Investigative reporter Mark Ebner has a new haircut. He has gone for the military look. It’s all part of a would-be ruse to infiltrate the Church of Scientology, pop down to their “Super Power Building” in Clearwater, Florida, and deliver a subpoena to “Scientology dictator” David Miscavige.
As regular DM readers will know, I am big fan of the brilliant Ebner, and he is in rollicking good form on this edition of Media Mayhem, “Leah Remini and the Scientology Apocalypse.” Here, with host Allison Hope Weiner, Ebner discusses why Remini quit Scientology, the inside story on Miscavige’s influence on Tom Cruise, the “Super Power Building” fraud, ponzi schemes, and the homicides that have been committed by the “cult.”
As Ebner points out Scientology is in crisis, and it’s not just the likes of Remini that are leaving: to say people are leaving the Church in droves, wouldn’t be right, “as there aren’t any droves left to leave.”
Have a listen to Tim Heidecker’s amusing new ditty about everybody’s favorite religion that uses lie detectors for spiritual growth!
Written and recorded while listening to a lot of “Arthur” era Kinks… went for the simple, working class narrator delivery… end the end, didn’t come out sounding much like a Kinks song, but they were an influence. Please enjoy and TGIF thanks.
This does have that patented Ray Davies “singalong with me now, people” quality going for it, but I’m even more partial to Heidecker’s boozy, bluesy southern rock pastiche, “Hot Piss.” Just now my wife came into my office and asked “What are you laughing so hard about?” Yup, it was this:
And when he’s not composing songs about about being caught in the act of drinking his own urine, did you know that this multi-media Renaissance man has his own cooking show, too?
British gonzo journalist Jon Ronson, the author of Them: Adventures with Extremists (which focused on conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones and David Icke) and The Men Who Stare at Goats (turned into the 2009 film with actor Ewan McGregor playing the author) hosted a freewheeling talkshow in the late 1990s for Channel 4 called For The Love of…
Concentrating on religion and odd beliefs, Ronson and his guests discussed topics ranging from Mormonism and UFOs to the moon-landing “hoax,” time travel and Princess Diana conspiracies. You can watch the Scientology episode below, and a show about transmitter towers here.
Most Americans are exposed to Scientology with a fair amount of distance between them and it, via celebrity gossip, infomercials for Dianetics on late-night TV and media exposes of the “church” founded by a speedfreak sci-fi writer/con man in the 1950s. When you live in Los Angeles, however, the present day minions of L. Ron Hubbard are all around you…
For several years in the early-mid 1990s I lived in the heart of Hollywood, and I was in the habit of reading the newspaper and eating breakfast at several cheap hole-in-the-walls I could walk to along Hollywood Blvd. Due to the proximity to a lot of Scientology’s real estate holdings, inevitably I’d see two or more Scientologists grabbing eggs and coffee wherever I happened to be, and often I’d have no choice but to overhear their conversations.
Eventually eavesdropping on Scientologists became a bit of a sport for me, something I could amuse myself with. The best conversations to tune into were the ones that would occur between two higher-ranking “Sea Org” types (the ones with the quasi-naval uniforms). Aside from the obvious, there was always one highly reliable element that nearly all of these conversations had and that was pure, unmitigated, hold-nothing-back, out and out vicious bitching. About something… but usually about someone. Someone they’d just rip to bloody shreds behind their back. They seemed to be such nasty, unhappy, bitter people.
The members of the Sea Organization are considered to be the Co$ “elite.” These are the evangelicals who have signed billion-year-long contracts, a “Gnostic” religious order within the Church of Scientology (think Jesuits), who dedicate their lives (all of ‘em, apparently, the Sea Org’s motto is “We Come Back”) to cleansing and uplifting the planet with the teachings of L. Ron Hubcap (If media reports are to be trusted, in recent years the Org seems to be more dedicated to making Tom Cruise feel like a very, very important person than converting the masses).
Every morning was like a fascinating sociological expedition and highly entertaining. These were some of the meanest, most judgmental individuals I’d ever seen in action. They were also, without exception, some of the squarest people I’ve ever laid eyes on. Like Republicans. Or Mormons. Bluntly, they were just losers. Remarkably unremarkable people who looked down their noses at everyone else, even their own teammates.
