Category Archives: The Hermetic Library

The Hermetic Library

Archiving, Engaging and Encouraging the living Western Esoteric Tradition, Hermeticism & Aleister Crowley’s Thelema

We are not interested in Space. Space holds no appeal to us whatsoever. Humanity has spent hundreds of years trying to find faster ways to get through Space precisely because we hate it so much. Space has no food, no booze, no women, none of the things that make life tolerable. The only reason I put up with Space at all is because I need somewhere to put my stuff.

Robert Kroese, Starship Grifters [Amazon, Bookshop, Local Library]

Hermetic quote Kroese Starship Grifters not interested space holds no appeal humanity hate food booze women life tolerable somewhere to put my stuff

Below lay the tomb world, the immutable cause-and-effect world of the demonic. At median extended the layer of the human, but at any instant a man could plunge—descend as if sinking—into the hell-layer beneath. Or: he could ascend to the ethereal world above, which constituted the third of the trinary layers. Always, in his middle level of the human, a man risked the sinking. And yet the possibility of ascent lay before him

Philip K Dick, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]

Hermetic quote Dick Three Stigmata Palmer Eldritch below tomb world immutable cause-and-effect demonic human hell ascend ethereal above possibility

Growing on another, perhaps harsher world, it has different form and features. But it is just as much a legitimate child of Nature as you are. You are displaying that childish human weakness of hating the different.

John W Campbell, Who Goes There? [Amazon, Bookshop, Local Library]

Hermetic quote Campbell Who Goes There growing another harsher world different form features legitimate child of nature displaying childish human weakness hating different

The Life and Death of Conan

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Conan the Barbarian, Book One: The Life and Death of Conan [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Mahmud Asrar, Jason Aaron, & al., book 1 of the Conan the Barbarian (2019-) series.

Asrar Aaron Conan the Barbarian The Life and Death of Conan

This trade paperback collects the first six issues of the new iteration of the Conan the Barbarian title at Marvel Comics. Writer Jason Aaron and principal artist Mahmud Asrar appear to be accomplished creators within the contemporary Marvel operation, and they both do competent work here. I’m not really blown away the way that I was in the early numbers of the Dark Horse run back in 2003-4, but I did find these new comics to be quick and satisfying reading. It does seem like there’s an attempt to strike a balance between the tone of the original Marvel run and the Dark Horse title.

Aaron hits a few clinkers with his language, but on the whole his Conan seems more faithful to Howard’s original hero than most of the pastiche novel Conans have been (to say nothing of the movies). Each issue starts with the same Nemedian Chronicles quote (“… when the oceans drank Atlantis yada yada …”) and a full-continent Hyborian Age map highlighted to show the location of that number’s principal adventure.

This collection has stories set throughout Conan’s life, using as a framing device young Conan’s encounter with a malevolent witch who returns to kill him in sacrifice to her arch-demon benefactor many years later when Conan is king of Aquilonia. Whether she succeeds (as implied in the “Life and Death of” title of the book) is left unresolved at the end of the sixth issue.

Appended to the reprinted contents is a vast gallery of alternate cover art. For the first issue alone, there were at least a dozen covers. I really have to wonder if this now venerable publishing gimmick is really serving any purpose. Are readers foolish enough to buy multiple copies for the different covers? Well, I guess I represent the opposite extreme, since I waited for the trade collection and then borrowed it from the public library.

I’d come to live as a human, to experience all the human traditions. And spending many a beautiful afternoon cooped up at the library service desk in order to make sure a bunch of middle schoolers weren’t playing dirty dating sims on the computers apparently counted as one.

B L Lacertae, DORIANA: Succubus At Large! [Amazon]

Hermetic quote Lacertae Doriana come live human experience traditions beautiful afternoon library playing dirty dating sims computers

Cruelty has a Human Heart, and Jealousy a Human Face, Terror the Human Form Divine, and Secrecy the Human Dress. The Human Dress is forged Iron, The Human Form a fiery Forge, The Human Face a Furnace seal’d, The Human Heart its hungry Gorge.

William Blake, Songs of Experience, quoted in Thomas Harris, Red Dragon [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]

Hermetic quote Blake Harris Red Dragon cruelty human heart jealousy face terror form divine secrecy dress iron forge furnace gorge

The Problem of Susan and Other Stories

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Problem of Susan and Other Stories [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Neil Gaiman, P Craig Russell, & al.

Gaiman Russell The Problem of Susan and Other Stories

The Problem of Susan collects four graphic adaptations of Neil Gaiman fantasy stories. The first two are illustrated by P. Craig Russell, who also did the scripting and layouts for the third. The title story–a sequel/critique for the Narnia stories of C.S. Lewis–is the longest of the four, and it’s one I had read some years back. Russell’s adaptation is magnificent, with repeated visual motives and a really glorious concluding panel.

The second story “Locks” is a very short one built around Goldilocks and the Three Bears and again bringing adult reflection to bear on children’s literature. In the third tale “October in the Chair,” personified months of the year have assembled around a fire in the woods for what seems to be a recurring convocation in which they exchange stories. October’s contribution is the centerpiece, and it’s suitably autumnal and spooky. The final piece in the book is hardly a story at all, more of a short poem really, called “The Day the Saucers Came.” Paul Chadwick’s art for this one is entirely in full-page illustrations, just seven of them.