Did you know that roughly ten percent of the world’s families are responsible for two-thirds of all criminals? Fox Butterfield takes a closer look at one such family in Oregon: “I met the Bogles through an official at the Oregon Department of Corrections, who called me to say he knew of a family with what he thought were six members in prison. Little did I know that, after 10 years of reporting, the real number of people in the Bogle clan I found who have been incarcerated or placed on probation or parole would turn out to be 60.”

Claude Debussy’s velvet revolution: “Debussy accomplished something that happens very rarely, and not in every lifetime: he brought a new kind of beauty into the world. In 1894, when ‘Faun’ was first performed, its language was startling but not shocking: it caused no scandal, and was accepted by the public almost at once.”

How James Joyce’s father shaped his writing: “In life, John Stanislaus was a violent drunk who had fallen, largely through his own fault, on hard financial times, and his many children were frequently disgusted by him – facts that only make his shimmering resurrection in Joyce’s writing all the more remarkable, an act of love as well of artistic creation.”

Charles Dickens’s unfinished The Mystery of Edwin Drood: “The story centered around a choirmaster with a hidden wicked side who covets his nephew’s fiancée. When the nephew, one Edwin Drood, suddenly disappears, a murder mystery ensues. ‘I hope his book is finished. It is certainly one of his most beautiful works, if not the most beautiful of all,’ Longfellow wrote in his condolence letter. ‘It would be too sad to think the pen had fallen from his hand, and left it incomplete.’”

Honor and the American Revolution: “In addition to rights and liberty, the colonies frequently employed the language of honor to explain and justify their actions. Smith claims that such ‘concepts of honor and virtue were at the forefront of the American founders’ minds as they traveled the precarious road to independence.’ In Smith’s reading of the Imperial Crisis, England’s imposition of taxes questioned and violated the colonies’ sense of honor. As he rightly points out, this is not to say that colonial protests were only about defending their honor, but rather that questions of virtue permeated these acts of resistance. Boycotting English goods, for example, became a way for men and women to partake in a ‘public virtue’ and a means to establish their individual reputations as moral patriots. The same distinction also applied on the battlefield; figures like Washington insisted that the conflict had to be fought with dignity and honor. As Smith puts it, ‘They wanted to win, but win well. They wanted the new country to succeed, but not at the cost of honor or virtue.’”

The founder of the Little Free Library has died.

Essay of the Day:

Alec Nevala-Lee writes about the strange beginnings of Scientology in the offices of Astounding Science Fiction:

“For most of his life, John W. Campbell, Jr., the editor of the magazine Astounding Science Fiction, had trouble remembering his childhood. He had filled his stories with extravagant images, but he had no visual memory, to the point that he was unable to picture the faces of his own wife and children. When L. Ron Hubbard, one of his most prolific writers, approached him with the promise of a new science of the mind, he was understandably intrigued. And he was especially attracted by the possibility that it would allow him to recall events that he had forgotten or repressed.

“In the summer of 1949, Campbell was thirty-nine years old and living in New Jersey. For over a decade, he had been the single most influential figure in what would later be known as the golden age of science fiction, and he had worked extensively with Hubbard, who was popular with fans. The two men were personally close, and when Hubbard, who was a year younger, suffered from depression after World War II, Campbell became concerned for his friend’s mental state: ‘He was a quivering psychoneurotic wreck, practically ready to break down completely.’

“Hubbard had sought medical treatment for his psychological problems, which he also tried to address in unconventional ways. While living in Savannah, Georgia, he began to revise Excalibur, an unpublished manuscript on the human mind that he had written years earlier. In a letter to his agent, Hubbard said that the book had information on how to ‘rape women without their knowing it,’ and that he wasn’t sure whether he wanted to use it to abolish the Catholic Church or found one of his own. He concluded, ‘Don’t know why I suddenly got the nerve to go into this again and let it loose. It’s probably either a great love or an enormous hatred of humanity.’

“Years later, Hubbard would incorporate many of these ideas into the teachings of the Church of Scientology, but his first inclination was to pitch the scientific community. On April 13, 1949, he wrote to the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and the Gerontological Society in Baltimore, saying that he had treated twenty patients until they could remember events from before birth. He claimed to be working for free with criminals, orphans, and a boy who was failing his classes, and he told the writer Robert A. Heinlein—another important member of Campbell’s circle—that if he ever started charging for his services, ‘the local psychiatrists, now my passionate pals, would leave me dead in some back alley.’

“Hubbard’s attempts to interest professional societies went nowhere, but one last possibility remained. In May, he contacted Campbell about his research, and the editor invited him to come out for a visit. At the end of the month, Hubbard and his wife Sara moved into a house near the offices of Astounding in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Campbell wasn’t impressed by what he saw of Excalibur, calling it ‘more fiction than anything else,’ but he was struck by Hubbard’s appearance: ‘The sparkle was back, and it was genuine. His conversation was lucid and thoroughly organized. He was thinking again. He told me he had found the secret of the problem of the mind—but more important he had found himself.’”

Read the rest.

Poem: Mary-Patrice Woehling, “11th Month, 11th Day, 11th Hour (Armistice 100)”

Photo: Pointe du Hoc

Get Prufrock in your inbox every weekday morning. Subscribe here.