Tag Archives: will

Man has the right to live by his own law—
to live in the way that he wills to do:
to work as he will:
to play as he will:
to rest as he will:
to die when and how he will.

Aleister Crowley, Liber OZ

Hermetic quote Liber OZ live as he will

Man has the right …
to dwell where he will:
to move as he will on the face of the earth.

Aleister Crowley, Liber OZ

Hermetic quote Liber OZ move as he will

The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it.

Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience

The Black Messiah

N.B.: In 2014, when I wrote this post, I provided the best information I had about this document. It is the current position of OTO that the document mentioned here was not authored by Aleister Crowley, writing as Gérard Aumont, but by Aumont proper. As of April 2018, Hymenaeus Beta posted A Note on Gérard Aumont which cogently makes the case that Aumont, and not Crowley, was the author of this document. I have begun a section at the library for information about and the writings of Gérard Aumont, which may be of interest. I have made some edits in brackets to this old post to reflect this new information.

A typed copy of The Black Messiah by Gérard Aumont has arrived at the Reading Room from an anonymous sender. This essay, circa 1926, [seemed at the time I wrote this to be] written by Aleister Crowley himself although he wrote it under the name of a Tunisian student (as he [seemed to have at the time I wrote this] with the contemporaneous essay The Secret Conference which appears in The Heart of the Master & Other Papers), is quoted from by Starr in The Unknown God: W. T. Smith and the Thelemites, and was published in the Yorke microfilm archives where it can be found by those who have access to that; but it is otherwise an apparently intentionally rare document to get to read.

Gerard Aumont Aleister Crowley The Black Messiah

“Writing under the name of a Tunisian disciple, Gérard Aumont, Crowley deepened his propaganda war against Krishnamurti, this time setting forth the battle in racial terms, which would most definitely not have swayed Theosophists. A regrettable example is his essay, The Black Messiah, where The Master Therion is touted as the white race’s savior, in contrast to Besant’s ‘marionette Messiah, a kala admi—a nigger!’ It was a new low in self-promotion.” — Martin P Starr, The Unknown God, p 165; quoting the essay.

And, yes, indeed, I feel the essay as a whole expresses just as reprehensible and nauseating a typical racist sentiment as you might think, but is particularly significant because in it [Aumont] explicitly links Thelemic and racist ideologies; moreover, in that peculiar way that racists have of interpreting religion and peace and love to include racism and war and hate:

“White men and women must choose between these alternatives: Will they yield, content to be the black man’s slave, after having been his master? or will they stand to, and reply by an energetic spiritual reaction, which will restore the threatened equilibrium of the races?

The white champion has appeared, He who, under the aegis of the Spiritual Masters of the planet, has proclaimed the Law of Thelema, the Law of Love, comprehended and directed by Will: the Law which bids each man pursue the proper orbit of his destiny, and develop himself around his own true centre of Light, will bring back welfare to his own race, and establish Peace with Victory upon the Earth.”

Even if one weakly apologises that [the author] was simply and only saying whatever otherwise ethically questionable propaganda was necessary to cajole rubes or just playing a role demanded by wearing his ring on a contrarian hand that day, as if those weren’t also problematic in and of themselves, this still seems to me to sustain as disgusting and damning stuff.

Obviously make up your own mind about such things, but this seems to me one of those times when eyes wide open and unclouded are required. Make of it what you will, but one way or another it seems this must be considered part of the whole corpus of […] writing and thought on the topic of Thelema. And, in my estimation, if one is to be intellectually honest and serious about The Comment (“All questions of the Law are to be decided only by appeal to my writings, each for himself”), a Thelemite’s religious duty is to study, and requires ready access to, all of Crowley’s writings (even when not explicitly Thelemic, though this one clearly is). [While this document, as it turns out now, shouldn’t be considered part of Crowley’s writings, I feel it is still important for members of the tradition to openly discuss problematic material and attitudes in the tradition, both historical and any ongoing, so that these can be addressed clearly, instead of suppressing or ignoring them, or stifling discussion about them, which lets them fester. I find it refreshing and heartening to see these and other problematic issues discussed more often lately, and openly, such as in Hymenaeus Beta’s public and prominent note as well as recent statements by Sabazius.]

