The story of Keith Raniere, NXIVM and The Knife of Aristotle

In an age marked by the near-collapse of the institutional legitimacy of much of the mainstream media, an alternative media circle is there to suit your need for the journalism that seems to be lacking in the mainstream media. Or just tell you what you want to hear about how crazy those damned far left libtards are. And within that circle you have an outlet called The Knife, which bills itself as a website dedicated to deconstructing media bias and spin and reporting the truth. The problem? That website seems to be linked to an organization by the name of NXIVM (pronounced Nexium), and this organization seems to be, in all likelihood, an actual sex cult. I caught the attention of this story not so long enough when I discovered a story about how the perennial pseudo-philosopher Elon Musk was caught promoting the cult as an alternative to mainstream media.

Originally referred to as The Knife of Aristotle (God what is it these names), The Knife Media bills itself as a “fact-based subscription news website”, aiming to filter news stories and deliver, supposedly, fact-based versions of them. For the totally inconspicuous price of $15 a month (which is higher than the median subscription fee of £10 a month), The Knife claims to offer a rating system for news outlets and stories based on their numerical scores for qualities such as “spin”, “slant” or “logic”, based on what it calls a proprietary rating. In that sense, it seems The Knife is trying to be something like Snopes if it had a paywall, and according to their critics a noticeable conservative bias. But if you go and check out their website looking for their methodology, you will find not find much information about their process. They have a section entitled “Our Process“, in which they attempt to demonstrate their “scientific” method of news analysis in action, but all they do is describe such things as “story”, “spin”, “slant” “logic”, and “raw data”, but no real methodological framework by which they filter the mass of facts given in an article from the biases or spin. Put simply, they tell that they “extract the most relevant data from a news story to provide a more objective overview of what happened”, but without any real explanation as to how they’ve done so, unless that’s another thing I have to shell out $15 a month to find out as opposed to them being upfront about thing they’re selling.

And if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Back in May 2017, journalist Brock Wilbur wrote an investigative piece about The Knife for Paste Magazine. Wilbur applied for a job at The Knife (then known as The Knife of Aristotle) and began correspondence with the organization via email. The Knife told Wilbur that applicants are to be subject to a five week period of “advanced training in communication, logic and ethics” in Albany, New York. One wonders what you could possibly learn from that course that you can’t simply learn by taking a degree in journalism, but such information was never divulged. When Wilbur investigated the website itself, signing onto a free account trial, he found that the website offered a feed of news stories from a wide range of sources and a button saying “Request Analysis” (which required payment). Then, on the staff page, he discovered some bios that seemed too poorly written to reflect actual believable personalities working at a company that values their work. Then he found out through The Knife of Aristotle’s Facebook page (which has since been deleted) that a multi-week training program was available to help people “perceive the world”, and that this program was free for future employees, and that there was even a scholarship program available, priced at $7,000. After that point, Wilbur discovered that The Knife of Aristotle was, in reality, an arm of NXIVM: a cultish organization that bills itself as a multi-marketing business.

The Path, a Hulu TV series that Wilbur uses as an analogy for his expectations of The Knife of Aristotle

The Knife of Aristotle was tied to NXIVM by one of their staff, Nicki Clyne, an actress best known for playing Cally Tyrol in the 2004 TV series Battlestar Galactica, who is also a member of NXIVM. In fact, if you’ve followed the news about NXIVM, you may have seen Nicki Clyne’s name come up, as it is alleged that Nicki Clyne married actress Allison Mack (who will come up later on) on orders from the cult as basically a slave to Mack. And they’re not even the only actresses said to be involved. More recently it is reported that Kristin Kreuk, who stars in a TV series called Burden of Truth and was also in Smallville, is reportedly attempting to hide her alleged involvement in the cult by refusing to do interviews where she might talk about the subject. It is alleged that Kreuk recruited Allison Mack to become a member of NXIVM. Beyond Hollywood celebrities, there’s also Rosa Laura Junco, who seems to be the CEO of The Knife. She is connected to NXIVM through her contacts with Laura Saltzman and Karen Unterreiner, both members of NXIVM. Junco is even alleged be both a master and a slave within NXIVM. The “lead analyst”, Leah Mottishaw, apparently lists Executive Success Programs as an interest of hers on her LinkedIn profile. One of their writers, Luis Diego Salas, apparently attended a sham university ran by NXIVM. You can find a little more information on these connections on a thread by The_War_Economy, but the point stands – The Knife is almost certainly an arm of NXIVM. And there are several other organizations apparently operating under the auspices of various NXIVM members – there’s an acting class group called The Source ran by Mark Vincente, a yoga group named Exo/eso ran by Siobhan Hotaling and Evan Zimmerman, a women’s group named JNESS, and a men’s group called the Society of Protectors, But who are NXIVM?

