Sunday, January 6, 2008

Chapter 2: The Clear

L. Ron Hubbard discusses the goal of Dianetic therapy, to become clear, and how it relates to our senses. Hubbard also discusses the activities of the mind in both clear and aberrant (unclear) individuals.

This chapter begins explaining what it means to be clear.

A clear can be tested for any and all psychoses, neuroses, compulsions and repressions (all aberrations) and can be examined for any autogenetic (self-generated) diseases referred to as psychosomatic ills. These tests confirm the clear to be entirely without such ill or aberrations. Additional tests of his intelligence indicate it to be high above the current norm. Observation of his activity demonstrates that he pursues existence with vigor and satisfaction.

To reiterate, Dianetics will cure all my mental ills (except those excluded in Chapter 1),make me smarter (Tom Cruise?), and make me happier. Sounds like a good deal.

Hubbard then proceeds, assuring us that these claims are testable and will work for all individuals with a fully-functional nervous system. Nearly the entirety of the rest of the chapter is devoted to the attributes (or as I see them, superpowers) of the clear individual and how they differ from us aberrants.

The first is our perception. Perception and our senses vary in quality from one individual to another. This, according to Hubbard, is due to aberration.

I will stop now to give you Hubbard's definition of aberration as it is an essential word in this chapter. It was briefly defined in the How To Read This Book section. I will include the full definition from the glossary as it is much more enlightening.
aberration: a departure from rational though or behavior. From the Latin, aberrare, to wander from; Latin, ab,away, errare, to wander. It means basically to err, to make mistakes, or more specifically to have fixed ideas which are not true. the word is also used in its scientific sense. It means departure from a straight line. If a line should go from A to B, then if it is "aberrated" it would go from A to some other point, to some other point, to some other point and finally arrive at B. Taken in its scientific sense, it would also mean the lack of straightness or to see crookedly as, in example, a man sees a horse but thinks he sees an elephant. Aberrated conduct would be wrong conduct, or conduct not supported by reason. When a person has engrams, these tend to deflect what would be his normal ability of perceive truth and bring about an aberrated view of situations which then would cause an aberrated reaction to them. Aberration is opposed to sanity, which would be its opposite. This the most fundamental level of aberration: "If the food smells good, go away from it!" This is directly against the survival intention of the organism.
With this very broad definition in mind, we can now consider what is means to have the attributes of a clear, wanting to stay near all that good-smelling food.

While a person may be afflicted by a "wild quality and quantity of perception" as the result of his or her abberations, the "clear gets a maximum response compatible with his own desire for the response." That is, the perceptions (and senses) obey the clear's will. As an example Hubbard cites musical taste.
Violins play melodies, not monotones, bring no pain and are enjoyed to a fine, full limit if the clear likes violins as a matter of taste-if he doesn't, he likes kettledrums, saxophones, or, indeed, suiting his mood, no music at all.
If I understand this correctly, Hubbard is implying that the instruments that clears like sound better to them than the ones they do not. Is that not the same for all people with normal hearing, regardless of engram infestation? I know that I enjoy the sounds of guitars more than the sounds of flutes. It is of no fault of either the flute or the flautist. It is a matter of taste. As a result, I also listen more closely to the guitar, concentrating on the subtleties of what is being played. From that, I derive enjoyment. How is that different from what Hubbard is suggesting? He says that clears will find that the instruments they enjoy sound better to them. Perhaps that is why they enjoy it in the first place.

While Dianetics supposedly improves all senses, Hubbard focuses on vision and hearing. He says,
One of the incidental things which happens to a clear is that his eyesight, if it had been bad as a aberree, generally improves markedly, and with some slight attention will recover optimum perception in time.

In face, eyesight supposedly improves so quickly that those treated with Dianetics often have to rapidly change their prescription to keep up (some sort of super healing). I would like to see some research/data confirming this. Of course Hubbard says Diantetics will not cure the physically injured eye, but will correction vision which is lost due to the "psychosomatic principle". I believe this is supposed to include generic nearsightedness and farsightedness. However, I would not be surprised if the psychosomatic principle did not cover such a common malady.

Regarding hearing, Hubbard claims that Dianetics can make calcium deposits disappear. While he does not blame calcium deposits for all hearing loss, he does not state how else Dianetics improves hearing.

From here, the chapter becomes a little muddled as Hubbard turns to memory and imagination. Memory, which Hubbard calls returning, can be improved so well in a clear that that every sense is involved. Say, when you were a child, you had a wonderful birthday party. According to Hubbard, you could remember the colors, textures, smells, sounds, and even the tastes of the birthday cake as soon as you get rid of those pesky engrams. In his words, a person "can reexperience incidents which have taken place in his past in the same fashion and with the same sensations as before." I do not know what it means to reexperience something "in the same fashion". Perhaps when you are remembering that birthday, you will become a child again in you mind. You will think like a child and act like a child throughout the entirety of the returning experience unable to analyze the situation from an outside perspective. I think that might qualify as reexperiencing a memory in the same fashion as before.

Hubbard takes an opportunity at this point to point out his dislike for hypnosis even making sure to distinguish his vocabulary from that of the hypnotists. It is returning, not regression and reliving, not revivification. Hubbard claims that hypnotism is entirely explainable under the tenants of Dianetics. Therefore it is not used in Dianetics as a mechanism for returning. Hubbard promises to explain later.