In my four years of personally observing these perpetually pissed-off Sea Orgres, it seemed pretty clear to me that one of the main draws Scientology must have for certain people—and especially for the ultra true-believer Sea Org “inner circle” types—is that Church doctrine, and the way they’re cloistered and told that they’re superior to everyone else, is actually what these people want, what they get out of it. They’re better than you and I are—and they know it—and they pity us for it (In the in-group parlance, a non-Scientologist infidel is charmingly referred to as a “wog”).
Like all zealots, these Co$ elites want to inflict their truth on others and yet they’re willing to submit to frequent lie-detector tests and sign billion year-long contracts? Please lecture me about “freedom,” won’t you?
Better still? According to the St. Petersburg Tampa Bay Times, Sea Org members are paid just $75 a week on average. Which would make you bitchy, I suppose, if you had contractually locked yourself in to such wages (and dormitory living!) for even a single year, let alone a billion of ‘em…
It’s an odd position to put yourself in. You’d think that if you’d reached a state of “total freedom” being willing to sign on in perpetual servitude for tens of thousands of your future incarnations to a vast pyramid scheme in which top-down authoritarianism is apparently a desirable sacrament would be anathema to you. But no!
In any case, here’s a patently ridiculous Scientology music video of probably mid 90s vintage.
“You are as sensitive and sexy as Pan. Lord help women when you begin to fondle them. You are master of their bodies, master of their souls as you may consciously wish. You have no karma to pay for these acts. You cannot now accumulate karma for you are a master adept. Your voice is low and compelling to them. Singing to them, for you sing like a master, destroys their will to resist. “
If you click on this link you will be taken to a PDF of a file so gross, rancid, pathetic, ridiculous, so extraordinarily demented and just plain… hilariously fucking pitiful that it will boggle your mind.
What could possibly elicit such a complex response you ask? How’s about the alleged private—and I do mean really private, humiliatingly private diaries/affirmations/self-hypnosis journals (or whatever you’d call them…) of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard? Oh yes, folks, this is mind rot at its finest, or, if you prefer, call these sad rantings of a limp-dicked, paranoid-schizophrenia, speed-freak uh, “man god” “holy scriptures”(!).
Originally posted over a decade ago on the alt.religion.scientology newsgroup and alleged to have been both hand-written by Hubbard and read into the evidence of a 1984 California trial (‘“Church of Scientology of California vs Gerald Armstrong”), at this point this document has appeared all over the Internet in a few thousand different places, popping up again like a Wack-a-Mole every time it gets yanked.
To be fair, there’s no actual proof that this document was written by Hubbard until the hand-written copy could be produced, but it does in fact, seem totally plausible that Hubbard was the author if you know anything about him. This document was allegedly part of a cache of up to 15,000 pages of personal papers basically stolen by Armstrong, a Scientology devotee for twelve years, for “life insurance” when he left the organization and became an outspoken critic of the Church. Armstrong claims that Hubbard had permitted him to use his papers under a contract to produce a biography of Hubbard, the Church claimed otherwise. Here’s more about the “Hubbard Affirmations” at The Scientology Forum
Here are some excerpts, as posted on the Ron the Nut website, a fearless clearinghouse of some of the most bizarrely fascinating Scientology-related documents:
L. Ron Hubbard writing in his diary:
Sexual feeling has been depressed by several things amounting to a major impasse. To cure ulcers of the stomach I was given testosterone and stilbesterol. These reduced my libido to nothing. While taking these drugs I fell in love with Sara. She can be most exciting sexually to me. Because of drugs as above and a hangover from my ex-wife Polly, I sometimes am unexcited by anything sexual. This depresses me.
My wife left me while I was in a hospital with ulcers. Polly was quite cruel. She was never a woman for me. She was under-sexed and had bad sexual habits such as self-laceration done in private. She was no mate for me and yet I retained much affection for her. It was a terrible blow when she left me for I was ill and without prospects. I know, by this, she actually wanted no more than my ability to support her. This has had an effect of impotency upon me, has badly reduced my ego.
Polly was very bad for me sexually. Because of her coldness physically, the falsity of her pretensions, I believed myself a near eunuch between 1933 and 1936 or ? when I found I was attractive to other women. I had many affairs. But my failure to please Polly made me always pay so much attention to my momentary mate that I derived small pleasure myself. This was an anxiety neurosis which cut down my natural powers.
In 1938-39 I met a girl in New York, Helen, who pleased me very much physically. I loved her and she me. The affair would have lasted had not Polly found out. Polly made things so miserable that I finally detested her and became detested by Helen, who two-timed me on my return to New York in 1941. This also reduced my libido. I have had Helen since but no longer want her. She does not excite me and I do not love her.