Keith Raniere and Nancy Saltzman formed NXIVM in 1998, offering a service known as “Executive Success Programs” to wealthy clients. These programs functioned as work camps or retreats designed to “change the way people think, make decisions, react, and perform in various [areas?] of life” and “help individuals develop the emotional and intellectual skills necessary to reach their maximum potential in all areas of life” based on a principle they term “Rational Inquiry”. In practice, the whole point of these exercises is to deconstruct your self-esteem in order to turn you into a slavish follower of Keith Raniere, as one unfortunate participant found out. It involves a lot of mind control, paramilitary command structures and rituals, mandatory praise of Raniere and contact with superiors on a daily basis, idiosyncratic jargon built on distortions of the English language, and “thought reform” programs designed extract confessions from members through inducing unnecessary guilt and fear in the psyche of the individual, and all over the course of sixteen-hour days. As is standard for cults the Executive Success Programs operated in secrecy and impose strict limits on the ability to receive feedback or contact from anyone outside of the program, with no explanation as to how such secrecy benefits the organization or its leaders and members.

It’s actually pretty similar to Scientology in certain respects, in that both belief systems aim at destroying your self esteem through their programs (in Scientology’s case that’s what auditing is for), encourage distance from friends and families members outside their sphere of influence and they both try to pretend that their practice is entirely scientific when really it’s hardly scientific at all. Hell, I think Raniere and his followers even borrowed (read: stole) the term “suppressives” from Scientology to describe people who question their program. In addition the cult has a profoundly self-serving ethos, encouraging that telling their friends about the cult harms them morally and spiritually, taking credit for “technology” that they never invented and imposing high fees on those wanting to join the organization, and encourage people to climb the ranks of the organization by paying further fees to the organization, the last of which incidentally is a lot like what the Church of Satan has been doing since 1975. It’s all documented in cult expert Rick Ross’ profile of NXIVM, which was published back in 2003 and over which NXIVM tried to sue Ross. It’s interesting to note, as a quick aside, that the self-serving ethos of the cult is complimented by a strong pressure to conform to the group, to the point that questioning the group is discouraged through intense psychological pressure and nonconformists are referred to not only as suppressives but also, I shit you not, Luciferians! They use the term Luciferian not as a brand of any particular spiritual philosophy (as I would for myself), but for people who leave the cult and thus become lost, sociopathic people for whom good and bad become reversed. That alone should tell you how insane and ignorant the cult is. And if that’s not enough, did I mention that members are required to refer to Keith Raniere as “Vanguard”, an entirely self-appointed title that Raniere derived from military terminology to mark himself as the unquestioned leader of the group? I must say it’s not the sort of thing you’d think to call him when you actually look at him.

Imagine it, this dollar store Walter Becker lookalike wants you treat him as though he were a military commander and spiritual guru all in one. Otherwise you’re a Luciferian somehow.

Going back to lawsuits, when you do a Google search on NXIVM or Keith Raniere, you might come to understand that Raniere and his cult were very litigious entities, particularly with people who opposed them. Frank Report offers a list of lawsuits that Raniere has been involved in, and it seems to number at around 50. Apparently he has frequently sued his former girlfriend Toni Natalie, attempting to sue her over various issues. He frequently sues people who publicly criticize him and his company, including journalists. This to me is another noteworthy similarity NXIVM has to the Church of Scientology, with its notorious tendency to get pursue lawsuits against just about anyone who might present a threat to the church no matter where in the world you are. Raniere had even been involving in litigation with his business before NXIVM started, going back to 1990 when he started a company called Consumers’ Buyline and it was sued by New York state officials for allegedly operating an illegal chain distribution scheme.

