Earlier, I briefly talked about the phenomenon of a “mob mind.” The formation of a collective mind or consciousness is central to The Church of Wolves. Mob or crowd psychology is a branch of psychology first documented in the early 19th century, and it’s inspired many different schools of thought. Broadly, a mob or collective consciousness submerges an individual’s identity into the greater identity of the crowd. The individual thinks and acts collectively with the group. I’m sure different psychologists could debate and pick this definition apart. However, having been involved in a mob mind, I base this briefest of definitions on my direct experience.
A mob mind can be triggered by different events. A political crowd seeking to burn down a building is different than a crowd of panicked movie goers attempting to flee a burning theatre. In these different circumstances, is the collective mind different? How different? In what way would the two minds be different? The word “mob” immediately denotes violence. I’ve witnessed violent mob behavior many times. I’ve seen over a dozen sports riots and political riots throughout my life. During those times, I attempted to get clear of the violence. Only once did I become a part of the collective mind. It was at a political demonstration in 1970 at Kent State University. There were probably about ten thousand students marching together and I was in the heart of them. I remember the afternoon being very hot and as we marched along the street, the pavement seemed to rise and fall in a slight undulation. I was looking over the heads of those around me, observing the moving mass both in front and behind. At some point I felt myself no longer contained within my body. I felt myself extend into the entire crowd. The feeling was superhuman, godlike. At that moment, I had no sense of responsibility. I had no sense of my family or friends. Any dream or goal in my life was nonexistent. There was no fear; no fear of consequences, pain, or death. I had no morality. The sense was elemental. Perhaps it was being like the wind or an ocean tide. I was expansive, powerful.
At some point, I snapped back into my own self. I don’t know why I returned. That particular demonstration was peaceful. But I have to believe that if violence would have erupted during those several minutes, I would have been swept into it. I was shaken. It was one of the most threatening experiences of my life.
Should anyone reading this thinks that this experience was in any way attributable to drugs, let me first say that yes, I was a child of the Sixties. And yes, Kent State at that time was certainly a study in experimenting with various cultures. But I was then and still remain vehemently opposed to drug use and a drug culture. This is true of an illegal drug culture or the legal drug culture currently propagandizing the nation on television. Some phenomena simply can’t be blamed on drugs, enhanced with drugs or cured with drugs. This is probably one of the reasons I made drug addiction — along with addiction to power — central themes in The Church of Wolves.