Sara, my sweetheart, is young, beautiful, desirable. We are very gay companions. I please her physically until she weeps about any separation. I want her always. But I am 13 years older than she. She is heavily sexed. My libido is so low I hardly admire her naked.
Testosterone blends easily with your own hormones. Your glands already make plenty of needed testosterone and by adding to that store you make yourself very thrilling and sexy. Testosterone increases your sexual interest and activity. It makes erections easier and harder and makes your own joy more intense. Stilbesterol in 5 mg doses makes you thrill more to music and color and makes you kinder. You have no fear of what any woman may think of your bed conduct. You know you are a master. You know they will be thrilled. You can come many times without weariness. The act does not reduce your vitality or brain power at all. You can come several times and still write. Intercourse does not hurt your chest or make you sore. Your arms are strong and do not ache in the act. Your own pleasure is not dependent on the woman’s. You are interested only in your own sexual pleasure. If she gets any that is all right but not vital. Many women are not capable of pleasure in sex and anything adverse they say or do has no effect whatever upon your pleasure. Their bodies thrill you. If they repel you, it merely means they themselves are too frigid or prudish to be bothered with. They are unimportant in bed except as they thrill you. Your sexual power is magnificent and they know it. If they are afraid of it, that is their loss. You are not affected by it.
You have no fear if they conceive. What if they do? You do not care. Pour it into them and let fate decide.
The slipperier they are the more you enjoy it because it means their mucous is running madly with pleasure.
There is nothing wrong in the sex act. Nothing any woman may say can change your opinion. You are a master. You are as sensitive and sexy as Pan. Lord help women when you begin to fondle them. You are master of their bodies, master of their souls as you may consciously wish. You have no karma to pay for these acts. You cannot now accumulate karma for you are a master adept. Your voice is low and compelling to them. Singing to them, for you sing like a master, destroys their will to resist. You obey the conventions, you commit no crimes because you need not. You can be intelligently aware of their morals and the laws of the land and fit your campaign expertly within them.
Jack [Parsons] is also an adept. You love and respect him as a friend. He cannot take offense at what you do. You will not wrong him because you love him.
There’s more, much, much more at the Ron the Nut website. Someone even made a video of Hubbard’s “Admissions (see below) but I’m holding out for a bio-pic, or at least a comedy sketch, with Rich Fulcher (The Mighty Boosh, Snuff Box) as L. Ron…
For crying out loud, that is such obvious rubbish. Think about it: Jews worldwide number 13.42 million, or .02% of the population. No way are there nearly as many Scientologists.
How many Scientologists do you personally know? I live in Los Angeles and I am not acquainted with even one single Scientologist (at least not that I am aware of). That we are meant to believe that there are ten million of them is, of course, ludicrous. It’s unusual that AP wouldn’t do any fact checking on a matter like this—rather than just accept the numbers Scientology tells them—because the real numbers, well, the real numbers are jes’ a lil’ south of ten million…
According to the latest [ARIS or American Religious Identification Survey] survey, the total number of people who identify as Scientologists is just 25,000 in this country of more than 300 million human beings.
That’s one Scientologist for about every 12,000 Americans.
In other words, the total number of active U.S. Scientologists is about the size of your run-of-the-mill local credit union.
But there’s more. As paltry as that number is, the news is even worse for Scientology, because previous surveys by the same researchers show a steep drop in membership in recent years, reflecting anecdotal evidence that there’s been a “mass exodus” (as Reitman calls it) under the leadership of David Miscavige.
In 1990, ARIS had found about 45,000 Scientologists. In 2001, it found 55,000, and in 2008, it found 25,000.
Yikes, that is some steep seven year drop-off in Scientologists, ain’t it?
As Ortega goes on to point out, there are more people who self-identify as Rastafarians than as Scientologists. (I’m one of them: Rastafarian is what I always pick as my religious affiliation, btw)
Jeff Hawkins, once Scientology’s head of public relations, now an anti-Scientology blogger and author, estimates that there are no more than 40,000 Scientologists worldwide, at the high end. England and Canada both have fewer than two thousand adherents to the gospel of L. Ron Hubbard. Most of the rest of them have got to live right here in Los Angeles. Their real estate is highly visible, their members less so.