But perhaps the worst thing about this cult, and the center of why Keith Raniere and his organization are being investigated by authorities, is the sexual abuse and even slavery that seems to run rampant within the organization according to people who were once affiliated with the cult or are investigating it. It has been reported by several sources that Raniere would gather female members of NXIVM, collect incriminating or personal information from them, and then blackmail them in order to get them to perform sexual acts for him or shower him with love.  There is a detailed article from the New York Times which outlines a ceremony conducted within NXIVM in which women were chosen to be branded by an official named Lauren Saltzman. The women would be invited to the location of secretive sisterhood wherein they were required to submit naked photographs or incriminating information, ready to be used against them if the sisterhood’s location was revealed, then the woman would undress and lie atop a massage table, they would be physically restrained by other women, and had symbols representing Keith Raniere’s initials branded on their hips with cauterizing devices. The women were apparently recruited as slaves by their “master”. The slaves would frequently be ordered to correspond with their “master” and have sex with Raniere, and were constantly pressured to provide more collateral for NXIVM in the form of incriminating information and stories about themselves and friends and family, whether true or false.

Allison Mack, who was arrested by the FBI in April on sex trafficking charges, is said to have recruited various women including other actress into NXIVM and had them branded as slaves, as is Seagram Heiress Clare Bronfman who was arrested more recently and is presently demanding exemption. Mack has also claimed that the branding ritual NXIVM performs on women was her idea. Whether or not this is true or simply a ruse to protect the leadership of NXIVM remains to be seen. On the same month as Mack’s arrest the FBI has also conducted a raid on a townhouse in Hale Drive in Halfmoon, New York, where it is alleged by court records and interviews that Keith Raniere used the property as some kind of sex lair. Frank Report has also outlined the vile sexual acts Raniere is testified to have performed on his followers and others.

An apparent example of the symbol branded on women within NXIVM

One detail you might have noticed about NXIVM is that many of its followers appear to be well-to-do young and middle-aged women, and on the scene of Raniere’s arrest he was said to have had many women follow him. One possible reason for this is that the women are tricked into thinking they will attain some sense of empowerment from NXIVM. In an interview with Vanessa Grigoriadis in the New York Times, Mack outlines various practices that “masters” would tell their slaves to do, such as cold showers, calorie-counting, general service (worded as “acts of care”), getting up from bed at 4am, abstaining from orgasms, all supposedly ordered by the “masters” in order to move the women away from previous eating, sleeping and sexual habits. From the seems of it, you are basically in a position where you have a master tell you what some dumb women’s magazine can tell you what do already except you aren’t forced to correspond with the master, hand over information and have sex with a 51 year old upper class hippie with a messiah complex. But I guess just going online and looking for lifestyle tips doesn’t give you the sense of commitment to a group that only a deranged master-slave sex cult can provide.

Speaking of master-slave relations, from what I understand, it’s possible that the name The Knife, or The Knife of Aristotle, might be tied to this theme of women being subservient to men. According to Frank Parlato writing for ArtVoice, a possible origin of the name “The Knife of Aristotle” is in a metaphor from Aristotle’s Politics, which reads as follows:

“Therefore the feminine and the slavish are distinguished (for Nature makes no such thing as the blacksmiths make the Delphic knife, in need of something, but Nature makes one thing for one thing.  For in this way each tool will turn out most splendidly, not serving many functions but one)”

Apparently Aristotle used the analogy of the Delphic knife to reinforce a point of women being supposedly naturally subservient in contrast men being naturally dominant. If this is indeed where The Knife of Aristotle acquired their moniker, then it at least suggests that somebody over there was thinking of the whole master-slave thing that goes on with Raniere and his women. It definitely seems like an obvious echo of the way NXIVM views and treats women.

So, to summarize. We have a cult that is built on a Scientology-esque doctrine of “self-improvement” through humiliation, mind control, self-abasement and leader worship, as well as a master-slave hierarchy with an intensely perverted businessman and psuedo-prophet on top and masters and their slaves on the bottom, that exists to suck up as many well-to-do upper class personalities and even celebrities into its influence as possible, that goes out of its way to recruit new sexual slaves throughout North America while suing any detractors and withholding and collecting any information that can be used to harm anyone who might reveal its secrets, and has its own media arm that, at best, exists almost entirely to shit on liberal media outlets for being opposed to conservatives, and, at worst, is available for NXIVM to downplay or even deny their cultish activities. This makes for a very dangerous and pernicious cult indeed, one that I hope will soon be destroyed within the next few years by the ongoing investigations.

