
Whale Song Partridge
Michael William West
Joan Wayne Gacy
L Ron Hubbard
CIA declassified files
Trusting fully in our members’ ability to diagnose psychiatric disorders in line with Chairman Lev’s directives, the Temple has set up a hotline so you can report cases of MASS HYSTERIA in the community safely and anonymously. We promise that the Temple’s inhouse detective agency, run by former military personnel, will investigate each case you bring to our attention thoroughly.
Where MASS HYSTERIA has been discovered in a friend or loved one, we offer an intensive course of mind deprogramming devised and hosted personally by Chairman Lev at the Temple’s luxury headquarters, the Betty Fjord Clinic in Norway. Over the course of seven days and nights (or perhaps years), our inhouse team of Surrealist counsellors will devise a personalised spiritual journey for each patient at our MASS HYSTERIA CLINIC.
At the only therapeutic course ever devised to treat MASS HYSTERIA, patients will be inducted into gnostic rituals, they will be encouraged to drink mind-cleansing potions, and they will discover their true, non-hysterical selves, in group character analysis. Based on our observations of a patient’s individual progress towards a fully Surreal mindset, our guides may use more traditional methods to break through to the warped minds of our guests, such as reducing the diet, physical exercise, floor scrubbing, and the joys of the Temple’s administrative paperwork.
All patients will be provided with personalized copies of the Temple’s core Surrealist recovery texts when they arrive at our welcoming compound. Each student will demonstrate their progress in mind deprogramming by giving memorized readings of key Surrealist passages to their group and writing devotional poems to our Leader. This will normally be followed by dinner and a barn dance, where Chairman Lev or one of our special guests will give a lengthy and stirring keynote speech.
For the avoidance of doubt, transport is included in the cost of attending our MASS HYSTERIA CLINIC. Wherever a barmy loved one is stranded on the planet, except for very specific jurisdictions, we will send a car with blacked-out windows to pick them up and escort them straight to the insane, bewildering enclave that is the Temple of Surrealism.
BE SURREAL. SAVE MINDS
Designed by Penny Metal
Edited by Lev Parker