When I was sixteen, in 1982, I ran away from home and made my way from West Virginia to Boston. There, I soon found myself quite lost. Spying an extremely attractive young woman who was carrying a clipboard and accosting people in a friendly way, I decided to ask her for directions with the most innocuous chat-up line I’ve ever used: “Can you tell me how to get to Newbury Street, please?”
She told me how to get there and we continued chatting. I thought I was really doing great with her, but it soon turned out she was a Scientologist, attempting to recruit random passersby to take the “personality test” like you always see people doing on Hollywood Blvd. She asked me if I’d heard of Scientology and I told her the only thing I knew about it was what I’d read about it in the writing of William S. Burroughs.
That went right over her head, but undaunted, she asked me if I’d be interested in taking a “personality test” and truth be told, I was interested in just about anything this chick had to offer me. So we walked to the huge, embassy-like Church of Scientology building a few blocks away, and she deposited me with staff members there before disappearing back to her clipboard and her post down the street.
I ended up spending a week sleeping there in exchange for doing janitorial work and re-binding a small library of dusty old books that were in bad repair. It was either there or the riverbank (I was also hoping I’d see the Sea Org hottie again, but that never happened).
It was an awfully strange experience going from a small town in the hills of West Virginia to bunking with a cult of headfuckers in “the big city” in less than 48 hours, but one that I will write about here another time.
My point of offering this, um, partial anecdote is to say that if it was not for the fact that I was an avid teenage reader of William Burroughs, I doubt I’d have gotten myself into that zany, madcap situation. Then again, maybe my brief brush with L.Ron Hubbard and crew could be more honestly attributed to me being a teenage guy who was thinking with his dick. That’s probably that’s just as valid of an excuse…
Scientology appears again disguised as the “Logos” group in Burroughs’s 1962 novel The Ticket That Exploded. As described in the book, Logos has “a system of therapy they call ‘clearing’. You ‘run’ traumatic material which they call ‘engrams’ until it loses emotional connotation through repetitions and is then refilled as neutral memory’ When all the ‘engrams’ have been run and deactivated the subject becomes a ‘clear.’” In the 1964 novel Nova Express, Scientology is for the first time openly described in Burroughs’s fiction. During an interrogation scene in the book, an unnamed character declares “The Scientologists believe sir that words recorded during a period of unconsciousness… store pain and that this pain store can be lugged in with key words represented as an alternate mathematical formulae indicating umber of exposures to the key words and reaction index… they call these words recorded during unconsciousness engrams sir… The pain that overwhelms that person is basic basic sir and when basic basic is wiped off the tape… then that person becomes what they call clear sir.”
At the start of 1968, Burroughs deepened his relationship to the Church. He took an intense two-month Scientology Clearing Course at the world headquarters of Scientology in Saint Hill Manor in the UK and Burroughs was declared a “Clear,” though he later claimed that he had to work hard to suppress or rationalize his persistently negative feelings toward L. Ron Hubbard during auditing sessions. The Berg has almost a dozen files filled with Burroughs’s pamphlets from Saint Hill as well as his almost unreadable hand-written notes on Scientology courses and questions he prepared for auditing sessions he himself conducted. These files include, as I’ve mentioned, an attempt to create a cut-up from auditing questions; from the start, Scientology was very much connected to the cut-up technique and Burroughs’s theory that language constituted a kind of virus that had infested the human host. At Saint Hill, Burroughs entered an intense and obsessive period of auditing sessions with an E-Meter, including a process of exploring past lives, though he slowly began to grow alienated from the Church and what he considered its Orwellian security protocols. Burroughs’s antipathy for Scientological “Sec Checks” are apparent in his strange and violent story, “Ali’s Smile,” which was published in the collection Ali’s Smile/Naked Scientology.
Burroughs eventually rejected Scientology—because of what he called “the fascist policies of Hubbard and his organization”—but cautiously endorsed some of its “discoveries.” His break with the Church developed over course of the late sixties in the pages of the London-based magazine, Mayfair, where Burroughs wrote a series of increasingly hostile “bulletins” about his adventures with the organization. These bulletins culminated in Burroughs’s amusingly titled Mayfair article, “I, William Burroughs, Challenge You, L. Ron Hubbard.” This piece was republished in the Los Angeles Free Press. In his challenge to L. Ron, Burroughs wrote:
Some of the techniques [of Scientology] are highly valuable and warrant further study and experimentation. The E Meter is a useful device… (many variations of this instrument are possible). On the other hand I am in flat disagreement with the organizational policy. No body of knowledge needs an organizational policy. Organizational policy can only impede the advancement of knowledge. There is a basic incompatibility between any organization and freedom of thought.
