The Secret King: The Myth and Reality of Nazi Occultism – Stephen E. Flowers and Michael Moynihan

secret king nazi occultism flowers moynihan.jpg
The Secret King: The Myth and Reality of Nazi Occultism
Michael Moynihan and Stephen E. Flowers

Feral House – 2007

Of all of the books on Nazi occultism that I’ve read, this is the most limited in its scope. I don’t mean that as a criticism of the writing; I mention it because this book is probably not the best place to start for a person who doesn’t know much about the topic. That being said, the first section of the book on the Myth of Nazi Occultism is actually quite informative. The rest of book focuses on one man. This is not merely a biography of that man though; much of the book is made up of translations of his work.

The authors point out that while there were several mystical individuals who played a role in developing the myth of Nazi occultism, only of of these individuals was actually a high ranking member of the Nazi party. This individual was Karl Maria Wiligut.

Wiligut advocated Irminism. This belief system requires its followers to hold the notion that the Bible is largely true, but that it was originally a Germanic text written roughly 12,000 years ago. Over time, the text was corrupted by Odinists, Jews and Christians. The real Jesus wasn’t a Jew. He was actually Germanic hero named Baldur-Kristos.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that Karl Maria Wiligut spent several years of his life in a mental hospital before joining the Nazi party. His wife had him committed because he kept talking about being a descendant of Odin. He was certifiably insane.

When he got out of the loony bin, he was introduced to Heinrich Himmler. Himmler, who was greatly interested in occult ideas, was impressed and made Wiligut a Brigadeführer in the SS. Karl did a few bits and pieces for Himmler, helping design the Totenkopfring and develop Wewelsburg castle as Himmler’s ceremonial heart of the SS.

totenkopf ring design.jpgWiligut’s design on the cover of an SS magazine.

Wiligut didn’t write much, and what he did put to paper is horrible to read. This book contains a few poems that were translated for meaning rather than poetry (thank goodness!), a description of a picture, an essay about women’s role in society, and a few other bits and pieces about runes and astrology and the like. Yuck. There’s also an interview with Wiligut’s former assistant, but most of the information she gives has been covered in the book’s introduction.

The introductory chapters are interesting enough, but the primary sources included here will only be a valuable resource to those interested in understanding what a crazy old Nazi thought about runes and astrology. I can’t say I was all that interested.

(I’ve previously reviewed other books by both Michael Moynihan and Stephen E. Flowers if you’re interested.)

Ghosts, the Illuminati and a Swastika

ghosts illuminati swastika mcivor tyndall.jpgGhosts: A Message from the Illuminati
Dr. Alexander James McIvor-Tyndall

The Balance Publishing Co. – 1906

Hang on. A terrifying spectre, the Illuminati and a swastika on its cover? What frightful secrets must a book like this contain? Were the Nazis in contact with spirits? Did the Illuminati try to warn humanity of the coming horrors of World War II? Were the Nazis just an offshoot of the Illuminati? There’s so many questions raised by a cover like this. Fortunately for you, I have read this fairly hard to find book, and I am about to share with you its shocking revelations.

The Ghosts of the title are the rules of society. They are ghosts in the sense that the ideas behind them are as dead as the festering, rancid corpse of Michael Jackson. For instance, many people believe that life is not supposed to be full of joy. This notion is the result of the fact that human life used to be pretty shit. Back then, people told themselves that it was good to suffer in order to make themselves feel better about their shitty lives. But life isn’t that shit anymore, and the notion that it shouldn’t be filled with happiness is outdated – it is a Ghost of an idea. Fair enough, I accept the message of this book. I feel the same way about men wearing ties. Why fucking bother? To keep you warm? Fuck ties.

This book was published as part of a series of short books on mysticism, but there’s nothing particularly mystical about its message. It was published just two years after Crowley’s Book of the Law though, and there’s a very definite “Do what thou wilt…” vibe to the message here. There’s not a lot about the author, Dr. Alexander James McIvor-Tyndall (alias Ali Nomad), online, but I found a dead link that shared some interesting information on his life. He was English but moved to the States as a young man. Although trained as a doctor, he seems to have spent his life lecturing and writing about spiritualism and the likes. He had been working as a hypnotist several years prior to writing this book and had already published a book on palm-reading. Apparently he had also lectured on Theosophy as early as 1890. Only a few people would have had the chance to read Crowley’s Book of the Law when Ghosts was written, but as an English occultist writing in the early 1900s, it’s not impossible that Dr. Alexander James McIvor-Tyndall would have heard Crowley’s message (possibly through mutual friends in the Illuminati). He did go on to write a book about “the spiritual function of sex”, so if he wasn’t familiar with Crowley, the two men were at least working on similar wavelengths.

