Tag Archives: books

Most pornography—the books discussed here cannot be excepted—points to something more general than even sexual damage. I mean the traumatic failure of modern capitalist society to provide authentic outlets for the perennial human flair for high-temperature visionary obsessions, to satisfy the appetite for exalted self-transcending modes of concentration and seriousness. The need of human beings to transcend “the personal” is no less profound than the need to be a person, an individual. But this society serves that need poorly. It provides mainly demonic vocabularies in which to situate that need and from which to initiate action and construct rites of behavior.

Georges Bataille, Story of the Eye [Amazon, Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]

Hermetic quote Bataille Story of the Eye pornography traumatic failure capitalist society authentic outlets human flair visionary obsessions self-transcending demonic vocabularies

We lend libraries the qualities of our hopes and nightmares; we believe we understand libraries conjured up from the shadows; we think of books that we feel should exist for our pleasure, and undertake the task of inventing them unconcerned about any threat of inaccuracy or foolishness, any terror of writer’s cramp or writer’s block, any constraints of time and space.

Alberto Manguel, The Library at Night [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher]

Hermetic quote Manguel The Library at Night libraries our hopes nightmares books pleasure inventing unconcerned

To become wise, they would have to learn the true meaning of their own doctrines, symbols, and books, of which they at present merely know the outward form and the dead letter. They would have to form a much higher and nobler conception of God than to invest Him with the attributes of semi-animal man.

Franz Hartmann, With The Adepts [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher, Hermetic Library]

Hermetic quote Hartmann With the Adepts become wise learn true meaning

So what is the nature of this library? What function does it serve other than being a filing system for books? What, to use the phrase beloved of cultural criticism, does it say about me, and to whom is it addressing this message?

Linda Grant, I Murdered My Library

Hermetic quote Grant Murdered library

From the very existence of these books he learned one primary truth: that everything in the world was enveloped in great skeins of mystery into which one could bravely probe but which one could never fully untangle.

Jeremy P Bushnell, The Weirdness: A Novel

Hermetic quote Bushnell Weirdness books

The Deep Gate

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Deep Gate by Chris A Jackson.

Jackson The Deep Gate

The Arkham Horror novella for “investigator” Silas Marsh teams up the alienated sea dog with Miskatonic University librarian Abigail Foreman. She’s in the throes of a manic episode trained on apocalyptic oracles in a sixteenth-century tome. Marsh is of course kin to the Innsmouth Marshes (of Lovecraft’s “The Shadow over Innsmouth”), and the Deep Gate of the title unsurprisingly proves to be at Devil Reef off the Massachusetts coast. 

Author Chris Jackson is an old hand at nautical storytelling and fantasy, but an admitted greenhorn when it comes to horror writing, and this experience base shows in the final product. While there are a few apt touches for purposes of horror and the yog-sothothery is all faithful enough, it’s more a quest-and-challenge sort of story than a genuinely creepy one. It is a fast read, as the books in this series generally are, and it does go a little ways to fleshing out Silas as a black sheep of the hybrid Innsmouthers. 

The full-color “documentary” pages at the back of the volume show as much variety as these have in any of the other books, including correspondence, news clippings, a medical report, a scientific abstract, and a page or two from the Prophesiae Profana. The correspondence, while designed with appropriate old fonts for manual cursive and typewriting, is all anachronistically set up with headers in e-mail format: “From: … To: … Subject: …” above the body text. Also, the pages from the old tome are in English, although the story described them as being in Latin. Still, all this material does provide some entertaining supplementary perspectives on the main story, particularly the Arkham Advertiser story commending the “fine citizens” of the Marsh family.

The Silas Marsh promotional cards for Arkham Horror: The Card Game introduce this character to the game for the first time. I expect him to be fun to play, and I have already designed a deck for him to join with Ursula Downs in my first go at the latest campaign cycle The Forgotten Age.

As great an actor to enact Crowley as this

Not only didn’t I mind Simon Callow’s Crowley, I thought Callow did a really good job … but in a crappy movie. Or, at least, I assume so. I really couldn’t watch the 2nd half of Chemical Wedding because it turned super stupid. I suppose it’s possible that the end managed to turn it around, but I gave up; and, when I talked with people that stayed for the whole thing I’m glad I left.

However, the first half really made an impression, which I was disappointed that the rest didn’t live up to. I kept thinking how interesting, as high concept, to ask what would it be like if Crowley were somehow brought back to life today. What would he say and do, and what would his personality and ideas be like, when placed within a current cultural context. What would he applaud and what would he lament and what would surprise and what would shock, anger, confuse? And what insights and breakthroughs could be made given more time in a new time?

For that matter, it’s an interesting idea which you could ask of any historical figure. Any of the historical figure re-enactments is an example of how this can be compelling. I’m thinking primarily of Holbrook’s Twain and Jenkinson’s Jefferson as these seem to be exemplars. Or, I suppose also the Riverworld stories of Farmer are also examples of this idea of moving historical figures into another context. Maybe some more good examples are the alternative history stories that come out every once in a while and even the recent trend of adding zombies or whatnot to historical literature.

Well, anyhow, I was watching the special features on Branagh’s Hamlet, and I was struck by how closely he seemed to me in some of the videos to resemble Crowley in some pictures.



Branagh [source], Crowley [source]

Admittedly the picture of Branagh above is not the most flattering, but he’s so often smiling that it’s the best I could find on short notice to show side-by-side.

Anyhow, leaving aside the high concept of time travel and resurrection, wouldn’t it be something to see a decent period bio-pic of Crowley done with such production values and acting that someone like Branagh could bring to it? There’s certainly enough material to be interesting. Like the life of Sir Richard Francis Burton which really has only ever appeared once, and then only a short bit, in The Mountains of the Moon (which is actually a really well-done movie that I recommend); a decently done movie about Crowley, with warts and all to be sure, of course, please, but not something that is just stupid sensationalism or worse a really crappy B-grade film, would really be something to see.

Originally posted over on my personal blog at As great an actor to enact Crowley as this.

Truly occult and Theosophical books ought to be prayers and poems; calculated to lift the heart and the mind of the reader up to the highest regions of thought, and aiding him to descend into the innermost sanctuary of his own being

Franz Hartmann, In The Pronaos of The Temple of Wisdom

I Can Explain

I’ll be honest. I picked up Mockingbird Vol. 1: I Can Explain by Chelsea Cain, & al., because I saw the kerfuffle about the cover for the second volume, and grabbed both to support the series. It then languished in my to-read stack for a long time, but I got around to this and devoured it in one sitting.

This is freakin’ hilarious, and smart. The arc in this collection has a modern storyline with a cool narrative structure. It reminded me of Archer and Deadpool in various ways. The dialogue is witty and sharp, there’s tons of easter eggs in the panels to find, and fun cameos, not the least of which is Howard the Duck! And, it’s a female protagonist who’s the smartest person in the room, in charge, and unapologetic about any of that.

Great stuff I definitely recommend.

Originally posted on my personal blog at I Can Explain