the wish that we might be boundless and uncontrolled


Now that this tremendous whatzit has had a few weeks to pound and roar through the theaters, and maybe wash away some of the prerelease publicity, I hope that people have become more interested in what The Master puts on the screen, and less in the question of whether it’s a history of Scientology with the names disguised. The so-called Master of the title, a character known to the legal authorities as Lancaster Dodd, is a peddler of psychotherapeutic claptrap and pseudoscientific mythology in post–World War II America—so, yes, he has a lot in common with L. Ron Hubbard. Dodd, too, has a fat book to sell (it’s called The Cause, rather than Dianetics) and travels with a wife named Peggy (Hubbard’s first wife was named Polly), with whose aid and incitement he teaches that we must awaken to our true nature as billion-year-old spirits.

more from Stuart Klawans at The Nation here.