Talk:Ali's Smile: Naked Scientology/Archive 1

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Critical book or a novel[edit]

Just in response to the edit summary on the article space, this book is definitely critical of Scientology -- that was the whole point of it. The only reason it's attached to the Novels WikiProject is that it includes a short story, so it qualifies for the short story task force. The rest of the book is a series of essays and letters to the editor. 23skidoo 13:33, 9 February 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for the clarification. Smee 20:06, 9 February 2007 (UTC).

Um, the term "Science fiction based religion" is a big POV in a confusing manner, as it insults scientology by calling it science fiction (if you wan't my opinion its the silliest nonsense I think I have ever heard in my life). But that just opinion, scientologists honestly seem to believe these things actually occured. You could say any religion that is based upon anything that doesn't conform to the scientific method to be fiction, but that's not the case either, fiction is something seen as fictional, not a widely held belief that is considered highly unlikely scientifically. On the other hand it refers to scientology as a religion, which it is not based upon the fact that it doesn't believe in a diety, is not recognised by a great many nations as an actual church, requires its members to pay large sums to learn its techniques etc. it is clearly a cult from a logical perspective (under the definition of a cult) but that's not a NPOV either because it is believed to be a religion by its members. the most nuetral description is "body of teachings", which is how the article on scientology itself describes it (in part, in full its "body of teachings and techniques" but this seems to long for the brief description). Colin 8 05:20, 26 May 2007 (UTC)

  • If you feel a statement is incorrect or violates NPOV, please feel free to make the appropriate changes. I personally have heard it referred to as thus many times, based upon Hubbard being a SF author, but that aside Wikipedia articles aren't the places to debate the whys and wherefors of Scientology or any religion. That's what Burroughs' book is for. 23skidoo 19:18, 28 May 2007 (UTC)

Fair use rationale for Image:AlisSmile.jpg[edit]

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BetacommandBot (talk) 04:56, 2 January 2008 (UTC)

Unsourced info on Publication history, moved from article to talk page[edit]

Unsourced info moved from article to talk page. Cirt (talk) 19:14, 28 March 2009 (UTC)

Publication history[edit]

The original edition of the Ali's Smile/Naked Scientology collection was bilingual, with the text printed in both English and German - the latter in translation by editor Carl Weissner.

The first half of the book documents a series of articles and letters written by Burroughs in early 1970s and published in various newsletters and magazines. The first of these texts is an article reprinted from the Los Angeles Free Press, March 6, 1970, entitled "Burroughs On Scientology" in which he, quite critically, describes his personal experience with the religion, as he was briefly a member before quitting and becoming a critic of the movement. Burroughs also attacked psychiatry in the article. This article sparked a storm of letters and controversy between Burroughs and the Church of Scientology.

The second text is an "Open Letter To Mister Gorden Mustain" which was originally published in The East Village Other only July 7, 1970. It was a response to Mustain who had attacked Burroughs in the pages of the Free Press over his stand on Scientology.

The third text is a reprint of a review by Burroughs of the book Inside Scientology by Robert Kaufman from the November 9, 1972 issue of Rolling Stone. This is followed by a letter from a Church of Scientology representative in reaction to the review of Kaufman's book, and then Burroughs' reply to that.


Ali's Smile: Naked Scientology is the title of a short collection of essays and fiction by William S. Burroughs which was first published in 1978. The short story "Ali's Smile" had previously been published on its own in 1971 and later in the collection, Exterminator!. The collected edition was published by Expanded Media Editions of West Germany.

1991 and 1995 publications[edit]

According to this source there was a 1991 publication of the book by Expanded Media Editions. Cirt (talk) 21:23, 29 March 2009 (UTC)

  • Seed, David (2004). Brainwashing: the fictions of mind control: a study of novels and films since World War II. Kent State University Press. p. 297. ISBN 0873388135. 

