Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cleopatra Syndrome

One of the peculiar irrationalities of the human mind is the so-called "Cleopatra Syndrome", where the bearer of bad news is blamed for the bad news itself. The receiver of the news is inclined to associate it with the person telling it; imagine if you will a woman who falls out with her best friend because she informed her of her husband's infidelity. The existence and prevalence of the syndrome leads to a slightly underhanded strategy in many organisations; to task other people, preferably your enemies, with breaking bad news. Do everything in your power to be the one to pass on good news.

Miscavige has, for years, been Mr Good News. It has been his face associated in the minds of public Scientologists with all the good the Church is allegedly doing around the world. It has been his image bound together with victories against psychiatry. But there's been a paucity of good news of late. They have been put under an unprecedented level of scrutiny, high profile defections, and an ever more vocal and growing number of ex-Scientologists. The good news, often little more than smoke and mirrors in itself, has been put to the test in a way Miscavige is not accustomed to. And, through no small coincidence, Miscavige seems to have gone to ground.

And who is left to answer for the Church's dubious practices? Tom Davis! Davis, son of actress and former Cruise-squeeze Anne Archer, is wheeled out whenever any fork-tongued public statement is required, often leaving him blinking bewildered in the headlamps of direct questions about his faith and his church. Ask the Scientologist's Just Bill points out that Davis was even left to run the New Year event - an annual backslap that the organisation puts on to sell the idea to its dwindling membership that the Church is genuinely doing something worthwhile. This has traditionally been a firm fixture for Miscavige, but his absence from both the public and private face of Scientology continued.

As much as the idea appeals to me that Miscavige has followed in Hubbard's footsteps and gone into hiding, jumping at shadows as he waits for his empire to fall, I suspect that instead he is quite calmly waiting out the present turbulence, putting as much distance between himself and the embarrassments of the last few months. He may even be planning on making a high-profile return to the spotlight, a wad of old/new research to peddle to base. In the meantime Davis, who surely must have done something pretty bad in the eyes of Miscavige to have deserved such treatment, will continue to take hits for the team. The only question that remains is where Davis will be headed once his master returns.

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