I’m not a fan of advertising – the art of making you need what you don’t want. (The ads which occasionally appear at the foot of posts on this blog are nothing to do with me; they arise as a consequence of my unwillingness to ungrit my teeth and shell out for the WordPress add-on that would block them.) But I’m going to here use my own space to plug a couple of new books – even though I haven’t yet read them.
The best film I saw last year was – by some distance – The Master. Whether or not a direct or allusive exposition of L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology, there is a more general pattern revealed in this compelling work by pre-eminent film-maker Paul Thomas Anderson.
The self-help/positive-thinking book/philosophy thing that brings reverence and power and (a stated aim of LRH) wealth to its author and propagators. The lifestyle as cult as religion as system-abusing business. The cultivation of the sympathy and support of prominent public figures with enviable status. The worshipful defensiveness of the followers, oblivious and/or apologetic of the slide (of the leaders) of the movement into power- and wealth-preserving corruption. The organised ‘reputation management’ and image marketing. The Orwellian obscuration of history. And the morphing into fascism: the crushing of dissension; the silencing of criticism; the censorship, suppression and banning of books.
Hence, The Church of Scientology moves – courtesy of England’s poxy, tyrant-friendly libel laws – to ban a new book that sheds light on its murky modi operandi. Lawrence Wright‘s Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief is available all over the world, yet its publisher here – in a country where Scientology does not, officially, possess a religion’s clout – succumbed to the threat of litigious bullying. Reminder, which we apparently need, of a ridiculously shameful state of affairs, with libel reform (again) in jeopardy.
Rather than exercise a free right to right-of-reply, the CoS favours resort to the tactics of a totalitarian order. They would have us believe such books do not exist. But the net effect… more attention is drawn, more interest piqued, more people seek it out. More people read it. In seeking to suppress, the CoS both publicises the book, and reinforces the image it manoeuvres to disguise. Despite not being published in England, the book can still be bought here. So, seek it out. Meanwhile, as a primer, read its author’s 2011 article in The New Yorker. And consider another recently released book The Church of Fear: Inside the Weird World of Scientology by John Sweeney, who also had difficulty getting published here.
And, if you haven’t, see The Master.