According to this source Expanded Media also published the book in 1995. Cirt (talk) 21:23, 29 March 2009 (UTC)

Yes, but since these are not recorded in the history of the book's publication in the 1997 source I found, it is likely that they are just reprints, not new editions. It is better to use a source that lists all of the significant new editions than a conglomeration of sources that mixes editions and reprints. Awadewit (talk) 21:26, 29 March 2009 (UTC)
Ah - so we should not note the reprints? Cirt (talk) 21:27, 29 March 2009 (UTC)
Usually not. Imagine how many reprints of Hamlet there would be!?! Usually only editions with significant changes are mentioned. Awadewit (talk) 21:37, 29 March 2009 (UTC)
Heh, good point. Cirt (talk) 21:38, 29 March 2009 (UTC)


In process of doing research for the article. In particular would love to find book reviews or other secondary sources which comment on the book's contents and/or publication history. Cirt (talk) 17:12, 28 March 2009 (UTC)

From the DLB entry:
Barry Miles, William Burroughs: El Hombre Invisible. New York: Hyperion Press, 1993.
John Tytell, Naked Angels: The Lives and Literature of the Beat Generation. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1976.
Ted Morgan, Literary Outlaw: The Life and times of William S. Burroughs. New York: Holt, 1988.
Robert Palmer, "Rolling Stone Interview: William S. Burroughs" Rolling Stone 108 (11 May 1972): 48-53
Gerard Malanga, "An Interview with William S. Burroughs" Beat Book 4 (1974): 90-112.
Victor Bockris, With William Burroughs: A Report from the Bunker, New York: Seaver, 1981.
Jennie Skerl, "An Interview with William S. Burroughs (4 April 1980, New York City)" Modern Language Studies 12 (Summer 1982): 3-17.
Jennie Skerl, William S. Burroughs, Boston: Twayne, 1985.
There are more citations for literary criticism, but this is a good place to start. Awadewit (talk) 21:56, 29 March 2009 (UTC)
There is nothing on this book in MLA or JSTOR. I checked both JSTOR and MLA for "Burroughs and Scientology" and have gathered a few sources from that. Awadewit (talk) 03:45, 6 April 2009 (UTC)
I'll get the Morgan and you can get the Skerl. I'm not optimistic that we're going to get much more info, but I hope we will. Awadewit (talk) 01:56, 7 April 2009 (UTC)

Potentially useful notes[edit]


  • "[Burroughs's] interest in apormorphine as a 'metabolic regulator' led him to include it, along with Scientology, in the pantheon as a weapon against control. Burroughs regarded Scientology techniques as useful, but he never had any time for the organised religious side of it and disliked most Scientologists he met." (114)
  • Scientology is a theme of The Ticket that Exploded (1962) (120)
  • "Scientology makes an appearance early on in the book in a long, straight narrative crime story concerning a mysterious death involving tape recorders. The Scientologists are transparently disguised as the 'Logos' group:
They have a system of therapy they call 'clearing.' You 'run' traumatic material which they call 'engrams' until it loses emotional connotation through reptition and is then refiled as netural memtory. When all the 'engrams' have been run and deactivated the subject becomes a 'clear'...
The Scientologists rather foolishing made a public announcement when Burroughs became a 'clear', which rebounded somewhat in the late sixties, when he wrote a series a critical articles about the cult in Mayfair, a London men's magazine." (126)
  • Nova Express: "Burroughs devotes much of the book to explaining the weapons at our disposal, which are the usual ones of cut-ups, silence, apomorphine, Scientology, and the orgone accumulators of Wilhelm Reich". (129)
  • "Burroughs had tinkered around with Scientology since 1959, but in 1967 he at least decided to investigate it thoroughly and took a beginners' course at the London headquarters in the West End. In mid-January 1967, he took the two-month solo audit course at Scientology World Headquarters at Saint Hill Manor" (155).
  • "Burroughs came to regard the E-Meter as a useful device for deconditioning, though he had growing doubts about some of the other Scientology technoloqy, and grave reservations about their poolicy as an organisation. (He was later expelled from the Church for, among other crimes, running 'squirrel techniques' on himself instead of having an auditor as the questions.) 'They have a great deal of very precise data on words and the effects produced by words – a real science of communication. But I feel that their presentation has been often deplorable and that as a science, a body of knowledge, it is definitely being vitiated by a dogmatic policy...'" (155)
  • "'Scientology was useful to me until it became a religion,' Burroughs said, 'and I have no use for religion. It's just another one of those control-addict trips and we can all do without those.'" (155)
  • Burroughs became a "clear"; "The Scientologists were initially pleased to welcome such a distinguished name to their ranks, and publicised the fact that Burroughs had become a clear. Later, when he began to write a series of critical articles about them in Mayfair, they wished they had been more prudent." (156)
  • "By 1972 [Burroughs] decided that his dissatisfaction with the Scientologists merited an attack on their headquarters. [Burroughs] carried out a tape and photo operation against the Scientology Centre at 37 Fitzroy Street, in London, and sure enough, in a couple of months they moved to 68 Tottenham Court Road. The operation he carried out there did not work". (156-57) - A "tape and photo" operation described by Burroughs: "'I have frequently observed that this simple operation - making recordings and taking pictures of some location you wish to discomode or destroy, then playing recordings back and taking more pictures - will result in accidents, fires, removals, especially the last. The target moves.'" (156)
  • "'Ali's Smile' was published as separate, bilingual book in Germany, and in Brighton, England, in a limited-edition book with a recording of Burroughs reading it. It is a very funny routine based on Burrough's experience at the Saint Hill Scientology centre in East Grinstead" (173).


