For a certain culture, being a good artist came to be “commonly identified with being loose-moraled, wicked, idle, and drunken.” That culture, Hubbard believed, was wrong.
by Massimo Introvigne
Article 2 of 8. Read article 1.
It is a dangerous misconception, according to Hubbard, to believe that “when an artist becomes less neurotic, he becomes less able.” Regrettably, according to Scientology’s founder, our world has programmed the artists by widely inculcating these false ideas. The consequence is that many artists “seek to act in their private and public lives in an intensely aberrated fashion to prove that they are artists.” Hubbard gives the example of “some young girl in the field of the arts living like a prostitute in order to convince herself and her friends that she is truly artistic.”
Such artists need auditing by Scientology in order to cure their misperception. Scientology, Hubbard promises, may “take a currently successful but heavily aberrated artist and (…) bring him up the tone scale.” The result will not only be that the artist will be happier as a human being. He or she will also become a better artist. Hubbard predicts a final outcome, after the auditing, where “his ability to execute what he conceives and the clarity with which he conceives it both increase very markedly. His aesthetic ideas do not become conservative or humdrum but become often wider and more complex.”
This will be strictly connected with the tone scale. As the artist “rises up the tone scale, he adopts greater scope and robustness in his work.”
There may be a problem, Hubbard notes. Audiences may actually like art that demonstrates “considerable aberration.” For instance, before the auditing, an artist might have been successful with “paintings [that] might have been strange and creepy, or music hauntingly morbid.” When the artist rises up the tone scale, however, the originality of the artistic expression is not altered.
There is only a positive “increase in force of execution and deftness of communication.” Perhaps audiences liked a somewhat morbid music. But “the morbidity in his music, if it did not depend on how sad he was personally with life, does not disappear.” It is, however, expressed in healthier forms, and in fact in a variety of new and different languages, as “versatility increases.”
This is not to say that, as psychiatrists sometimes maintain, it is possible to judge the mental status of an artist by simply observing his or her art. “This, Hubbard objects, is somewhat on the order of a snail giving his [sic] opinion of the Parthenon by crawling through its reliefs.” A good artist can write in different styles and under different masks. “A good poet can cheerfully write a poem gruesome enough to make strong men cringe, or he can write verses happy enough to make the weeping laugh. Any able composer can write music either covert enough to make the sadist wriggle with delight or open enough to rejoice the greatest souls.”
Grief or happiness as expressed in a work of art do not necessarily reveal the state of mind of the artist. Rather than examining only the artists’ works, Scientology deals with their personal problems through the auditing.
Hubbard’s vision of the arts, as proposed in “Science of Survival,” is also crucial for Scientology’s social program. Far from being merely peripheral, art is the key for the creation of a better world. “The artist, Hubbard writes, has an enormous role in the enhancement of today’s and the creation of tomorrow’s reality.” Scientology has a high consideration of science, but art operates “in advance of science” and “the elevation of a culture can be measured directly by the numbers of its people working in the field of aesthetics.” “A culture is only as great as its dreams, and its dreams are dreamed by artists.”
Since the artist “deals in future realities, he always seeks improvements or changes in the existing reality. This makes the artist, inevitably and invariably, a rebel against the status quo.” It is a “peaceful revolution,” and a free society needs not worry. Totalitarian states, on the other hand, are the enemies of the artists, while pretending to be their friends. A typical totalitarian state, Hubbard explains, “talks endlessly and raucously about its subsidization of the artist.” But in fact, “it subsidizes only those artists who are willing to work for the state exactly as the state dictates. It regiments the artist and prescribes what he will do and what he will write and what he will think.”
The suppression of genuine art, however, lowers the tone scale of society in general, with dramatic consequences: “A society which in any way inhibits, suppresses, or regiments its artists, Hubbard writes, is a society not only low on the tone scale but most certainly doomed.”
Democratic governments, in principle, should not have these problems, but they run, according to Hubbard, a different risk. They “are prone to overlook the role of the artist in the society.” In the United States, he exemplifies, as soon as artistic success is achieved, excessive taxes discourage the artist from further production. Thus, “democracy, avidly taxing its powerfully creative individuals into non-production, snatches from the artist any such fruits of victory and exacts an enormous penalty for the creation of any work of art.”
