May 3, 2005

Beck Hansen

So Beck is a Scientologist. Maybe I’m incredibly late coming to information like this, but it’s new to me. This article comes from a virulently anti-Scientology site and it makes Beck sound like a serial killer, but there is still something disappointing about it and maybe not that surprising.

Let me just say that I love Beck’s songwriting. But I don’t put it on all the time because I also feel there’s something sort of mechanical about it. Very damn clever and good but also kind of unemotional. I liked his record "Sea Change" which tried to be very emotional, but he seemed to be acting the part of a depressive, as if saying, this is my dark record. I remember listening to "Mutations" around the time I saw Todd Haynes’ "Velvet Goldmine" about the fake David Bowie character--and the record seemed like a soundtrack to a movie about a fake pop star, not entirely real. He even sings with a fake British accent. So do Guided By Voices, but it’s different somehow. That’s a whole lot of criticism about a songwriter who I like and respect. In some ways, he’s the best thing going, which is why I'm inspired to write this. I’m not saying that Beck’s lack of emotion is tied into Scientology. Or maybe I am, I don’t know.

I’ve read a lot about Scientology: L. Ron Hubbard Messiah or Madman which exposes Scientology as using a lot of torture tactics--putting people in basements until they "believe"--like any cult. It’s a demented non-religion. It really does seem like the work of a science fiction author. Here’s a random slice of Dianetics: "Any ally computation may have included the loss of the ally. And the loss of the ally may be the trigger which will start chain fission. For what we are going to try to do is blow off or discharge as many life force units as possible from the reactive engram bank and weaken it…" (p. 300) Dianetics is just pages and pages of this stuff. Like a lot of cult speak, it twists up your mind in such a way that you don’t know what’s true anymore.

At first I thought Beck was pulling a Bob Dylan. Dylan became a born again Christian at some point. Burroughs tried Scientology as well--but then, he tried everything. But apparently, it’s deeper rooted than that. Part of me wants to think that’s it’s OK if it helps with someone’s personal growth, especially if he was raised with it, but Scientology bothers me.

There does seem something cultish about it. I looked up the Beck/Scientology connection and came across this: "The drug-rehabilitation programs have the highest success rate of any in the world. If you actually look at the things that have come out of it, it kind of blows away this kind of criticism."

In an interview about "War of the Worlds" Tom Cruise said this: "I'm a helper. For instance, I myself have helped hundreds of people get off drugs. In Scientology, we have the only successful drug rehabilitation program in the world. It's called Narconon."

That sounds awfully close to indoctrination. It sounds like something they were told to say. It’s really kind of sad and depressing. "The only successful drug rehabilitation program"??? This man has been programmed. Never mind that Tom Cruise is a megalomaniacal weirdo. Although, he probably has healed hundreds of people. Millions of people adore him and will listen to anything he says: it has to make you start feeling like a Christ figure. I wrote about this in my novel "North of Sunset"--a celebrity who so devoutly believes in his elevation above the human race that he starts killing people. He gets addicted to the power of celebrity and needs to go to the next level. Interesting, IF ONLY IT WOULD GET PUBLISHED. Anyway.

This all started with a post about handjobs from Violet Blue (nsfw). All right, enough links.


Joseph K said...

There is some really weird cosmic theology in scientology according to some stuff I read once a long time ago. Alien/galactic overlords and stuff, imparted to only the most trusted adherents. Maybe its all bullshit, but I wouldn't be surprised if it is partly true.

Why is scientology so popular with actors and muscians? I've observed the phenomenon, but haven't heard an explanation.

Henry Baum said...

Being that I'm link happy, here's the lowdown on the galactic alien story.

Spiral Stairs said...

Scientologists are freaks. I used to live down the block from this den of evil. There were always weirdos out front trying to get me to come in and allow them to hook me up to wires and stuff.

They offered "free movies" and "tours" of the beautiful mansion the "Church" had purchased with the millions of dollars it stole from the impressionable and vulnerable.

My regard for them could hardly be lower.

Anonymous said...

The Beck thing isn't really that surprising. He's a pseudo-songwriter; Scientology is a pseudo-religion.

m.t. drum (posting from an undisclosed location)

Henry Baum said...