In the "Background" section, we say Burroughs left the Church in 1970 and became an Operating Thetan in the 1970s. This doesn't add up. Awadewit (talk) 02:06, 7 April 2009 (UTC)

  1. "One wonders what William S Burroughs would have made of it all. Just after he reached the level of 'Operating Thetan' during his stay in London in the 1970s, he turned their own mind-control methods on the Scientologists themselves. They had met their match in the author of Naked Lunch. He knew more about aliens than they did."
    • Swan, Michael (July 15, 1999). "Coming Soon To A Planet Near You". The Evening Standard. p. 34. 
  2. Burroughs was never an ardent supporter of either Dianetics or Scientology and by 1970 had severed all ties with the church."
    • Lardas, John (2001), The bop apocalypse: the religious visions of Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs, University of Illinois Press, p. 234, ISBN 0252025997 

If we accept both sources, it would seem it is likely he became an "Operating Thetan" shortly before breaking ties with the organization. Cirt (talk) 07:31, 7 April 2009 (UTC)

Removed until we can resolve source contradiction. Cirt (talk) 10:03, 7 April 2009 (UTC)

Recording of Burroughs reading "Ali's Smile"[edit]

I've ordered a copy of Burroughs reading "Ali's Smile". When it arrives, we can add a fair use clip. Awadewit (talk) 03:37, 8 April 2009 (UTC)

The CD arrived today. I'm in the process of extracting a clip. Awadewit (talk) 21:07, 15 April 2009 (UTC)
I've added the clip! Burroughs reads the story so strangely! Wow. Awadewit (talk) 23:18, 15 April 2009 (UTC)

Note for GA reviewer[edit]

Believe it or not, this is all of the information available on this book. We have searched high and low for sources and this is what we could come up with. Awadewit (talk) 04:02, 8 April 2009 (UTC)

There may be a few more sources that you can get some info out of, particularly relating to Burroughs and Scientology. See:
Spidern 13:26, 8 April 2009 (UTC)
We need more information on the book, not on Burroughs and Scientology, though. This article already has a detailed history of Burroughs's relationship to Scientology. Awadewit (talk) 15:10, 8 April 2009 (UTC)

Not approp for Novels WikiProject[edit]

[1] - Not approp for Novels WikiProject - reliable sources do not refer to the works as a "novel", and the bulk of the writing is nonfiction. Cirt (talk) 10:54, 14 April 2009 (UTC)

I agree. Awadewit (talk) 21:06, 15 April 2009 (UTC)

GA review[edit]

This article had a GA review and was successfully promoted as a GA. See Talk:Ali's Smile: Naked Scientology/GA1. Cirt (talk) 22:31, 27 April 2009 (UTC)


