The Strength and Non-Strength system was actually a brilliant piece of engineering. Honestly, even while I was trying to figure out the horribly abusive mind-fuck that was Elan, some part of my brain found the inner-workings of it very fascinating. Maybe that is why I remember so much, or maybe that why I was able to survive it.
This Elan caste system was very effective. Mostly because, like everything in Elan, they took it completely to the extreme. So when you were a Non, you couldn’t so much as look in the direction of another Non. You couldn’t so much as pass them a broom. You couldn’t say “bless you” if they sneezed. You had to look away in an exaggerated manor if one was looking at you. You definitely didn’t want to whisper anything to yourself or make any weird hand gestures while another Non was around, because you would be immediately accused of sending them a message. And remember, Strength were everywhere and it was literally their job to catch you doing any of these things.
Here is a real chart showing the Elan structure:
It may be hard to read, but if you look at the bottom right you will see the Strength to Non-Strength count.
Total Strength: 31
Total Non-Strength: 17
Total Population: 48
I wasn’t in this particular house at this particular time, but that sounds about right as fas as my experience went too. The Strength definitely outnumbered us. And they were always on our case. Likely because they wanted to stay being Strength, remember Elan was all about holding people down to prove your worth to the Elan system. A good Strength was one that was constantly catching Non-Strength “acquiring Guilt”. And also realize that many times, these things were simply one person’s word against yours. There was no evidence required.
Take a look at this piece of paper describing the duties of the first Strength position: Expeditor Trainee.
Expeditor Trainees were the Strength walking around with clipboards all the time. You could call them “new Strength” since Expeditor was the first Strength position. So these kids had been down for 6 months to a year in the mud with the other Non-Strength. Now they suddenly earned their promotion to Strength and what is the first thing that happens to them in the morning, they are given a clipboard full of these kinds of pieces of paper and told that it better be full by midnight.
This is just one of the papers, there were a ton more, all with diagrams and charts and instructions on how to monitor everyone else. Because guess what, the Expeditors were also allowed to write down guilt from other Strength and High Strength! But of course, those targets may decide to get back at you, you know, since they are also in positions of power. Positions higher than Expeditor Trainee and they could make your life very, very difficult. These were the games we constantly played in Elan, power-games.
So of course the easiest targets were the Non-Strength, since they were obviously always guilty of something. That is how Elan worked, the lower your rank was, the worse you were by default.
Now look at the kinds of crazy insane shit written on that piece of paper above:
First off, a line at the tops says: This sheet should be filled everyday if your aware + communicate: fact. Let me tell you, that is a threat. That is saying that you better have that page complete from top to bottom and if it isn’t then it is your fault for not being aware enough. What do you think happened under these kinds of threats? The person filling out the sheet begun to use his or her imagination to keep it full.
Then you have:
Split risks. This meant people you thought would try to run away. So what does that mean in Elan? Well look at Billy over there, he just looked at the window for a second = SPLIT RISK. Oh look at Sally, she looks sad today = SPLIT RISK. And remember, people are going to look at these pages and tomorrow Billy and Sally are going to be punished for being so full of guilt and attempting to plan an escape from Elan. Maybe they are planning it together, who knows.
Isolators. Oh no! Someone has decided that they want to be left alone? Better write their name down so the entire house can target them for being an isolationist. This is how fucked up Elan was, there was no “cruise control” in Elan. Unlike jail or prison, there was no strategy of simply minding your own business and doing your time. In Elan, you always had to play the game by making loud, obvious gestures and if you were not, then you surely had something to hide.
Game Players. This was Elan-speak for romance. So this entire section was all about finding out who was attracted to who. Can you imagine what kind of sick system told other teenagers to spend their days spying on other teenagers. Writing their names down for looking in someone else’s direction too often. Remember, everything in Elan was about extremes, so in order to stop sex, you had to start at the very first, most subtle, look. So if you look at someone, then obviously you want them sexually. Or maybe if you avoid looking at someone, we all know what that implies. And remember, this chart better be full by midnight!
Contracts are people who are plotting something together. Could be anything really. Can’t have anyone too close to you in Elan. But remember, you also can’t have nobody around, because then you are an “isolator”. Are you starting to see the insanity here? There is nothing you can do without being guilty.
Look at the chart for Reactors. You better not react in any way. Not in a facial way. Not in a passive way. So what does that leave us with? Reacting in a non-passive way without showing too many facial gestures? And what is up with “throwing things”? Yeah, I guess since that column better be filled up with names by midnight, we better take a real open-to-interpretation stance on the word “throw”. Throwing glances? Throwing your shoulders down in a reactive way? Anything goes as long as you name names!
Okay, I think you are starting to get the idea here. Now realize this is one page out of probably 10 or 12. And each page is different. And this entire thing is called your Clipboard Packet and 4 or 5 Expeditors need to each complete a packet daily, Monday – Sunday, for months if they want to move up to the next position.
And do you see how many spelling mistakes are on this chart? Remember, that is because children wrote it. Some child decided what was going to be in that Clipboard Packet because it is his or her job to be in charge of the Expeditors. And they had better get good intel, because if anyone runs away, it will be his or her ass on the line. Anything that happened in Elan was always someone’s fault and the higher up you were, the more likely it was your fault. That is why some people opted to never get into the Strength or High-Strength positions, because believe me, it sucked to be them as well.
This is just a small slice of the insanity that was a day in Elan.