Presumably Ghost‘s message of nonconformity to the oppressive rules of society is coming directly from the Illuminati, but other than the title, the only reference to the Illuminati in this work is when the author introduces a quote from Hamlet, referring to its author as ” Shakespeare, the Illumined”. I guess the message of Ghosts falls in with the original purpose of the Illuminati, that of promoting equality and freedom.

The swastika on the cover makes the book seem rather curious indeed, but as I’ve already mentioned, Ghosts came out in 1906, so its appearance has absolutely nothing to do with the Nazis. (Unless of course the Nazis were just an offshoot of the Illuminati!) The author of this book actually went on to edit an occult magazine called The Swastika from 1907 until 1911, all issues of which are available here. (I love the internet.)

ghosts illuminati ad swastika.jpg
Advertisement taken from Swastika Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 4.

Despite having the most alluring cover of all time, Ghosts: A Message from the Illuminati isn’t hugely exciting. For those who clicked into this post hoping for a book about Nazi Occultists, stay tuned. I have a post on that topic scheduled for next week.

Hacking the Necronomicon – Lovecraft’s Legacy, Part 2

In this series of posts, I’m reviewing books on Lovecraftian Occultism alongside the Wordsworth collections of Lovecraft’s tales. I’m finding it quite insightful to read through the bizarre works inspired by Lovecraft’s horrors while these horrors are still fresh in my mind. This post delves a little deeper into Lovecraftian Occultism, focusing on two books about the Simon Necronomicon, a book that is itself directly inspired Lovecraft’s work. I have previously reviewed the Necronomicon itself and Dead Names: The Dark History of the Necronomicon.

necronomian workbook necronomicon.jpgNecronomian Workbook: Guide to the Necronomicon – Darren Fox 
International Guild of Occult Sciences – 1996

This was written by Darren Fox, otherwise known as Brother Moloch. This is actually the same guy that published The Dark Arts of Tarantula, one of the silliest books I’ve ever read. His book on the Necronomicon isn’t much better.

He claims that Lovecraft astrally traveled to another dimension where Abdul Alhazred was real. This is where our boy H.P. discovered the Necronomicon, but he told himself it was all just a dream.

There’s at least 2 versions of the Necronomicon out there. Brother Moloch acknowledges that they might be fake, but posits that coherent forgeries can still give effective magical instruction.

necronomicon simonProbably fake, but who cares?

What follows is basically a bunch of tips on how to perform each of the different rituals and prayers in the Simon Necronomicon. Large quotations are taken from Simon’s book.

Although Moloch has warned his reader not to contact Cthulhu, he gives a ritual to do exactly that. This ritual mixes names from Lovecraft’s pantheon and quotes from Crowley’s Book of the Law into a ritual that sounds like it comes straight from a Solomonic grimoire.

Next, there’s a bunch of bullshitty grimoire styled spells with the names of a few Lovecraftian entities thrown into the mix. It’s mostly the usual stuff: to kill an enemy, to increase sexual potency, to hold back evil… but, there’s also a spell to get money that directly addresses Cthulhu. Yes, performing this spell involves asking the great priest Cthulhu for cash. In At The Mountains of Madness, Lovecraft explains that human beings were created solely for the amusement of a race that were in conflict with Cthulhu’s spawn. We are less than shit to Cthulhu, yet Brother Moloch suggests that we should ask him to help us make some money.

Moloch also describes his visit to Leng. He made a nice a cup of tea, had a warm bath, did some yoga exercises and then imagined himself walking down a stairs to the center of the world. He opened a door down there and walked into Leng, easy as that.

After this, there’s some poems that the author pinched from a 1903 book on the Devils and Evil Spirits of Babylonia, and some essays that he stole off the internet. One of these essays is called “The Aeon of Cthulhu Rising”. A quick google search reveals that its author was none other that Frater Tenebrous, the author of Cults of Cthulhu, the pamphlet I reviewed in my last Lovecraft post.

