Sunday, June 12, 2022

The Rise of Chaos

I recently read a political opinion piece that makes reference to not one but two tellers of weird tales. It's called "The Woke Have Confused Sword and Sorcery" and it's by Richard Fernandez, a very interesting thinker and writer. Mr. Fernandez begins his essay with a paraphrasing of Robert E. Howard's famous introduction to his Conan series: "Know, O prince, that between the years . . . ", except that in Mr. Fernandez's version, the chronicle is of events that have taken place between the fall of the USSR and our current "rise of Chaos."

The future--now--was supposed to be science-fictional, not weird-fictional. Yet science has given way to superstition and we live at the beginning of a new dark age. Men now use science-fictional or quasi-science-fictional means to pursue their ends, yet superstition reigns. Socialism is one of these superstitions, of course, but in our age socialism has been eclipsed by Wokism. Wokism is a heresy against reality, but we don't yet know how long it will take to run its course, nor how many will have to suffer and die, nor how far our civilization will have to fall before it does. But reality will out. It always does, despite all of our striving against it.

Richard Fernandez writes:

This [the inevitable failure of Woke plans and ideas] is perhaps the reason why our politicians, the modern sorcerers with all the clanking machinery of the End of History at their disposal, are surprised when their confident plans to boost the economy, flatten the pandemic curve and replace nuclear plants with windmills unaccountably take off in unknown directions. The usual explanation is it's not that Woke sorcery has stopped working; it's bad luck.

And then he quotes Robert A. Heinlein:

     Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded--here and there, now and then--are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

     This is known as "bad luck."

(The quote is from "Notebooks of Lazarus Long" in Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, June 1973, page 77, originally in Time Enough for Love, also published in 1973. Happy June to everyone!)

Richard Fernandez writes for a website that is sometimes behind a paywall, even if all you have to pay is your consent to allow advertisements. That's a shame. His writing deserves wider reading. But if you would like to give it a try, look for "The Woke Have Confused Sword and Sorcery" by way of a link on Mr. Fernandez's website, His essay is dated May 30, 2022. Since then, he has written about zombies, as we all seemingly must do.

Original text copyright 2022 Terence E. Hanley

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Margaret "Peg" Winter Kearney Campbell (1907-1979)

Aka Mrs. John W. Campbell
Teacher, Businesswoman, Amateur Researcher, Author
Born March 5, 1907, Negaunee, Michigan
Died August 17, 1979, Waterville, Maine

Margaret "Peg" Winter Kearney Campbell was born on March 5, 1907, in Negaunee, Michigan. She was the older sister of Dr. Joseph A. Winter (1911-1955) and the second wife of John W. Campbell, Jr. (1910-1971), longtime editor of Astounding Science Fiction/Analog magazine. She assisted both in their development of Dianetics and her husband in his later research into supposed psionic phenomena.

According to Alec Nevala-Lee, Margaret Winter graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a master's degree in English literature and philosophy. Her minor was educational psychology. (Astounding, p. 274) Someone on the website Find A Grave has written that she had six years of education after high school. I don't have any reason to doubt that, for the numbers add up just right. Mr. Nevala-Lee called her "strikingly intelligent." (p. 274)

Margaret Winter taught at Luther L. Wright High School in Ironwood, Michigan, in 1931-1932. On October 15, 1932, she married Everett W. Kearney (1898-1951), a merchant, in her parents' home in Negaunee, Michigan. The couple honeymooned in Chicago.

After marrying, Margaret Kearney gave up teaching but became involved in the business of knitting and selling yarn and items made from yarn. Those endeavors proved successful and she kept at it for decades afterward, even after she remarried.

Everett and Margaret Kearney had two children. Born in 1934, their son Joseph H. Kearney graduated from Luther L. Wright High School in 1951 and Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, on June 12, 1955. Five days later, on June 17, 1955, he was killed in a car accident while driving to Chicago for summer classes. It was a terrible and devastating loss, and my heart goes out to the family, even now, sixty-seven years after the fact. We should remember that Dr. Joseph A. Winter, brother of Peg, had died just eight days before.

