Tuesday, April 15, 2014

III. The Teegeeyack Caper

As a context, we must understand that there are four major types of these "technologies," each a matrix of practical reason: (I) technologies of production, which permit us to produce, transform, or manipulate things; (2) technologies of sign systems, which permit us to use signs, meanings, symbols, or signification; (3) technologies of power, which determine the conduct of individuals and submit them to certain ends or domination, an objectivizing of the individual; (4) technologies of the self, which permit individuals to effect by their own means or with the help of others a certain number of operations on their own bodies and souls, thoughts, conduct, and way of being, so as to transform themselves in order to attain a certain state of happiness, purity, wisdom, perfection, or immortality.
Michel Foucault, "Technologies of the Self"
1968 was an eventful year for the nascent Church of Scientology.  As the Flagship Apollo, (formerly known as the Royal Scotman) cruised the Mediterranean, the Church's offices on the American mainland were raided, and hundreds of electropsychometers seized by Federal agents; its founder L. Ron Hubbard was declared persona non grata by Her Majesty's Home Office on the very day that a hostile documentary about the Church was aired by the BBC; and Life magazine published a damning exposé warning that the "growing cult reaches dangerously into the mind."  These minor setbacks are glossed over in the 1968 edition of Ron's Journal, Hubbard's annual audio address to the faithful. Instead, Hubbard narrated a year of triumph: he described the training (then underway aboard Apollo,) of the first cohort of Class VIII Auditors; recent successes against the IRS, the AMA, and other detractors; and reeled off a long list of celebrities who had recently joined the Church - noting, with some pride, "Sammy Davis Junior, the singer," "the poet and folk singer, Leonard Cohen,"  and "the famous author, William Burroughs." In that very year, Burroughs had listed the elements necessary for defeating systems of control, in an appendix to a reprint of The Soft Machine, as: Willhelm Reich's orgone theories; apomorphine; and Scientology.  1968 also saw the completion of the first cruise ship ever built in Finland, which might be considered a more momentous event than any of those thus far enumerated, because the MS Bohéme was ultimately to supplant the Apollo when she was re-christened the Freewinds.
Figure I. Finland's first cruise ship.

The tenth of the nineteen lectures Hubbard delivered to the "universe's first" Class VIII auditors in the fall of 1968, entitled simply "Assists," was leaked and is now publically available.  Assists is one of the first texts in which the content of OT III ("The Wall of Fire,") which was probably finalized in 1967, is explicitly narrated.  I want to start with a close reading of Assists in order to demonstrate the mechanics of the control system which proceeds from OT III.    

I had hoped to say everything I have left to say about Hubbard and Scientology here, and to make a clean break, but this has proved impossible.  Therefore, in subsequent posts, I will move on to consider these systems of control contrapuntally to Burroughs' engagement with Scientology and his subsequent work; specifically, in order to remain loyal to the inspiration for this series of essays, Cities of the Red Night, which is partially concerned with 17th century Carribean piracy.  

With inexorable promptitude, 1983 is upon us. What will it bring? For some, I trust, a re-vitalized purpose and shining light. For others, not so fortunate, another step forward into the black pit of oblivion. Some conceive they are in the toils of fate. But others, having achieved insight, know that is not so. It is you who will determine whether, in 1983, you will go upward, or down; whether your life will be happier or worse. I could tell you many airy things of no consequence. But out of friendship for you, and all mankind, I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that it is you are the one who determines your own destiny.
L. Ron Hubbard, Ron's Journal 36, audio address to the Church of Scientology.

The good which I would, that I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Romans 7:19
The essentials of the story of Xemu, (also spelled "Xenu,") which Hubbard refers to interchangeably as "Incident Two" and "R6," are now generally familiar due to high profile court cases and several popular parodies, and I will not rehearse them here.  Mainly what this familiarity has bred is a contempt which retards serious analysis.  I want to intervene here in order to draw attention from the admittedly characteristic superficiality, bathos, and lack of imagination Hubbard displays in this myth, and which have been so widely noted and commented upon, in order to urge, rather, that we attend to its content in order to understand what it makes possible. 

It is salutory in this context to recall Coleridge's injunction that until we understand a writer's ignorance, we should presume ourselves ignorant of his understanding; for few would deny that L. Ron Hubbard's ignorance has yet to be fully understood.

