Memoirizing lines

Nancy Many (NM) posted on Ex-Scientologist Message Board:

NM: Hello ESMB and especially Gerry and Arnie,

Hello. I don’t do ESMB now.

NM: I am jumping in here after a three year absence from watching these boards and ‘keeping up’. I have been completing my Master’s degree and my clinical training as a multi-faith chaplain. Please forgive me if I speak of things that are well known or that I “should” have known if I had been keeping up.

I have written my memoir, as have many others. I encourage EVERYONE to do so, as I do believe that each person’s story is unique and gives a thread of what will then enable the “whole” to be better seen. I took many costly wrong turns in the process of getting my own book out, I have attempted to assist others in avoiding those pitfalls and am available to anyone who is endeavoring to publish their story. The publishing world is completely different now than it was 5-6 years ago, and we now have the numbers of ‘other memoirs’ out there to help get more out.

The individuals who write memoirs are digging deep and sharing personal feelings and issues that are sometimes extremely difficult to view in one’s own mind and heart, let alone to share these intimate thoughts and experiences with the outside world. I am humbled by those who have or are doing this work.

To write a memoir, the author has to ‘return’ to those times, to that pain, confusion and sometimes happiness and joy. With the subject of Scientology, this is never an easy or simple job. Sometimes for the writer, it is only through the process of writing that personal clarity is achieved.

Individuals who dig deep in writing a memoir dig deep. But memoir writers can also dig shallowly, or not dig at all. Some memoir writers share intimate experiences, and some dish up pabulumish generalities, or even packs of lies. Memoirs can be written for the most antisocial of purposes. Hitler’s Mein Kampf is an extremely well read memoir. There should be nothing automatically humbling about memoir writers.

Percipient witness statements must be memoirs too, of course, because of the requirement that the witness have personal knowledge of the facts in his statements. Witnesses can lie on their sworn statements, just as they can in their memoirs, as Marty Rathbun, for example, demonstrates. Despite the way, however, that the concept of sworn statements can be abused, or laughed at as the Scientologists do, such statements are indispensable for obtaining justice for the Scientologists’ victims. The memoirs that have been published have not served that function. I am seeking percipient witnesses’ statements for justice.

NM: For clarity, I am sharing a couple of good definitions of “Memoir”.


A form of creative nonfiction in which an author recounts experiences from his or her life.
“A memoir,” says Gore Vidal, “is how one remembers one’s own life, while an autobiography is history, requiring research, dates, facts double-checked. In a memoir it isn’t the end of the world if your memory tricks you and your dates are off by a week or a month as long as you honestly try to tell the truth” (Palimpsest: A Memoir, 1995).

Ann Casano
Ann has taught university level Film classes and has a Master’s Degree in Cinema Studies.
It takes a lot of courage to write a memoir, to reveal personal aspects about one’s private life. In this lesson, we will take a look at what makes a story a memoir and examine a few of the most popular memoirs of the 20th century.
Memoirs Versus Autobiographies
Memoirs are typically classified as a sub-genre of the autobiography. The main difference being that a memoir is more focused. An autobiography typically spans a person’s entire life and contains intricate details like the writer’s family history and childhood. A memoir, on the other hand, is much more centralized. It’s a story about a time in someone’s life or a major event that occurred or maybe it focuses on a special place that the writer liked to visit during the summer.
Lou Willet Stanek, describes the difference between writing a memoir and an autobiography in her book, ‘Writing Your Life.’
If you were to write an autobiography, you would have to spend a lot of time at the courthouse, looking up the date your great-grandfather was born, what year your father bought the house on Elm Street. The research for a memoir can be done in an easy chair. Close your eyes and try to recapture the moment you bought your first car, learned you were pregnant, met the President or wobble down the street on a two-wheeler.
Stories To Tell
Memoirs have been around for a long time. People were always interested in revealing snapshots of their life from their own perspective. We can even trace the memoir back to ancient times. Julius Caesar wrote his first known memoir, Commentaries on the Gallic Wars, around 50 BCE. It depicted his firsthand experiences of the epic battles he fought during the Gallic Wars.

So that is what a memoir is.

First to Gerry, I was fascinated with your note to Jesse (posted by Caroline here on ESMB) You have put forth a LOT of information that I (and I am sure others) had not known. It truly makes me want to read YOUR book, and to be able to see the “war” Scientology waged on you in it’s fullness and what happened, and I’m certain is still happening.

For the sake of the fullness of the war, or really the fullness of the cause of peace, I asked Jesse to debrief to me about his part in the war. He made some statements in his November 7 article that were quite general but indicated that he possessed additional related details that could be helpful if he was debriefed and his facts put in a form usable in legal contexts.

This is not the first time I have asked Jesse to help me with a declaration detailing facts he knew about fair game actions against me, but he had always refused, and never offered an explanation. In 2011, when he started his blog, I commented about an erroneous and harmful opinion he held, and I sought to clarify some points with him concerning certain facts he had stated, and he treated me quite contemptuously. Funny, he used the same response then that essentially you are using now: “Write your own book.”

