"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Saturday, March 20, 2004
ma-nip-u-late Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): -lat·ed; -lat·ing
Etymology: back-formation from manipulation, from French, from manipuler to handle an apparatus in chemistry, ultimately from Latin manipulus
1 : to treat or operate with the hands or by mechanical means especially in a skillful manner
2 a : to manage or utilize skillfully b : to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one's own advantage
3 : to change by artful or unfair means so as to serve one's purpose : DOCTOR
4 : messing with someone's mind
It was late June, 1980, a sultry Washington DC Saturday night and I ain't got nobody.
Or no money either for that matter, since my bank account was far too new to cash a check on at most places.
I found myself in Georgetown, a very swanky district of DC. I mentioned in an earlier post that you could tell a lot about a neighborhood by looking at the people that got on and off at their Metro stop. Georgetown did not want a Metro stop. They did not have one and that's the way they liked it.
Keeps the riffraff out, ya know.
I ended up nursing a seven and seven in a discotech right at the heart of things. The music was pounding....new wave music was just coming in and the air was full of the B-52's and the Pretenders' Brass in Pocket. Next to me at the bar were a couple of musicians and we had been talking. They were waiting on some big name record producer guy to come meet with them.
When the guy showed up, I just about gagged on my drink. He was a tall African American dressed in a leopard print shirt, skin tight zebra stripe pants, glitter belt, and I think he might have had some sort of a hat.
But the real kicker was his horrible fake British accent.
I mean, he really needed to go home and tape himself before he tried that in public. I'm from the southern United States and I could have done better! Combine all of him together and it screamed SHAM.
This guy intended to take these two musicians for all they were worth. When he went to the bathroom (probably to do a fashionable line of coke or two) I tried warning the two musician guys. One seemed to agree with me, the other was undecided. Feeling that I had done all I could, I finished my drink, checked one last time for available females (none worth chasing, or at least none possible to catch) and headed out to the street.
I opened my wallet. Uh oh, I had not been careful enough. I did not have enough cash to make it till Monday when the bank opened. I needed somewhere to cash a check.
I already had tried that earlier at a small store, who immediately refused when he found out where I was living (which is another story.) I'm milling around in this tide of humanity trying to figure things out when I am approached by a rather clean cut guy who is offering information about his "church." Quotes intentional. Since he is being so helpful, I ask him if his folks can cash a small check. "Sure, if you buy something," he says. He suggests a course for $15. I say sure. He then takes me to a building at 1812 Ninetenth Street, a site that will raise hackles on some who read this.
For those not in the know, that's the address not only of the Washington DC Church of Scientology, but pretty much Scientology Central.
Naive me, I get my change and schedule the course.
The first day I show up, and there are two students, counting myself, and one instructor. Us students are referred to as "preclears" because we are not "cleared" of our mental impurities.
Well, how hard can this be?
The instructor places two chairs facing each other, and has us sit in them. Then he hands me a card and tells me to ask the other student the first two questions on the card. They are, if I remember, "Name something that makes you happy" and "name something that makes you sad."
He quickly answers. Then I am told to ask the questions again.
You can see where this is going I am sure. We go back and forth asking questions to each other until we are baffled and the answers are incredibly hard to come up with. At this point, I think the brain does a kind of flip flop, because it feels like you have just had this cathartic breakthrough of some sort, as if some door has opened in your soul and let some serious sunlight in.
Tears are the order of the day at this point. They feel like tears of revelation, but maybe they were just tears of relief for not having to think of any more things that make me happy.
On the way out, I pick up a copy of "Dianetics" (a book the Scientologists heavily promote) and a copy of their course list.
Once I am home and a bit calmer, I study the course list. Oh my goodness, now it is really clear (no pun intended) what is going on here. My course was $15. The next course was $25. Then $35, $45, and on upwards. Eventually, you were classified as a "clear" and you could buy a clear plastic bracelet signifying that for, I think, about $500.
And that's just the beginning. I understand that things are quite different in the Church of Scientology today. One of the major differences is that now the complete development from novice to the top costs well over a quarter of a million dollars USD!
I called to cancel my second part of my first course. As I was working in the House of Representatives, I felt that it was not safe to call from our offices, so I used a pay phone. My boss had enough problems without a staffer that was a cult member!
Washington is the only place where sound travels faster than light.
C. V. R. Thompson