Scientology is about to get whacked with a big expose on HBO this weekend -- just saw the promo. Somebody’s going to claim it’s all about mind control, that they introduce innocuous mental routines that override free will so they can bleed away a disciple's cash, and it will be convincing, probably. This after a recent play on broadway won awards for a fairly straight forward, with singing, portrayal of Mormonism. It’s all pretty amusing from the outside.
Not so fast. Who’s been programing the big machine, the baseline reality we mostly all accept and swim around in? The evening news isn’t really about what goes on in the world, just some highlights, but instead is being crafted all afternoon to shape public opinion concerning war readiness, class consciousness, and all of it tuned to a calibrated level of anxiety. Is this news?
Most folks figure being slightly ahead of the game is sufficient, safe and warm, and after seeing the evening news the status quo seems fine. Still, it’s amazing what some folks take for granted and think is real. Religious schisms within all denominations denounce next door variations as totally wrong, economic principles which have been shown to cause financial disaster are fervently adhered to, and cultural elites continue to support a contemporary art which exposes a grasping furtive ambiguity on their part, naked and unsure before centuries of human accomplishment. Well, in defense of all, it’s tough to say what’s real.
Just gimme some truth can be a tall order, and there’s only so many places to look. It seems to have been discovered just recently that naturalistic television in which production companies attempt to portray authentic situations with believable human characters, no matter how bizarre the setting, finds resonance with an intelligent and hitherto unknown public. Who knew? Even big money is letting the artists lead because it turns out there’s an unfulfilled appetite for authenticity, honesty, and truth no one counted on before.
Is there truth in art? It’s an antique notion to this modern crowd, but reasonable to ask when up to our asses in convenient lies, maybe higher. The first truth is that lies travel both directions, deceit and belief pairing up in little knots difficult to untie. Art leads out, creates dissonance and finally begins to unravel those invisible bonds which burden free-will -- scientology’s lie becoming genuine. Visual art enters the brain direct and so conveys what can’t be said, breaking old habits of thought and opening the mind.