Ron The Poet/Lyricist

Literary Review ( Madison) Summer 1999
byTom Hansen

Now you can be the first kid on your block to own a complete set of The Ron Series! "Ron Who?" you ask. Ron Hubbard, of course. Ron the creator of Scientology. Ron the creator of Dianetics. Now that he is dead, the powers that be (in particular, the powers at the Religious Technology Center) are busy elevating him to the status of a saint. Hence, The Ron Series. There are at least thirteen Ron books in this series: The Administrator, The Adventurer-Explorer, The Artist, The Aviator, The Filmmaker, The Educator, The Humanitarian, The Master Mariner, The Music Maker, The Philosopher, The Photographer, The Writer.

The book I hold in my hands-the only one of the series I have seen or ever will see, if I can help it-is The Poet/Lyricist. Physically, it is the most impressive paperback I have ever come across. Printed on heavy-stock, high-gloss paper, its 120 pages are filled with photographs. Thirty-one of them are of Ron: Ron the poet (wearing a beret-always a dead certain sign of a poet), Ron the seventeen-year-old Boy Scout instructor (knapsack on back and walking stick in hand-always a dead certain sign of an outdoorsman), Ron the twenty-something New Yorker (with his hat slightly tilted at an angle both sophisticated and insouciant-- always a dead certain sign of a New Yorker), Ron the-well, it seems there is no end of Rons. Medieval art had its hundreds of paintings of Madonna and Child. We have The Ron Series.

Ron was a lot of things to a lot of people. But he was, even by generous standards, no poet. People who like comfortable sentiment and countless photographs of Ron will like this book. People whose lives have been changed for the better by Scientology or Dianetics will like this book. People who think glibly tossed-off verse is good poetry will like this book. But people who know anything about poetry-people who actually read mainstream poetry, or even minor tributary poetry-will not. The problem with Ron's poetic work is twofold: it is minimally poetic, and very little work appears to have gone into it. It reads like the kind of hurried verse a thoughtful high school student might hastily scrawl in a journal: rhymed thoughts.
Cliche-ridden rough drafting at best. Just so much stuff at worst.

How bad is it? Let's let Ron speak for himself. Of his "Dianetics Jingles," Ron once wrote, "If you can decipher these, you'll know everything there is to know." This is the kind of statement no one should be fool enough to make. Obviously, Ron was impressed with these lines. Here are the first eight:

Anything you can take, you can make.

Anything you can see, you can be.

Anything you shun will have won.

Anything you have done you can do.

Anything that is work is a shirk.

Anything you desire means expire.

If you ever need bait just create.

If a motion comes in, use and win.

So what's to decipher? Most of these lines are obvious. Ego boosting aimed at the mass market has to be. But let's be fair; they are admittedly unpretentious little jingles. Let's try something with more promise: "Lost," the first poem in the "Philosophic Verse" section of the book:

Lost to the brightness of morning

Stopped short of sunset's cool glow

Battered and twisted and missing

In the doom where the lost storms go

Not known were the laws of the Holy

Confused were the courses thou ran

Tangled in webs of thy making

Failed because thy name is Man

"Lost," is probably Ron at his best: cliched, optimistic, vaguely spiritual. This kind of thing appeals to some people. Good for them. They will buy the book and read it and like it and not be bothered by the fact that it is hackneyed writing and fuzzy thinking. How much will they have to pay for it? Good question. Nowhere on the book or on the subscription card for the complete Ron Series is the price mentioned. Why not? Perhaps because the pictures and doggerel of a saint are priceless. Or, on the other hand, shamelessly overpriced.

Copyright Fairleigh Dickinson University Summer 1999