Friday, April 25, 2008
Running Your Own Cult (Do's and Don'ts) and
HISTORY OF THE CHURCH OF THE SUBGENIUS
Presented by Rev. Ivan Stang and other SubGenius Old-Timers
8-week multimedia online course from April 28 - June 22
This isn't held in a classroom in Ohio. This is an online course that takes place on a slick interactive multimedia website. You can "attend" from anywhere in the world, and you can log in any time of day or night. Everything can be downloaded and saved for later, too.
Last year, we had exactly 50 online "students" sign up. Many signed up after the classes had already started; I guess word got around. I wasn't expecting such a large online audience, and really went overboard. Each week I wrote a chapter of text that described various parts of SubGenius real-life history in hopefully funny detail, and I scanned hundreds of documents from each period so that the students could read our older zines, early works, and even organizational notes and letters to each other. (For instance, the correspondence between us and R. Crumb, and Mark Mothersbaugh, are included, as are the outlines and basic scribbled notes that became Pamphlet #1 and THE BOOK OF THE SUBGENIUS.)
I spend a lot of time describing the high points and especially poignant or hilarious moments involving the bizarre characters we met over the years while developing "Bob's" Church. The idea was to find the real-life turning points that make good stories.
Because the Maybe Logic Academy website allows downloading of large files like videos and audio, I went through our archives of video and tapes going back to 1977. I turned hundreds of hours of audio into MP3s, and converted ancient VHS tapes to MPEG videos that any computer (and many DVD players) can play.
SubGenii may be interested to know that the course allows you to download, if you want to, THREE DVDs' worth of audio, video, and graphics. This includes ALL the dozens of Media Barrage and Bobsongs tapes, all the edited SubConvention tapes, a ton of video unavailable anywhere else, and thousands of scanned photos and out-of-print magazines, including most of the 7 giant Stark Fist printed issues and "Bob's" Favorite Comics.
Students don't have to download all this stuff; I expect that most people last year read the text and looked at all the scanned graphics like zines and letters, and then downloaded just the main bits of multimedia that interested them. Or they downloaded all of it and saved it for later. No one could possibly have time to absorb all the hours of media we offer while the course is going on.
As far as requirements go, I am a pretty Slack teacher. Energetic students can work to design their own cults -- there were both funny and serious ones last year -- and less workaholic students can just lurk. It's not like you are graded or anything, although last year I did provide a diploma at the end.
The most fun part of the course for many is probably the interactive aspect. The course has its own online forum, like a newsgroup, where people can leave comments or questions any time. I answered a lot of questions there in great detail, covering stuff I hadn't in the main text. We also had chat room "live" sessions every few nights, at various times of day so that folks in distant time zones could tune in conveniently. (There were students from all over the world.)
Because I got all that scanning done last year, and a detailed history of the Church written, I'll have a lot more time this time to expound, tell embarrassing stories and do online chats with the students. Last year it was extremely hectic for me, but this year I'm looking forward to having time to flesh out the material with more and funnier detail.
I will also try to drag in more Guest Instuctators like Dr. Philo Drummond, Onan Canobite, G. Gordon Gordon, Dr. Hal, LIES, maybe even Nenslo!
So if you're really curious about the real-life side of SubGenius -- "What are these people REALLY like?" -- or if you simply like bargains, for that $135 you get media that would cost about a thousand bucks . . . if you bought the items one at a time, and if the items were available in our catalog. Most aren't. (Although just about all the media in our catalog is also included, in downloadable form!)
Here are the other instructors of various classes so you can see how highly faluted it is:
As you can see, MaybeLogic Academy is a class act, with some of the most visionary artists and writers of our time involved. (They snuck us in the back door when no one was looking.)
But most important of all, here is the shopping cart:
See you in the virtual classroom! (You don't need to shave or dress up.)