What is all the more peculiar about this whole situation is how well-trusted an actual sex cult seems to be among a lot of the internet personalities and political commentators who generally align themselves in opposition to the political establishment, even despite the already established links between The Knife and NXIVM. Guys like Joe Rogan, Tim Pool and Ian Miles Cheong are all said to have promoted the website (in Cheong’s case, though, he did eventually figure out that The Knife was linked to a cult, after which he still praised their articles), Eric Weinstein has apparently praised them on Dave Rubin’s YouTube show even as he says the site has a shadowy backer, and their supporters seem to like The Knife, unaware of its connections to NXIVM. Oh and of course Fox News cites them as examples of people fighting back against anti-conservative bias within the media because why the hell not. Apparently this has something to do with the fact that they treat mainstream outlets, typically with a liberal tilt of course, very harshly based on their dubious criteria. So we have not only Elon Musk but also conservative media and online “anti-establishment” personalities unwittingly promoting a sex cult as a credible alternative to the mainstream media because The Knife, frankly, tells conservatives and people who dislike modern day liberals what they want to hear: namely that the liberal media is wrong about everything and are simply attacking their political opponents for no good reason oh and please don’t follow the money. Can’t say I’m surprised, having also learned that The Knife is not even the first conservative media outlet to be financed by a cult.

And so we are left with a very peculiar situation where, as mainstream media becomes distrusted more and more, people tend to fall into just about anything else that appeals to that distrust, and with conservative populism in the ascendancy and a well-established conservative media circle that appeals precisely to distrust of the liberal media, people will begin to see that circle as honest and truthful, even though in reality it’s just a decadent circle jerk set up to tell right-wing chuds what they want to hear and push to get their guys in power. When that happens, the people who fall for this will just believe whatever they want as opposed to anything outside of that, even if it means supporting a literal cult that holds women as sex slaves and literally brands them!

Of course, this is by no means a defense of the mainstream media, other than I guess you could say at least they’re not just puppets of a shadowy sex cult.

A long con

Twitter, Facebook, Google and the like, they will continue to bend the knee to the establishment until it no longer becomes profitable for them to do so. They will continue the business of suppressing information that they determine to be to false, as if it is their authority to do so. And they will hypocritically follow their doctrine of “hate speech” on ideological lines, targeting whatever directly opposes their ideological line while ignoring misinformation and abuse from their own ends of the political spectrum. But their competitors, such as Gab or Minds, from what I have understood based on developments I have seen within the last couple of months, are not the bastions of freedom of speech that they promise to be. They too will ban content that they dislike, often with minimal explanation if at all.

It’s becoming increasingly evident to me that social media is a long con. I would like that social media websites allow individuals to speak freely, post what they like that isn’t pornography, incitement or private information, and/or at the very least be honest about the terms that they’re setting for their users. But sadly, I predict that they aren’t going to me. In the meantime, we’re all suckers in the end because, in many ways, we depend on social media to sustain our modern lives. As I’ve mentioned before, communication with fellow students is pretty much one of the only reasons I’m on Facebook besides the fact that people like Summer Thunder and Sean Ridley Ravensdale are there with me. At least I still have some friends there. As much as it renders us into a situation where we’re pretty much stuck dealing with social media companies run by people who are, frankly, untrustworthy, it’s also the biggest reason why the struggle to actually have some rights is an important one, even if perhaps a tragic one (on account of how, like I said, there may not be much we can do). I do not want those companies being able to just trample over me like a dog, but if I don’t the only way I can do anything is to fight, and I don’t know how.

But if I’m convinced of anything in that direction, it’s that they will not be defeated by the self-serving. The people who would’ve been all for social media companies denying the liberty of the people who use it, were it not for the fact that the people they like received . The people who are against censorship, like myself, were warning about precisely this. There is no guarantee that the forces of censorship will spare you in their wrath, instead they will eventually target you, whether for ideological reasons or out of pure incompetence. You can’t control the censor once you allow him to censor anymore than you can control the Internet, so don’t complain if he decides to censor you or someone you like unless you are opposed to it on principle.