  • Burroughs is described by a quote: "In April 1970, Burroughs "started a controversy going by publishing an attack on the psychiatry profession and related fields such as Scientology".[29]" Since psychiatry is not a field related to Scientology, what on earth is meant by this? Is the quote describing the mixed up thinking of Burroughs (as is implied) or by someone else who doesn't know what they are talking about? Is Burroughs really confused about the difference between psychiatry (which has been attacked by Scientology) and Scientology? This is a very murky quotation and needs further explanation. It is not even a well worded quotation ("started a controversy going ...").
  • "Suppose Newton had founded a Church of Newtonian physics and refused to show his formula to anyone who doubted the tenets of Newtonian physics? ... It's like a physicist saying 'you can't see my formulae unless you first agree that they are correct sight unseen.'"[27] If this quote is by someone else, it is quite inaccurate. If it is by Burroughs, it is not a good example of clear, insightful thinking, as many religious and fraternal organizations keep aspects secret. Is this just Burroughs trashing Scientology?
  • First (topic) sentence from article: "Ali's Smile: Naked Scientology is a collection of essays and a short story by Beat writer William S. Burroughs (1914–97)." It is unclear to me, even after reading the article, whether the book contained content other than the anti-Scientology diatribes described. It sounds like there was a publication of the book that did contain only the anti-Scientology stuff, but the first publication contained other material? It is confusing in the article, as the article body does not detail other content.
  • The article contains way too many quotations, the meaning of which is unclear or misleading. It would be an improvement of an editors clarified the quote by putting them in their own words. Without knowing the context of the quotes, this article is difficult to penetrate. Would it not be better to quote Burroughs, rather than quote the agenda of other writers regarding Burroughs? Also, is there no range of opinions on Burroughts. Should not the article describe a variety of opinions, or did the opinions originate only from a narrow group of critics?
  • Since Burroughs is a writer, why is there no discussion of his literary style?
  • Google brings up this article title Ali's Smile: Naked Scientology only for this Wikipedia article. Amazon and others call it Ali's Smile / Naked Scientology. Regards, —Mattisse (Talk) 14:08, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
  1. I made this a bit clearer [2].
  2. This is Cooper quoting Burroughs.
  3. The majority of the book actually does consist of non-fiction essays, most of which is critical of Scientology.
  4. It's usually best to quote a bit from secondary sources, rather than primary sources where possible, to avoid WP:OR.
  5. Secondary sources generally don't get into too much analysis of Burroughs' literary style with regard to this particular work, I suppose we could provide some general background, but that would be more appropriate in the article William S. Burroughs.
  6. There are multiple different book titles used in secondary sources, I believe this is the one from the most recent publication.Cirt (talk) 14:31, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
  • Why to you have Cooper quoting Burroughs, rather than quote Burroughs directly. This is taking quotes out of context and introducing the view point of another, introducing bias. Your logic about quoting an author's words via secondary sources is less OR than quoting (presumably) the same words from the author directly does not avoid OR. This reminds me of a recent discussion in which the secondary source incorrectly quoted the primary source, so the secondary source was accepted as a more accurate version of the author's words than the primary source, the author's words themselves.
  • I guess I will Google the book to figure out what is actually in it, as this article is not clear. Per the topic sentence, as noted above, it is implied the book is wide ranging in content.
  • I don't want to hurt your feelings, but this is not a very clear or understandable article, and I am surprised and disappointed that it is considered to fulfill the GA criteria. —Mattisse (Talk) 14:45, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
  1. The alternative would be to have the entire article simply be individual Wikipedians' views and interpretations of the book itself, with selected quotes from the book, which would indeed be a violation of WP:NOR. Best to rely instead on secondary sources.
  2. As the topic sentence says, as noted above, the book is a collection of non-fiction essays, along with a fictional short story.
  3. Please, if you could come up with specific ways to change something or even better, additional useful secondary sources that we have not come across, that would be much more helpful than generalized complaints. Cirt (talk) 14:51, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
  • Well, I am just now reading the book on the web, and I am finding that the first chapter, "Burroughs on Scientology" is not even mainly about Scientology. In fact, is is almost entirely an anti-psychiatry diatribe. Somehow, this article doesn't notice this. Did the article's editors read Burrough's book, or just select reviews of it that concentrated on Scientology? Did anyone actually look at the content of the book the article describes? Perhaps they were fooled by the title and thought the book was mostly about Scientology, when it appears that Scientology is only the shell used by the author to write about a variety of topics he is against. It is ironic that psychiatry, that has been attacked vigorously by Scientology, is actually the main target of Burroughs. This is not mentioned in the article. —Mattisse (Talk) 15:05, 5 May 2009 (UTC).
I believe you are referring to a portion of the first essay where Burroughs is quoting from a Scientology publication that is critical of psychiatry. Cirt (talk) 15:14, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
  • No, I don't believe so. Read on. Plus, he makes such statements as this (missing from the article):