The essay itself ends with what appears to be a bit of […] poetry which I don’t immediately recognize appearing elsewhere, so I quote that here as well, though I personally find all this “free, equal” “Savior of the Earth” triumphalism to be strikingly and skin-crawlingly appropriate for what one would expect from extreme and exclusionary religion-infused racist ideological rants:

“Ho! for his chariot wheels that whirl afar!
His hawk’s eye flashing through the silver star!
Upon the heights his standard shall he plant
Free, equal, passionate, pagan, dominant,
Mystic, indomitable, self-controlled,
The red rose glowing of the cross of gold…

Yea! I will wait throughout the centuries
Of the Universal man-disease
Until that morn of his Titanic birth…
The Saviour of the Earth!”

Omnium Gatherum: July 2nd, 2014

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for July 2nd, 2014

Smithonian Remi Benali Corbis Chinguetti Mauritania
Endangered Site: Chinguetti, Mauritania: The rapidly expanding Sahara Desert threatens a medieval trading center that also carries importance for Sunni Muslims — Jeanne Maglaty, Smithsonian

 

  • Thelema and Witchcraft: was Gerald Gardner head of the O.T.O.? — Brandy Williams, Star and Snake

    “Many Witches are unaware how deeply involved Gerald Gardner was with Ordo Templi Orientis. How Gardner came to think of himself of head of the O.T.O. in Europe, however briefly, shines a light on Gardner’s wide contacts in the esoteric communities, the last days of Aleister Crowley’s life, and the chaos caused by the Second World War.”

  • Empathic people are natural targets for sociopaths — protect yourself — Jane McGregor and Tim McGregor, Addiction Today

    “Many sociopaths wreak havoc in a covert way, so that their underlying condition remains hidden for years. They can possess a superficial charm, and this diverts attention from disturbing aspects of their nature.”

    The following case history illustrates how people can be systematically targeted until they feel they can barely trust their own sense of reality – what we call ‘gaslighting’. Sociopathic abuse is targeted abuse. It can wreck lives. Victims can become survivors, but at huge cost.”

    “Let’s look at what we term the Socio-Empath-Apath Triad, or Seat. Unremitting abuse of other people is an activity of the sociopath that stands out. To win their games, sociopaths enlist the help of hangers-on: apaths.”

  • 7 things paganism can teach the modern man: As thousands prepare to celebrate the Summer Solstice this weekend, Lee Kynaston looks at the lessons we can glean from a pagan lifestyle — Lee Kynaston, The Telegraph [HT Spiral Nature]

    “If I were to ask you what the average male pagan looked like, you’d probably have him down as a bearded, middle-aged, cloak-wearing, tree-hugging, mead-swigging, part-time nudist who’s a bit paunchy around the middle and whose favourite film is The Wicker Man.

    And you’d be right.”

  • 9 Stunning Panoramas of Starry Skies, Captured With a Homemade Camera Rig — Liz Stinson, WIRED

    “Last spring Vincent Brady sold most of his belongings, moved out of his apartment and struck out on the road to document the night sky. But instead of taking your typical long-exposure shots, Brady designed himself a custom camera rig that’s allowed him to capture stunning 360 panoramic images of the stars and Milky Way moving in concert.”

    Vincent Brady Monument Valley AZ

     

  • Desiring Life — T Thorn Coyle

    “Include as much of life as you possibly can: Fall in love. Break your heart. Risk. Open. Seek justice. Create. Dance. Listen. Fuck. Desire. Will. Act. Live.”

  • Human Language Is Biased Towards Happiness, Say Computational Linguists — The Physics arXiv Blog [HT Slashdot]

    “Overall, [Peter Dodds, et al., of the Computational Story Lab at the University of Vermont in Burlington] collected 50 ratings per word resulting in an impressive database of around 5 million individual assessments. Finally, they plotted the distribution of perceived word happiness for each language.

    The results bring plenty of glad tidings. All of the languages show a clear bias towards positive words with Spanish topping the list, followed by Portuguese and then English. Chinese props up the rankings as the least happy. ‘Words—the atoms of human language — present an emotional spectrum with a universal positive bias,’ they say.”

  • Madness…or Mystic? Sylvia Plath and the Occult Taboo — Julia Gordon-Bramer, a presentation for ASE 2014

    “The poet Sylvia Plath’s work is full of the moon, and this is just the beginning of her nod to the occult. Her 1956 marriage to the poet Ted Hughes added astrology, tarot, Ouija boards, hypnosis, meditation, folk-magic, witchcraft, and crystal ball scrying to her repertoire of extra-curricular spiritual activities.

    The facts have been out there all along on Sylvia Plath, but until now no one had thought to view them seriously and collectively.”

