Thanks to a comment left on my Sam Moscowitz gets interviewed by the FDA about Hubbard post, telling me about the Cushing Memorial Library Archives at Texas A&M, I now have an article I was curious to see. Moskowitz had mentioned to the FDA investigator that he should check out an article by William Blackbeard that had originally been written in 1948 but had been re-edited and reprinted in a short-run fanzine out of New York called “Inside” (which only appears to have 2 issues) – published/edited by Jon White. It’s a 9-page article.
I found a pic of the cover of the October 1962 issue –
Here’s the first page of the Blackbeard article –
Malignant engrams? What a great turn-of-phrase there. It really bears finishing the rest of that colorful intro, so here’s the rest of it.
On page 2 of the article – I heartily agree with him about L. Ron Hubbard’s use of odd (and cheesy) stereotyped images. Blackbeard goes through a basic review of some of Hubbard’s sci-fi stories next, and then expands on the stereotypes Hubbard tends to hobby horse on.
I don’t mind a good stereotype here and there, they can be fun to read, but Hubbard’s are truly painful.
“…assert himself as a prometheus of enlightenment to the multitudes.”
That’s Hubbard alright. Saying he’s bringing that ‘light’.
I don’t think his lockstep with the CIA on brainwashing techniques quite qualifies, if you ask me.
I love his description of the ‘pith helmet‘ style of writing, like Hubbard’s usual works, versus first-rate pulp. A pith helmut is a lightweight sun helmet made from the dried pith of the sola or a similar tropical plant.
“The pith helmet’s, by contrast, is slovenly ill-paced, confused…”
“As a matter of :fact, as the material read approaches the close of Hubbard’s career as a pulpateer, we seem to see only a grotesquely swollen pith helmet, a pith helmet which has swallowed up the man.”
If you’ve read my End is not Yet post, you’ll know he’s dead-on in his portrayal of Hubbard’s writing in that one as ‘pith helmet’.
“try to grasp the meaning expressed” – yea, really.
The tongue-in-cheek about “the book we are not discussing here” having even worse passages is pretty funny too.
Blackbeard produces a pretty accurate accounting of Hubbard’s treatment of critics on page 4 –
…clearly indicative of a basic aspect of the author’s character: inability to accept responsibility for any action or postulated thought in which he foresees the possibility of critical reactions.
Rather than face a debate in which something he has produced may be attacked or analyzed disparagingly, Hubbard prefers to sidestep the entire issue either by dismissing it as a thing beneath discussion or, as the case of Dianetics, diagnosing the critic in advance as demonstrably sick with the very psychoses his science of the mind has been calculated to cure.
Expanding on Hubbard’s seemingly incoherent thought processes on page 5 –
It seems a reasonable assuption that Hubbard’s style is clumsy, makeshift and erratic because it simply reflects the author’s thought processes. Uncertain of an idea, uncertain of a conception, sure only that if he pounds long and hard enough at it on his typewriter*, it must, as it always has, emerge in some sort of saleable form; he has rarely seemed able to follow a thought to its ultimate and logical conclusion, to pick and worry an idea until it yields up its richest and most useful treasures, to discard the obvious and stereotyped aspect of a conception at once and delves beneath the surface of the apparent. Perhaps–to use the Dianetics jabberworcky for a person purged of his engrams–it will be different with a “cleared” Hubbard; this remains to be seen. But this article is about the still uncleared pith helmet, the pith helmet who wrote Dianetics.
Paradoxically, on page 6 of the article, Blackbeard notes that Hubbard’s Fear story was extremely well-written and he can’t quite figure out how that happened.
…builds to a well-realized climax of narrowing impact. The theme of mental derangement seems to strike a very sympathetic chord in Hubbard, and one regrets he didn’t see fit to pursue its orthodox clinical exposition in his fiction, rather than succumb to a megalomaniac Messiahism in the founding of a new science of the mind.
I have observed the same thing.
It almost leads one to conclude that Hubbard had to have been intentionally writing at that bad of a level – perhaps to reach those ‘lower’ echelons he was always going on about? However, there is another stand-out example of what I think was the ‘real’ Hubbard, found in one of the strangest places one might expect – his war records.
This is a report that he had written up regarding an incident with the Isidro occurring when he was ONI attache in Australia during WWII. He calls to task the behavior of Lt. Causey, but observe how very different the writing is in this report and how it contains none of the usual blustering Hubbard “critique” style.
