ARS Literati $10,000 Challenge

From: armstrong@dowco.com (gerry armstrong)
Subject: The Dorian Challenge
Date: Thu, 16 Sep 1999 11:19:10 GMT
Message-ID: <37e0d1e2.82010824@news.dowco.com>

Bob asked me some time ago if I was going to enter the Dorian Challenge. Bob called it something else. I called it the "Dorian Challenge" because it's a title, and I'm a titleist. I really have no idea if it's a correct title, or even if there hasn't already been another Dorian Challenge. The contest has nothing at all to do, of course, with Dorian. I say of "course," knowing that on ars there are a number of thinking participants who think otherwise, by not going beyond the four corners of contest. I know that Bob has Dorian as the inspiration, and well he might be, but the rules which form the challenge make it very clear that Dorian is not a factor.

In fact, because a contest entrant need not write as well as, better than, or similar to Dorian, there is no reason Dorian could not himself enter the contest. It could not be undivine if Dorian, an obviously literary man, won the first ever Dorian Challenge. I asked Bob if Dorian could enter, since the contest criteria in no way concern him, and I don't think Bob gave me a definite answer. If there's a vote on it, I would say that Dorian for sure should be able to participate in and win the Challenge.

The day Bob's challenge appeared I got to work and outlined my own essay submission. I read some of the discussion over the next few days, and wrote responses to a few of the posts on the subject of the contest; but never posted anything until now for one reason or another. I do that a lot. Much of life has to do with timing. From the start I thought that the contest is a very cool idea and a very worthy challenge. By the time Bob asked me if I was going to enter, I had already been thinking about it a bunch of days, and had pretty well, for reasons I'll state a little later in this post, decided. I told Bob some of this, and said I'd perhaps post some of my unposted responses and my decision.

Ars participant Baba ROM DOS, addressing Bob, wrote: "I do not doubt that I, among other contributors here, could outwrite your buddy "Dorian". But since you insist on being the sole judge, the game is rigged from the beginning. I'll be damned if you're going to make me dance by waving your money around. Award the prize by vote of jury not beholden to you, and I'll think about it."

My fellow foot soldier Martin Hunt followed up: "Well said. You've driven to the heart of the matter; this is yet another of Bob's attacks on critics. The point of this exercise seems to be: 1. The "Dorian" troll is a wonderful, fantastic writer. 2. Bob is superiour to all critics. 3. The critics on ars are jerks to be toyed around with."

But demonstrably the point of the exercise is to produce within a month an essay of 10,000 words which is, as Bob requires, full of surprising, insightful, and thought provoking ideas, not only relevant to $cientology, but revealing its hidden workings and showing it for what it is; which doesn't lecture to $cientologists, but speaks indirectly to them, explaining some of the hows and the whys of what they have experienced; which opens up what L. Ron Hubbard Jr. (Nibs) referred to as the part of his father's mind that no one could get into, the part that was locked up tight, not revealed to anyone; which takes steps towards revealing Hubbard's true intent, and does all this in a manner that is compelling and convincing to $cientologists; and which, on top of everything else, says some significant and useful things about life in general.

That is to say, the point of the exercise is unrelated to whether Dorian is a wonderful writer, Bob is better, or we, the ars participants, are jerks being toyed with. The Challenge in no way attacks critics. Martin I know can with some ease produce an excellent essay within the guidelines. This Baba I don't know, but I know he says he can outwrite Dorian himself, so he is better than equally qualified. I would bet that an overwhelming majority of ars folks would look forward to an essay from Martin and Baba and every other critic of $cientology.

As for dancing to the waving of Minton money, no it's more like running in that it's a serious challenge. It is a bit like any prize fight or competition. A writing competition for a worthy cause. And as for the contest being rigged, sure it is. But its rigging is pretty well exposed. You can be reasonably certain that there is no one behind Bob to whom he is beholden. In almost all judgments I would rather trust Bob Minton than a jury.

Boudewijn van Ingen, another always welcome ars participant, fired off this response to Bob's contest announcement: "A challenge to waste even more time on? Rob Clark said "More matter, less art!". So now you would like to see the opposite? <snip> Those of us that are out here to earn a quick buck might enjoy your hobby. These poor bastards have my blessing. <snip> I am not here to play. $cientology was deadly serious when they "played with" Lisa McPherson. So I will not shoot in the air. <snip>.