  • Invoke the Highest First — Alex Sumner, Sol Ascendans

    “Often I find that, when I am facing a new challenge, perhaps one that I find daunting for some reason, the simplest solution is to apply basic principles. This is especially true in magick. In the Golden Dawn the most important rule of thumb is referred to as ‘invoke the highest first,’ which is a reference to one of the clauses of the Adeptus Minor obligation: ‘I furthermore solemnly pledge myself never to work at any important symbol without first invocating the highest Divine Names connected therewith.'”

  • Immanence by Stuart Davis

    “Every body wants to taste
    a little something carbon-based
    Sex is proof the Holy Ghost
    crawls around in stuff that’s gross
    Yeah

    There’s a serpent in my body
    right below my belly
    When I crave an apple
    you are redder than an orchard”

  • NASA, tweet

    NASA Puff the Magic Sun

     

  • The Other Magi of the New Aeon of Horus — Setem Heb, Beetle Tracks

    “In the period following Crowley’s death the state of organized Thelema largely fell to nothing. In his excellent The Unknown God Martin P. Starr provides an excellent account of Crowley’s O.T.O. heir, Karl Germer’s attempt to hold together the existing Thelemites with little effect. As a result of there being no centralized Thelemic authority quasi-Thelemic groups would form.”

  • Archaeologists recreate Elixir of Long Life recipe from unearthed bottle — April Holloway, Ancient Origins

    “The discovery included a two hundred-year-old glass bottle that once contained the ‘Elixir of Long Life’. Now the research team have tracked down the original German recipe used to create the elixir for fending off death. […] the potion contained ingredients such as aloe, which is anti-inflammatory, gentian root, which aids digestion, as well as rhubarb, zedoary, and Spanish saffron – ingredients still used by herbalists today.”

  • The end of EXESESO — Egil Asprem, Heterodoxology

    “After the untimely death of Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke back in 2012 […] there has been much speculation about what would happen with the Exeter Centre for the Study of Esotericism (EXESESO) that he ran at the University of Exeter. Since 2005, EXESESO has offered one of the three official university programs for the academic study of esotericism in Europe (the others being in Amsterdam and Paris), and produced a steady stream of MAs through its distance learning program. After an internal evaluation process at Exeter University, in dialogue with the Theosophically oriented Blavatsky Trust who funded the centre, a final decision has now been made to shut EXESESO down.”

  • Whole lotta Led, as songs don’t remain the same — Barry Egan, Sunday Independent

    “Overall, the story of Zeppelin was like something out of an X-rated version of the Bible; with Plant as the messianic, bare-chested prophet from Wolverhampton and Page as the Aleister Crowley devotee who sold his soul to the devil for magic chords to the Delta blues.”

  • The Lost Desert Libraries of Chinguetti — MessyNessy [HT Book Patrol]

    “The sands of the Sahara have all but swallowed Chinguetti, a near ghost town found at the end of a harsh desert road in Mauritania, West Africa. Its majority of abandoned houses are open to the elements, lost to the dunes of a desert aggressively expanding southward at a rate of 30 miles per year. While predictions suggest this isolated town will be buried without a trace within generations, Chinguetti is probably the last place on Earth you would look for a library of rare books.”

  • New Biogaphies of Aleister Crowley and Proto-Fascist Poet Gabriele d’Annunzio Raise Big Questions on the Nature of Evil — Jason Diamond, Flavorwire

    “While it might not seem an obvious pairing, reading [Gary] Lachman’s book as a biography of Crowley (rather than an analysis of his importance) alongside Hughes-Hallett’s Gabriele d’Annunzio provides an opportunity to both compare and contrast these two controversial figures who reportedly were acquainted with one another in their lifetimes (d’Annunzio was 12 years older than Crowley and died nine years before him). It also gives the reader an opportunity to consider what’s truly bad or evil, and think about the quest for pleasure or power. Few figures in the last century will inspire you to ponder those ideas like the figures profiled in these two books.”

 

If you’d like to participate in the next Omnium Gatherum, head on over to the Gatherum discussions at the Hrmtc Underground BBS.

Omnium Gatherum: May 14th, 2014

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for May 14th, 2014

The Magician from The Disney-D'Morte Tarot
The Magician, The Disney-D’Morte Tarot [HT Boing Boing]

 

  • Review: ‘Aleister Crowley’ explores the life and times of the notorious icon ” — Brooke Wylie, Examiner.com

    “Detractors of rock n’ roll have long called the genre, the ‘Devil’s music,’ so in some ways, it’s all too natural that Gary Lachman (known by his stage name Gary Valentine, to some), who is a founding member of Blondie, and has shredded with Iggy Pop, should eventually become an expert on mysticism and the occult. His latest work, Aleister Crowley: Magick, Rock and Roll, and the Wickedest Man in the World (available May 15) tackles not only the life and times of the illustrious figure, known by many as The Great Beast, but also the collision of Crowley’s legacy with popular culture.”