This return, Hubbard insists, is a new phenomenon, different from "the more usual recalls". The difference again being that when most people remember something from their past, it is done imperfectly with a limited number of senses. A person either remembers the smell of the cake or what it looks like. If the person remembers both the smell and the sight, he or she might not recall how it tasted. Dianetics claims to be able to restore all these senses and even provides a way to test this claim.
It is quite simple to test recalls according to Hubbard. If one will ask his fellows what their abilities, he will gain a remarkable idea of how widely varied this ability is from individual.
So to test recalls, we take a survey. I don't know how this survey tests anything. I imagine the answers range from "I think I'm more of a visual person" to "Oh yeah, I remember EVERYTHING! Where's my car key?" Hubbard seems to spend a lot of effort trying to convince the reader that people remember things differently from person to person. An informal survey tells us next to nothing about the mechanisms of memory no matter how many different ways it is stated.

After reciting the types of recall Dianetics offers ("visio, sonic, tactile, olfactory, rhythmic kinesthetic, somatic, thermal organic, and...emotion"), Hubbard considers imagination, "the mind's method of envisioning desirable goals and forecasting futures". Apparently, "a clear mind uses imagination in its entirety". This is presented as being very similar to recall in that "entirely" means that all senses are involved to the fullest extent. Thus, through Dianetics, picturing yourself on the moon could be complete with the pain the near absolute zero temperature as well as your blood boiling away from the lack of air pressure (if you forgot to imagine a spacesuit). This type of imagination is different from what Hubbard calls "creative imaginition", "the possession by which works of art are done". This kind of imagination is present in all people, in varying degrees, regardless of abberations.

As the chapter closes, Hubbard considers man's rationality, the "most important activity of the mind" because it is "the primary, high-echelon function of that part of the mind which makes him a man, not just another animal". I think most would agree with Hubbard's emphatic assertion of the importance of man's rationality. However, according to Hubbard, all unclear individuals are, to varying degrees, irrational. Therefore, rationality "can be studied in a clear person only". From this, Hubbard insinuates that a clear person would be perfectly rational, making no errors in judgment as long as they were give all correct data to consider. Hubbard insists, "the sentient portion of the mind, which computes the answer to problems and which makes man man, is utterly incapable of error [emphasis Hubbard]." That is, the computing part of the brain NEVER makes a mistake, EVER, for ANYONE. To support this claim, Hubbard compares the brain to a calculator stating that it will produce the correct answers time and again as long as it is presented the right information to consider. Does Hubbard not realize that sometimes parts break in both the calculator and the brain?

As crazy as this notion is, that the brain NEVER makes a mistake, Hubbard tops it by asserting "the basic purposes of that mind and the basic nature of man, as discoverable in the clear, are constructive and good...", and then concludes, "Man is good." According to Hubbard, abberations also contain little bits of evil in, so a clear is good. For a man who is obsessed with defining his words, it is surprising that he left "good" undefined, rendering his assertion meaningless. Are clear more likely to help the poor? Are they proactive about being good? Do they just not do bad things? Do they feel like they are "good"?

Hubbard insists that "later there are experiments and proofs for the these things and they can be measured with the precision so dear to the heart of the physics scientist." An experiment showing that clear people are better? How would good be quantified? A proof that results in "clear=good" right before the Q.E.D.? I hope that's in this book. And why single out the scientist for requiring proof? Everyone who reads this book should be thinking, "Oh yeah? Prove it" after every single claim. Hubbard has a lot of work to do in the proof department.

Words Defined: tactile, psychic, brace and bit, stimuli, pallid, cordite, ocular, olfactory, thalamus, present time ("the time that is new and becomes the past as rapidly as it is observed"), in kind, coach-and-four, encyst, signal, self-determinism

Next: Chapter 3: The Goal of Man (Hint: It's to survive.)

Note: All quotes are from
Hubbard, L. Ron. Dianetics. Los Angeles, CA: Bridge Publications, Inc, 1986. The above figure is located on p. 32 of this edition.


Flavin said...

Thus, through Dianetics, picturing yourself on the moon could be complete with the pain the near absolute zero temperature as well as your blood boiling away from the lack of air pressure (if you forgot to imagine a spacesuit).

Hopefully everyone who is clear has next to no detail to their imagination. This would be a terrible death at any time, let alone if it happened for just a stray thought.

However, according to Hubbard, all unclear individuals are, to varying degrees, irrational. Therefore, rationality "can be studied in a clear person only".

Let's study a little rationality of the clear, shall we?

To be more serious, though, I bring that clip up for a reason. Not only is there no supporting evidence for Hubbard's claim, I have produced contradictory evidence. This is a person who is, by some accounts, not only clear but beyond it; he is obviously not perfectly rational. All human beings are irrational, or stated better, no human being is perfectly rational.

Prazzie said...

Flavin, that youtube clip scared me a little. Tom looks very scary. Slightly deranged. Why would anyone pay money to reach his level of rabid maniac?

Ben, are you having fun yet? I'm starting to have wicked thoughts about torturing people by forcing them to listen to the audio version of this book. I just don't hate anyone that much. Your version is much appreciated - shortened and with some much needed clarity in between paragraphs.

I needn't even comment on the loony statements contained in this chapter. Pah! That's all I can say.

Ben said...

Oh I am having some amount of fun. I am actually a few chapters ahead of what I have posted. I am trying to spread the posts out so as not to overwhelm you guys. About two chapters from now, it gets a little infuriating. I look forward to writing about that. I have come to the conclusion that not only is Hubbard a little on the crazy side, but he is also a very bad writer. I know that I am not Shakespeare, but I do not reword the same sentence for an entire chapter. Also, in the near future we get to see a mathemtical equation for the worth of a person. I don't know about you, but I think that's exciting.

Prazzie said...

Ben wrote: "I don't know about you, but I think that's exciting."

No, I feel it, I'm fairly vibrating with excitement over here.

No chance of overwhelming me - I've been obsessively refreshing over on this side.

Ben said...

I appreciate your enthusiasm. I have a feeling that I might need to draw on it a little as I sink deeper and deeper in this morass of unsupported claims.