Demystifying the Bonfire Cult

Discussion in 'PCL' started by Jon the Valiant, Aug 7, 2001.

  1. Jon the Valiant

    Jon the Valiant First Time Poster


    For those with a genuine desire to understand the perverse and arcane ways of the Aggies--for those who can contain their contempt and revulsion for the few minutes it takes to read it--I highly recommend a report recently produced by the Bonfire 2002 Committee's Institutional Culture Task Force. It is a precise sociological study of the Bonfire's cultural nature and significance. It successfully explains a lot of things that many people have unsuccessfully attempted to explain. And it ultimately reveals that sociology does have real value--that sociologists can really do useful work in explaining us to ourselves. I found it fascinating because it was about me, but it might also be interesting to those who want to "know thy enemy."

    Jon the Valiant

    From LHG: Sorry, Jon. Had to take out the image for our band-width challenged folks.

    "I mean, cows are stupid, aren't they? What sort of camouflage is that?" -Al Murray
    Edited by LonghornGirlie on 8/7/01 07:41 AM.
  2. longhornjoe

    longhornjoe 25+ Posts

  3. utxjohne

    utxjohne Guest

    This is a joke right? I would rather read the tax code.
  4. Little

    Little < 25 Posts

    Point is you can't demystify a cult. They are freaks that's whay they are a cult.
  5. BongoHorn

    BongoHorn 25+ Posts

    I'm still mystified.

    When bongos are outlawed, only outlaws will have bongos.&#60;P&#62;
  6. Orange Salad Ranch

    Orange Salad Ranch 250+ Posts

  7. orngbld

    orngbld 100+ Posts

    "However between 1940 and 1975, the period of most rapid Bonfire growth, TAMU won only three of thirty-five games. As pride in the accomplishments of the football team became harder to sustain, it is understandable that students began to take more pride in their Bonfire construction skills."

    So, now that they have re-embarked on the road to mediocrity, how will they compensate for this upcoming 3-32 streak?

    "The fact that they didn't see it coming shows they aren't psychic."
    -- Missouri AG, after suing TV psychic Miss Cleo
  8. orngbld

    orngbld 100+ Posts

    Oooh, this one's pretty nifty, too:

    "Today’s Aggies are much less like Aggies of the past than they imagine, and much more like their contemporaries at other large American universities. Fictional permanence disguising real change is, indeed, at the heart of the Bonfire tragedy, as Henry Petroski makes clear in his assessment of the collapse in American Scientist. Bonfire was “a tradition carried forward without conservatism” because “what had evolved into such a strong tradition on the surface had, in fact, devolved into an almost traditionless and ad hoc practice when it came to the crucial structural details.”"

    Fictional permanence disguising real change -- that's good phrasing. The ags WOULD be like the rest of American college students, EXCEPT -- they insist on manufacturing a fiction which makes them different, and indeed, that delusion DOES make them different.

    I wonder how happy folks will be in agland after being drubbed at Kyle to the tune of 38-13 (I think they'll hold us to under 40 points).

    "The fact that they didn't see it coming shows they aren't psychic."
    -- Missouri AG, after suing TV psychic Miss Cleo
  9. Herr Scholz

    Herr Scholz < 25 Posts

    Yeah, what are they going to do in their spare time in that backwater town now? The bonfire used to take up months of dead time. Not everyone on campus can fit into that one bar they have there.
  10. mileslong

    mileslong 25+ Posts

    The only mystery to me is why they don't use a definite article before the word bonfire...

    A good example would be "The University"...

    "You'll be getting more than just a lawyer, Mr. Simpson. You'll also be getting this exquisite faux pearl necklace, a $99 value, as our gift to you." - Lionel Hutz
  11. Herr Scholz

    Herr Scholz < 25 Posts


    "Bonfire" is aggiespeak (which is much like ebonics). It is a proper noun in aggiespeak.
  12. BongoHorn

    BongoHorn 25+ Posts

    Quite a piece of work, I must admit.
    I noticed the report said the bonfire represented the burning desire to beat the hell out of "U.T."
    The author descends into aggy-speak with the "Bonfire" usage, but not with the "tu" reference. Curious.
    It's an interesting paper, one delving deeply into the heart of aggy darkness. It is indeed hard to understand a culture of this sort developing to the extent it has, but the author lays out the reasons in a logical manner, if "logical" can be used in dealing with this subject.
    I just can't help thinking if someone were telling me to walk over a cliff, that at some point I would stop. These people don't stop.

    When bongos are outlawed, only outlaws will have bongos.&#60;P&#62;
  13. Sangre Naranjada

    Sangre Naranjada 10,000+ Posts


    For those who haven't read the report, it is long but truly fascinating, if you're at all intrigued by what makes a red *** aggy's mind tick.
  14. Wilson's Pet Aggie

    Wilson's Pet Aggie < 25 Posts

    Do they have a Cliff Notes version yet?
  15. suttree

    suttree 500+ Posts

    The horror. The horror.
  16. BongoHorn

    BongoHorn 25+ Posts

    Some other selected highlights from the report:

