Ali’s Smile: Naked Scientology – William S. Burroughs (1971)

1960s: Days of Rage

Ali’s Smile: Naked Scientology is a collection of essays and a short story by American Beat writerWilliam S. Burroughs (1914–97). First published in 1971 as the short story ‘Ali’s Smile’, the book eventually contained a group of previously published newspaper articles as well, all of which address Scientology. Burroughs had been interested in Scientology throughout the 1960s, believing that its methods might help combat a controlling society. He joined the Church of Scientology later in the decade. However, he became disenchanted with the authoritarian nature of the organization. In 1970 Burroughs had published a ‘considered statement’ on Scientology’s methods because he felt they were significant enough to warrant commentary. These pieces were later gathered together into Ali’s Smile: Naked Scientology, which religious studies scholar Hugh B. Urban describes as a ‘nonscholarly popular exposé of Scientology’. Burroughs’s texts argue that while some of Scientology’s therapies are worthwhile…

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