The element of the Xemu myth which requires our closest attention is Hubbard's account of what happens after the hapless thetans of Teegeeyack (which is the name of the planet on which I write,) and its "21 adjacent stars, and their 76 planets" are chained to volcanoes and immolated by a "gross, complete atomic explosion."  Having been cast into the stratosphere and trapped by "an electronic ribbon, which also was a type of standing wave" they were assembled and subjected to an experience which determined their subsequent fate and the condition of our universe as we find it. Hubbard explains that having been subjected to various techniques of depersonalization, 
...they were given a three-D, supercolossal motion picture, which has to do with God, the devil, space opera, etc.  They go five pictures to five words. And we have the full record of  what it is, and it goes on for about thirty six days.  
This is process Hubbard calls "implantation," which is distinct from engram formation in that engrams are recorded by the reactive mind, whereas implants are the result of deliberate action by a hostile other. In Scientology Definitions II, Hubbard defined an implant as "an intentional installation of fixed ideas, contra-survival to the thetan." The whole story of Xemu constitutes a "key incident." Both the actual events (being captured, chained to volcanoes, etc) and the implant (the supercolossal motion picture) constitute one of the common substrates of pathology for thetans in this sector of the universe.  As we will see, the fact that the trauma and confusion suffered by thetans may derive from either the actual events which transpired on the surface of the earth nearly 75 million years ago, or from the polysemous fiction with which they were implanted shortly thereafter bears crucially on the operation of auditing as a technology of power. 

The R6 implant consists of a multimedia assault upon malleable, passive beings which actively constitutes the geology of their subconscious for all future incarnations. Foucault called its results “the silent configuration in which language finds support.”  It functions like ideology did for Althusser, except that it is more literally articulate (“they go five pictures to five words,”) and there is (pace Foucault,) no possibility of resistance on the part of the interpellated. One imagines it probably looked something like a cross between J.P. Bronowski's (at right, with cat) inimitable Ascent of Man and Matthew Barney's insupportable Cremaster Cycle, screened in every room of the Library of Babel simultaneously  -  except that Hubbard's famously dim imagination couldn't possibly have grasped any of these three texts.  

This “implant” is postulated as a system of total control which precedes all experience in any given incarnation. Bearing in mind Hubbard's assertion that “function is senior to structure; thought is senior to function and structure,” the pastiche geography of the R6 implant forms the grounds of possibility for all dimensions of existence with respect to the thetans who experienced it.  Thus, later in Assists, he explains that
the whole population of the planet responds like a clock to R6 symbols. They respond to nothing else. They do not respond to reason; they only respond to R6 symbols.
This, Hubbard made clear to the first cohort of Class VIII auditors, is why there is an erupting volcano on the cover of the 1968 (and every subsequent) paperback edition of Dianetics: the Modern Science of Mental Health.  Incidentally, this also explains the fact that Hubbard's space opera world of 75 million years ago looks exactly, in terms of its material culture, like the 1960s.  It is not only (although it is certainly also) because Hubbard was profoundly unimaginative; it is because the human history of this planet represents a progressive motion towards re-enactment (he would say "dramatization") of R6.  Later, he explains that in capturing thetans for the genocide and subsequent implantation, 
One of the mechanisms they used was to tell them to come in for an income tax investigation. The United  States just copies income tax. It's just R6, they're a bunch of dramatizing psychotics, these guys. 
Income tax, a subject much on Hubbard's mind in 1968, is thus depicted as the return of the repressed (recall, in this connection, his formative childhood experiences with the pseudo-Freudian P"snake" Thompson, MD and his cat Pyscho, pictured at right)
and as such a symptom of the general type of pathology for which Scientology is the only workable cure. Hubbard, incidentally, claimed not to be subject to this particular class of problems because "I didn't even get R6'ed.  I'm not from this planet."