Joe Kearney was to have studied sociology at Harvard University beginning in the fall of 1955. The soft sciences--psychology and sociology--seem to have been of special interest to members of the Winter, Kearney, and Campbell families. His mother and uncle studied these things, as did his stepfather and sister, as well as the husband of his cousin Mary.

Everett and Margaret Kearney were divorced on April 19, 1951, in Gogebic County, Michigan. Less than two months later, on June 15, 1951, she and John W. Campbell, Jr., were married in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Campbell had of course been married before. His first wife, Doña Stebbins Campbell (1913-1974), had left him while he was heavy into Dianetics. His involvement in that business seems to have been the last straw for her. Peg Campbell, on the other hand, "became involved with the movement at once, teaching classes and investing five thousand dollars in the [Dianetics] foundation." Mr. Nevala-Lee adds, "She also became Campbell's auditing partner." (Astounding, p. 274) Like L. Ron Hubbard (1911-1986), Peg had red (or reddish) hair. Unlike his, her eyes were blue. If the supposed folkloric belief that red-haired, green-eyed people are demonic, then she escaped that influence by maybe only a few wavelengths. By the way, Everett W. Kearney died on October 3, 1951, in Gogebic, Michigan, less than seven months after their divorce.

The Kearneys' younger child was a daughter, Jane Kearney. She attended Wellesley College and the University of California, where she received a bachelor of arts degree in psychology in 1959. She married twice but was to have been married to another man before any of that happened. That man was science fiction author Gordon Randall Phillip Garrett (1927-1987), known as Randall Garrett. The Campbells announced their daughter's impending nuptials on November 24, 1956. Garrett was a friend and associate of other science fiction writers, including Robert Silverberg (b. 1935) and Isaac Asimov (1920-1992). He was also what used to be known as a bounder. Campbell found out about him and the wedding was called off.

John W. Campbell, Jr., died at home on July 11, 1971. It was his wife who found him in his chair. She survived him by eight years, dying on August 17, 1979, in Waterville, Maine. Perhaps she lived close to her daughter at the end. Peg Campbell was seventy-two years old when she died. It is that same number of years that separate us now from the beginnings in print of Dianetics.

* * *

Peg Campbell has the following credit in the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDb), as Mrs. John W. Campbell:

  • "Afterword: Postscriptum" in The Best of John W. Campbell (1976)

She is also in Astounding by Alec Nevala-Lee (2018, 2019) and in The John W. Campbell Letters, Volume 1 (1985), presumably, too, in its sequel. Science fiction author George O. Smith (1911-1981) wrote a tribute to her, "In Memoriam: Margaret Winter Campbell," in the February 1980 issue of Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. In completing this account of diverse family dramas, I should point out that George O. Smith was married to Doña Stebbins Campbell after she and Campbell were divorced. Actually she ran to Smith during her first husband's mad obsession with Dianetics in 1950-1951.

You can find photographs of Peg Campbell on the Internet. You might start with one entitled "John W. and Peg Campbell at Medieval Tourney event, Baycon" (1968), from the Jay Kay Klein Collection at UC Riverside, Library, Special Collections and University Archives, by clicking here. Note that in the picture, Peg is wearing a scarf. I wonder if it's one that she made herself.

The Best of John W. Campbell (Nelson Doubleday, 1976). The cover, by Chet Jezierski (b. 1947), illustrates Campbell's most famous story, "Who Goes There?", originally in Astounding Science-Fiction in August 1938. In that first publication, Campbell used a pseudonym, Don A. Stuart, a tribute, I guess you could call it, to his first wife.

