The Ecphorizer

The Mismeasure of Mensa 7
Lottie Fish-Bate

Issue #37 (September 1984)

In past chapters of her narrative, Lottie has outlined the shattering cataclysms and ironic twists of fate that destroyed 20th century civilization and elevated Mensa to the status of a religion. With the relentless pedantry of the true believer, Lottie has demolished as well the assertions of Mensa's detractors (called Immensans) that Mensa before the "big bang" was, well ...the way it is. More Historical revelations follow.

[quoteright'/>Mensan Intellectualism and Classicism: Expose of Trivia

Along with the intact library at John Birch University circa 1967, stray items from later dates up to 1984 have been found, such as a fragment of a presumably official Mensa publication. This discovery recalls the legendary tale of Count Tischendorf, who was said to have found the Codex Sinaiticus Bible in 1844. The work was found in a basket and was to be used for fuel. This prior world Christian miracle now has its counterpart in the discovery of pages 9-14 and 23-28 of the October 1983 Bulletin. These pages were not to be destroyed as fuel, but rather had been used in conjunction with another natural function (to the great merriment of immensans). It was this ignoble fate that saved them for us, however. They were dropped where they had been used, and are still largely legible.

Unfortunately, the significance of the material seems rather the reverse of Tischendorf's find. All of our contrasting schools of thought, whether Fundamentalist, Immensan, or moderate Mensan like myself, nevertheless confess to bafflement about the nature of the text. All suggest that it may be a parody, a humorous put-down of Mensa. Immensans find little proof here for their contention that Mensa was nothing more than a social organization of high IQ people. What is found is merely as follows: page 28 is a treasurer's report, 27 is a list of meetings, 26 consists of classified ads, 24 (missing most of the top left quadrant, unfortunately) is about special groups of no intellectual interest, and page 23 (without the top right quadrant, of course) advertises a 2020 Vision conference apparently about eye exercise or perhaps medieval torture methods. Page 25 is smeared beyond any hope of legibility.

The corresponding halves of the sheets from this October 1983 Mensa Bulletin are of no greater interest. Virtually all of pages 13 and 14 are devoted to an annotated bibliography of cookbooks, recipes, and other writings on food. The relevance of this to an intellectual or religious group is not conceivable, thus frustrating both immensans and fundamentalists and their respective theories. Worse yet is this for me, for I hold that both conditions obtained, that Mensa was a religious cult recruited from the highest in IQ!

The article on page 12 is confessedly about soap operas and trivial and disgusting human problems. Similarly, "Turn of the Table" on page 11 confesses that it is about nonsense. Critics have based their parody theory on this inanity and irrelevance of pages 11 to 14 to any conceivable intellectual or religious purpose. However, the parody theory fails to cross-reference with the pictures and text on pages 10 and 11, in which the authors of the inanity on pages 12 to 14 turn out to be high Mensa officials. This does not refute the parody theory, but an understanding of human nature leaves the most probable conclusion that the higher-ups mis-used their power by slipping their own worthless articles into the house organ.

To be more charitable, I have to believe that this publication was merely a monthly institutional staff memo for functionaries. It was quite obviously not sent to the believers in general nor intended for anything but for scheduling or for momentary diversion even among paid officials. Many of the pages, specifically 26-27, 23 (presumably matched by 22), 10-11 as examples, were intended for posting on bulletin boards and then to be discarded monthly. Indeed, this explains why these very pages were discarded so permanently and thus were inadvertently preserved for us.

The remaining page was perhaps not intended to be tossed away. Page 9 is about poetic technique. If the immensans are right that this work of criticism destroys true poetry by banishing creativity, then I would concede the correctness of the parody theory. However, I agree fully with the author. Poetry has nothing to do with creativity, but rather with classicial perfection. Picture a pane of glass; nothing interesting in merely looking through it. Compare this with glass cut, polished, developed into multi-faceted crystal.

In poetry we admire the brilliance itself and also the gemstones of imagery. We don't want to see life itself or some world-view of its meaning. No, poetry is not inspired, creative. Creativity is not needed except for useful or helpful things like science or religion.

In spite of the general triviality or banality (by definition and his own principles, the author's classicism can hardly be "inspired"), this issue of Mensa Bulletin contains a gem of information which solves the confusion about the origin of Mensa. The Immensans still claim that Mensa started as an organization of high IQ persons. The irony is that the element of truth in all this was the Immensans' own secret society. On page 26 in the classified ads is a notice about an organization for people of "IQ within the 99th percentile."

It is only natural that such a society with superman pretensions would be the link within the Mensan community to the old Master Race myth. True to the Nazi propaganda technique of the big lie, they have always accused their enemies of their very own guilt. There is further irony that they began as a group of the highest IQ, but is now the lowest in IQ groups in our society. They blame their inferiority on the dietary affliction I discussed back in an earlier chapter. (The Ecphorizer June, 1984). 

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