Daily Archives: April 14, 2011

L Ron Hubbard In Perspective

Let’s get a little bit of perspective here on all the brouhaha over the past couple days on this blog.  I was not attempting to dictate how people think.  I was merely serving as an iconoclast of those “icons” who have sought (and it appears achieved in some quarters) that lofty status by acting themselves as iconoclasts of L Ron Hubbard.

I’ve seen them come and go and return and remain. Those that claimed to have the inside track to L Ron Hubbard, or they knew Ron so began to know better than him, or were channeling L Ron Hubbard, or even the one who claims to have a gigantic tunnel full of L Ron Hubbard.

Let us not lose sight of one significant fact – so obvious as to constitute an elephant in the room – none of those iconoclasts even exist without L Ron Hubbard.

I have spoken to people who have journeyed far up the Scientology Bridge who have been left in the wicked, indecisive position of “where’s the next level?”.  Caught up in the Miscavige or Robertson or Mayo or some other iconoclast mythology that Ron didn’t really mean what he said in HCO PL The Hidden Data Line (and the many lectures and policies where he re-iterated that ‘if it is not in writing, it isn’t true’), they remained tractable followers.  What I try to point out is that they are intentionally put there by setting up a religious myth about L Ron Hubbard – some make him God, some make him Devil; and none do him justice for the man he was and the work he created. But they do it for the same purpose.  That which was covered so well by Thomas Paine in The Age of Reason (quoted from in a post here not too long ago).  For anyone caught up in the perplexing fog of having to hold tight to mythology for comfort, I highly recommend The Age of Reason for some perspective.  When released from mythology and encouraged to research and study the vast library LRH did leave behind, many find that there is so much Scientology they never really understood or applied – and certainly thought did not apply to them since they had attained whatever Level they had.

I think it is important to understand LRH was a man, and not some special thetan visited upon earth like God sent Jesus or, at the other extreme, some confidence trickster intent on enslaving people.  When you take mythology out of the equation it leaves but one basis upon which to judge his legacy.  That is, does it work?   And lo and behold, if LRH said one thing more times than any other thing, I would wager it is that Scientology ought to be judged against that very standard.

Whether an author or philosopher was a saint or sinner has no bearing on whether what he or she produced works when applied as suggested.

With a timing that seemed as magical as destiny, in the middle of the current blog debates (and particularly contemplation of responding to the digs and slights on LRH implied or gratuitously offered in defending other “icons”)  and my pondering about how LRH ought to be treated in retrospect, I opened a package from Tom Felts that he had sent me weeks ago.  I reached in and found a 1929 edition of Twelve Against The Gods by William Bolitho.  I had mentioned the book to Tom when he visited me in January, noting a passage that LRH cited in the Philadelphia Doctorate Course.  I dropped everything and began reading the book and continued because Bolitho spoke the ideas I harbored but lacked the ability to articulate. Here are a few passages that I felt very relevant to L Ron Hubbard:

Adventure is the vitaminizing element in histories, both individual and social.  But its story is unsuitable for a Sabbath School prize book.  Its adepts are rarely chaste, or merciful, or even law-abiding at all, and any moral peptonizing, or sugaring, takes out the interest, with the truth, of their lives.

It is so with all great characters.  Their faults are not mud spots, but structural outcroppings, of an indivisible piece with their personality.  But there is a special reason for the inveterate illegality, or if you prefer, wickedness, of your true adventurer, which is inherent in the concept of Adventure itself.  Adventure is the irreconcilable enemy of law; the adventurer must be unsocial, if not in the deepest sense anti-social, because he is essentially a free individualist.

This is what boys — those natural judges of the matter — have been trying to mutter for centuries, when fobbed off with lives of missionaries, or generals, where varied incident in vain ornaments an essentially unadventurous character.  A feat, a danger, a surprise, these are bonbons adventure showers on those who follow her cult with a single mind. Their occurrence even repeated does not constitute a life of adventure…

…And so, the adventurous life is our first choice. Any baby that can walk is a splendid and typical adventurer; if they had the power as they have the will, what exploits and crimes they would commit!  We are born adventurers, and the love of adventures never leaves us till we are very old; old, timid men, in whose interest it is that adventure should quite die out.  This is why all the poets are on one side, and all the laws on the other; for laws are made by, and usually for, old men.