Flaming Bob's 8 rules for the Dorian Challenge, Boudewijn wrote: "You missed a couple of things, like: 9) It may not contain any references to actual, independently verifyable facts 10) It must be open to different interpretations. And of course the other part of this "deal" is that anybody that doesn't "win" gets to "shut-up". Wasn't that your general idea, Bob? <snip> If it's relaxation you want, you'd better drop your support for "Dorian", Bob. No amount of money you throw at it will buy you that otherwise."

I must say I don't think so to much of this. There is no reason why Dorian, with good sense, cannot be supported. All of $cientology's opponents should be supported with good sense, and it is abundantly clear that Dorian, while he may not be many things, is definitely an opponent. It is my understanding that Dorian has never asked for, nor even given the appearance of needing, money, and there is no evidence that Bob has thrown money at him. I see nothing in Bob's rules to support the charge that he wants participants in the Challenge who don't win to shut up. I think the contest is actually Bob putting his money where his free speech mouth is.

Sure the essay, and the essayist, must be open to different interpretations. Anyone who participates can be certain he will be interpreted in many different ways. All the interpretations in fact can be guaranteed to be misinterpretations. According to the rules, on the other hand, and contrary to what is insinuated, an entry may contain as many references to actual, independently verifiable facts as can be packed into ten thousand words. The essay, of course, is an artistic form for maximalizing matter, a form specifically intended to be packed with facts. This is a fact.

I doubt that there are any of us who are out here to earn a quick buck. Because we're out here, however, for reasons other than earning a quick buck, why not earn a quick buck while we're at it? I can't recall any other such offer or contest since I've been on ars. Should we not hope that there would be large checks or even more valuable prizes awarded every week; perhaps Thursday afternoons. It isn't at all enjoying Bob's hobby, because Bob certainly, as opposed to Dorian, cannot participate in the contest in which he is the sole judge. This contest is for people with a hobby, or, I suppose, gift, or the Christians might say a burden, writing essays about $cientology and the dark side of L. Ron Hubbard.

Regarding shooting in the air, I would say don't do this if you haven't got a gun. Be deadly serious about deadly serious things, and if you can, shoot in the air. If shooting in the air is unsafe, discourteous or unwise, naturally, shoot as straight as possible somewhere else. Shooting in the air is not to be sneezed at. Isn't it a fact that Bob has not been bothered at his residence by $cientology's militiamen since he shot in the air? And isn't it a fact that up to the time of shooting in the air he had been bothered at his residence by this militia? I think everyone, $cientology's critics, and the head $cientologists too, whether they shoot or don't shoot, are deadly serious about Lisa McPherson.

Bob gave me much pause with my Dorian Challenge submission when I read his post stating: "I may even agree that no MFC members can participate but some smart-ass on ARS will have to name the MFC." I'm not a smart-ass, and I can't name the MFC, but I am, as everyone is, I'm sure, aware, a member in good standing. Now it is true that I am a member of many fan clubs, easily spanning the alphabet from Andreas to Zenon, but that fact doesn't detract from the threat my membership in the MFC appeared to be to my participation in this contest.

Lronscam, addressing Bob, brought up yet another problem: "you said that there are only a handful of people who could win. And out of that handful only a few who were allowed to participate, barring those who have injunctions against them." I have an injunction against me; one which "prevents" me from mentioning $cientology, and which I violate every day without fail, just because it is illegal, impossible, unconstitutional, irresponsible, unenforceable, illogical, oppressive, suppressive, dangerous and flat out stupid.

But that same $cientology injunction also applies equally, and equally illegally, impossibly, unconstitutionally, irresponsibly, unenforceably, illogically, oppressively, suppressively, dangerously and flat out stupidly, to persons "acting in concert" with me. If Bob permits me to enter his contest, is he acting in concert with me and therefore subject to the same illegal, impossible, unconstitutional, irresponsible, unenforceable, illogical, oppressive, suppressive, dangerous and flat out stupid injunction? Since I'm also a member, as I mentioned, of the MFC, I am, as Poirot might say, on the dilemma's horns, n'est-ce pas?

I would think this might be the perfect opportunity for Bob to tell the $cientologists and their lawyers that their injunctions are illegal, impossible, unconstitutional, irresponsible, unenforceable, illogical, oppressive, suppressive, dangerous and flat out stupid by specifically inviting everyone, me included, who is gagged or shuddered by such $cientology documents to submit an essay. Bob is, of course, in a much different legal and financial position from what I am in, and a case can be made that I am suggesting what is easy for me to say. I am not a lawyer and my observations and opinions are not legal advice. But one way or another, $cientology's judicial suppression of free speech and the Dorian Challenge will intersect. Indeed haven't they?