For his inquiries, Burroughs reports, he was expelled from the organization and in 1968 was put into what Scientologists call a condition of “Treason”; though the exact circumstances surrounding this incident remain unclear. Burroughs’s public battle against the Church continued in a 1972 issue of Rolling Stone, where he expressed his support for Robert Kaufmann’s exposé, Inside Scientology, published by Olympia Press. Here Burroughs uses his harshest language yet: “Scientology is a model control system, a state in fact with its own courts, police, rewards and penalties.” Strangely enough, despite his break with the group, Scientology reappeared in the 1972 film Bill and Tony, which Burroughs made with Antony Balch (the masturbating guy in Towers Open Fire). In Bill and Tony, an image of Burroughs’s disembodied floating head recites instructions for how to operate an auditing session.
In the current issue of The Village Voice, Tony Ortega, who has been writing about Scientology since 1995, reports on former high-level Scientologist Marty Rathbun’s recent expose of a Scientology ‘dark ops’ program.
Former high-level Scientologist Marty Rathbun revealed fascinating material yesterday on his blog: he claims that it’s evidence of a detailed “dark ops” program launched in 2006 by Scientology to destroy a woman named Tory Christman, who had left the organization several years earlier.
I know Christman well. In 2001, I wrote a lengthy story about her defection, which had gained notoriety because she announced it in an online forum, where for months she had been doing battle with Scientology’s critics. Her sudden about-face, followed by a frantic flight from agents of the church who pursued her across the country, was dramatic enough. But leaving Scientology was not Christman’s only goal. She almost immediately became one of Scientology’s most tireless critics.
That apparently didn’t sit well with L. Ron Hubbard’s wacky cabal.
Today’s Broadsheet tips us off to some Scientology news that’s as disturbing as it is, perhaps, unsurprising. According to a two-part investigation by the St. Petersburg Times, Scientology’s maritime-y power base, Sea Org, has been treating its pregnant members to campaigns of intimidation, isolation and, in some cases, forced manual labor.
In exchange for signing “billion-year contracts,” Sea Org women are given food, housing, and medical care, but being a member of Scientology’s spiritual elite apparently leaves no time for mothering.
Or so believes Church spokesman Tommy Davis (son of actress and Church grande dame, Anne Archer), who says that a no-children policy was created because babies were “viewed as interfering with the productivity of Sea Org members,” and “the long and demanding working hours required of Sea Org members…were obstacles to parents properly raising their children.”
But former Scientology security chief Gary Morehead goes several (more ominous) steps further, saying that the organization considered pregnancies “a slap in the face,” and that “special councils formulated strategies to convince women to abort.” Interviews with some of these “convinced” women follow below:
In what seems like something out of J.G. Ballard, Scientology, and the final act of Roland Emmerich’s 2012, like, combined, a number of billionaires are taking to the high seas for their Plan B. I can see their point. You’ve ravaged the planet and trashed the economy, if that possibly results in pitchforks and flaming torches at your door, a thousand miles of ocean makes a better barrier than a gate or concierge.
Thus, Utopia, a floating, billion-dollar luxury liner now being built by Samsung of Korea (you can tour the ship below). Its 200 or so cabins run anywhere from $4 million (that gets you a small condo), to $160 million (that secures you a home of 40,000 feet). Prices aside, what kind of people would choose such a lifestyle? A fascinating article in today’s Alternet provides the answer:
The floating castle is a longtime dream of libertarian oligarchs—a place where they can live their lives in peace free from the teeming masses of starving losers and indebted parasites and their tax demands. Since they’ve grown so rich off of America, they have enough spare change to fund projects like the Seasteading Institute, run by Milton Friedman’s grandson, Patri Friedman, and financed by the bizarre right-wing PayPal founder, Peter Thiel. It couldn’t have come a moment sooner for Milton Friedman’s grandson, who was best known until recently for running a grotesque advice blog for married swingers, PUA4LTR (Pick Up Advice For Long-Term Relationships).
Thiel is also the person who last year wrote, “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.” Maybe it’s also not surprising that he does believe America’s decline started with women gaining the right to vote? Unfortunately, Thiel and Friedman are the more benign tip of the iceberg here.