    The review includes this apropos and awesome typo (emphasis added): “Crowley’s word is a strange one indeed, and wrapping one’s mind around it can be a substantial challenge at times.”

     

  • Was Jesus a Magician?” — Helen Ingram

    “One of these lectures introduced me to the character of ‘Jesus the magician’ and the work of Prof. Morton Smith, who claimed that Jesus’ conduct within the Gospel material constituted a ‘coherent, consistent and credible picture of a magician’s career.’ The theory that the historical Jesus was actively practicing magic and that this behaviour is reflected in the Gospel materials was a very intriguing proposal and immediately stimulated a personal interest in this field of research. This curiosity culminated in the submission and acceptance of my PhD thesis …”

  • SATANIC BLACK MASS AT HARVARD, SATANIC MONUMENT IN OKLAHOMA” — Paul McGuire, NewsWithViews.com; from the RTFM dept.

    “But the software of God, which is the downloading of cosmic apps, should be understood as nothing more than a contemporary parable to explain in understandable terms the gifts and abilities that the Living God gives people on a natural and supernatural level, the gifts of the Spirit. Tragically, most of the modern Pentecostal and Charismatic movements which emphasized these gifts did so in a very distorted and degraded manner, so that these terms have become synonymous with hyper-emotionalism, crazy behavior and aberrant behavior. This is a degradation and improper use of both the software and the apps. They did not read the basic operating instructions provided in the manual.”

  • The Colbert Report on the Oklahoma Baphomet monument, including a call-in by Satan, Lord of Hell, himself [HT The Lost Ogle]

     

  • Real Satanists Don’t Send Press Releases” — Thomas L McDonald, God and the Machine

    “The modern so-called Satanists who make all the noise are not really Satanists. They don’t actually believe in Satan. Most are atheists who couch their so-called ‘Satanism’ in terms of resistance or philosophy. It’s not a religion, but a critique of religion, or somesuch blather. It’s all theater.”

    “The black mass emerged again in the 19th century in the salons, universities, and intellectual circles of Europe, which was the wellspring of modern occultism. Lacking much primary documentation, the upper classes mostly invented their version of a black mass influenced by literature and structured around a simple inversion of the Catholic mass. No real tradition directly linking medieval diabolism to modern so-called Satanism exists, which means horror movies, fiction, and imagination are at the root of most modern practice.”

  • God is dead—What next? Searching for meaning in the age of atheism” — Alasdair Craig, Prospect [HT Arts & Letters Daily]

    “[Peter] Watson is more optimistic about the possibility of an emotionally satisfying atheism. His proposal is that we use art and literature to comprehend and re-enchant the world that science has made foreign. Science is one way of understanding the world; art and literature another, he seems to say. Science provides technology, medicine and abstract knowledge; art provides meaning, purpose and a different, more intimate and immediately relevant kind of knowledge. God’s death just means that we need to construct our own, non-authoritative narratives and art, replete with purpose and meaning. Instead of one unified story to which everyone subscribes, we should play around with a plurality of downgraded stories, which can form the basis of our day-to-day lives.”

     

  • Ancient Egyptians transported pyramid stones over wet sand” — Ans Hekkenberg, Phys.org

    “Physicists from the FOM Foundation and the University of Amsterdam have discovered that the ancient Egyptians used a clever trick to make it easier to transport heavy pyramid stones by sledge. The Egyptians moistened the sand over which the sledge moved. By using the right quantity of water they could halve the number of workers needed. The researchers published this discovery online on 29 April 2014 in Physical Review Letters.”

    “The Egyptians were probably aware of this handy trick. A wall painting in the tomb of Djehutihotep clearly shows a person standing on the front of the pulled sledge and pouring water over the sand just in front of it.”

  • Review: Limp Renaissance sex romp a poor Carry On indeed” — Rebecca Harkins-Cross, Brisbane Times

    Elixir is based on the escapades of Edward Kelley and John Dee, a famed occultist duo in Renaissance England who professed the ability to summon angels and to conduct alchemy. […] [Edward Kelley (Christy Hawkins)] concocts a cunning plan to unlock his colleague’s wife Jane’s (Naomi Takita) chastity belt and pacify the emperor simultaneously, convincing Doctor Dee (Stephen Weir) the elixir should be made from wizard seed and a cuckold’s tears.”

