I like something about this formulation? No idea if you have time, but I'd be interested if you expanded on it.
I'm not convinced "high-energy" is the right phrasing, since the attributes (as I seem them) seem to be:
I would add that some people seem to have a tendency to take what is usually a low-energy meme in most hands, and turn it into a high-energy form? I think this is an attribute that characterizes some varieties of charisma, and is common among "reality warpers."
(Awkwardly, I think "mapping high-minded ideas to practical behaviors" is also an incredibly useful attribute of highly-practical highly-effective people? Good leaders are often talented at this subskill, not just bad ones. Discernment in what ideas you take seriously, can make a really big difference in the outcomes, here.)
Some varieties of couching or argumentation will push extreme change in behavior and action, harder than others, for the same idea. Some varieties of receptivity and listening, seem more likely to uptake ideas as high-energy memes.
I feel like Pascal's Mugging is related, but not the only case. Ex: Under Utilitarianism, you can also justify a costly behavior by arguing from very high certainty of a moderate benefit. However, this is usually not as sticky, and it is more likely to rapidly right itself if future data disputes the benefit.
At the risk of this looking too much like me fighting a strawman...
Cults may have a tendency to interact and pick up adaptations from each other, but it seems wrong to operate on the assumption that they're all derivatives of one ancestral "proto-cult" or whatever. Cult leaders are not literal vampires, where you only become a cult leader by getting bit by a previous cult leader or whatever.
It's a cultural attractor, and a cult is a social technology simple enough that it can be spontaneously re-derived. But cults can sometimes pick up or swap beliefs & virulence factors with each other, when they interact. And I do think Ziz picked up a few beliefs from the Vassarite cluster.
I can dig up cases in Ziz's writing where Ziz has interacted with Vassar before, or may have indirectly learned things from him through Alice.
Doesn't make Vassar directly responsible for Ziz's actions. I think Vassar is not directly responsible for Ziz.
I do want to spell this out, because I'm reading a subtle implication here, that I want to push back against.
Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.
Cultivate someone with an earnest and heartfelt interest in fishing, until he learns how to grow his own skills and teach himself... and you can probably feed at least 12 people.
Which just might finally allow the other 11 to specialize into something more appealing to them than subsistence fishing.
Okay, a lot of this commentary hit "sideways." Let me see if I can unpack some of this.
A lot of what's missing is meditation.
TL;DR: It's a meditation metaphor movie, with some heavily Eastern themes and symbology.
I'm about 99% sure that at its thematic core, it's an "enlightenment/meditation metaphor" movie. I thought it does a really good job at being that, but that part is understandably not going to hit with everyone.
Did you notice that the damn circle has at least 3 different meanings or references, which all tie in neatly with each other? One of the major ones, that I think some people are likely to miss, is Ensō.
Ensō has a pile of deep associations and meanings in Zen, many of which they also touch on in other places in the movie. I thought they unpacked that symbol pretty masterfully, and that was pretty central to my enjoyment and understanding of the movie. However, it is something I expect a lot of western audiences to miss completely.
(I have not found a good extensive commentary to link, that unpacks this to my satisfaction. But this guy on twitter seems to get it.)
...on the art level, it also struck me as pretty chaotic. It's a flashy fighting movie, a family comedy, some cringe humor, a bit of an art movie... put it down for "a little of everything," really?
If I'd missed the theme, or God Forbid, if I had mostly tried to assess its merits in terms of how often she's making sensible or strategic goal-directed moves? The movie probably would have landed more as loud silly nonsense.
Some people like loud silly nonsense! I don't think I would have found just the loud silly nonsense all that compelling, though.
This one came with a really strong core theme, that I do think you missed or misunderstood.
"The violence is pointless": The violence being pointless, is actually part of the point. While it's used to generate some initial attention and interest (...in people who find that interesting for some reason), the violence is also deliberately pointless, and the protagonist is supposed to slowly realize this and grow out of it.
(...however, the movie did handle grief with less maturity than a 5-year-old, basically by just ignoring it. I have no idea why! Maybe they really didn't want to slow the movie down? Bleh, even that reason doesn't feel entirely compelling to me, and it did undercut the movie for me a bit.)
"Weirdly NON-attention-getting": I'm pretty sure that the late stages of the movie are actively trying to be held in broad/diffuse attention, not single-point laser-attention. I think so, anyway?
This is kinda part of its whole deal as a "meditation metaphor" movie. Also ties in with its commentary on "looking around, even when what's immediately in front of you seems extremely urgent," as echoed in stuff like looking up from the circled receipt.