It is critical to note that the content of the R6 implant is, by design, internally incoherent. Hubbard explains that the real events (capture, immolation, etc.) are repeated and redacted in the implant and that their causes and relations systematically obscured by false iterations. This means that symptoms reported by preclears undergoing auditing may be due to events they actually experienced, either during the alien genocide of 75 million years ago or during some other incarnation, or they may be false, implanted memories deriving from the R6 (or any other) implant:
The man on the cross... there was no Christ; but the man on the cross is shown [in R6] as every man, so of course each peason - person, seeing a crucified man has an immediate feeling of sympathy for this man.  Therefore you get many [preclears] who says they are Christ.  Now there are two reasons for that: one is that the Roman Empire was prone to crucify people.  So a person can have been crucified.  But in R6 he is shown as crucified.
We should pause for a moment to appreciate that in Hubbard's epistemology, truth is something which is accessible in toto to a suitably equipped being. A mere 5 years before the first Class VIII course began, Foucault (below right, with cat,) had written:
Commentary rests on the postulate that speech is an act of 'translation', that it has the dangerous privilege images have of showing while concealing, and that it can be substituted for itself indefinitely in the open series of discursive repetitions...But...is it not possible to...evade the fate of commentary by supposing no remainder?
Hubbard could not have agreed more had he read The Birth of the Clinic, (which he certainly did not).
Through his research, he could comprehend truth without remainder, and could transmit it without corruption to the faithful.  Unlike Foucault, however, he also imagined a corps of malign individuals with whom he was engaged in an eternal, Manichean war of attrition, from Xemu to the “squirrels” evidently rampant in all Scientology Orgs. We need look no further than the first thirty seconds of each lecture in the Class VII course, when, without exception, he asks the class to state the lecture number and the date lest some future heretic should try to expunge any of the lectures. Hubbard is the paranoid inhabitant of an epistemologically simple universe.  He has escaped the fate of commentary; yet he is eternally beset by malignant commentators.

The result is a Borgesian nightmare, both for the preclear and, it would seem, the Class VIII auditor. Any symptom manifested by a preclear must result from some incident; but it is not given in the symptom to know whether it results from an actual experience (i.e., if it is an engram), or from the manifold tissue of inventions implanted by R6 (or some other implant), or even whether the symptom emanates from the preclear or from one of his body thetans.. Hubbard repeatedly asserts that such discriminations is only possible through the application of Standard Tech (i.e., an utter refusal to deviate from prescribed routines of questioning,) but he also acknowledges that some prompting may be necessary:
And you ask him what he thinks it is. And he normally will tell you, "I don't know." So you've got to suggest it.
This tension occurs repeatedly in the lectures of the Class VIII auditors' course, during which Hubbard incessantly  evokes the metaphor of the auditor as automaton (“nickle-in-the-slot auditing,”) both as an object of emulation and as a caricature of unsophisticated auditors. The auditor is thus faced with an aporia: on the one hand, she is absolutely constrained, in that the results of her efforts must be Hubbardian subjects, and any failure by a PC to become one will be taken as evidence of the auditor's failure to apply Standard Tech. On the other, she is granted unlimited license insofar as its exercise results in the production of Hubbardian subjects.  Her success, or lack therof, in producing such subjects will determine the level of surveillance, punishment and reward  to which she is subject.

This is the dissonance at the heart of Scientology: Hubbard (below at right, auditing a preclear) always presented auditing as a technology of the self: “you are the one who determines your own destiny.” In fact, Hubbard's use of the word “technology” in the Class VIII course conforms strictly to Foucault's definition of technologies of the self.  This is the only instance in which it is licit to say this, but if confronted with that passage and asked to choose its author between the two men, one could be forgiven for assigning it to Hubbard.  However, it is clear from his lectures to the elite auditors of the first Class VIII course, and from the testimony of apostate and Free Zone scientologists, that within the Church auditing has functioned and does function primarily as a technology of power.
Through the presumption that any “humanoid,” (as Hubbard occasionally refers to PCs,) represents a plural entity and a tissue of redacted and falsified memory to whose truth the auditor has sole and incontestible access, auditing becomes a technology of subject formation of a power and breadth unrivalled except, perhaps, by psychoanalysis, the technology to which Hubbard's entire body of work was explicitly a reaction.  Scientology and psychoanalysis offer reciprocal solutions to Paul's dilemma; the former offers us a lucid and rational unconscious whose illumination is opposed only by external, intelligible, and vincible angents, unlike the latter, whose discontents are widely known. 

In sum, Hubbard's description of the process of “implantation” in the story of Xemu is an emblem explaining both (emically) why auditing is necessary, and (etically) why it is so effective as a technology of power; it is necessary to strip away the false iterations implanted in the thetan, and it is effective because, recalling Michaelangelo's description of how he produced David, it makes accessible to excision everything that isn't its ideal subject. Hubbard's entire weltannschaung is structured by a profound paranoia which construes truth as utterly unambiguous and totally accessible through standardized processes, yet beset by an emergent caste of malignant saboteurs.  It is on their account that a perfect technology of power is the precondition for a perfect technology of the self.  It is, as he reminds us frequently throughout the Class VIII course, an aberrated planet; and, "make no mistake, we are at war."