Friday, December 19, 2008

Clear Minds

L. Ron Hubbard (not one of the clear minds that I have in mind) was a science fiction writer who started his own religion, Scientology. It was a conscious decision. As Theodore Sturgeon said he overheard Hubbard say in a heated discussion: "Y'know, we're all wasting our time writing this hack science fiction! You wanta make real money, you gotta start a religion!" Growing up I was fascinated by science fiction. I started with Robert Heinlein's juveniles which I still love. The first science fiction book I remember reading was Rocket Ship Galileo. Even at the time at the age of about eleven or twelve I thought the premise a bit strange, a rocket club starts the first real moonship, but I was at the same time reading Willy Ley and Wernher von Brauns's books on how to get into space, still a more sensible approach then the one we actually used as a space spectacular instead of good solid technology.

A. E. van Vogt another science fiction author whose work I enjoyed including his three volume null-A series, The Weapon Shops of Isher, and Slan was involved early on with Dianetics. John W. Campbell, the iconic figure of Golden Age science fiction who edited Astounding Science Fiction, helped popularize Dianetics by publishing an article about it in the May 1950 issue of Astounding.

Dianetics is a rather pop-psychology affair dreamed up by Hubbard which involves a process called auditing to clear the mind of bad things called engrams. I don't pretend to know much about it, but I liked the general idea of clearing the mind of bad stuff, since we all have all sorts of bad stuff in our minds. It has a sort of surface plausibility that we can improve our mental state by getting rid of all the bad stuff in our minds. What could be more sensible? Of course what Hubbard was talking about is sort of unconscious, beyond our control, bad stuff. What I think of as bad stuff is all the things we believe that are not true.

This brings me to the term clear. A Clear is someone who doesn't have any bad stuff in their minds. I suppose I should be very clear about Clears — I don't believe a whit of the Scientology stuff, but as a young person I was influenced a lot by John W. Campbell's editorials in Astounding and they occasionally used terminology drawn from Dianetics. I liked the idea of clear minds which to me meant minds unfettered by errors. This began my search for Clear Minds which I could use as role models. I mentioned a few in a post a couple of days ago. I probably should mention some others. They would include some of my favorite folks:
There are others of course, but that's a good starter list.

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