The other essay, “LIBER GRIMOIRIS: The Parallels of East and West: Termas, Grimoires and the Necronomicon”,  is by a guy called Frater Nigris. It basically says that the Necronomicon might be real. Searching the author’s name brings up other essays on Thelema and the like.

The book ends with a description of the author’s journey through Kenneth Grant‘s Lovecraftian Sephirot. It’s very confusing.

Overall, this book was utter rubbish. The spelling and grammar are utterly atrocious, and the author seems to have completely missed the distinctive and complete apathy of Lovecraft’s entities towards the human race.

Shite.

hidden key necronomicon.jpgThe Hidden Key of the Necronomicon – Alric Thomas
International Guild of Occult Sciences – 1996

This is a shockingly uninformative pamphlet on the Necronomicon. It was put out by the same publisher as the Necronomian Workbook. It’s only a few pages long, and most pages are taken up with diagrams from the Simon Necronomicon. Some of these images have been slightly edited. The author acts as if these edits will blow the Necronomicon open for the practitioner. Ugh. This is poorly written garbage. No effort was put into creating this piece of trash.

 

the lurking fear lovecraftThe Lurking Fear – H.P. Lovecraft
Wordsworth – 2013

This is the fourth collection of Lovecraft’s writings put out by Wordsworth Publishing. It contains the following tales:

The Lurking Fear, Azathoth, Beyond the Wall of Sleep, Ex Oblivione, Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family, From Beyond, Hypnos, Memory, Nyarlathotep, The Alchemist, The Beast in the Cave, The Moon-Bog, The Music of Erich Zann, The Outsider, The Picture in the House, The Quest of Iranon, The Street, The Temple, The Terrible Old Man, The Tomb, The Transition of Juan Romero, The Tree, The White Ship, What the Moon Brings, The Rats in the Walls, He, In the Vault, Cool Air, The Descendant, The Very Old Folk, The Book, The Evil Clergyman, and the short essay, Notes on Writing Weird Fiction.

The titles in green were not included in any of the Penguin collections of Lovecraft’s work, and so I hadn’t read them before. Some of them (Ex Oblivione, Azathoth, Memory) are very short, but also very cool. The essay on Weird Fiction is very interesting, and I plan to write more about it in the future.

Overall, this collection is quite a mix of stuff, both in terms of content and quality. A lot of these stories are quite short, and don’t really fit neatly in with either Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos or his Dream Cycle. (Most of those tales are collected in the first and third Wordsworth collections respectively.) What you’ll find in this book is a collection of odds and ends. It features tales that Lovecraft wrote as a boy (The Beast in the Cave), stories that were never meant to be published and originally only included in private letters to Lovecraft’s friends (The Very Old Folk), and horror classics that just don’t fit in with his other tales (The Rats in the Walls).

Some of these stories are fairly shit. I read The Tree a couple of times, and I still feel like I don’t get it. A few of the other stories (The Lurking Fear, In the Vault, Arthur Jermyn…) are fine, but don’t come close to the atmosphere or excitement of Lovecraft’s more famous tales. Some are absolutely deadly though. I had totally forgotten The Picture in the House. It is fantastic.

The Horror at Red Hook is the story that people usually point to when they want to show that Lovecraft was a horrible racist, but that’s a horror story that features racism. The Street is just a racist story and a shit one at that. If you want a clearer look at Lovecraft’s racism check out this vile little poem or his letters. In one letter he says of Adolf Hitler, “I know he’s a clown, but by God I like the boy!” I considered writing more about Lovecraft’s xenophobia, but the internet is already full of articles about it and I don’t actually care that much. If you’re triggered by some of the passages in his stories, just remind yourself that he died poor and lonely and keep reading.

I’m glad to have this book on my shelf. Even though it’s basically a leftovers collection, I really enjoyed reading it. This is the shortest book out of Wordsworth’s editions of Lovecraft’s work, and it’ll probably be a few months before I write parts 3 and 4 of this series of posts.

 

 

 

Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley – Richard Kaczynski

perdurabo Kaczynski.jpgPerdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley – Richard Kaczynski (Revised and Expanded Edition)
North Atlantic Books – 2010

Aleister Crowley has appeared on this blog a fair few times at this stage. I’ve read books about him and several of his own works, and I thought I had a pretty good idea of what he was about. Then I read Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley by Richard Kaczynski.