I don't know if Lronscam ever got a response to the "suggestions, questions, ideas and comments" about Bob's contest. I thought this person Lronscam really cares, and is really serious about this great challenge, and needs to be cheered on.

L: Can the person remain anonymous, as with a pseudonym, and still win or do they have to give their real name -- ?

G: Anonymity, pseudonymity or cognominality, in the contest's context, are not factors. It will be a great day when anyone wins, whoever he or she is.

L: I mean openly, duh. Of course their real name will be divulged if they win.

G: Not necessarily. The two events are in all likelihood unrelated.

L: Does the literary work become your, Bob Minton's, property after all is said and done?

G: In that there is nothing in the contest rules regarding a transfer of ownership of the entrants' works, these works must remain the property of their creators.

L: Will there be a waiver of sorts to collect the money from you?

G: I have no idea what a waiver of sorts is, but Bob could open a Dorian Challenge account with a $10,000 deposit.

L: Is this contest abiding by all laws in your jurisdiction?

G: Not in $cientology. But then $cientology has no jurisdiction. Where we stand is free and sacred ground and $cientology has no jurisdiction.

L: How will the check be presented?

G: Live on Xenu TV(R)?

L: As a gift (tax free, but possibly illegal) or less taxes? Roughly, people in America will get around 75% of it, if it is a bona fide contest. I dont' know about other countries.

G: Writers, it should be remembered, have all sorts of writeoffs. And in a bona fide contest like the Dorian Challenge the writeoffs are especially bona fide.

L: In a later post, you said that there are only a handful of people who could win. And out of that handful only a few who were allowed to participate, barring those who have injunctions against them. That means you already have in mind who you like ahead of time which precludes most of 'us' from even getting a chance.

G: We all know many of the handful. But I'd bet that the winner is surprisingly unknown. My dear Lronscam, you have a far greater chance of winning than I do, and I can, but you can't win if you don't write.

L: I like odds better than that.

G: I give more than even odds on everything. If you can get better than that for goodness sake go for it.

L: I may not participate at all anyway, but for those who are going to spend a great deal of time at this adventure, you should make if fairer to them and spell everything out in the open. There should be at least a week of setting down the rules and changing them per inquiry of an unfair bias.

G: That's what makes this such a challenging contest. One would have to write well. I think that on its face the contest is perfectly fair. It's better to have written and lost, even to unfair bias, than never to have written at all.

L: Some of my suggestions for rules are: 1) Pgp signed anonymous submission from the beginning to the end. For those who aren't familiar with PGP someone that would cause a problem. Make your anonymous PGP password simple. What happens if your password is forgotten? No win?.. If you're not anonymous you loose. How about if people guess who you are even if you are anonymous? I feel at a distinct disadvantage here.

G: Now there's a contest. But seriously, I would bet everyone, and certainly Bob, in my case, would know it was me inside the first paragraph. Everyone would know me the first time I laughed. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.

L: 2) Have at leeast 2 months to write essay after all rules are settled. The way I see it there are about 300 words per page in a normal novel. That makes 10,000 words equal, some where in the ballpark of 30 to 40 pages of work. That is 10% of a normal novel. 30 days is just not enough for those of us who hold normal jobs.

G: I'd have to agree and I'd suggest trying this cheer. Two months or nothing. Two months or nothing. Two months or nothing. Two months or nothing. Two months or nothing.

L: 3) There should be a vote of who is has the best work before you make a decision, where everyone votes which is the best and which isn't. No votes can come from an anonymous remailer. All votes have to come from a valid Email Address. One voter per address and you can't vote for yourself.

G: Separate Readers Choice Award. Separate Readers Choice Award. Separate Readers Choice Award. Separate Readers Choice Award. Separate Readers Choice Award. Somebody other than Bob could put up $10,000 for a separate Reader's Choice Award. But voting for yourself is always the least you can do.

L: You said that you are the decider of who wins and who doesn't but you must take the totality of votes of who is the winner with great weight. This is my general idea.

G: Great weight to the winner. Great weight to the winner. Great weight to the winner. Great weight to the winner. Great weight to the winner.

L: This process can cast a shadow over ARS if there are possibilities that the contest is rigged.

G: A shadow on ARS. A shadow on ARS. A shadow on ARS. A shadow on ARS. A shadow on ARS.

The contest is rigged. We're moving in. The contest is rigged. We're moving in. The contest is rigged. We're moving in. The contest is rigged. We're moving in. The contest is rigged. We're moving in.

L: People in your immediate vicinity can not participate.

G: Wow, are there a bunch of essay-writing Hubbard/$cientology experts in some town in New Hampshire we've never even heard of?