  • Scientists Confirm Vampires Were Onto Something” — Maxwell Barna, VICE News

    “New research published this week by two teams of scientists confirmed what Bram Stoker and countless philosophers, scientists, and cannibals have long posited — there’s an indisputable relationship between blood and aging.”

    “‘When we added young blood, the older mice not only looked better, but they became cognitively better,’ Saul Villeda, the principal investigator at UCSF’s Villeda Lab, told VICE News. ‘It’s like we can turn back the clock on some parts of aging.'”

  • Footage of Orson Welles’s ‘Voodoo’ Macbeth” — National Film Preservation Foundation

    “It had long been assumed that no sound or moving images survived from Orson Welles’s legendary ‘Voodoo Macbeth,’ the Federal Theatre Project’s 1936 Harlem stage production of Shakespeare’s play, set in Haiti with an African American cast. But priceless historical footage can turn up within unlikely places. This long-forgotten record of the first professional play staged by Orson Welles was found in another film, the U.S. government-produced We Work Again, a Depression-era documentary on African American employment.”

  • Stonehenge Discovery ‘Blows Lid Off’ Old Theories About Builders Of Ancient Monument” — Macrina Cooper-White, Huffpost Science

    “Last October, [David] Jacques led an archaeological dig at a site 1.5 miles from Stonehenge. His team unearthed flint tools and the bones of aurochs, extinct cow-like animals that were a food source for ancient people. Carbon dating of the bones showed that modern-day Amesbury, an area that includes the dig site and Stonehenge itself, has been continuously occupied since 8820 B.C. Amesbury has now been declared the oldest continually occupied area in Britain.

    The finding suggests that Stonehenge was built by indigenous Britons who had lived in the area for thousands of years. Previous theories held that the monument was built in an empty landscape by migrants from continental Europe.”

  • Ancient Desert Glyphs Pointed Way to Fairgrounds” — Sean Treacy, Science

    “Seen from above, the jagged rocks strewn about the Chincha Valley desert in Peru seem inconspicuous. But stand in the desert itself and these rocks form lines that stretch toward the horizon. Researchers have found that these lines were probably ancient signposts for the Paracas culture more than 2000 years ago, guiding people across the desert to gathering places for the winter solstice.”

  • Astronomers Identify the Sun’s Long-Lost Sister” — Becky Ferreira, Motherboard [HT Slashdot]

    “HD 162826 is 15 percent more massive than our Sun, and is about 110 light years away in the constellation Hercules. It’s not visible to the naked eye, but it is bright enough to be seen through binoculars.

    Astronomers had been observing the star for almost two decades without realizing it’s the long-lost sister of the Sun.”

  • LGBTQ Tolerance in the Golden Dawn” — Alex Sumner, Sol Ascendans

    “Say what you like about MacGregor Mathers, but on one point he was resolute: he would not brook gossip about Fratres’ and Sorores’ lives — this being a matter purely between themselves and their God. […] Mathers’ firm stand has led to a progressive consequence: the Golden Dawn was the first magical order to adopt a modern approach to tolerance. However, the Western Mystery Tradition was almost derailed by the efforts of Dion Fortune.”

  • Aleister Crowley, aliens, owls and Jesus” — Mike Clelland, hidden experience

    “Little is known of the origin of the big headed entity known as Lam. All that can be known for sure is that this image was drawn by Aleister Crowley to depict a being that was summoned during a magickal ritual titled The Amalantrah Working. This sketch later hung on a gallery wall at Crowley’s Dead Souls exhibition in Greenwich Village, New York, in 1919.”

    “Things get weirder, when the image is reversed, an image of an owl emerges! Granted, I’m seeing owls everywhere I look these days, but still.

    Also, the name Crowley has OWL embedded right in it.”

  • Black magician Aleister Crowley’s early gay verse comes to light: Notebook of poems written by heartbroken occultist in 1898 to be exhibited at antiquarian book fair in London” — Maev Kennedy, The Guardian

    “In 1898 the Wickedest Man in the World was feeling thoroughly sorry for himself. The occultist Aleister Crowley’s first great love affair, with fellow Cambridge undergraduate Herbert Jerome Pollitt, was in ruins, and he took to poetry as his only solace.

    ‘When my sick body in his love lies drowned/ And he lies corpse-wise on me, nor will rise/ Though my breath shudders, and my soul be dead,’ he wrote — and much, much more — in a tiny notebook of unpublished manuscript poems which has recently resurfaced.

