I subleased the Lancias' apartment for the few weeks they planned to be in England, and had just settled in and started preparing a piano recital when Marty Moussorgsky phoned me. Marty lived in Queens with his parents and made daily forays into Manhattan carrying his E-meter in a valise. Felicia had told me he was a crack auditor, so I should think about completing the Lower Grades with him while she was away. I wasn't enthusiastic about the suggestion, but I trusted Felicia. It wouldn't hurt to try one grade with him as long as I didn't let him make the Lancia apartment his own pied-a-terre.
Grade III deals with personal upsets, called "ARC breaks." Marty had me run through unpleasant encounters I had had with an assortment of people, going back to my earliest childhood. He dated each incident on the E-meter.
Marty audited with dash and verve, as if he were stock car racing, the E-meter his controls. He acknowledged my responses with a terse "All right" accompanied by a snide curl of his upper lip that made me wonder if it was indeed "all right." He interrupted the session several times to volunteer explanations that only made the proceedings less fathomable than before. One interruption was a dissertation on "flinching," an aberration, according to Marty, typical of a person with a reactive mind (apparently I had "flinched").
"Say you're sitting at your piano trying to practice and you keep thinking you see an alligator. `There it is again -- it's coming up through the floor! WHO? WHA ...?' Sometimes you wonder what the fuck's going on. If you stop to think about it, most people go through their whole life like that."
Marty's auditing style seemed to veer him away from the process itself into diversionary improvisations. During the first session he did a "Search and Discovery," to ferret out people in my past who had "suppressed" me. I came up with a grammar school teacher and two bullies in my old neighborhood. Halfway through the second session Marty decided I needed -- another surprise -- Dianetic auditing! (I had thought Dianetics was supplanted by Scientology.) The present Dianetics was much lighter and quicker than the 1950 version. Now only a few engrams were run. Marty directed me through two preliminaries -- a drill on recall and an incident of loss, called a "secondary"; then two childhood engrams -- an ear-lancing and a pleurisy operation. He proclaimed me a Dianetic Release and said I owed him $150 for the additional auditing. I told Marty it was unfair to demand an extra fee on the spur of the moment and I wouldn't pay it. He took my stand so calmly that I got the impression extra fees were just something he took a shot at when he thought there was a chance to collect.
During the next session Marty blew up at me -- for what reason I don't remember; perhaps he thought I'd asked a stupid question. "I'm not going to audit a wise-ass like you!" he yelled, and packed up his meter and auditing reports. I sensed that he wasn't really angry but playing some kind of game. He hesitated at the door, valise in hand, and made a mollifying remark. I was prepared to await Felicia's return from England to finish Grade III, but Marty said, "C'mon! I'll finish the process," got the meter back out and resumed session as though his outburst hadn't occurred.
Renzo told me later that these scenes were typical of Marty's personalized auditing approach; he was known to throw tantrums with preclears just to provoke "ARC breaks" -- personal upsets -- for him to audit out at a subsequent session.
Marty audited me through Grade III to its conclusion with no further histrionics, by running a few more ARC breaks, including the one we had just had.
It's possible that we went on to the final grade in the series that same evening. I don't remember. Nor can I reconstruct why I continued on with Marty. It wasn't because of "gains"; my "releases" hadn't brought any benefit that I was aware of. Felicia and Marty of course wouldn't have agreed with that, and the "progress" I made was also noted, on the perimeter, by Joan and Renzo. I was delighted that they were delighted, and that was really the extent of my "gains."
Whatever made me go on with it, nothing outrageous Marty did interfered with my "progress." Processes were run and "release points" reached.
In other words, I had learned to be a good preclear.
Grade IV was quite different from what preceded. Marty explained that we were going to find my "service facsimile," defined in the Scientology dictionary as "a computation generated to make self right and others wrong, to dominate or escape domination and to enhance own survival and injure that of others. Will cause the individual to deliberately hold in restimulation selected parts of his reactive mind to explain his failures in life." Most service facsimiles are found to consist of a single sentence.
Marty, for what purpose I couldn't guess, asked me to name a few things I'd like to do after the session. He began making up a list. Some of my entries were: eat a steak dinner; eat a girl's ass; go to the movies. When nothing more occurred to me, Marty started reading back the items in a mechanical tone. I could see him jotting down X's and slashes as he moved down the list, nulling out non-reading items, X-ing others and repeating these, always in the same metallic tone of voice:
"eat a steak dinner / / X "eat a girl's ass / / / "go to the movies / / / "eat a girl's ass / / / X "go to the movies" / / / /
I don't remember what the final item was. (After the session we went out and ate spaghetti.)
Next Marty had us make up another mysterious list, "girls I've liked." This ran more or less chronologically, starting way back with a babysitter, and proceeding on up through movie queens and high-school sophomores to recent acquaintances. The "most highly-charged item" Marty found on the list, via the E-meter, amazed me: It was "Betty Grable."
Marty finally arrived at the question, What method have you used in life to make others wrong? I tried various words and phrases, as Marty X-ed and /-ed, like a negotiating session with the electric box as mediator. After about an hour of listing and nulling, we arrived at this sentence: "I was deprived and nothing can be done about it." This was the protective mental mechanism I had borne through life like cumbersome armor plating. I had used this phrase to justify my laziness and rationalize my failures, and when I repeated the words they had a nasty familiarity.
I was quite satisfied with the denouement, and this time expected some real gains. True, they wouldn't be firm gains until I had experienced out in the world-at-large what it was like not to have a service facsimile -- an exciting prospect even if it might take several months for the new developments to surface.
I liked that Scientology could involve thought and meaning after all. At last, with the service facsimile, there was a causal connection between reactive mind material and aberrated behavior. The concept reminded me of a book I had read by Dr. Albert Ellis, whose psychotherapy aims at exposing and challenging patients' faulty thinking patterns. Scientology, in fact, had its own word for half-baked thoughts, a word used frequently by Felicia and Marty in session: considerations. Although both Hubbard and Ellis might object strongly to each other's company, this possibility of a linkage with non-Scientological thought gave Scientology some weight, making it intellectually interesting to me for the first time. I didn't pay much attention to a major discrepancy: In Ellis' or other cognitive methods, the therapist encourages the patient to challenge his faulty thinking in real life situations, while in Scientology the preclear is taught that a disclosure which produces the right E-meter read signifies the end of the process -- and by implication, automatic results.
Even with these half-digested morsels, Grade IV didn't make me a believer. I felt I had done well getting through two grades with Marty behind the meter; and in a way glad to be through with auditing.
At that point I could have quit perhaps slightly ahead.