I don’t think he’s a pseudo songwriter. I like Beck more than a lot of stuff out there. I remember you saying a long time ago that he left you empty, which stuck with me. Dave Berman (Silver Jews, writer) said somewhere that Beck is like cigarettes without the nicotine. Kind of pointless. I could chalk this all up to rock star eccentricity, but I think it’s dispiriting. I know people who play music with him. I’ve met him a couple times. He comes from a similar mindset/place, or so I thought.

Butler said...

Free stress test, anyone?

Empty Drum said...

I like the Dave Berman quote...but that's probably because I'm a Suppressive Person!

TonyGuitar said...

How anyone who thinks can comment on any 'religion' is beyond me.

Religions are clubs that a one joins for personal advantage. A few like the Salvation Army actually do some good.

My common sense tells me that the chief honchos in these clubs, including the ones who do good works, siphon off considerable shekels to uh, pay expenses.

There must have been a wise man's writing contest in ancient times. The Bible only contain's about half of the tombs of wisdom that were available when the good book was assembled.

What was the criteria for the books chosen to make up the Bible?

My religion. The religion of common sense can't be that bad.
Everyone has it to some degree. You sort of know what is right and wrong somehow.

Cash money is not required. You pay your dues by gritting your teeth and doing the right thing. You can also do the wrong thing and feel like hell.

Maybe the 'clubs' are popular because you can make cash payments and do wrong with minimal guilt. One 'club' even has booths where you can dump your guilt and carry on, as long as your dues are paid.

I will avoid covering how religions can enjoy knifing each other. Suffice to say, no one gets shot for common sense.

73s, TonyGuitar at

Anonymous said...

First Anal Bleaching Post of the Day!

-m.t. drum

TonyGuitar said...

Sorry, I didn't know you were Catholic.

Henry Baum said...

I'm confused. Who's Catholic? Thanks for all your comments, Tony. I'm going to write more about religion at some point.

beth said...

Hi, Henry. I'm new to your blog. I found it by Googling Beck and Tom Cruise and Scientology.

I've been a Beck fan for years--was really into him hardcore for a couple of years. You said you know people who play music with him. So do I, but not very closely--they are friends of friends. But that is where I heard (back in '99) that Beck was a Scientologist. So I've followed the Scientology rumors for the past few years, wondering what the heck was up--why he seemed to be hiding it.

You said, "This article comes from a virulently anti-Scientology site and it makes Beck sound like a serial killer." It's true, is pretty extreme. But I've read the Beck piece and I know that much of what it says is true. I don't think it makes Beck sound like a serial killer, though; I think he comes off more as devious and a con man. And maybe he is. The piece is very extreme in the way it makes assumptions about Beck based on what the writer assumes all Scientologists do. I'm sure not all Scientologists are alike. And I'm sure that Beck is different from most Scientologists. So I'm very reluctant to make any assumptions about him. I do feel sorry for him, in some ways. But maybe that's misguided, too.

Henry Baum said...

Thanks for commenting, Beth. I hope you come back here. I thought the Scientology article read like a true crime book. It makes Beck sound scary.

Not that anyone asked, but I went backstage at Lollapalooza once and met Beck there. I told him that I wrote a book about a celebrity stalker and he said "Cool." I’m a fanboy enough to remember stuff like this.

ashleycrow said...

I guess it's a matter of opinion whether it's important to be real or not. I mean, icing is good, too. It just depends on whether you're looking for sustenance or a taste-bud party. I've been a huge Beck fan, and remain a huge Silver Jews fan...Beck has seemed progressively less genuine to me with each recording, but perhaps that's my perception and he's always been what he is...Berman, on the other hand, has no pretense about him, which makes the Silver Jews easy to love. Not that this is a comparative study or anything...but it's interesting to think about what you want out of your music. Sometimes sugar's all you need (for instance, I love disco). And sometimes you need a meal, because, as Berman sings, "We've been raised on replicas of fake and winding roads/and day after day up on this beautiful stage/we've been playing tambourine for minimum wage/but we are real, I know we are real."

Anonymous said...

scientology extends worn out careers.
aside from the aleister crowley influenced scifi b.s., they keep their clams working.
beck's new record is saturated with formaledehyde, he's cannibalizing himself, circa 1993, in the days when he was draggin' it down vermont before fred62 et al embalmed that scene...

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