The historical place of Aleister Crowley in fact and fiction is explored a bit and somewhat sorted in a column about “Bad Books you never want your co-workers to know you’re reading” at “LURID: Aleister Crowley – Print The Legend!” by Karina Wilson.
“If there’s one individual who straddles the line between lurid fact and fiction, it’s the Great Beast himself, Aleister Crowley. The foremost Shadow Trickster of the twentieth century, his influence spills across philosophy, law, religion, journalism, international politics and all kinds of creative writing. His shaven headed, pointy eared, bulgy eyed, lugubrious visage has become a symbol for black magic and devil worship. If you’ve read much horror fiction, or seen many horror movies, you’re bound to have encountered him in one shadowy form or another. And, as with any other nebulous figure who keeps popping up in your life, it’s worth trying to figure out where he came from.
Sixty-five years after his death, there are myriad versions of Crowley still extant. Posthumously, most public figures become the result of consensus, their after-death persona defined by broadly agreeing biographers. Over time, an individual’s contribution to culture is distilled into a logline, a snappy summary sentence or two, so that he or she can be slotted neatly into their place in history.
Not so with Crowley.” [via]
“Crowley was a maelstrom of veiled truths, half-lies, deliberate disinformation, shifting perspectives and mea culpa confessions — the ultimate unreliable narrator. He lived a life of constant invention and redefinition, although he stayed true to his core beliefs. He began life as a wealthy aristocrat, but had run through five inheritances by the time he hit his forties, and became dependent on his followers’ donations. At the beginning of World War One he was a British patriot, then claimed to be an Irish sympathizer with the German cause, but, before the ink was dry on the Treaty of Versailles, tried to convince British intelligence that he had been pushing pro-Allied propaganda all along. He was a misogynistic sexual sadist, described as physically repulsive and ‘slug-like’, but he fell passionately in love with a series of intelligent, fiery ‘Scarlet Women’ — who reciprocated his affections. He was devoted to the metaphysical creation of a Magic Child, but he neglected his flesh-and-blood daughters.
It probably doesn’t need to be said: people either loved or hated him.” [via]