L: It must be voted on ahead of time to decide what immediate vicinity is.

G: I vote for within the city limits of Sandown, NH.

L: It take it that Keith Henson would be glad to participate and I think that he would not like it if he is precluded from the get go.

G: Yeah, me too. I think Keith can meet all the criteria, and could produce a winner.

L: Stacy should definitely be precluded.

G: Boy I hope not. I think she could produce a dynamite essay. I would hate to have her excluded. But I know you're serious, so I'll say wouldn't it be hilarious, don't you think, if the only writers who can enter Bob's contest are those who can prove they despise him.

L: 4) You must define what a literary word is. Is it 5 digits including spaces or is it just any old word that counts as a word count?

G: I've always gone with the any old word definition. I think that counting only those words <----- there's two of them ---- of five digits will make this challenge more challenging than it ought to be.

L: These are just some of the questions that come up when someone enters any contest. These are my suggestions. Rules should be agreed upon and possible even written up by a lawyer. We don't need any lawsuits here on ARS.

G: That's actually the reason the lawyers shouldn't touch the rules. But what do you mean we don't need any lawsuits here on ARS? Of course we do. ARS is the torch that carves anvils into earrings. We need more lawsuits. However do you expect to go SP if you're not sued?

Since you are the contest rule maker, promoter and producer, it is best you decide before hand who should be allowed in the contest to begin with.

G: I agree. Let everyone in. Let everyone in. Let everyone in. Let everyone in. Let everyone in.

L: You don't need any OSA bots around putting forth their two cents.

G: Yes we do. Two cents from O$A. Two cents from O$A. Two cents from O$A. Two cents from O$A. Two cents from O$A.

L: and have Scientology come in with a lawsuit to break up the fun.

G: A lawsuit from $cientology can only heighten the fun. We want a lawsuit. We want a lawsuit. We want a lawsuit. We want a lawsuit. We want a lawsuit.

L: You never know do you; it could happen. This is their ball park when it comes to shit like this.

G: What is their ballpark? ARS? Shit like what? Like writing essays about them which pin their ears back?

L: They are the master when it comes to games,IMHO.

G: Their legacy will be their failure. They wake up every day to slave toward that legacy. They are not even the master of nothing.

L: One more thing. Can anyone tell me how much 10,000 words would be in Kilobytes? This may give a good indication of how much work is involved.

G: A lot of work. It's a difficult challenge. Make your words count.

But here's the deal on my membership in the MFC. I've hung out with Bob a number of times, always, I think, in other people's company, and I've talked to him by phone a number more. He didn't asked me to write or post this, nor did anyone else. He's never asked me to post anything.

I don't get everything that gets posted to ars and don't read a huge percentage of what I do get. I can't take much time in this activity, and in what time I do take I probably get only a fraction done of what any normal wog can do. I say this to make it clear that I know I have but one point of view out of umpteen impossibillion points of view.

I have a Grade 11 education and know that my academic development does not go much beyond that. My religious convictions are, even for a prophet I would think, middle of the road toward liberal. Some at least of what I write here, and just about anywhere I can get away with it, is for not much more than its sound, although I try not to stray from the truth. That way, I don't have to keep much in mind and there's all this space for words.

I think a lot of people are very kind to me on ars when they really might want to wring my neck. There are some here, of course, who are very unkind and they also might want to wring my neck. I am grateful for every time my coparticipants chose kindness, and I am grateful to those who came to my defense, and pretty well anyone's defense here at the ars hodown (R).

Sometime after I first knew of Bob or had heard his name, I learned here on ars that he had, some months before, made an offer of $360,000 to anyone who could get $cientology's tax exemption revoked. After giving this some thought I called Bob and said that I believed I could get $cientology's tax exemption revoked, and, reasoning that someone who has $360,000 for one purpose probably has even more to do other things, asked him for a loan to be able to give it my best shot. I repay him upon completion of the project; that is, when the IRS tax exemption is revoked.

Now it isn't that I am any old guy who thought up such a cool venture. I have the undeniable need and the legal standing to effectively challenge $cientology's US-approved and defended status. Breckenridge, the MCCS tapes, the Zolin v. US cases, the CST v. US case, the religious persecution cases (CSI v. Armstrong, Marin Superior Court, US Bankruptcy Court), $cientology's IRS 1023 response, and my being where I was and am all add up to the requisite need and standing. The need and the legal standing to obtain the revokation of $cientology's tax exemption also makes me a bigger than life sized target.