"Who Goes There?" was of course made into a movie, The Thing from Another World (1951), and a remake, The Thing (1982). The first version was released on April 27, 1951. At the time, different kinds of dramas were being enacted in the lives of its original author and the people around him. Campbell was wrapped up in Dianetics. The woman who was to be his second wife was securing a divorce from her husband. And on June 15, 1951, she and Campbell were married.

Scientists don't come out very well in The Thing from Another World. It's no wonder that Isaac Asimov didn't like the movie. Campbell was more sanguine. Maybe he would have liked the remake better, as it is closer to his original conception than The Thing from Another World.

Note that the introduction to The Best of John W. Campbell is by Lester del Rey (1915-1993), who opposed Dianetics.

Original text copyright 2022 Terence E. Hanley

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Joseph A. Winter (1911-1955)-Part Two

Joseph A. Winter, M.D., was first in Astounding Science Fiction in October 1948 with an essay entitled "Endocrinology in Tough" [sic]. His first short story, "Expedition Mercy," followed close on its heels in November 1948. His second, "Mission Polychrome," came along in January 1949. Later that year his life changed when first John W. Campbell, Jr., then, in July 1949, L. Ron Hubbard wrote to him. Campbell and Hubbard were already working on Dianetics by then. Both were also interested in endocrinology. (Hubbard claimed to have been conducting research in that field for the previous eleven years.) The two men were looking for a medical doctor to assist them, perhaps to lend credence or medical cachet to their work. Winter had his own interests, which seemed to align with theirs. He showed up in New Jersey in October 1949 and began working with Campbell and Hubbard. After one or two more trips back home, he made the move permanent in January 1950. It is in reference to Dr. Winter that the word Dianetics first appeared in newspapers, as far as I can tell.

* * *

I recently read Astounding, Alec Nevala-Lee's combination history of Astounding Science Fiction magazine and biography of its editor and leading contributors, Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and L. Ron HubbardJoseph A. Winter is in Astounding, too. I began writing this series before I knew of Mr. Nevala-Lee's book. As soon as I found out about it, I knew I had to read it. It is from that book that I have drawn a lot of the information I have used here. I fully acknowledge Alec Nevala-Lee's work. He has written a very thoroughly researched and very interesting and readable book. His prose is so good, in fact--so clear and smooth--that it seems to have come from another time, fitting for a book about the science fiction of the past.

When I started a few weeks ago, I thought that I had made a discovery linking J.A. Winter to John W. Campbell, Jr. As it turns out, Mr. Nevala-Lee made that discovery before I did. However, the Internet doesn't seem to have discovered it yet, including the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDb). My hope is that what I write will bring the facts and the connection into the open. Solving the mysteries of biography, culture, and history is one of the reasons I began writing this blog. I hope you don't mind that I spend some time solving--or at least setting before you--a little of this mystery involving Dr. Winter, his sister, the editor Campbell, and the origins of Dianetics.

It becomes clear in reading Astounding (2018, 2019) that Joseph A. Winter was instrumental in the development of Dianetics. You can read about all of that in Mr. Nevala-Lee's book. Dr. Winter was also a friend to Campbell and Hubbard. He delivered Hubbard's daughter, Alexis Valerie Hubbard, born in silence on March 8, 1950, so as to avoid lodging engrams in her mind. Winter must also have introduced his own sister, Margaret "Peg" Winter Kearney, to Campbell. (The circumstances aren't made clear in the book.) The date was sometime in early June 1950. Alexis Hubbard dropped out of the Campbell-Astounding-Hubbard-Dianetics-Scientology picture. (Wherever she is, I hope she's safe.) Peg Kearney, on the other hand, became Mrs. John W. Campbell, Jr. I will have more on her in the next part of this series.