    The actor and rare book dealer Neil Pearson, who will exhibit the little book at the Olympia antiquarian book fair in London later this month, concedes that this is not great poetry. ‘The verse is rather broken-backed, and vulgar where he is trying to be honest. But it was written at a time when he was feeling heartbroken and vulnerable and it does somehow humanise him — and God knows Aleister Crowley, more than most people, needs humanising.'”

  • Critical Thinking #5: Marina Warner: The critic and mythographer on fairytales, feminism, modern art, translation and the LRB” — Zeljka Marosevic, Prospect [HT Arts & Letters Daily]; this seems quite an interesting interview, but here’s a few excerpts that caught my eye

    “It’s often encountering the faith of others that I’ve found most disturbing. I don’t wish to scorn faith as it’s a universal part of human consciousness. But as such, it’s a deep puzzle, and I’m interested in its effects and manifestations. I worry about the effects of it, especially in our increasingly conflicted religious world.”

    “Grappling with myths has been my principal interest for years, even to a certain extent, my cause: to put the study of imaginative structures back into the frame when confronting important issues. Not to think of imagination and fantasy as merely childish, or to dismiss them as having no purchase on reality.”

    “Myth and fairy tale have definitely returned. First of all there’s a generation who have grown up on Dungeons and Dragons, Tolkien and Narnia, and now, Philip Pullman and Harry Potter. I haven’t read the Twilight stories so I probably shouldn’t talk about them, but I have watched one of the films, and it seems to me that it’s an example of the problem of attenuation: instead of getting richer, these stories are being told in a less rich way, and the vampires are being tamed!”

  • ‘I gather the limbs of Osiris’: Notes on the New Gnosticism” — Henry Gould, Coldfront

    “One way to think of the New Gnosticism, then, might be as the overturning of an analytical negation (Language Poetry). It includes, also, a reversal of the ‘old’ Gnosticism: which was itself a sort of skeptical deconstruction of canonical Biblical texts.”

    “The infinite starry realm of scribbling, scrambling poets every now and then produces a new galaxy, that is, a new movement or school. These emergent phenomena always generate a contradictory mix of enthusiasm and doubt.”

  • Do What Thou Wilt” — Brandy Williams, Star and Snake

    “The Law applies equally for everyone; each person, each creature, has their own will to do. It’s not my business to figure anyone else’s will out for them.”

  • Exploring Thelema and Chaos Magick, with Pete and Sef (Part 4)” — The Blog of Baphomet

    “‘Pure Will’ ‘unassuaged of purpose’ sounds like it can mean anything, everything, or nothing. I consider that people consist of the totality of what they do (which of course includes what they think). The idea of their having some sort of ‘being’ separate from their doing, or for that matter some sort of ‘will’ other than their total doing seems superfluous to me. I can however appreciate the idea that doing some things may tend to give better results than doing others, and to this extent I can understand ‘Do What thou Wilt’ as an exhortation to do the very best of what you can possibly do and love to do, as so many people settle for mediocrity and lousy compromises.”

  • Caesar by Plutarch and more, quoted at “Caesar’s reform of the calendar — some ancient sources” — Roger Pearse [HT Rogueclassicism]

    “2. For not only in very ancient times was the relation of the lunar to the solar year in great confusion among the Romans, so that the sacrificial feasts and festivals, diverging gradually, at last fell in opposite seasons of the year, 3. but also at this time people generally had no way of computing the actual solar year; the priests alone knew the proper time, and would suddenly and to everybody’s surprise insert the intercalary month called Mercedonius.”

    “5. But Caesar laid the problem before the best philosophers and mathematicians, and out of the methods of correction which were already at hand compounded one of his own which was more accurate than any. This the Romans use down to the present time, and are thought to be less in error than other peoples as regards the inequality between the lunar and solar years.

    6. However, even this furnished occasion for blame to those who envied Caesar and disliked his power. At any rate, Cicero the orator, we are told, when some one remarked that Lyra would rise on the morrow, said: ‘Yes, by decree,’ implying that men were compelled to accept even this dispensation.”

  • Phantom Time” — Stuff They Don’t Want You To Know from How Stuff Works [HT Wythe Marschall]

    “A few fringe professors have caused rumblings with their controversial claim that three hundred years of human history have been entirely made up.”

     

  • First life with ‘alien’ DNA: An engineered bacterium is able to copy DNA that contains unnatural genetic letters.” — Ewen Callaway, Nature News; from the either-way-more-boring-or-way-more-scary-than-it-sounds dept.

