Monday, November 13, 2006


The less than flattering review by Ross Fitzgerald in the Oz makes me feel it is time to blog on Jonestwon.

I have very nearly finished the book (about twenty pages to go) - and thus far I haven't read anything "new". I mean the story of the Queensland upbringing, the school teaching jobs, the departure from Kings, the Rugby coaching, the London arrest are all pretty old ground. The fact that Jones likes the company of twenty something males is also not particularly new, his fascination with various sporting favourites being particularly common knowledge.

The territory that Masters explores and has made headlines is the labelling of Jones as a homosexual, though I'm not sure if he ever claims that Jones is anything more than a "platonic" homosexual (though there are some fumbling moments later in the book that are never truly consumated). What I do find fascinating though is the relevation in the book about the two females he was linked to in his younger days, Madonna Schacht and Inge Bishop. Jones is claimed to have boasted of bedding them both, claims which both deny. The question of Jones' sexuality is only of interest to me because of the extent to which he seems to have constructed a lie of being an active heterosexual.

This, combined with the extent to which he morphs his own history regularly, raises some real questions about a man whose own image is one of resolute adherence to truth. This ultimately goes to the book's claim, the one that Fitzgerald dismisses as psycho-babble, that Jones suffers narcissistic personality disorder.

While using websites is not a great way to diagnose mental illness, it does seem that one could conclude that Jones is not a well man. Anyone who has subjected themselves to the experience of listening to him would both know his tendency to hold simultaneously mutually exclusive positions and that the "rages explode without warning like terrorist bombs" - a claim Fitzgerald dismisses as foolish.

Reading either transcripts where Jones is actually taken on by someone he can't intimidate, or his ludicrously pompous "correspondence" shows the measure of a man whose ludicrous sense of self-importance is clearly out of control. If Jones truly had friends in the "pick and stick" club they would help him adress these behaviours, not pander to his insecurity.

It reminds me of the film "The Aviator" and the way the relationship between Howard Hughes and Katherine Hepburn is portrayed - if Hepburn had been a true friend of Hughes she would have helped him get well, not wallowed in the insanity.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think dislike of the man and his politics (which I happen to share) cloud a consideration of the real issue. It is very easy to tar someone with the brush of mental illness - all of us have some degree of mental distortion - the test is whether this interferes with our daily lives. Skimming the reference you supply, the author clearly states that self regard should be judged proportional to actuality - therefore Mohammad Ali *could* claim to be the greatest - and he was for years. Jones too is, or has been, a great success in his chosen firelds.

Which leads to my observation of the real issue - Jones is a phenomenon of the decay of parliamentary democracy (see NSW politics for an e.g.) He is a politician, more accountable to his listeners, who vote with their radio switch every day, than a MP who gets a tick every 3 years or so. He is also at least (if not more) responsive as any ministers office, and gets politician style results for causes he picks up.

Now don't get this wrong. It is not a song of praise for Jones, but an appreciation of the emergence of a post-parliamentary democratic form. Not always pretty, but democracy in the raw often isn't - just ask Socrates!