Going Clear

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Lawrence Wright
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2013-01-17
Going Clear Lawrence Wright
Ryan Melogy almost 3 years ago
To an outsider who has struggled to understand the deep appeal of Scientology to its adherents, despite the flaws and contradictions of the religion that many of them reluctantly admit, perhaps the missing element is art. Older faiths have a body of literature, music, ceremony, and iconography that infuses the doctrinal aspects of the religion with mystery and importance. The sensual experience of being in a great cathedral or mosque may have nothing to do with “belief,” but it does draw people to the religion and rewards them emotionally. Scientology has built many impressive churches, but they are not redolent palaces of art. The aesthetic element in Scientology is Hubbard’s arresting voice as a writer. His authoritative but folksy tone and his impressionistic grasp of human nature have cast a spell over millions of readers. More important, however, is the nature of his project: the self-portrait of the inside of his mind. It is perhaps impossible to reduce his mentality to a psychiatric diagnosis, in part because his own rendering of it is so complex, intricate, and comprehensive that one can only stand back and appreciate the qualities that drove him, hour after hour, year after year, to try to get it all on the page—his insight, his daring, his narcissism, his defiance, his relentlessness, his imagination—these are the traits of an artist. It is one reason that Hubbard identified with the creative community and many of them with him.