And I extent this principle to the fake news meme I still see going around. The fight against fake news is pointless. Those of us who aren’t sheep know it’s just a way of accusing someone else of spreading lies, when the people who started the meme in the first place started saying it in response the failure of an American presidential candidate they wanted to win. They needed a scapegoat, and social media was arguably the perfect fit in an age where it is so ubiquitous that it practically dominates our lives. Those who think the powers that be will save you from this think that all they ask is to protect the public from misinformation, when really all it is is making it a crime to either lie or spread something you think is true, but might not be. All we would be doing is surrendering our faculty, and duty, to determine for ourselves through reason whether or not we are being told lies. This is something that should not be given up so that politicians could win a game they lost over a year ago.

It’s all a long con. The only difference is with one con we can’t avoid without total hermitude, but the other, we can think our way out of. If, that is, we remain free to.

The PizzaGate conspiracy theory

There has been a lot of talk about a conspiracy theory referred to as PizzaGate, which as far as I can tell has been going around since last month (the first I remember hearing of it was not too long after Donald Trump won the election). The conspiracy theory is quite widely believed among those who consume fringe media. At first I chose to ignore the subject, despite how some of the allegations have involved the typical “Satanic ritual abuse” conspiracy trope. You’d think I would have addressed that sooner on the blog. But I didn’t know enough on the subject matter to make a judgement. But it’s still being talked about, and I think it’s time for me to address the subject matter with what I’ve been able to gather so far.

The starting premise of this conspiracy theory stems from some of the emails sent to John Podesta, the former chairman of the Hillary Clinton campaign, that were leaked earlier this year. The emails in question seem to be about John Podesta discussing with colleagues his love of Italian cuisine and walnut sauce and inviting colleagues over for pizza parties at a place called Comet Ping Pong Pizza. Apparently, some people believe that the references to various food items such as “pizza”, “hot dog”, “walnut sauce” or “ice cream” are code names for children of various descriptions (like boy, girl or “person of color” for instance). I don’t know how that connection was made other than there’s a Wikileaks Subreddit thread where it’s claimed that it has something to do with some seemingly innocuous comments made to photos of children, the context of which is not apparent to me. It’s also been claimed that Podesta et al use handkerchief as a code for something involving BDSM, which I can only assume comes from the fact that people tend to use them in bondage but otherwise seems pretty circumstantial to me. Some Instagram photos from people associated with either Podesta or Comet Ping Pong Pizza apparently involve small children in what seem to be innocuous circumstances (like a baby eating pizza for instance), and that somehow is presented as proof but, again, it seems like pure circumstance. Throw all that together with some other emails to and from John Podesta that, to be fair, sound pretty creepy, and you have the basis for a particularly bizarre conspiracy theory in which Podesta, and by extension Hillary Clinton, are accused of being part of, or at the center of, a vast pedophilic sex ring concealed from the public.

As for the “Satanic” element to all this? I imagine it comes from the belief that Comet Pizza’s logo resembles some kind of Illuminati or Masonic symbol, I’m not sure how, and as we all know the idea that the Illuminati (if it even exists) and the Freemasons (whenever they aren’t viewed as essentially the same thing) are basically orgiastic devil worshipers is a typical conspiracy theory trope, one that, I might add, tends to be levied at people in power a lot. There’s also an image supposedly pointing to the Comet Pizza sign as being a reference to Baphomet. How is it related to Baphomet exactly? Because of the crescent moons and stars that are there. Yes, you read that correctly. Comet Pizza is supposedly affiliated with orgiastic devil worshipers because of a reference to Islam, one that may have been there purely by coincidence! This would mean that, if the conspiracy theory is true, then the perverted cadre of Clintonite/Washington elites are somehow devil worshipers and Muslims at the same time, which would be utterly contradictory given that Islam is very much against idolatry, let alone worshiping any devils. However, I suppose many of these conspiracy theorists are the same kind of people who think of Islam as essentially a “satanic” religion solely based on the fact that it isn’t Christianity, despite the fact that ultimately the two religions share the same God wrapped up in noticeably different mythology and religious teachings. But all this is a tangent from the fact that this is all circumstantial. There’s no hard proof. Also, given that this is John Podesta we’re talking about, I suspect a lot of the nonsense about this being a “satanic” conspiracy stems from the earlier accusations of occultism surrounding his association with Marina Abramovic and all that bullshit about “spirit cooking”.

I suspected from the outset that this would be a typical conspiracy theory, especially when people started talking about “Satanic child abuse rings”. Given the SRA scare of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s and the more recent Hampstead SRA hoax from last year, both of which were categorically proven to be false, my natural instinct is to distrust and dismiss these claims whenever I see them, not even giving the benefit of the doubt.