This really is an excellent book. I haven’t read any of the other biographies of Crowley, and the only reason I would want to at this stage would be to compare them with this one. I don’t imagine any of them include much information that isn’t in here. Although Perdurabo is very long and very extensive, it never really gets boring.

This isn’t just a story of Crowley’s life. It also serves as a reference work on his works. It gives the details behind all of the Beast’s most important books, and I am quite sure that I will be referring to my copy of Perdurabo whenever I’m reading a book by Crowley in the future. I would have been able to make more sense out of the books by Crowley that I’ve read if I had read this beforehand.

I’ve read about Crowley’s notorious Abbey of Thelema many times. I knew that this was a house in Italy where he lived with some of his disciples for a while. I guess I had never given the idea much thought before, but without directly stating it, this book makes it pretty clear that Crowley was a cult-leader at this stage of his life. He manipulated his followers to get them to do whatever he wanted.

Some of the most interesting stuff that I learned wasn’t about what Crowley did at the Abbey; it was the things that he didn’t do there. Apparently Crowley never forced one of his followers to drink a cup of cat’s blood. (He probably only sacrificed the cat because it was noisy.) And, while this book confirms that Crowley once tried to get a goat to fuck his girlfriend, it suggests that he did not cut the goat’s throat to let it bleed all over her as it was cumming.

Being a manipulative dickhead is one thing, but Crowley’s behaviour at the Abbey was shameful in a far nastier way than what’s mentioned above. In April, 1920, Crowley’s partner and their three month old daughter moved to the Abbey. The baby was dead by October despite her parent’s performances of sex-magick rituals to save her. The child had been ill before arriving, but Crowley was content to let her live in a dirty building with her father constantly strung out on heroin.

And this wasn’t Crowley’s first failed attempt at fatherhood. In 1906, Crowley and his family were in China. He sent his pregnant wife and their two year old daughter back to England via India while he went towards Canada. When he got back to England, he discovered that his little girl had died. I don’t care how independent and capable his wife was, he shouldn’t have left her in that situation. Kill goats, spread German propaganda, cheat idiots of their money and dignity, but take care of your little girl, you horrible piece of shit.

I’m quite sure that Crowley was upset by the deaths of his children, but it seems very likely that both babies would have lived longer if he had taken better care of them. It’s difficult for me to have any respect for a man who acted this way.  He may have been “Supreme Rex and Sovereign Grand Master General of Ireland, Iona, and all the Britons”, but he was also a deadbeat junky and a shitty, incompetent father.

I knew that Aleister Crowley had written poems, but I wasn’t aware of how many. For a portion or maybe several portions of his life, he seemed to think of himself as a poet more than anything else. I’ve never really been a poetry kind of guy myself, but within minutes of reading an excerpt from Aleister’s collection titled Snowdrops from a Curate’s Garden, I had bought a copy. You can find the text online, but I needed a hard copy for my bookshelf. I’ll review this one here soon.

crowley snowdrops

 

In the spirit of the comprehensiveness of Perdurabo, I had intended on going  through the index of books I’ve reviewed and compiling a list of notes about the ones which feature Crowley. I quickly realised that that would require an awful lot of work, and a Richard Kaczynski I am not. Here’s some of the more Crowley-centric posts I’ve written:

 

2015-12-28 02.38.38Moonchild, The Magician and To the Devil – A Daughter
This was my first post on Crowley. It’s a comparison of his different appearances in works of fiction. Knowing what I know now, I’d probably change a few things if I was going to rewrite this, but this post actually contains some fairly impressive research.

 

liber alThe Book of the Law and The Book of Lies
I wasn’t hugely impressed by Crowley’s masterpiece. I might see it differently now given what I have learned about Crowley’s life, but it’ll be a long time before I can bring myself to read it again.

 

crowley tiocfaidh ar la up the rahCrowley’s Saint Patrick’s Day Poem and Crowley’s Essay on James Joyce
These are writings by Crowley that were hard to find online. Both posts include brief discussions on Crowley’s interesting attitude toward Ireland.

 

the aleister crowley scrapbookThe Aleister Crowley Scrapbook
This post includes an interview with Sandy Robertson, the book’s author. I was flicking through this book the other day, and found another reference to Inpenetrable by Joel Harris. (The third reference to this book that I’ve ever seen.)

 

There’s a lot more on Crowley on this blog. If you do a site-wide search for his name, you’ll see what I mean.