:As to my personal evaluation, after six months of study: I would not be writing this article unless I was convinced that Scientology is worth serious consideration. I feel that I have benefited greatly from Scientology processing.

The article provides a one-sided picture. —Mattisse (Talk) 16:06, 5 May 2009 (UTC)

The article discusses a bit of Burroughs' thoughts on some of what he thought were useful techniques of Scientology. Cirt (talk) 16:09, 5 May 2009 (UTC)

Article is extremely misleading[edit]

I urge anyone reading this article to actually read the book. This article in no way conveys the nature of the content nor the style of writing of the book. The article is apparently a selection of statements of others about the book that present a very misleading picture. —Mattisse (Talk) 15:26, 5 May 2009 (UTC)

In our research in improving the quality of this article we have pretty much exhausted usage of WP:RS secondary sources that discuss the book and/or Burroughs' experiences with Scientology. If you could suggest other WP:RS sources to incorporate, it would be most appreciated. Cirt (talk) 15:31, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
  • I notice that you quote directly from Burroughs for portions of the article, portions that are either neutral (regarding the short story, where you don't seem to feel a need for secondary sources to prevent OR) or portions that are anit-Scientology. I think you could be much more even handed in your selections of what to quote.
  • Further, this is an article on a major writer's work. There is no discussion on the quality of the writing, nor evaluation of the writing style, a major flaw that should have prevented GA status alone. Too bad that it is GA, as I work to try to keep such misleading and POV articles out of GA. But Wikipedia is not perfect. —Mattisse (Talk) 15:48, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
Again, if you could suggest any WP:RS sources that discuss the quality of the writing, evaluate the writing style, etc., it would be most appreciated. Cirt (talk) 16:02, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
  • Your lack of even-handed WP:RS in general does not justify the presentation of secondary sources who are expressing their own POV regarding Scientology. Reading the text, I realize why this work in not mentioned in Burrough's Wikipedia biography, or taken seriously as a work of literature. Why is there no "Reception" section, which is considered necessary in most GA reviews. This article is just an excuse to express anti-Scientology views without any context or consideration of the work of literature itself. I am considering putting this article up for GAR. —Mattisse (Talk) 16:14, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
Can you please suggest other WP:RS secondary sources to incorporate into this article? Myself and Awadewit (talk · contribs) have done a bit of research but have not been able to come up with other sources to use. Cirt (talk) 16:17, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
  • From what I have gleaned, the book was not considered notable enough to be worthy of serious criticism. It is left out of lists of his serious works. It was picked up and quoted by those whose had POV reasons for using him to support their views. Other, serious critics, disregarded it. This article furthers the POV claims of those who used him to further their agenda. —Mattisse (Talk) 16:31, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
WP:RS source to back up these claims you are making? Cirt (talk) 16:36, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
  • (ec) It is not my problem to prove the absence of something. It is for you to prove that it was taken seriously by critics. You can do this by providing a "Critical response" or similar section, which every GA article on a film, TV show, book, comic book etc. has. It it you can put the response of literary critics, rather that the responses of persons with POV about Scientology. Burroughs was not an expert on Scientology. He was a writer. —Mattisse (Talk) 16:47, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
  • We have put in what literary critics and biographers have said. We have included a summary of Burroughs' own views on Scientology as they are clearly relevant background information to the article. His experiences with Scientology are what prompted to write the pieces in this book and eventually collect them together. Awadewit (talk) 16:50, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
Mattisse, could you please explain which of the sources are POV? The vast majority are written by literary critics or are reputable biographies of Burroughs. As far as I am aware, they do not have an agenda when it comes to Scientology. Awadewit (talk) 16:41, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
Mattisse, the reason there is no "Reception" section is that we have not been able to find any reviews. In the bibliography of Burroughs works and the criticism of Burroughs I consulted, it did not list any reviews for the book. Awadewit (talk) 16:41, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
Awadewit, do you not consider that meaningful? A great writer publishes a book an no reputable critics review the book? The only comments on the book are those who are using the content for their own purposes or for biographical material? Perhaps you should note in the article, that no reputable critics have reviewed the book. If the book is used only as an element of his biography, that too is significant and should be noted in the article. —Mattisse (Talk) 16:55, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
Mattisse, that would be WP:OR. Cirt (talk) 16:56, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
Frankly, I wonder if the article is justified as a stand alone article. Perhaps it should be merged with his biography, which does not even mention it. Some of the references are from books on brainwashing or are frankly anti-Scientology. There are no balancing more neutral books. Many are just biographical mentions. I have seen this sort of unconscious POV recently in an attempt to get Michael Moore featured in a Thomas Paine article, so I am familiar with this style of injecting POV. —Mattisse (Talk) 17:48, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
Mattisse, please stop bringing your personal disputes with other users across multiple unrelated pages. It is highly inappropriate. Cirt (talk) 17:56, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
Cirt, it is too bad you have inflamed the situation so. I did not consider myself as having a "dispute" with Awadewit. In fact, I have always gotten along well with her, with the exception of her comments yesterday, which I did not consider beyond the article that they occurred. However, thanks to you, I now realize that I have a "dispute" with Awadewit. I will no longer consider myself on good terms with her or you, since that is the way you want to frame it. Regards, —Mattisse (Talk) 19:46, 5 May 2009 (UTC)

