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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Naked Scientology/ Ali's Smile

By William S. Burroughs

Publisher: Expanded Media (1991) Contains material original published in L.A. Free Press (1970); East Village Other (1970); and Rolling Stone Magazine (1972).

Paperback 106 pages.

Finished 2/14/2017

Amazon Listing 


“When the Founder, Controller, and Guardian of “the road to total freedom” starts spouting John Birch talk, his road is called into question and we have every right to ask what his ‘method of solution’ is. If Mr. Hubbard were content to be a technician who has made some important discoveries we could afford to ignore his personal opinions. When he sets himself up as the savior of all possible universes then we cannot. The shoddy presentation, the reactionary opinions, the atrocious writing are so immediately repellent that few intelligent people can be persuaded that Scientology is worth a second glance.”
William S. Burroughs
This is a collection of articles and responses to articles by William Burroughs on the matter of Scientology. He was involved in the cult in 1968, this was back before it was so obviously known to be a cult and had a quasi-scientific reputation among the uninitiated. This is Burroughs at his most scathing. The book is half in German, with only about 50 in English, so it will take a reader long to get through it.
It should be noted that Burroughs, while an American genius of a poet, is not that swift when it comes to scientific matters, often his comprehension is addled by years of drug abuse to the point where reality and fantasy blurred. He was a lifelong proponent of the syphilitic ramblings of Wilhelm Reich and his Orgone chamber- a device which caused the death of many cancer patients, whom Reich had convinced that it would cure them. His problem with Scientology is not the techniques, which he states that “10 minutes of Scientology did more than 10 years of psychotherapy”, but the organization surrounding it.
He does not come straight out and call it a cult, perhaps he did not even consider it one, but the descriptions of the inner workings of the group, the paranoia, the necessity of adhering to groupthink on pain of excommunication, all bear the known hallmarks of such an organization.
L. Ron Hubbard
It also collects the short story Ali’s Smile where the main character, one of the main characters, is a door-to-door Scientologist- sort of. As with most of Burrough’s prose plot, when there is any, tends to be secondary to the flow of the language and the emotions stirring. Fans of Naked Lunch will probably enjoy it.

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