    "a student activity dangerously out of control"
    "group think" and "tunnel vision"
    "enormous deadly hazard"
    "students adopt a quasi-mystical vocabulary and describe the value of bonfire as an opportunity to be part of something larger than yourself"
    "We doubt that the rational, utilitarian new bonfire can fill the void."
    "The faculty saw student truancy [to build the bonfire] as a threat to their educational project, and environmental despoliation as an affront to their moral sensibility."
    "student leadership and participation...when left unchecked it can foster in students an exaggerated sense of their own ability."
    "The desire to preserve tradition often blinds those involved to the negative consequences of traditional practices."
    on cultural bias in favor of authority-"Respect for authority is often equated with blind faith in authority. This too often leads individuals at TAMU to overestimate the competence of authorities or to stifle any criticism that might be aroused by the actions of authorities."
    "Criticism is 'bad bull' at TAMU. This defensive attitude suggests a cultural insecurity that is entirely unnecessary [oh yeah?]. Worse than that, it deprives many Aggies of an opportunity to improve their university based on the observations of outsiders."
    Looks like the ags are dealing with a double edged sabre here. I can't imagine sending a young adult there to be exposed to that culture of followership. It seems like the opposite of education to me.
  17. Mrmyke709

    Mrmyke709 1,000+ Posts

    Cadet Slouch ??? Good God, stupidity is an institution down there.
  18. cmvUT75

    cmvUT75 100+ Posts

    So...when do they serve the purple kool-aid?
  19. BigWill

    BigWill 2,500+ Posts

    did they mention the "collection jar"?
  20. horn4life

    horn4life 500+ Posts

    This ending phrase cought my mind under the "Bias hostile to critics" section-

  21. Fatcat Alum

    Fatcat Alum 100+ Posts

    Fascinating to read the Aggies admit what a lot of people have been saying all along. I don't mean about the danger of the bonfire but rather of the strange and cultish attitudes.

    I almost feel sorry for them, seeing the football team sink into mediocrity and losing something that meant a lot to a lot of different people.
  22. Tex83

    Tex83 < 25 Posts

    What will fill the void left by the bonfire? I hadn't really thought about it, but College Station is such a hell hole that the bonfire was probably useful in soaking up dead time. The Chicken can hold only so many, and there are a finite number of cows to tip and other livestock to entertain.

    The other really interesting question is how, or if, the ESPN sidelines show will portray the institutional wierdness at A&M. How will A&M deal with it? Will students be coached to tone it down? Or will ESPN generally choose 2%ers?

    Hook 'em!
  23. Justinbadgerow

    Justinbadgerow < 25 Posts

    "As pride in the accomplishments of the football team became harder to sustain, it is understandable that students began to take more pride in their Bonfire construction skills. Another and perhaps more important factor was the PAINFUL CHANGES that fundamentally altered the nature of TAMU in the 1950s and 1960s. Perhaps the most significant of these were: an end to toleration of old-army style hazing in the Corps of Cadets (late 1940s); the admission of civilians (1965), minorities (late 1960s), and large numbers of women (1973); rapid growth in the student population (which tripled between 1970 and 2000); and a greater emphasis on graduate education and research."

    ok, so it's painful when you have to allow women and blacks attend your school and real hard not to haze anybody.... it's emotionally damaging i guess.... What a buncha redneck fools.....
  24. Ted

    Ted < 25 Posts

    Hilarious, thx.
  25. Brave Sir Robin

    Brave Sir Robin First Time Poster

    2nd paragraph: TAMU is affected by, among other biases, "a cultural bias hostile to critics. "

    This will be news only to those outside Bryan/College Station.
  26. Sangre Naranjada

    Sangre Naranjada 10,000+ Posts

    Big Will,Yes, I believe they DO reference the community spooge jar, albeit somewhat obliquely.

    QUOTE: One additional reason for the emergence of dysfunctional practices and values must be noted, as it is relevant to the matter at hand. Members of an organization are themselves engaged in multiple projects when they participate in group activities. In all but a few malign instances, we may assume that organization members are committed to the goals of the organization and therefore place the needs of the organization before their own personal needs. But we should not assume that organization members have no personal needs or that they do not seek to satisfy personal needs in the workplace... (these) personal projects, being rooted in human psychology are not always rational.

    Sounds like this pretty effectively addresses corps turds pissing on each other as well as the spooge jar, wouldn't you say?
  27. tropheus

    tropheus 1,000+ Posts

    "Because the old Bonfire was not rational or utilitarian, it was also for many students deeply romantic. The play of romance and imagination around Bonfire is immediately apparent to anyone who examines student reactions in the aftermath of the 1999 Bonfire colapse."

    "Formal activities that cause otherwise self-consciousness individuals to terporarily merge into a collective or group consciousness are properly described as rituals, and such rituals . . . are at the heart of Aggie culture. . . participating in concordant yells . . . serve to make the group consciousness known as Aggie Spirit a reality"

    So there we have it... men in overalls bending over and yelling in unison IS romantic for those in B/CS...

    Seriously, I NEVER thought a fact finding commission would actually publish such a damning critique of Aggies. It must be Christmas time... what an amazing gift! The prose is so serious, yet the conclusions are so hilarious!

    We DO understand it from the outside looking in, and we certainly don't want to be on the inside looking out!


  28. ProdigalHorn

    ProdigalHorn 10,000+ Posts

    I believe we have a classic on our hands...
  29. tropheus

    tropheus 1,000+ Posts

    if it is made to be a classic, the report should be quoted in its entirety on this thread so that EVERY gem is preserved.
  30. anon

    anon 25+ Posts

    Now, the bonfire collapse is our fault -

    "As pride in accomplishments of the football team became harder to sustain, it is understandable that students began to take pride in their Bonfire construction skills," the report says.

    We started kicking their butt again, like the good old days, and they couldn't handle it. So, that's news?

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