By Ray Kemp, USA
There are two main reasons why authors do what they do when they write columns. (This disregards the money they earn, which often is not much, and here is even less.)
Either they write because they like to see their views in print, and there is nothing wrong with a bit of ego here, or they write because they feel that they have something to say, or contribute, to the group called readers. Assuming the latter, then how does the author know that he is contributing to the group? How does he know that what he is saying is both needed and wanted by the readers. (He of course has his own view of what he thinks is needed and wanted, but this is prejudiced by what he needs and wants to say himself.)
Feedback is the only measuring device an author has. He gets feedback from the editor, of course, but this is aligned to what the editor needs and wants for the magazine, and often is a matter of length and deadline rather than substance. Over the history of this column my favourite offerings were on Quantum, and on Testing, in that order, yet the feedback from the readers was far greater on the testing article. Another feedback was on the articles on the Magic Track, but these responses were more on the question of how to awaken one's recall, and my answer "just recall it with suspended disbelief" went over like a lead balloon.
As far as what I was trying to get across, I suppose it can all be summed up in a simple phrase "Get the basics in first". You really cannot get to an O.T.ish state if you do not have a full life repair, and are plagued by human society type problems.
In the feedback I have been accused of being very pro-Ron, as though that were not a politically correct thing to be. In many ways, however, it is true. I was and still am friendly towards Ron, and counted myself as a friend also, but this does not mean that 1 totally agreed with him at all times, nor did I worship him or the ground he walked on. Many times we argued, and got mad at each other.
An incident with Ron
One instance I recall was in Washington D.C. when I went into the newly arriving Founding Church, and discovered a note on the public notice board 'banning me from the building' (this was before Declares came out and was not the first time I was in bad odour with Ron). Anyway, I decided that I had had enough of this sort of thing and went over to Maryland, to his house, that evening and sat on the front porch waiting his arrival. Come about 10 p.m. he arrived home, saw me and asked what I was doing there. I told him "I want to speak with you about that stupid notice on the board".
Ron immediately went into a long harangue about something that I had done, all to do with answering the phone by saying "HASI" instead of "Founding Church", and as he went on I got madder and madder. Finally I put my hand on his chest, and pushed him onto the swinging couch on the front patio, saying "God dam it shut up... You invented the communication formula, now shut up, sit down and listen". Ron immediately looked up surprised and said "O.K there is no need to fire the gun before it is loaded" to which I replied "I do not have a hole behind my ears - I am not a gunner" (this exchange can best be appreciated by Navy Types who had a saying that all Gunners have a hole behind their ears to let their brains out... so that they could be a G gunner).
Ron laughed, so did I, and we had a conversation in a sane manner after that. It turned out that he had received a report from a senior staff member that was untrue and had acted upon that report (unfortunately Ron was very prone to doing this). Anyway, that particular staff member was waiting in the house along with other Divisional Heads, for Ron to give a daily staff briefing. Ron invited me into the house, pointedly invited me to sit in the chair that that staff member was already sitting in, and made a great play of seeing that I had an ice cold Coca Cola in my hand before starting the staff meeting.
As you can imagine, there was a great deal of confusion among the staff members present, since "God" had expelled me, and here I was in the hallowed meeting where the secrets of the universe were being unveiled. Each time a subject was discussed Ron would ask my opinion, and then every now and again he would turn the conversation over to Naval Matters with a scarcely sequitur "Ray, do you recall when we were in the Pacific and..." going into a long and often humorous story which we later coined "Swapping Lies about the War". As it happened we were both in the same theatre at the same time, but in different fleets, so I took my cue from him and responded with anecdotes of my own. After about two hours the meeting broke up, and, as I left, Ron turned to me and said "I don't think you will have any trouble with him again", and indeed I never did.
Now of course we could go into the episode, and how unjust it was that he listened to a third party and etc. etc. etc., But Ron was human, he had his faults, and he had his way of handling things like his own mistakes... He was a great Games Player.
And this is the point I want to make with you. Put some fun back into what you are doing. Life is a game, and if you make the rules and play by them it can be fun. It certainly is not so serious as most people think.
Secondly, it is feedback that helps define these rules, so when you read this magazine, don't just sit there and sop it up like a sponge. Let the authors know your views. Two way communication is better than a one way flow.
For the next, and coming years, Have fun, live, prosper and enjoy!