Letter from G (2017-5-7)
May 7, 2017
I was thinking again the other day about a particular, perhaps radical, interpretation of the Tunis Comment that occurred to me many years ago. I thought I’d share that thought with you.
The Tunis Comment, also called the short comment or The Comment, was written by Aleister Crowley:
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
The study of this Book is forbidden. It is wise to destroy this copy after the first reading.
Whosoever disregards this does so at his own risk and peril. These are most dire.
Those who discuss the contents of this Book are to be shunned by all, as centres of pestilence.
All questions of the Law are to be decided only by appeal to my writings, each for himself.
There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt.
Love is the law, love under will.
The priest of the princes,
Crowley wrote the comment, and published in 1926, in response to what he felt was a challenge to his authority. He wrote about this, from his perspective, in Magick without Tears:
“No further cavilling and quibbling, and controversy and casuistry. All heresiarchs are smelt in advance for the rats they are; they are seen brewing (their very vile small beer) in the air (the realm of Intellect—Swords) and they are accordingly nipped in the bud.”
And: “One Textus Receptus, photographically guaranteed. One High Court of Interpretation, each for himself alone. No Patristic logomachies! No disputed readings! No civil wars and persecutions. Anyone who wants to say anything, off with his head, and On with the Dance; let Joy be unconfined, You at the prow and Therion at the helm! Off we go.”
There’s a lot that could be said about each part of the Tunis Comment, and there’s a lot that has been said. But, I want to focus on one line: “All questions of the Law are to be decided only by appeal to my writings, each for himself.” Moreover, one particular phrase: “my writings”.
One of the things that I’ve found especially interesting about working on presenting all of Crowley’s work is how there are echoes and changes throughout the early and Golden Dawn periods that reflect on the later developments, after the reception of the Book of the Law.
Therefore, I suggest a potentially radical personal interpretation of “my writings” which for me explicitly includes everything Aleister Crowley wrote: all the poetry, all the plays, all the articles and essays, no matter when they were written or under what pseudonym.
For me, the entire corpus of works, much of it ignored in exclusive favour for the technical libri and a few specific books, should be considered relevant to a study of Thelema because there’s so much important context to be found in how things change and how they stay the same.
John Griogair Bell
Card (outside) from [Redacted] (2017-4-26)
© Amanda Clark
Card (inside) from [Redacted] (2017-4-26)
Hope this card finds you in good health & spirits.
Thanks for all you do with the Hermetic Library! Your hard work is very much appreciated!
[Redacted by Request]
If you have a letter, picture or other ephemera to deliver to the desk of the Librarian, just reply to this newsletter, or get in contact.
Be sure to check out the actual Hermetic Library.