Any schmuck can join a cult but it takes a real genius to start one.
Not that it's particularly difficult persuading people that the burden of thinking for oneself is best relinquished to a higher authority. Folks have always done that.
But why do some systems catch on while others struggle to stay intact?
A cult has to make the cultee, in the argot of our time, "feel better about themselves." I'm no psychologist but when you start introducing unreasonable taboos - shrimp, sex, checking accounts - pretty soon you're going to start having recruitment and retention problems.
The genius lies in the packaging.
So while struggling to earn the small fortune he feels so entitled to, my good friend David Schoffman has attempted to create a cult of personality revolving around the most unlikely theme.
Grafting the sedative bromides from the vernacular of awareness training, David has twisted the time-honored tradition of figure drawing into a form of therapy.
His students - or more precisely, his followers - pay upwards of $4700 to attend a five week course called "Courage, Contentment, Chiaroscuro," where he gently guides them toward the fugitive euphoria of invented self-esteem.
There are no mistakes in David's course. No proportion problems, no awkward line quality, no attempts at verisimilitude, in fact there is absolutely no mention of drawing as an area of technical or aesthetic expertise.
Every student leaves knowing that they are awesome artists and that their true potential conveniently awaits in the more reasonably priced "Advanced Course."
In an art world governed by duplicity, where fortunes are made in the speculative investment in specious concepts and shoddy talents, where celebrity and glitz count more than quality and ignorant consultants offer ignorant advice to their ignorant clients I think that what David is doing may well be considered virtuous.