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Sprint 1 Weird_Reflection




Cultic Milieu


I read the book the cultic milieu: oppositional subcultures in an age of globalization. The reason I chose this reading as the topic is because I wasn’t particularly interested in which subject at first. And then the professor mentioned “cultic milieu” in the handbook and recommended this book in class. I started reading and found it interesting. Although the topic is very broad and lots of theories in the book are actually difficult to understand, I believe it allows me to comprehensively understand what weird is talking about. The word “cultic milieu” was posited by sociologist Colin Campbell in 1972. Cults are regarded as deviant or underground religions, and milieu means environment or background. The concept of cult derives from Troeltsch’s tripartite division of religious phenomena into church religion, sect religion and mysticism. If I create a new word that I feel might be able to aid understanding of the weird study, it would be “culticism”. The suffix “ism” has the meaning of belief, doctrine, theory, behavior and prejudice, thus culticism refers to a school of thought that is sourced and motivated by cults.


I presented cultic milieu in the form of a map in the assignment. First I added an earlier time point in the top left showing cults existed in the early social environment. In the middle ages, some people were seen as cults, such as heretics, magicians and alchemists. By the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the cultic milieu became more international and appeared all over the world. Cultic milieu and dominant culture are distributed in two areas in the map, presenting opposite states. The dominant culture involves things that people often come into contact with in their lives, such as sect religion, church religion, science and technology, modern medical system. Cultic milieu include mystery and magic, spiritualism and psychic phenomena, alien intelligence and lost civilizations, faith healing and nature cure. It is worth mentioning that many of my group members read about faith healing and nature cure. People don’t rely on medicine or go to the doctor in these cults because they consider all diseases can be healed just by their faith.


Sect religions are usually with formulated belief systems and organizational structures. On the contrary, cults tend to have undefined boundaries, fluctuating belief systems, elementary structures, and are highly ephemeral. They have few demands on its members, and members do not act together as a group. The membership of these groups changes rapidly, and the groups themselves tend to be short-lived. Various cults rarely criticize each other. Instead, they are tolerant of other organizations and faiths and show tolerance and support for each other’s beliefs. Because cults tend to be ephemeral and unstable, it is a fact that new ones are being born just as fast as the old ones die. The formation and collapse of cults is a continual process. At the end of making the map, I added question marks and exclamation marks at the bottom right of the map to show that new cults may appear in the future. Although cults are by definition a largely transitory phenomenon, by contrast, the cultic milieu is a constant feature of society.


One of my group members’ topic is “liminal space”, which intrigues me a lot. This reminds me of a video game called “Superliminal”, which I love very much. Superliminal is a surreal puzzle video game played from a first-person perspective. The player-character is a participant in a dream therapy program, but during the study, the character becomes trapped in a recurring dream cycle. The character has to escape from the dream, guided by the voice Research Supervisor Dr. Glenn Pierce. There are many scenes in the game that are common in life, such as hotels, restaurants, corridors, and swimming pools. These scenes are similar to weirdcore or dreamcore. There are traces of people, but there is no breath of people. It looks like there is no people, but there are details that humans have come here, such as messy desktops, leftover food, and unfolded quilts. The application of these techniques and elements makes the game appear real and lifelike, but at the same time it gives players a sense of separation and strangeness, as well as a little weirdness and unease caused by the coexistence of the two.


When we were doing the conspiracy theory workshop on the last day of weird study, the professor played a short film of a dragon flying in the sky, and of course everyone thought it was fake and ridiculous. However, when talking about aliens and ghosts, some people would think they really exist because there are many seemingly rigorous scientific studies to corroborate. The existence of aliens and ghosts has been controversial for a long time, and even among scientists there are two positions for and against. A long time ago, people believed that the earth was the center of the universe. Those who objected were even considered heretics by the church at the time and were sentenced to death. Until the heliocentric theory proposed by Copernicus overthrew the geocentric theory that had long been the dominant religion and achieved a fundamental change in astronomy. This got me thinking, is it possible that creatures we believe do not exist do exist? And what we take for granted is right is actually wrong?


German philosopher Immanuel Kant listed four groups of antinomies, each consisting of a thesis and an antithesis, and the third proposition discusses free will. The thesis asserts that the phenomena of the universe are not only dominated by the causal laws that operate in accordance with the laws of nature, but are also influenced by the causal laws of free will. The antithesis states that there is no such thing as free will, and that everything in the universe operates purely according to the laws of nature. People think that morality is innate, universal and necessary, but the antithesis shows that free will does not exist. If the universe really operates in an antithetic narrative, then the world has never had any ultimate goal, no morality, no justice, no order and norms, and any so-called good and evil created by humans. Human beings regulate right and wrong, good and evil and all legal provisions are meaningless. Because people are inherently selfish, they can do whatever they can to survive. Therefore, things that are in line with nature cannot be wrong, and people do not need to be responsible for their own crimes. This would be very horrifying.

7 replies to “Sprint 1 Weird_Reflection”

  1. s2311174 says:

    This blog clearly reflects the term ‘cultic milieu, including its definition and history. This also contains the topic of ‘liminal space’ using an example of a video game. At the end of this blog, you raise some questions, saying “is it possible that creatures we believe do not exist do exist? And what we take for granted is right is actually wrong?”, which is very interesting.
    However, I find a little bit confusing about the last paragraph, in which you are talking about ‘free will. It is quite interesting but what is the relationship between the concept of free will and ‘weird’? Can you give us more contemporary art examples referring to the cultic milieu?
    Overall, Something I really appreciate about your work is the comprehensive overview of the cultic milieu. I would love to see more art practice as it relates to this concept.

  2. s2457669 says:

    as we are in the same group, we talked briefly about the cultic mileu in class but it was very interesting to read your blog post about this, containing much research and exploration into this topic. i liked reading about dominant cultures losing their status over time and how cults form and collapse but always stay constant. i feel much more informed of your chosen topic as you have written quite densely with lots of your own research and examples. i also like the end of your blog post about how we are maybe evolving beyond our nature and the way you have set this out is truly scary.

  3. s2441634 says:

    In this blog, the author describes his learning process in Sprint 1. I was very interested in the cult environment that the author analyzed, so I was very happy to see the author’s detailed thoughts and ideas. The author’s understanding and reflection on human morality in the last paragraph is very interesting. It would also be great to have my assignment in your blog, and it would be great if it could help you in your subsequent studies!

  4. s2358907 says:

    The author is very thorough in his research on WEIRD, while offering his own insights. The author explains weirdness from a cult perspective. On the other hand, the author’s blog gave me a lot of insights, such as: the four sets of antinomies proposed by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, and very interesting insights into the will, especially the interpretation of opposites.

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