Thursday, November 3, 2011

Part Ten, Chapter Nine - Gris Throws a Temper Tantrum

After a bad night's sleep caused by a dream of Countess Krak kicking the tar out of him despite his efforts to explain that her rage is the result of an Electra complex, Gris sets out to complete the last step of preparation for Mission Earth - getting Jettero Heller bugged, hopefully without Miss Crazy Legs finding out that a surgeon's knife has touched her precious Heller.

So what cunning ruse does Gris employ to get Heller to go along with this?  "You have a physical readiness appointment."  I know, I know, it's shocking for an Apparatus agent to go with a simple, straightforward, but effective scheme.  Of course you'd be expected to take a physical before an important mission, that's only sensible.

But Heller disagrees.  He insists that he's in fine condition, and doesn't need no physical.  So Gris explains that Heller needs to have any distinguishing marks removed that would blow his cover, which is made difficult due to the fact that Heller's just so damn awesome that despite years of combat he's practically scar-free.  The best Gris can find is a nick from a stone arrowhead earned on some backwater planet.  He also cites some nonexistent regulations to try to get Heller to go along, but the veteran commando shrugs them off, saying that as a Fleet officer he's not bound by Apparatus protocols.

So Gris throws a temper tantrum.

Apparently he learned this from the black arts of Psychology!, which explains how a child's tantrum leaves adults with no choice to surrender.  It's a complex five-step process that Gris confesses he owes much of his success to.

Step 1: Call Heller a big "meanie."
Step 2: Negation, in which Gris shrieks that if Heller doesn't do what he wants, he'll never get Gris' stamp on paperwork ever again.
Step 3: Convulsive Denial, i. e. flopping onto your back and pounding the floor with your fists and heels.
Step 4: Frothing, in which you slip some soap into your mouth
And luckily Heller caves before Gris gets to Step 5: Simulated Death Rattle

I guess we're supposed to be laughing at this, but... this is stupid, even for this book.  We're expected to believe that psychological textbooks include this as a plan to solve problems?  That a bunch of academics practice how to properly thrash around on the ground?  Probably not.  So then the more reasonable explanation is that Gris had been reading up on psychology, found an analysis of a child's tantrum, and somehow interpreted it as a blueprint for getting people to do what he wants.  So Gris is a balefully idiotic man, then.  Oh, and apparently no Voltarian child has ever attempted this sort of hissy-fit, or else Gris wouldn't have been captivated by it and unleashed it upon his unsuspecting coworkers.

Good God, this is dumb.

Anyway.  Heller is quite dumbstruck by Gris' little seizure, but laughs it off and is willing to go along with Gris so that his comrade doesn't get in trouble with his boss.  D'awww.  Meanwhile Gris cackles because his cunning ruse has succeeded.

Earth psychology works every time!  Not as pleasant, of course, as a Bugs Bunny activity.  But every bit as effective!  Those psychologists and psychiatrists on Earth have it down pat!  They can fool the suckers every time!  Absolute masters of cold-blooded deception and chicanery!

Satisfyingly cruel, too.  Just like my plans for today.

I think the "satire" in this book has officially broken down.  I'm not talking about how Hubbard has abandoned what little subtlety he was capable of, I'm saying that logically it doesn't make sense anymore.

So Gris read a book on psychology, which contained an analysis of an infantile tantrum.  He interpreted it as a way to warp others to his will.  Most readers would conclude from this that Gris is a bit of an utter moron.  This calls into question every single thing he's said about psychology in the book thus far, making it possible, if not very likely, that he's completely misread the situation and has no clue what he's talking about.  Our viewpoint character is misinformed and self-deluded, not to mention a bit of a dumbass.

And yet, Hubbard obviously intends for Gris' opinions to be correct, that psychologists are just as evil and manipulative as he says they are.  So if the author agrees with the insane, idiotic character he wrote, what does that say about him?  How can a person who has no grasp of a situation satirize it?  How can we view this book as anything else but a wretched story providing insight into the mind of a madman?

Back to Part Ten, Chapter Eight


  1. Ugh. Seriously, if you actually spend the 3+ years to spork all 10 books, I will buy you lunch/dinner, either in person or just pay for a delivered pizza or something- your choice.

    "Satire". I think this whole series is a haphazard combination of Hubbabubba's opinions of and disdain for both psychology and the CIA/FBI, his attempt to make fancy-sounding technology which reeks of mildewy 1950s pulp, his attempts at engaging/sophisticated schemes (not necessarily as satire, but just verbose, since verbose=clever to him), all processed through his aging, hypochondriatic, detatched from society mind. 20 bucks says the satire angle was tossed in after the fact by the editor so Hubbabubba could use it as an excuse for why the story is so batshit stupid and schizophrenic.

  2. "Seriously, if you actually spend the 3+ years to spork all 10 books, I will buy you lunch/dinner, either in person or just pay for a delivered pizza or something- your choice."

    Hell, I'd have a drink with Nathan, and I don't even drink.