If that diffuse state-of-mind is uncomfortable or somnolent for you? You are not alone in that! It's a pretty common sentiment, actually. There are a whole lot of people who complain about finding parts of meditation uncomfortable or sleep-inducing, especially when it gets to the "broad/diffuse attention" step.
(...although this doesn't necessarily rule out that you found the movie boring for unintended reasons, though! To which, shrug it's cool if you didn't like it.)
Just distilling some relevant intuitions:
(This is all me thinking about the problem, and I make no claim that others will align with me on these.)
Some even-less-ordered thoughts on this:
Geoff tweeted about it, I forwarded that to you.
But after thinking a bit more, including hearing a little more background context from Aella? I think the tension here predates that, and that this is predominantly a reaction to the MAPLE post. Please treat this mostly as a side-note.
There's no recording anymore, but I actually appreciated him on the stream. My overall take on the author is "has a lot of compassion, but I don't always trust his discernment."
Yeah, some of this gets the facts wrong, or a bit off. I don't think this was fact-checked very competently, and in this sort of context, that does matter.
(ex: I can confirm that mittenscautious was not Aella, although Aella was indeed a housemate to Persephone.)
...I hate dishing based on something this speculative, but I do think it's a potentially relevant piece of context...
Aella and Geoff (Executive Director of Leverage) have a lot of enmity towards each other. This is just straightforwardly true.
If I am identifying the author of this Aella-attacking post, correctly? The author of this post was a special guest on one of Geoff Anders' Twitch streams.
I'm normally a mistake theorist, but I find it really tempting to interpret this as the end result of talking to a really skewed sample of people.
(And I might be assigning better-than-even odds that Geoff was involved in that process, somehow.)
UPDATE: I'm updating a few steps in the direction of "I may have gotten some of the causality here, backwards." Tension with Aella predates that. Disliked Aella's MAPLE post, and this might have been some of why he and Geoff got in touch.
It feels worth pointing out that Universities seem to try to set up this sort of absurdly protective bubble, by design. Uni extracts sometimes-exorbitant rent, while doing so; Leverage was at least usually paying people salaries.
Meanwhile, a lot of US bureaucracy appears almost... tailor-made to make life more complicated, with a special exception to that reserved for "full-time employees of large corporations"? (I think that for historic reasons, some of their bureaucratic complications are consistently outsourced to their company to handle.)
Against this societal backdrop, I find it hard to fault Cathleen or Leverage for trying what they did. While also not being too surprised, that it led to some dependence issues.
(Maybe having a hard "2 years" limit, and accepting a little less "heroic responsibility," would have downgraded a lot of issues to just "University dorm level.")
I really appreciate Cathleen being willing to talk about it, even given the reasonable expectation that some people are going to... be jerks about it, misinterpret things, take things out of context, and engage in ways she won't like. Or even just fail to engage in ways that would be good for her?
I don't always see eye-to-eye with Cathleen, but she poured a lot into this project. She is not exaggerating when she conveys that she was responsible for a really giant pile of ops and maintenance tasks at Leverage.
(I'm not sure how Leverage handled her sick days, but I would be surprised if it wasn't a whole thing. That feels like one way to point to just how large an amount she ended up being personally responsible for. One of the most grounded and productive people there.)
I'm sad to hear that this project hurt her, in the ways it did? (ex: overwork, lack of support, high interpersonal conflict environment)
I'm somewhat glad that she hasn't completely given up on the idea of well-intentioned ambitious projects, and I'm really happy that it sounds like she has a solid bubble of people now.
This is a lot of information, and there was a cost to writing it up, I'm sure. I can't really weigh in on whether it was worth what she gave up to do so, but I'm grateful that she shared it.
What to do when society is wrong about something?
I thought this aside was an extremely good snapshot of class of problem that I have seen come up in other contexts as well.
Briefly: People have a tendency to develop social bubbles that are, in a key way or two, way more comfortable or healthy for them. If you get strongly immersed in one, then "the rest of society" starts looking unpleasant or unhealthy, and what do you do with that when that hapens?
I don't find it easy to answer! But I'd be curious to hear from other people about variants of this scenario that they've run into, how they've handled it, and how that has gone.
(It sounds like Leverage had a bit of this dynamic, combined with a feeling that the norms were up for grabs. I had not previously pegged that down about Leverage, but having that context feels helpful for making sense of it.)