So Bob said, how about $100,000. I said bless you Bob. Of that, $75,000 I earmarked for costs in my legal battle, and $25,000 was for me to pay a bunch of bills, set up a place in Nevada and get on with my work. The litigation and Nevada are, beyond what I've said, another story for another occasion, and aren't further related to Bob, to whom this post relates.

Bob has given or loaned a lot of money to a number of the participants in the battle against $cientology. Each of these gifts or loans was honorable, for honorable purposes and to honorable recipients. There has been an ill-conceived idea on ars that there has been something dishonorable in what has been received from Bob. $cientology thrives on ill-conceived ideas.

There is also the faulty idea that what the people Bob helped monetarily have to say on the newsgroup owes its existence to his money. The truth is probably closer to that proposition's opposite. I believe Bob helped those people who way deep down are not very influenced by money. It wouldn't hurt noting that the people helped were pretty well all involved in litigation with the frightfully rich and ever so barratrous $cientology cult.

Maintaining that someone's statements (mine) are motivated one way or another by Bob's having loaned him (me) a bunch of money is not reasonable, or defensible, unless the specific statements are identified and the linkage made. I am certain that there is a consistency in what I have posted here, from before I contacted Bob to after he loaned me the money and on up to present time. In that sense I am unmotivated by it. In that I am writing about the loan now, I am writing something different from what I would be writing had Bob not loaned me the money. But even this is not motivated by money.

On the other hand, in a sense Bob made it possible for me to write every word I've written over the past year or so. But he has never told me one word to say. And I believe there would be no relevant difference in what I've written if I had received money from any other source. Which we all have. We have all received money from other sources. That does not mean therefore that the word of us all is corrupted. Some is; some isn't.

Even without considering the litigation costs, Bob made it possible for me to help my mother and family, stay above water, and keep moving along toward victory. So in that sense, Bob has been kind, generous, understanding, validative, and fun. He sure seems to be in the same war I'm in and on the same side, and I'm honored to call him my friend.

Regarding Dorian, some time back someone asked on ars what the Dorian thing is all about, and I answered "broken glass bead game." I was refering to Hermann Hesse's novel *Magister Ludi,* titled in some printings, *The Glass Bead Game.*

I know I've been saying, and I still say, that God is the L[ong] F[all] B[low]D[own] F[loating]/N[eedle] answer to every properly asked L[isting] & N[ulling] question. What Hubbard called the LFBD F/N item, which according to him should be accompanied by other G[ood] I[ndicator]s including the T[one] A[rm] between 2.0 and 3.0, was simply the answer. He was wrong in his assignment of these E[nd]P[henomena]s, but he was right that questions had answers. Duh, you say?

And, as I've also been saying, and as everyone has noticed, I'm sure, just about any good rule is qualified by safety, courtesy and wisdom. So although God is the answer to the question, "What's the Dorian thing all about?" which is, by the way, a pretty good L & N question, it would be stupid to give that answer. "Broken glass bead game" still F/Ns for me. Perhaps it does for others as well.

It is actually inappropriate to call it a broken game, since it was not my game, and such a judgment on players is in almost all cases discourteous, unwise and even unsafe. My sole contribution to Dorian was to chime in, earnestly I think, a singled whispered name, "Leni Riefenstahl." And then I tried to cheer everyone up when the game, as I judged it, disassembled.

There were actual players whose contributions unfortunately went largely unapplauded, indeed unrecognized; and there were spectators and judges whose sentiments became, I can say with assurance, a more valued part of that particular glass bead game than the game itself. It may be that ars is not a fertile setting for glass bead games. I would myself not choose to develop one in certain settings; courtrooms for example. When the war is over, when we toast all the opponents to the $cientology octopus, when we toast Allard, Cooper, Whitney and Wollersheim, I know we'll hoist a glass too for Dorian.

I understand that there are people here who might want to wring Bob's neck. Bob has done things differently from the way I'd do them, and done some things I wouldn't do at all. It makes me sad when Martin, who has contributed so much to the war effort, and he fight. It makes me sad when Sten-Arne, whose contribution and presence are so valuable, shoots it out on ars with Bob. It makes me sad when any of our officers scrap with each other. On the other hand, it makes me happy that ars is a perfect place to learn patience.

Whenever I've travelled in the US during the past couple of years, I've advised Bob, because he is the one person I'm connected to who can do something if I run into the kind of trouble the $cientologists manufacture. I can't call Martin or Sten-Arne, and I can't call a jury. Because I'd call Bob, I'm fully paid up MFC member. And because I'm a member I will not enter the Dorian Challenge.

(c) Gerry Armstrong