 

Aleister Crowley on James Joyce

Only yesterday, I finished reading Richard Kaczynski’s Perdurabo, the monumental biography of Aleister Crowley. I had intended on publishing a review of that book today, but seeing as though it’s Saint Patrick’s day, I thought I should post something relating to my native Ireland. Last year, I posted Aleister Crowley’s poem “Saint Patrick’s Day, 1902”. It was my second post discussing Crowley’s strange attitude towards Ireland. While reading through Kaczynski’s biography of the Great Beast, I found another interesting link between Crowley and the Emerald Isle.

aleister crowley and james joyce.jpg

In July 1923, Crowley had an article titled “The Genius of Mr. James Joyce” published in New Pearson’s Magazine. Crowley discusses both Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man and the then recently published Ulysses, showering both novels with lavish praise. When reading Crowley, one should always consider the possibility that he’s being insincere, but that’s clearly not the case here. It’s not hard to see how Crowley would be interested in a character like Joyce; both men were leaders in their fields, sexual deviants, largely misunderstood, and victims of censorship. (Although the two men never met, several people, including Kaczynski and Robert Anton Wilson, have pointed out similarities in their writing.)

james joyce aleister crowley

Here then, in its entirety, is Aleister’s article on Jimmy:

The Genius of Mr. James Joyce

Within the last twenty years a new form of literature has been evolved, the novel of the mind. I mean by this a story where what men do is described only as the outcome of what they think and feel and believe, and where the focus of interest is in their thoughts rather than in their acts. This literature is still in its experimental stage, and a majority of the novelists fail because they think it is enough to observe correctly, and so produce pathological studies rather than works of art. Their work is interesting because it is concerned with reality, but for the most part it is  indifferent literature, because the reality has not been worked into proper shape. It would hardly be an exaggeration to say that the further the majority of these writers probe into the mind of man, the further they depart from artistic creation.

My Wyndham Lewis’ novel Tarr is a case in point. It is one of the most interesting books written within the last ten years. It is a book that opens a secret cupboard and displays the contents with an observation that compels our admiration, but our chief interest is in watching the cat let out of the bag. All sensitive men are compelled to plead guilty to the indictment, but there is little indication that the author is interested in style for its own sake, and that his purpose would not have been as well served by an essay on the hatred of human beings for human nature.

This form of writing has been saved, by the genius of Mr. James Joyce, from its worst fate, that of becoming a mere amateur contribution to medical text-books.

Every new discovery produces a genius. Its enemies might say that psych-analysis—the latest and deepest theory to account for the vagaries of human behavior—has found the genius it deserves. Although Mr. Joyce is  known only to a limited circle in England and America, his work has been ranked with that of Swift, Sterne, and Rabelais by such critics as M. Vatery, Mr. Ezra Pound and Mr. T. S. Eliot.

There is caution to be exercised in appraising the work of a contemporary. When we like him at all, we are inclined to like him too much, because we are in unconscious sympathy with his presentation of life, and are incapable of judging his work impartially. I am convinced personally that Mr. Joyce is a genius all the world will have to recognize. I rest my proof upon his most important book Ulysses, and upon his first novel, A Portrait of the Artist as Young Man, and on such portions of Ulysses as have appeared. Before these he wrote two books, Chamber Music (The Egoist Press, London), a collection of most delicate songs, and Dubliners (Grant Richards, London), sketches of Dublin life distinguished by its savage bitterness, and the subsequent hostility it excited. The Portrait when it appeared was hailed as a masterpiece, but it has been boycotted by libraries and booksellers for no discernible reason other than the fact that the profound descriptions tell the truth from a new, and therefore to the majority a disturbing, point of view.

The book is the history of the infancy, childhood, and adolescence of a high-school boy, Stephen Daedalus. While he is little his people are prosperous gentle folk, by the time he is grown up they are living in a Dublin slum. In a magnificent early chapter his family sit round their rich Christmas Dinner. It is the time of the Parnell tragedy, and every person there takes a different view of it with an equal passion, and their dispute rises with matchless intensity until Stephen’s father is left alone at the head of the table and cries and says, “Parnell, my dead king.”

Stephen goes to a Catholic public school, and his young body and his young beliefs drive hell into him, and he leaves school and goes to college and finds his nature unchanged. He grows up in love with absolute beauty, and obsessed with the obscenity of life. He is tortured so soon as he is able to perceive the conflict of the body and the soul, the excremental animal and the image of God.