    “For billions of years, the history of life has been written with just four letters — A, T, C and G, the labels given to the DNA subunits contained in all organisms. That alphabet has just grown longer, researchers announce, with the creation of a living cell that has two ‘foreign’ DNA building blocks in its genome.”

    “‘What we have now is a living cell that literally stores increased genetic information,’ says Floyd Romesberg, a chemical biologist at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, who led the 15-year effort.”

  • Gay Witches” — Masha Mel, VICE; a photo gallery

    Masha Mel Gay Witches at VICE

     

  • Article about EyeWire at “Computer Game Reveals ‘Space-Time’ Neurons in the Eye” — John Bohannon, Science

    “Researchers have known for decades that the eye does much more than just detect light. The dense patch of neurons in the retina also processes basic features of a scene before sending the information to the brain. For example, in 1964, scientists showed that some neurons in the retina fire up only in response to motion. What’s more, these “space-time” detectors have so-called direction selectivity, each one sensitive to objects moving in different directions. But exactly how that processing happens in the retina has remained a mystery. […] Enter the EyeWire project, an online game that recruits volunteers to map out those cellular contours within a mouse’s retina.”

  • Katherine Harmon Courage on independently thinking octopus arms and the awful Evil Dead-like tragedy of octopus boredom

    “The octopus’s nervous system is a fascinating one. Some two thirds of its neurons reside not in its central brain but out in its flexible, stretchable arms. This, researchers suspect, lightens the cognitive coordination demands and allows octopuses to let their arms do some of the ‘thinking’—or at least the coordination, problem-solving and reaction—on their own.

    And these arms can continue reacting to stimuli even after they are no longer connected to the main brain; in fact, they remain responsive even after the octopus has been euthanized and the arms severed.” [via]

    “Octopuses are so smart they get bored. Aquarium staff have learned to be wary of a bored octopus because they’ve been known to break the monotony by eating their own arms. That tends to scare the kids.” [via]

     

  • The Art World is Too Safe Now: H.R. Giger has Died” — Glendon Mellow, Scientific American

    “The art world has become safer, less dangerous and less disturbing than it ought to be today. The giant in the night, H.R. Giger, has died, it is being reported. […] Giger is dead. His shadow remains cast over our future. The shadow moves.”

  • L. Rock Hubbard: Revisiting the curious career of the ultimate cult musician.” — Nathan Rabin, Slate Culturebox

    “Hubbard’s sonic space opera is, as you might imagine, a staggeringly strange piece of work, a bewildering cross between Queen’s Flash Gordon soundtrack (whose hero is referenced in the shameless opening track ‘Golden Age of Sci-Fi,’ along with Superman and Buck Rogers), an amateur radio play, and a campy audiobook that goes overboard with special effects and musical cues. If you have not recently read all 1,050 pages of Battlefield Earth or seen the film, the album is completely incomprehensible; if you’re familiar with the story, it’s mildly comprehensible.”

Lectures on the Will to Know

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Lectures on the Will to Know (Lectures at the College De France 1970-1971 and Oedipal Knowledge) by Michel Foucault, edited by Arnold I I Davison, translated by Graham Burchell.

Michel Foucault Arnold I I Davidson Graham Burchell Lectures on the Will to Know

The lectures in this volume represent a pivotal moment in the career of French sage Michel Foucault, which he characterized as a turn from “archaeology” to “genealogy”: i.e. from projects inspired by structuralism to ones inspired by Nietzschean ideas. This 1970-1971 set were his first lecture series after achieving his chair at the College de France, and they manifest a change in direction from the work he had previously undertaken in order to establish his intellectual authority, to that to which he would henceforth apply it.

The texts are direct edits and translations from Foucault’s own lecture notes. While later Foucault lectures can be (and have been) reconstructed with the benefit of audio recordings, these early ones survive only in written form. Foucault’s own notes have been supplemented in places with notes taken by attendees. Still, the aide memoire character of the documents makes them sometimes hard to follow, and leaves many ambiguities. One lecture (on Nietzsche) has gone missing, although a another lecture on the same topic delivered in Canada in 1971 is appended to supply the lack. Further ingredients include Foucault’s retrospective “Course Summary” (which can be read profitably as a preliminary overview), the 1972 lecture “Oedipal Knowledge” which extends some of the final considerations of the series, and editor Defert’s helpful contextualization of the lecture series.

