Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Wanderers 2017.1.18

We've taken to calling our open forums (no set presentation) "improv" which I remarked sounded Scientology-friendly. What I learned from Ray Simon, back in Jersey City days, was that those looking for acting work need opportunities to work out, and "improv" is one of those ways. A way an aspiring thespian might test if progress towards "clearness" was being made, might be through participation in improv.

Improv is a kind of theater, not just an exercise for those practicing to be on stage. Steve Holden and I used to attend a comedy house (a nonprofit) on MLK.  The audience could suggest themes, or at least appear to do so. The spontaneity of the ensuing performance somewhat depends on the assumption we're not seeing the results of hours of rehearsal.  But then improv techniques may be rehearsed. I'm not the expert.

Lest I give the wrong impression I'm trying to come off like some authority on Scientology, that's not my intent. I've not risen through the ranks on the inside, as a paying customer, and although I've done considerable homework from an anthropology angle (one of my favorite subjects at Princeton), I don't go around billing myself as an expert.  Ray Simon was far more the L. Ron Hubbard fan.

Let me say more about Ray. He was really into synchronicity, a topic with respectability, but also practical applications. He believed various techniques might be employed to deliberately create "synchronicity fields" wherein serendipitous events would be more likely to happen. He told a number of stories wherein he appeared to employ these techniques with great success.

I met Ray and Bonnie as a young couple, Bonnie a nurse, Ray doing office work, a series of temp jobs in the Big Apple (Manhattan and Jersey City are but a PATH ride apart). I forget the precise circumstances however Ray and Bonnie were into est, often associated or confused with Scientology and indeed their histories swirl around each other in stormy tales.

Anyway, stormy tales aside, Ray was a staunch admirer of both Hubbard and Erhard. Ray was also paranoid that Hubbard might be dead.  He was really tickled one day when he got a convincingly authentic letter from Hubbard saying "I'm not sure what it is you want to know." He probably did know though: Ray wanted to know if his hero was still alive.

Ray is not still alive. He moved to Las Vegas at some point and wrote a book, not about synchronicity, but about the bold and audacious ways now well-known people had jump-started their careers: Mischief Marketing: How the Rich, Famous, & Successful Really Got Their Careers and Businesses Going (2000).

We didn't talk about Ray at the Wanderers meeting at all.  However a theme at Pepinos later was people who had left us, died, in some cases recently.  Ray died some years ago, Bonnie having been taken by the same influenza epidemic that claimed Jim Henson, the Muppets master.  I got to babysit for their daughter quite a bit, having stopped being the high school math teacher, my first job after Princeton.  I'd jumped into an est Training while still an undergrad living at 2 Dickinson Street.

Scientology comes with an elaborate schema supporting ideation, which I'd say is fine to call "science fiction" (not a put down) or lets say teachings encrypted in the language of such. Those seeking literal truths (scientific ones) in such movements may encounter the purely ridiculous in the many fairy tales that swirl in any religion, a dreamy concoction of narrative potions usually. The "clown" archetype is metaphysically real.

Subgenius derives energy from "clown energy", a need to spoof all these crazy-cult beliefs.  est, for its part, shared the goal of imparting empowering language to the trainees (who became graduates), but did not bother with much mythology. Even P.D. Ouspensky offered more in the way of a belief system, as one may study in Psychological Commentaries of Maurice Nicoll.

est's relative minimalism gave it more the stamp of a philosophy than a religion, although Erhard himself circled Zen as influential. Remember Erhard's enlightenment is set in San Francisco, in the time of Alan Watts.