The article continues by listing the far graver misdeeds of the other players in the flee-to-the-sea movement. They include former Carlyle Chairman and Donald Rumsfeld crony, Frank Carlucci, as well as financier Danny Pang.
Pang, along with Carlucci, are founders of the Frontier Group (the backers of the Utopia). Pang died, though, back in September under mysterious circumstancesfrom possible suicide. And perhaps not a moment too soon. He’d recently been accused of the execution-style murder of his wife, as well as the embezzlement of hundreds of millions from his private equity firm, the PEMGroup.
Anderson Cooper is launching a weeklong investigative series about Scientology tomorrow. Looks excellent.
Anderson Cooper is launching a weeklong series about Scientology Monday, covering many of the allegations against the controversial religion already reported by RadarOnline.com.
Anderson Cooper 360, the CNN anchor’s nightly news show, is looking at Scientology’s “history of violence,” especially allegations that leader – and Tom Cruise best friend – David Miscavige has personally physically abused his followers.
Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis, son of actress Anne Archer, is interviewed by Cooper and claims that while there has been violence committed against members in the elite Sea Organization, the guilty offenders are those very people now making allegations against Miscavige.
Scientology is increasingly coming under attack by top-ranking members who’ve left the organization. Interestingly, none of the top Hollywood stars who support Scientology, including Cruise, John Travolta, Jenna Elfman and Kirstie Alley, have commented.
A wealthy donor has sent a group of 50 Haitian-American doctors and volunteers from the Church of Scientology to Haiti at the cost of $400,000. The church members are using a controversial healing technique to help relief efforts:
“We’re trained as volunteer ministers, we use a process called ‘assist’ to follow the nervous system to reconnect the main points, to bring back communication,” she said.
“When you get a sudden shock to a part of your body the energy gets stuck, so we re-establish communication within the body by touching people through their clothes, and asking people to feel the touch.”
Okay. Let’s accept this at face value. If this works, why doesn’t medical science know about it?
“One hour ago he had no sensation in his left leg, so I explained the method to him, I touched him and after a while he said ‘now I feel everything’,” said Sylvie.“Otherwise they might have had to amputate his other leg. Now his sister knows the method and she can do it.”
Asked about the method being used on him, a smiling Elweels described it as “a sort of harmony between the nerves, a kind of exercise. I couldn’t feel at all, but then I could.” Does he know Scientology? “Yes, it’s a French organization,” he said.
“All the patients are happy with the technique,” said Sylvie. “But some doctors don’t like the yellow T-shirts. It’s a color thing,” she insisted. Another group of Scientologists distributed antibiotic pills. “The doctors said give everyone with wounds antibiotics,” said Italian volunteer Marina.
Some doctors at the hospital are skeptical. One US doctor, who asked not to be named, snorted: “I didn’t know touching could heal gangrene.”
When asked what the Scientologists are doing here, another doctor said: “I don’t know.”
Do you care? “Not really,” she said, wheeling an unconscious patient out of the operating room to join hundreds of others in the hospital’s sunny courtyard.
The twin suicides of Jeremy Blake and Theresa Duncan a few years back was the closing chapter to a story that somehow managed to combine all the darker elements of Hollywood, Scientology and the New York art world:
Duncan and Blake formed a popular couple on the downtown New York and Venice, Calif., art scenes. She was one of the first video game designers for girls, and his “digital paintings”—kaleidoscopic images shown on plasma screens—established him as a rising star on the circuit. The couple descended into a paranoid spiral when the artists developed a consuming belief that government and religious organizations were conspiring against them. She killed herself in 2007. Blake found her body on the floor of their bedroom, and walked into the Atlantic Ocean a week later, ending his life.
It’s a moving portrait of two people very much in love—as well as a harrowing depiction of how draining and hermetic the pair found the creative process. That their spiral downward came at a time when they were both poised for greater career success makes their twin suicides as tragic as it is haunting.
For abundant evidence of Duncan’s smarts and style, you can check out her still maintained website: TheWitOfTheStaircase. Blake is probably best known for his cover art on Beck’s Sea Change, and the “colorful undulations” used during the opening credits of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch Drunk Love.
But Blake himself was also a filmmaker. His Winchester trilogy, inspired by the story of Sarah Winchester and her family’s “Mystery House,” was shown at the San Francisco MOMA in ‘05. Century 21, the trilogy’s final installment, attempts to “explore the sickness—and the sexiness—of American violence.”