Hubbard proposes a tax reform aiming at freeing, “completely, the artist from all taxes and similar oppressions, and thus attract into the arts the most ambitious and able and invite them to pursue unchecked the creation of all the beauty and glory on which any culture depends if it would have material wealth.”
The reasons for this proposed reform are not merely economical, and are connected to Hubbard’s key idea that the prosperity of a society depends on the amount of circulating theta. Without enough theta, the reactive mind would dominate culture itself. “The artist injects the theta into the culture, and without that theta the culture becomes reactive.”
During history, Hubbard adds, art has not always been in its present unsatisfactory state. For example, “in the early days of Rome, art was fairly good.” Christianity revolted against the Romans, and had one good reason for its revolt, “Roman disregard for human life.” However, those who revolt always run the risk of being dominated by the reactive mind. It thus happened, Hubbard believed, that Christianity fell into a “reactive computation” and came to regard everything Roman as negative. He even claims that “for fifteen hundred years it was an evil thing to take a bath, because the Romans had bathed.”
Happily, “the Catholic Church recovered early and began to appreciate the artist.” However, the old anti-Roman and, therefore, anti-artistic prejudice resurfaced with Protestantism and eventually came to the United States. “Puritanism and Calvinism,” according to Hubbard, “revolted against pleasure, against beauty, against cleanliness, and against many other desirable things which are in themselves the glory of man.”
The next step was a revolt against the revolt. In modern times, artists revolted against the Protestant and Puritan revolt against the classics and the arts. The problem was that, again, the reactive mind took over, and artists revolted against everything Protestant, if not everything Christian, including morality. Being a good artist came to be “commonly identified with being loose-moraled, wicked, idle and drunken, and the artist, to be recognized, tried to live up to this role. This feeling persists to this day and low-tone people often embrace the arts solely as an excuse to be promiscuous, unconventional and loose in moral.”
“Artistic” women are often simply lost women, or so Hubbard claims, denouncing the “Great-Art-Can-Only-Be-Done-By-Moral-Lepers School.”
When artists come to seek help in Scientology, they are often full of “entheta,” i.e. theta that has been “enturbulated” and corrupted. There is even more entheta among art critics. The quantity of “entheta which has accumulated around the subject of aesthetics” is truly disturbing. A clear sign that entheta is at work, Hubbard insists, is that reasonable arguments are substituted by appeals to authority and that the science of art criticism is under-developed.
“It is an axiom of Dianetics that the less is accurately known about a field of the humanities the more authoritarian will be that field.” In fact, “no more authoritarian field exists” than art criticism, “since none of the principles of aesthetics have been accurately formulated” so far. The result is confusion and authoritarianism: “Any field which has critics galore, wherein a thousand different schools of divergent opinion can exist, where opinion is listened to with open mouths in lieu of reason by which any man can reach a conclusion, is an authoritarian field.”
The whole field of the arts is “enturbulated,” Hubbard wrote, and this has a direct and negative impact on society as a whole: “When the level of existence of the artist becomes impure, so becomes impure the art itself, to the deterioration of the society. It is a dying society indeed into which can penetrate totalitarianism.”
In addition to the individual aesthetic mind, there is a collective “group aesthetic mind,” which is crucial for the well–being of any healthy society. Totalitarianism becomes a real possibility when in a society the group aesthetic mind becomes “almost wholly unable to operate.”
Hubbard concludes his discussion of aesthetics in “Science of Survival” noting that “there may be many levels of mind above the aesthetic mind” but we do know a lot about them. Therefore, “no attempt to classify any level of mind alertness above the level of the aesthetic mind will be made beyond stating that these mind levels more and more seem to approach an omniscient status.”
He mentions, however, among the possible superior levels “a free theta mind, if such things exist.” This notion will become central for the subsequent development in Scientology of the notion of the “operating thetan,” a state where the thetan finally recovers his native abilities.