Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cluster Criticism of a Scientology video pt.2

The Key Terms

In the Dianetics video there is only one explicitly referenced key term, but there is a second key term which is implied. The first key term is “clear.” It is used only one time in the entire video but if this term were removed from the video or the Scientology lexicon, and not replaced by a similar word, it would gut the system of coherent meaning; so, clear, fits the criterion of ultimacy. Clear represents the entire goal of Dianetics. To be clear, means one is free, rational, happy, and transcendent, no longer susceptible to the irrational influences of sinister engrams deeply lodged in the reactive mind. The second key term is “abberated,” which in the system of Dianetics refers to the state of an individual prior to their decision to pursue clearing (McCall, 2006). Though not explicitly stated in the video, abberated is the term around which a whole series of negative cerebral terms, action verbs, and images of maladaptive behavior cluster. To be abberated, means one is enslaved, irrational, emotionally volatile, and repressed.

The Clusters

Abberated. The dominant idea associated with the key term abberrated is that of the reactive mind. This construction occurs two times in the video and is the referent of the pronoun “it” three times. Associated with reactive mind are a series of cerebral terms including negative thoughts, irrational, and think. Besides being associated with negative cerebral terms, the reactive mind is characterized by a state of motion through the use of an array of action terms such as throws, making, protecting, believing, reacting, and accumulating, which are all unthinking action responses to environmental stimuli. The frenetic picture of the reactive mind is further colored by the visual images of abusive behavior activated while under its control, including a hysterical woman screaming and throwing things at what is ostensibly her boyfriend, a man backhanding his small child, an employee in a verbal altercation with his boss, a man punching another man on a public sidewalk, and an elderly gentleman hollering at fellow motorists while driving on the freeway. One final concept associated with abberated, which is not explicitly stated but is certainly implied, is that of bondage. If the primary term associated with clear is “free” then by implication, the corresponding term associated with abberated must be “bondage.” That concept seems to be reinforced by whole series of supporting ideas mentioned already including irrationality and stimulus response antisocial behavioral outbursts. The overall picture that shapes up from the terms and images clustered around the key term abberated portrays individuals as victims, acting out in abusive ways under the tyrannical sway of uncontrollable irrational influences which are rooted in the sinister, subterranean compartment of the human mental apparatus called the reactive mind.

Clear. The dominant motif associated with the key term clear is “free.” The free state is the condition of being under the influence of the analytical mind. The analytical mind is characterized by machine like qualities as it makes survival decisions based upon a vast reservoir of memories, experiences, and logical calculations. A series of cerebral terms are associated with the analytical mind as well, such as think, decide, calculate, rational, imagination, and creativity. Visual images reinforce the concept of rational contemplation and self-control. One image shows a man using tools to fix a broken bike, then a woman playing a violin, a man proposing to his girlfriend, a couple engaged in playful banter, and a man interacting thoughtfully with a co-worker. In contrast to the frenetic state of activity associated with the reactive mind, the clear state is the condition of operating under the control of the wholly rational analytic mind. Additionally, clear is associated with states of being. The clear state is described as being able, being confident, being productive, being happy, and in short, being yourself. A final concept of transcendence seems to be clustered with clear. Transcendence is not only indicated by the words, concepts, images, and being verbs which characterize the clear state, but also by the juxtaposition of the outer visual frames which bracket the video presentation. The first series of images which introduce the subject of the video are scenes of people facing the camera while grieving over the death of a loved one, suggesting a sense of enclosure or constriction, while the video ends with a man who is clear, standing on a beach, facing away from the camera, looking out toward crashing waves and a panoramic skyline, suggesting an ever expanding future life characterized by limitless possibilities and freedom from constraint. An overall picture of survival, rationality, freedom, and transcendence emerges from the terms, concepts, and images which cluster around clear.

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