It is this doublemindedness of humanity that prevents a clear social excommunication of the adventurer. When he appears in the flesh indeed, he can hope for no mercy. Adventure is a hard life, as these twelve cases will remind you.  The moment one of these truants breaks lose, he has to fight the whole weight of things as they are; the laws, and that indefinite smothering aura that surrounds the laws that we call morals; the family, that is the microcosm and whip lash of society; and the dead weight of all the possessors, across whose inter-woven rights the road to freedom lies.  If he fails, he is a mere criminal. One-third of all criminals are nothing but failed adventurers; they usually get a stiffer sentence than the rest, the imbeciles and the hungry.  It is when he imposes himself and gets out of reach of the police that society’s reaction is most curious…

…At the beginning of most careers stands an adventure, and so with states, institutions, and civilizations.  The progress of humanity, whatever its mysterious direction, is not motored by mere momentum. Let ethics make what it can of it.  There is therefore a sociological role of adventure; necessarily an accidental one, since it is in itself non-social. History is jolted along with great breaches of law and order, by adventurers and adventurers. From the flint-jabber to standing room in the subway, from a cave at Les Eyzies to the plumbing of New York, we have come by two forces of effort, not one; the guard and the search, made by the home-stayer on the one hand, and by the bold affronter of the New on the other.  That is, by the adventurer as well as by the citizen. By law, but also by those who leaped outside its protecting palisade, caring nothing if they damaged it in the action, and augmented the treasures of the race by courage and not thrift.  The first adventurer was a nuisance; he left the tribal barricade open to the risk of the community when he left to find out what made that noise in the night.  I am sure he acted against his mother’s, his wife’s, and the council of old men’s strict orders, when he did it. But it was he that found where the mammoths die and where after a thousand years of use there was still enough ivory to equip the whole tribe with weapons. Such is the ultimate outline of the adventurer; Society’s benefactor as well as pest…

…In so far as the nature of all living things is conditioned by their enemies, the adventurer is defined by his fight with Order, and his fight with Chance. The first he may win — if he does not, he will go to prison. The second he cannot beat, for it is a manifestation of the universal.  This book contains no invitation to the life of adventure: that has the same end as all the rest. I do not mean that in our material categories an adventurer cannot be successful. Some, though not the greatest, have died of old age, on heaps of what they set out to get.  There is a more subtle tragedy that waits for adventurers than ruin, penurious old age, rags, contempt.  It is that he is doomed to cease to be an adventurer. The law of his morphology is that, setting out a butterfly, he is condemned when his development is ripe to become a caterpillar.  The vocation of adventure is as tragic as that of Youth; its course is parabolic, not straight; so that at a certain point it leads back to the cage again.  The greatest adventurer that ever lived ended as a nervous, banal millionaire…

…History has always treasured a catalogue of adventurers — she has not changed her ways, though she may not, for business reasons, be allowed to publish it. As for the adventure-feat, the Atlantic flights, the polar journeys, the Everest climb, that flowering of heroism and endurance above anything in humanity’s past, perhaps, which is the panache of our times, it only secondarily concerns our subject.  The heroes of these things are the soldiers of society, not adventurers; only a misunderstanding which these studies may clear up could make their friends claim for them the title…

In the scheme of things, I would venture to say LRH was an adventurer whose sallies from the cave were far more threatening to the social order than any adventurer Bolitho goes on to treat.  After all, LRH’s adventure lead to an invitation that we all become adventurers.  And consequently the Order, and its sheep, have subjected him to far worse treatment than any adventurer of the material realm whose goals and products were control and material, geographic or human ownership.  Many a mere missionary or general have seized on LRH’s faults in pathetic attempts to commandeer for themselves the title “adventurer.”

Finally, I quote from the final page of Twelve Against The Gods where Bolitho asks a rhetorical question of Woodrow Wilson’s adventure, a question that I believe is just as relevant to us today with respect to L Ron Hubbard’s adventure:

The great killing was over: could Wilson, with its smell in the air, risk another? And so he did not risk, so, not risking, he lost the lot.  Such is the end, we have imagined, of most adventures, perhaps all adventures, though peer and probe as we might we could not find a trace of a necessity, which would set our minds at peace.  For if only we could find an inevitability of failure of the game we are forced, singly, and in the whole slow moving column of humanity through the ages to play against gods, there would be a Shakesperean release, an ease, a true tragic katharsis in it; a quasi-musical compensation, that all endeavour is pre-destined lost.  But such, like the static dream of a fixed good in the universe attainable in time, that image of space, there is nowhere any true sign of.  We are encouraged to, not absolved from, adventure by the shortest and most inadequate look at it.  There is no certainty, good or bad, but an infinite resilience that makes both good and bad greater than we commonly think. The heights are further; the gulfs deeper; if it is a game, the odds are enormous.

So Woodrow Wilson, the last of our heroes, ends our biggest adventure; some people think that, like Arthur and the legendary Alexander, and many other lesser men, he left, even though defeated, a hope, a promise, that League, which is as it were a symbol of his perished flesh and blood, a fragment torn out of his heart and left with us, to serve for one who will come after in a retaking up of his adventure to put his feet on for the leap.  It may be. We started by renouncing a moral, and we here end without one. But at any rate, we may be more certain now of the infinite hopeful and despairing uncertainties of things as they seem, as they are, and as they will be.