The meat of these lectures is a discussion of the development of concepts of truth and justice in ancient Greek culture, in which Foucault elaborates and supports Nietzschean intuitions with the benefit of more recent efforts in positive history. In the process, Foucault rescues Nietzsche from Heidegger, and Oedipus from Freud. Defert’s “Course Context” also supplies information on the relationship of these lectures to the work of Deleuze at the time. Foucault’s reflections on money as a simulacrum (in lecture 9) pre-date and may have influenced Baudrillard’s extensive development of the same notion.

The editorial apparatus is considerable, and the endnotes for each lecture give ample source information, and check Foucault’s references and allusions. I was a little frustrated with the translated quotes from Nietzsche, given to supplement (Burchell’s translations of) Foucault’s own translations and glosses of the same texts; it would have been more useful to have the German in the endnotes. Translator Burchell’s observations on the use of Greek characters and transliteration in scholarship (xv) were interesting to me.

This book demonstrates that the publication of Foucault’s work is reaching an impressive stage of completeness. It joins eight other volumes of his lectures, alongside his monographs and essays, with another four lectures volumes projected. Without having read any of the other books of lectures, I still suspect this must be one of the most significant, if not the easiest of intellectual access. [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.

The Wine & The Will

The Wine and the Will: Rabelais’s Bacchic Christianity by Florence M Weinberg, the 1972 first edition hardcover from Wayne State University Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Florence M Weinberg The Wine & The Will from Wayne State University Press

“In a solid contribution to the field of French Renaissance literature, this study follows the trends of criticism initiated by the revolutionary discoveries of Glison, Febvre, and Screech, focusing on two major emblematic aspects of Rabelais’s novels. Using primary Renaissance iconological material, the author reconstructs the processes by which Renaissance authors (and Rabelais) coded their teachings in symbols that were both entertaining and useful to the learned reader of the time.

The author investigates two major Christian and humanistic aspects of Rabelais’s novels which were meant to test the ingenuity of a learned audience. She takes into account Hellenic and Hellenistic traditions of hermetism—numerology and symbolic iconology in their medieval and Renaissance transformations. The study is designed to show how Rabelais, a Renaissance humanist, fuses comic popular and pagan traditions to convey an evangelical Christian message. It reveals hidden meanings of episodes in Rabelais’s work previously dismissed as simply amusing, and conveys how humor and irony combined in ‘folly’ becomes the vehicle for wisdom.

The symbolism of the wine and the will, explored and understood in all its theological and humanistic complexity, deepens our understanding of Rabelais’s work and Renaissance thought in general.”

 

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.

Fantazius Mallare

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Fantazius Mallare: A mysterious oath by Ben Hecht, published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich:

Ben Hecht's Fantazius Mallare from Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Ben Hecht’s character Fantazius Mallare is definitely a descendant of Huysmanns’ decadent paragon Des Essientes. The omniscient third-person narration in this novel alternates with passages from Mallare’s journal, so that Mallare’s misconceptions and deepening delusions are set into ironic relief. At the same time, he spouts epigrammatic verities in the throes of his self-induced madness. Like Au Rebours, this story is one where decadence converges with asceticism.

First published (and banned) in 1922, the tale is written without reference to definite place. Mallare simply lives in “the town.” There is a family of gypsies on its “outskirts.” Its time is of an indefinite modernity, signaled by the references to hypnosis, and one incongruous mention of “Christian Scientists.” It might well be an allegory, in which Mallare represents the development of the will to knowledge in our artificial and alienated society.

One of the best parts of the book is the preliminary “dedication,” in which the author catalogs at great length his various enemies with their faults. The ending takes place in the form of a journal passage, and it was not clear to me what the “objective” state of affairs was supposed to be at that point.

The Wallace Smith illustrations seem to have an inconsistent relationship to the text, but they’re terrific regardless. Their cadaverous figures in tortured poses all have a deliciously hieratic quality. [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.

Liber AL vel Legis

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Book of the Law: Liber Al Vel Legis by Aleister Crowley:

Aleister Crowley's The Book of the Law

 

“FRATER PERDURABO composed His talisman by invoking His Holy Guardian Angel according to the Sacred Magick of Abramelin the Mage. That Angel wrote on the lamen the Word of the Aeon. The Book of the Law is this writing. To this lamen the Master Therion gave life by devoting His own life thereto. We may then regard this talisman, the Law, as the most powerful that has been made in the world’s history, for previous talismans of the same type have been limited in their scope by conditions of race and country.”

This book “is the Interpretation of the Secret Will of Man on every Plane of his By-coming.”

P.S. “The study of this Book is forbidden.” [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.