This report was top-secret, by the way, and Causey must have come under some fire for Hubbard’s accurate assessment of his behavior because the next thing you know he’s trying to report all kinds of inaccurate and kooky crap about Ron Hubbard. It is Causey’s after-the-fact letter that is often used by so-called critics of scientology repeatedly, missing completely the very real point (and very real history) of what actually happened.
Note the date on the letter – 14th of February. The original Hubbard report seems to have gone missing in later document releases (such as those given to Margaret Lake) as far as I can tell, but there is one surviving document that proves what really happened – that Hubbard was approved to be part of the naval attache office which had been requested just one day before Causey’s rather ridiculous and unfounded diatribe.
Although that was a bit of a sidebar, for sure, that report by Hubbard is the only other surviving example that clearly shows that he was skilled as a writer, and did not have to act like some sort of pith-helmet. It was clearly a deliberate choice on his part.
After Blackbeard discussed the two stories that were well-written, he expands a bit more about Hubbard and Dianetics. He quotes a very creepy passage of a letter by him in the August 1950 issue of Astounding –
To quote from a letter of Hubbard’s in Astounding for August, 1950:
“One sees with some sadness that more than three-quarters of the world’s population will become subject to the remaining quarter as a natural consequence (of the early stages of Dianetic auditing and clearing), about which we can do exactly nothing.“
Here’s Hubbards letter itself – PDF and here’s page 4 where this statement is.
Note – Despite all these clears that Hubbard has supposedly made/was making, Blackbeard calls into stark contrast the fact that Hubbard had later “become a Pope in hiding.”
At the scicrit blog British writer “Once Born” observes the following about one of Hubbard’s other statements on the same page of this letter –
A strange thing is happening and will continue to happen. There is a direct ratio between the brilliance of a mind and its ability to understand and work Dianetics
Hubbard asserts that it is the brightest brightest people who benefit the most from dianetics, and the “[…] lower strata” who are the most resistant. This designates Hubbard’s customers as superior individuals and anyone who criticises dianetics as untermensch.
If you think the comparison with Nazi ideology is over the top here, consider this passage…[then he quotes the same part that Moskowitz did].
There has rarely been a more chilling example of the tendency towards power fantasy in pulp science fiction. Even so soon after the Second World War people seem to have lapped it up.
The problem with the whole “nazi” angle here, is that it presupposes that this is where this sort of thing originated from and skips over (perhaps intentionally?) the fact that right in the writer’s back yard there are far worse examples – still in power – of this whole superiority thing (speaking of the British “nobility” here) plus let’s not forget the Vatican’s same exact position in that way.
It is not true that all have equal rights in civil society. It is not true that there exists no lawful social hierarchy.
…a sound prosperity is to be restored according to the true principles of a sane corporative system which respects the proper hierarchic structure of society
– Pope Pius XI DIVINI REDEMPTORIS (On Atheistic Communism) 19 March 1937
Even earlier –
the wealthy and the working men are intended by nature to live in mutual conflict…so in a State is it ordained by nature that these two classes should dwell in harmony and agreement…
…Some there must be who devote themselves to the work of the commonwealth, who make the laws or administer justice, or whose advice and authority govern the nation in times of peace, and defend it in war. Such men clearly occupy the foremost place in the State, and should be held in highest estimation…
…there will ever be differences and inequalities of condition in the State. Society cannot exist or be conceived of without them.
– Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum (of revolutionary change) May 15, 1891
And earlier yet –
…Then, truly, will the majesty of the law meet with the dutiful and willing homage of the people, when they are convinced that their rulers hold authority from God, and feel that it is a matter of justice and duty to obey them, and to show them reverence and fealty, united to a love not unlike that which children show their parents. “Let every soul be subject to higher powers.”(3)
No of Chartres wrote to Pope Paschal II: “When kingdom and priesthood are at one, in complete accord, the world is well ruled…
– IMMORTALE DEI, Pope Leo XIII, November 1, 1885
It ain’t Hitler who spawned these crazy ‘superior beings’ ideas.
We should never forget just who backed Hitler in the first place – either. BOTH of these ‘slavemaster’ factions. All as part of ushering in their retarded “New World Order”. Their name for it – not mine.
Ron Hubbard is right in line with their age-old particular slant of propaganda about ‘them’ and ‘us’.
– – –
The bottom line best direct assessment of Hubbard by Blackbeard, I’d say was this –
It must be stated, to further develop our analysis, that Hubbard is not a good writer.
Caveat: of course, it seems that may have been intentional on Hubbard’s part.
The final line of the article may perhaps be even a better assessment –
There ain’t no rabbit in that pith helmet.
Overall, what a fun find.
Sending out a a big thank you! to the commentor who pointed me to it and the amazing librarians at Texas A&M.