At the same time, I sense something like a Gestapo knock, an attempt by the real world to force itself into my carefully maintained happiness, something undeniably capable of smashing my fragile life. The pain which is unaccountable and new, which speaks of its own growth and victory, which speaks of disorder and loss in short bright stabs.
It was a weary while before they raised him
Boy as he was, none dare disturb his grief.
And for his grief was strong, they loved and praised him
For son’s devotion to their dear dead chief.
Long, long he wept, nor brought with tears relief.
He knew the loss, the old head wise and grey
Well to assoil him of his spirit’s grief,
The twilight dangers of a boy’s dim way,
His dragons to confront, his minotaurs to slay.
Aleister Crowley, Why Jesus Wept
“We do not whine about pain and loss! It is a gift. Burn your hand and understand fire, child! You don’t learn about the frost by asking for its name. You give it a finger…a toe. Hmm?”
J. Kelley Anderson, Casting Shadows
This slender novella was one of Tolkein’s last works that he saw published during his lifetime. It is a cross-generational fable about creativity, fortune, and loss. It is very effective when read aloud; I had the pleasure of having it read to me by my Other Reader over the course of three sittings.
Smith is unoriginal in the best possible way for a modern fairy-tale. I was reminded strongly of Dunsany’s The King of Elfland’s Daughter, but some of the episodes in Faery in the middle of the book exhibit the sort of psychedelic reverie that I associate more with the work of George MacDonald. Sure enough, the wikipedia article on Smith of Wootton Major gives Tolkein’s story its origin in an attempt at a preface to MacDonald’s “The Golden Key.” Tracing the line of influence the other direction, I believe that Susanna Clarke must have read this book.
The Pauline Baynes illustrations are lovely, and really capture the spirit of the thing. [via]
The Hermetic Library Reading Room is an imaginary and speculative future reification of the library in the physical world, a place to experience a cabinet of curiosities offering a confabulation of curation, context and community that engages, archives and encourages a living Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to contribute to the Hermetic Library Reading Room, consider supporting the library or contact the librarian.
“Ferrucci states that repression of the sublime is the most common defense mechanism of the ego and is often the cause for deep melancholy, a subject treated at length by Ficino. It results in our feelings of loss, dissatisfaction, boredom, and feelings of inauthenticity. (Binah/Saturn)” [via]
“by a peculiar Ordinance of Heaven, and a Disposition occult within his Mind, is every Man protected from this Loss of his own Soul, until and unless he be by Choronzon disintegrated and dispersed beyond power of Will to repair; as when the Conflict within him, rending and burning, hath made his Mind utterly desert, and his Soul Madness.” [via]