One becomes a professional artist by skillfully using the “ideal scene” and the “memory library,” two concepts typical of Hubbard.
by Massimo Introvigne
Article 5 of 8. Read article 1, article 2, article 3, and article 4.
1979 was a productive year for Hubbard’s theory of aesthetics. Having distinguished between fine arts and illustration, he introduced a parallel, but not overlapping, distinction between amateur and professional artists in two technical bulletins dated 4 March and 10 June. “Anybody can turn out amateur junk, he wrote. Who looks at it? Who would look at it even if they were paid? The distance between amateured junk and an effective product is accomplished by knowing and following the basic rules and using them expertly. When you add to this dexterous handling of materials and equipment and then add some experience you have a professional.”
The distinction may seem obvious, but it isn’t, and Hubbard uses considerable Scientology jargon to explain it. The professional is the artist who knows “the rules,” but not all rules are created equal. In order not to go “out of communication,” the “senior data” should be identified: “A=A=A is the way most people handle data, some of these A’s however, really have a thousand times the importance of other data.”
There are two tools an artist should use to become a professional, the “ideal scene” and the “memory library.” Both concepts are important for Scientology. In 1970, Hubbard established as a basic rule that “a person must have an ideal scene with which to compare the existing scene.” An “ideal scene” is how something should be to achieve its purpose. Scientologists are taught to compare the “existing scene” with the “ideal scene” to identify and remedy “situations,” i.e. serious departures of the existing scene from the ideal scene. Examples range from the mundane to the historical. The “ideal scene” of a shoe shop is the sale of shoes capable of satisfying its customers in certain hours of the days and days of the week. If the shoes do not make the customers happy and willing to return, a “situation” is created in the shape of a significant departure from the ideal scene.
But it was also the case that the situation in France before 1789, or in Russia before 1917, was perceived as a significant departure from the ideal scene. Only, the ideal scene for a nation is much more difficult to grasp, and therefore the French and Russian revolutions, in Hubbard’s opinion, largely failed: “Violent revolution comes about when the actual Ideal Scene has not been properly stated and when it excludes significant parts of the group. It’s no good having a revolution if the end product will be a FURTHER departure from the Ideal Scene” (capitals in original).
Interestingly, in his 1970 discussion of the ideal scene, Hubbard took art and aesthetics into account, while emphasizing that the artistic is not the only element of an ideal scene: “There are many factors which add up to an ideal scene. If the majority of these forward the purpose of the activity, it can be said to be a sane ideal. If an ideal which does not forward the activity in any way is the ideal being stressed then a fixed idea is present and had better be inspected. This could be said to be a very harsh utilitarian view of things. But it is not. The artistic plays its role in any ideal. (…) An ideal studio for an artist could be very beautiful or very ugly so long as it served him to produce his art. If it was very beautiful yet hindered his artistic activities it would be a very crazy ideal scene. A handsome factory that produced would be a high ideal. But its nearness to raw materials, transport and worker housing are the more important factors in an ideal of a factory.”
When discussing the professional artist in 1979, Hubbard built on these principles and insisted that a professional, “when he views things, he looks for what’s good in them and neglects the poor, low-grade things. The reason he does this is so he has an ideal scene. Without an ideal scene, he just operates off technical data and produces, artwise, a low quality product and isn’t a professional. Without an ideal scene, he can never get a preconception of the shot. In viewing things that approach an ideal scene, the true professional works out how they did it and when presented with similar tasks of production, can bring off things which approach an ideal scene in his own work.”
While the amateur “looks at everything as to whether he ‘likes them’ or ‘not likes them,’” the professional “accumulates ideal scenes” and builds “a memory library to compare his own products to.” A “memory library” should not be confused with the “memory bank,” which in Scientology corresponds to the reactive mind. While the memory bank is a collection of engrams, a memory library is a collection of ideal scenes.
For an example, here is how a Scientology photographer, quoting the above passage by Hubbard, explains how to use the memory library for taking pictures of his children: “Point here is that I find it quite useful to browse similar pictures on Flickr from great photographers, look at things I really like, and then work out how it is that they did them. Then, I strive to create similar effects myself—or, when presented with cute situations, I have a sort of ‘memory library’ to compare to. An example was a friend who I saw took some amazing photos of his daughter on the beach. He had some neat photos taken down low where the sand blurred out as the beach faded into the distance. So, I tried getting a similar effect with mine, last time we hit the beach when we were in Florida.”
A diligent “Scientology parent” knows that, to produce artistic photographs of his children, he first needs to collect ideal scenes into an adequate memory library.