Clarification of genres of pieces[edit]

[3] = good changes, makes things a little bit clearer. Cirt (talk) 17:02, 5 May 2009 (UTC)


{{ArticleHistory}} above updated to reflect recently-closed Peer Review and GAR processes [4]. Cirt (talk) 13:11, 2 June 2009 (UTC)

a little literary criticism (snips)[edit]

  1. Harris, Oliver (2003) William Burroughs and the Secret of Fascination. Southern Illinois University Press. ISBN 0809324849. PP. 29-30 "... the defining instance occurs in a short story, written at the same time as Wild Boys, entitled Ali's Smile. Here the smile is tied to homosexual desire and compulsory mimesis, so that fascination names a perverse pleasure of pleasurable perversity: Ali loses control of his own body by becoming [snip]..." Talk on previous pages about the literary or psych. aspects of smiles; mentions Wild Boys
  2. Eric Mottram Eric Mottram (1977). William Burroughs: the algebra of need. Published by M. Boyars, Original from the University of Michigan. ISBN 0714525626 "Ali's Smile" uses the colonial official and native servant formula for the next stage in the extermination collection. Deep in 'Ye Olde Marl Hole Tavern'..."
Not sure if this has the depth to qualify as "literary criticism". Cirt (talk) 13:54, 2 June 2009 (UTC)
No matter. I'm just tacking it on. I often tack things onto Talk for other people to use (or not), if/when the info looks potentially useful but I have no desire to add it ;-) Ling.Nut (talk) 13:58, 2 June 2009 (UTC)
Okay, no worries, thanks. Awadewit (talk · contribs) may have some additional input on using these sources in some capacity. Cirt (talk) 14:03, 2 June 2009 (UTC)
The first snippet comes from a much larger argument, which cannot easily be represented in the article. When I read the argument, I had a hard time piecing it together (this is all explained at the GAR), so I am disinclined to use it. I would have to look at the original for the second piece to make any determination. Awadewit (talk) 16:24, 13 June 2009 (UTC)