However, there is something wrong with the whole PizzaGate affair that I seem to be noticing. For one thing, I know that the CEO of Reddit has shut down a Subreddit dedicated to the subject of PizzaGate, which to me seems like nothing more than an attempt to silence discussion. This is idiotic for one simple reason: when you go after conspiracy theorists, you make them think that they might be right about something. After all, if the powers that be as it were go out of their way to silence the conspiracy theorist’s freedom of speech, then for the conspiracy theorist it is surely evidence that they are being silenced presumably by people who don’t want you to talk about your wild theories because they have something to hide. The other thing that really bothers me is how the mainstream media has recently used all this bullshit to push their equally bullshit war on “fake news”. On December 5th, a man named Edgar Maddison Welch went to a Comet Ping Pong Pizza building and threatened an employee with a gun before being arrested by the authorities. Thankfully, it seems that no one was hurt before the gunman got arrested. But after the event, the mainstream media seems to have come out with a slew of articles about how the incident proved that “fake news is hurting real people”. It doesn’t help when they also refer to it as an “alt-right conspiracy”, or as Stephen Colbert put it an “alt-right feverdream”.

First of all, when you refer to something you consider false, wrong or just outside what your ingroup says as “alt-right”, you lose me right away. The reason for this is because the term “alt-right” is such a buzzword, and a mess of a word at that, that lost its original meaning after both Hillary Clinton used it refer to a fictional nationalist conspiracy headed by Russia and then Milo Yiannopoulos defended the term as referring to disenfranchised anti-establishment conservatives who love freedom of speech. Both Clinton and Yiannopoulos have turned it into a joke, with one trying to paint it as a singular evil threatening democracy and Yiannopoulos selling it as basically fluff. And in the end, it lost relevance as a standalone term when Richard Spencer, who is considered to be a leading thinker of the “alt-right” movement, gave his “Hail Trump” speech. Not to mention The Daily Stormer, an actual “alt-right” website, espousing textbook white supremacist ideology whilst claiming to be the voice of the Republican Party (which they aren’t), and the fact that the “alt-right” is now trying to recruit in Toronto and espousing white identity politics not too distant from the kind of black identity politics that’s become mainstream. These are nothing more than white nationalists who view Donald Trump as a neofascist godman who wants to fulfill their dream of a white ethnostate, and in that sense they share some common ground with every radical progressive and everyone they’ve duped. Both parties, I am confident, will be sorely disappointed.

Second of all, the mainstream media’s war on “fake” media, is essentially bullshit. This whole crusade started from the fact that after Donald Trump won the presidency, everyone who wasn’t blaming it on Russia without any credible evidence decided to go after social media companies for failing to control the news that people spread on its website. No wonder Twitter decided to ban the accounts of white nationalist public figures with no explanation and no proof of them having violated their community standards. The media class is the kind that considers Breitbart to be “fake news” on the basis that it is right-wing and pro-Trump, but they won’t go after Buzzfeed, a website that last time I checked literally has articles that are basically ads! Hell, even John Oliver knew this when he was talking about native advertising on his show. Heaven forbid that they investigate what’s left of Gawker to see just how fake it is. Instead, the people writing the lists are openly going after politically bent news sites that they don’t like. We know that the mainstream media is full of shit on this one, and we know this because they have lost relevance in an age where the majority of people don’t have any confidence in them, let alone conspiracy theorists. So it should come as no surprise that when news of Edgar Maddison Welch’s attempted shooting broke out, the PizzaGate believers viewed this is a false flag operation. Because of course they did. But I can’t entirely blame them, given the poor performance of the mainstream media in general.

In the end, I find that the whole PizzaGate conspiracy theory is basically a Rorschach test. People who take this theory seriously, whether its believers or the mainstream media, see what they want to see. Conspiracy theorists see a devil worshipping pedophile sex ring run by the Hillary Clinton campaign, the mainstream media sees proof that their crusade against every other media has a moral justification, but there’s nothing real to either side on this issue. But, one party seems to be doing nothing more than validating the delusions of the other. That, I think, is a recipe for disaster.

A pizza arranged made to resemble a Rorschach test inkblot from Pizza Express.
A pizza arranged made to resemble a Rorschach test inkblot from Pizza Express.