In this newest article, Jesse both mentioned knowledge about me that I had not previously been aware of, and he implied that he had finally cast off his long time enmity toward me. But he also repeated the Scientologists’ black PR lines about me as if they were true. Again, so far he has refused to address the untruths that I have demonstrated to him, and again he is treating me inimically.

In light of his participation for years in the criminal conspiracy against me in an executive position inside Scientology, what he is doing is unfathomably cruel. I cannot believe that he would now treat all of the apparently large number of victims whose getting rid of he oversaw in a similar manner.

NM: You first bring up the following:

“Dear Jesse:
In my November 9 communication, I mentioned that I would deal later with fact errors about me in your article, and I’m doing so now. I excerpted the section of the article that concerns me, and commented where I thought correction or clarification was needed.

I began to recall being on the other side of the fence when Gerry Armstrong had to defend himself against Scientology style black ops for years.

What I had to defend against was war. It is understandable that the Scientologists waged Scientology style war; but because it is solely Scientologists, and their mercenaries, of course, who are waging it, and all in the cause of Scientology and in application of Scientology scriptural directives, it is proper to call what I had to defend against “war,” the Scientologists’ war on me.”

Jesse is writing a memoir. It is HIS memoir. Jesse was not subjected to a “War” as you were. He was subjected to “Black Ops” like you were (as you clarify were only a part of the overall, orchestrated War against you).

Yes, Jesse is writing a memoir, and it is his memoir. And yes he had his experiences and I had mine, and we have words to describe them. I was not communicating about the content of Jesse’s memoir that he is writing, however, but some of the content in his already-published blog article. Jesse announces in his article that he is writing a book about the last four years of L. Ron Hubbard’s life, so the article reasonably would not be understood to be that book.

In that Jesse’s book will be about the last four years of Hubbard’s life, it cannot really be an autobiography, which would be Jesse’s account of four years of Jesse’s life. This takes care of the memoirs v. autobiographies issue in what you quoted from Ann Casano.

A “memoir” can be memories of anything, not necessarily one’s own life. So, although it is a subcategory of autobiography, it could also be a subcategory of biography, which, presumably, a book about L. Ron Hubbard’s last four years would be.

These days, of course, writers of any genre look up courthouse dates and docs in a chair at their desk, whether it’s easy or not. The key is that a memoir is a memoir, as Vidal says above, “as long as you honestly try to tell the truth.” Memoirs do not provide memoirists with a justification to not try to tell the truth in the nonfiction they are writing. And I would think that legitimate memoirists, historians, researchers, biographers or English teachers would not go along with using the genre for such a purpose.

In any event, what is important is that in biography, autobiography or memoir, truth applies equally. They are not works of fiction. “The assertions made in the work are understood to be factual.” The same standard for defamation applies whether the author calls his work biography, autobiography or memoir.

NM: Jesse in his memoir is recounting that being on the receiving end of Scientology’s “Black Ops” gave him more understanding of what a person on the receiving end of “black Ops” feels like. He used you as an example. The black ops against you came to his mind. He could have used an example of any number of people that received Scientology Black ops.

He still can but he didn’t. His article is not his memoir. He could have used me as an example without telling untruths about me. Something cannot be from memory if it did not happen; it is a fiction.

But seriously, were there really any number of victims Jesse could choose from — on whom he was receiving daily fair game ops intel reports; whose legal troubles Jesse was present for and informed about as they happened; whose getting rid of was the subject of weekly ASI board room meetings that Jesse attended; and who had bankers boxes of hate filled vitriolic orders from Hubbard about him? And of all of that huge number of victims, who has an ongoing war with the Scientologists and is in a situation where Jesse’s testimony could make a difference in the direction of justice for so many people?

NM: As he is writing a memoir, this is HIS story, HIS experiences from HIS point of view.


Nancy Many

Actually, going with Jesse’s statement about his book’s subject, this is L. Ron Hubbard’s story, Hubbard’s experiences, from Jesse’s point of view. This is perfectly fine for a memoir. Jesse has stated what he says his standard is for this work, and I would imagine in other communications in his life.

JP on ESMB: I have nothing but a truth to share with people that want to know. There is no reason to us to be confused about the facts of what happened during the end of L Ron’s days. The truth is so much more palatable than conjecture or modern consensus. When I talk about Scientology and the Sea Org, unless I have personal experience I don’t pretend to know what the truth is, in the monkey business of Scientology.

If Jesse actually seeks to share nothing but truth, he cannot and should not rely on his memory. He does not have to travel to court houses, but can get what he needs to confirm or change his memories at home in the comfort of his easy chair. It would be a disservice to everyone but the Scientologists if Jesse didn’t check his remembered facts where they easily can be checked. I tried to help him with that, and there is no doubt that debriefing on his actions to a knowledgeable person who can frame decent questions would also help where he needs it.