As everyone seems to have done, J.A. Winter fell out with L. Ron Hubbard. In late 1950, his book, A Doctor's Report on Dianetics: Theory and Therapy, was published by Julian Press. I haven't read Dr. Winter's book. From what I know of it, Dr. Winter seems to have believed still in Dianetics as a type of therapy, but evidently not in Hubbard's approach to it. Sometime after that, presumably in 1951, Campbell said that Hubbard was operating under the "conviction that Joe Winter, I, and the others who originally backed him are his worst enemies." (1) As we now know, personal conflict and paranoia were hallmarks of Hubbardism.

Dr. Winter went on to conduct research or practice psychotherapy of one kind or another in New York and New Jersey. He died suddenly on June 8, 1955, at Englewood Hospital in Englewood, New Jersey. He was just forty-four years old.

Four years before, in 1951, L. Ron Hubbard wrote to the FBI, detailing a supposed attempt on his life:

I was in my apartment on February 23, about 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning when the apartment was entered, I was knocked out, had a needle thrust into my heart to give it a jet of air to produce "coronary thrombosis" and was given an electric shock with 110-volt current. This is all very blurred to me. I had no witnesses. But only one person had another key to that apartment and that was Sara. (2)

Sara was Sara Northrup Hubbard, former girlfriend of Hubbard's demon-conjuring pal Jack Parsons and mother of Alexis Hubbard, the first Dianetics baby. Hubbard's letter reads like a detective story, a nice yarn for a man who conjured not only demons but also fantastic fiction and pseudo-nonfiction. I'm not sure how Hubbard survived all of that, especially the coronary thrombosis part. But then he was a Superior Man, that sturdy product of the Campbellian science fiction of the Golden Age. Joseph A. Winter didn't. Survive, I mean. According to his obituary, he was felled by the affliction that had failed to do in L. Ron Hubbard before him: two days after being stricken with a heart attack, J.A. Winter died of "acute coronary thrombosis." (3)

So I have to ask, where was Hubbard when Dr. Winter died?

And before you think that question flippant, consider this quote from L. Ron Hubbard:

There are men dead because they attacked us--for instance Dr. Joe Winter. He simply realized what he did and died. (4)

Next: Margaret "Peg" Winter Kearney Campbell (1907-1979)


(1) Quoted in Astounding by Alec Nevala-Lee (2018, 2019), page 302.

(2) Quoted in "LRH: The Story of L. Ron Hubbard and the Church of Scientology" by Joel Sappel and Robert W. Welkos (of the Los Angeles Times) in the St. Petersburg Times, June 24, 1990, page 12.

(3) "Dr. Joseph A. Winter Dies in New York City" in The Herald-Press, St. Joseph, Michigan, June 10, 1955, page 12.

(4) Quoted in Astounding by Alec Nevala-Lee, (2018, 2019), page 310.

A Doctor's Report on Dianetics by J.A. Winter, M.D. (1951). J.A. Winter was Joseph Augustus Winter (1911-1955), a writer of science fiction and an associate of John W. Campbell, Jr. (1910-1971) and L. Ron Hubbard (1911-1986). His book came out late in 1951, after he had fallen out with Hubbard. Note that the introduction was by Frederick Perls, M.D. Also known as Fritz Perls, Dr. Friedrich S. Perls (1893-1970), with his wife Laura Perls (1905-1990), developed Gestalt therapy, so popular in America in the late 1960s and 1970s. We should note, too, that Perls was at one time an associate of Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957), surely one of the wackiest people to have gained entry into mass culture during the twentieth century. All--Winter, Hubbard, Perls, Perls, and Reich--were or seemed to have been influenced by the work and ideas of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). Campbell may have been a different kind of case. I can't say for sure. But there was an influence of another European-American thinker on the Campbellian/Astounding brand of 1940s science fiction. He was Alfred Korzybski (1879-1950), originator of the field of general semantics, which lies somewhere on the scale of almost-science to pseudoscience. A.E. van Vogt (1912-2000) and Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) are two examples of science fiction authors who employed Korzybski's ideas in their own work.

Original text copyright 2022, 2023 Terence E. Hanley