The book is written with the utmost delicacy and vigor. When Stephen is a baby, Mr. Joyce selected the exact incidents that would impress the hardly conscious minds in such a way that the reader finds that his own infantile memories are astir. He recalls his own mind when it was incapable of synthesis and conscious only of alternation between nourishment and excretion. Gradually the child becomes aware of the relation between one thing and another, with adolescence his consciousness becomes complete, and the struggle of the individual to express and reconcile himself to life begins. As his mind changes Mr. Joyce changes his style, the unperceiving mind is shown so that the actual texture of its unperceptiveness is felt, an incomplete thought is given in its incompleteness. But when Mr. Joyce leaves his characters to their stream of unsorted perceptions and speaks for himself, he write classical English prose with the particular beauty proper to a new master. Stephen is walking on the cliffs of Dublin bay, and looks over to the town and sees—

“as a scene, or some dim areas, old as man’s weariness the image of the seventh city of Christendom was present to him across the timeless air, not older, not more weary, nor less patient of subjection than in the days of the thingmote.”

The end of the Portrait leaves Stephen still at Dublin University. He is the eldest, a swarm of brothers and sisters sit round the table and drink tea out of jam pots. His mother “is ashamed a University student should be so dirty, his own mother has to wash him.” He is the poorest of poor students, the most gifted, proud and perverse. We leave him, knowing that there is worse in store for him and turn to Ulysses.

Ulysses (The Shakespeare Book Co., Paris—by subscription), as the title suggests, is another Odyssey of a small Jewish commercial traveler round about the Dublin streets on one day.

About him there unwinds the most extraordinary procession of his friends and acquaintances from one public house to the next, and among them is Stephen, his father gone in drink, Buck Mulligan, a horsey “tough,” barmaids, the Rev. Father Conmee S. J. Stephen’s little sister buying a French grammar for a penny, maid-servants, loafers, business men, all passing and talking and dreaming, and observed and set down to what seems the last possible point of human observation.

A great part of the book is passed in a public house where the scenes of the Odyssey are represented by two barmaids standing behind a barrier of whiskey-bottles which contain, as Mr. Joyce observes, “orient and immortal wheat standing from everlasting to everlasting.”

Stephen is now a school master, reading Lycidas over the heads of a class of indifferent children. He is now a quite subsidiary character. It is in Mr. Bloom that the essence of the book lies.

The disreputable, snobbish Catholic world sees in Mr. Bloom a commercial traveler of a despised race. Mr. Bloom sees himself as a lover, a poet, a gourmet, and a man-of-the-world. Yet he is an acute observer of himself, he takes himself into his own confidence, and it is infinitely entertaining to overhear him. It is also shocking and startling. His Odyssey is between his home, some shops, a cemetery and a public-house, in a trance on foot. In the beginning he buys a piece of soap, “sweet lemony wax,” and the part taken by that piece of soap in his  trouser pocket is given its exact proportion. It has a life-history of its own, a “Little Odyssey.”

I have no space to enter upon the real profundity of this book, or its amazing achievement in sheer virtuosity. Mr. Joyce has taken Homer’s Odyssey and made an analogy, episode by episode, translating the great supernatural epic into terms of slang and betting slips, into the filth, meanness and wit and passion of Dublin today. Then the subtle little alien is shown exploiting, as once the “Zeus-born, son of Laertes, Odysseus of many wiles” exploited, the ladies and goddesses of the “finest story in the world.”

At present Mr. Joyce is all but unknown except to the inmost ring of English and French lovers of the arts. In his own country prejudiced Dublin opinion is making a determined effort to boycott him. It would certainly reflect no discredit on the Commonwealth of Australia if she were to be one of the first to recognize a writer who will in time compel recognition from the whole civilized world.

 

Of course, this isn’t the first time I’ve encountered these lads in conjunction with each other. Both Aleister Crowley and James Joyce appear as central characters in Robert Anton Wilson’s Masks of the Illuminati.

Expect more on Crowley here soon. I should have the review of Perdurabo ready for next week.

Echoes from the Darkness – Lovecraft’s Legacy, Part 1

While reading John L. Steadman’s H.P. Lovecraft and the Black Magickal Tradition last year, I decided that the time had come for me to reread Lovecraft. Too many of the books I read and plan to read reference his stories, and it was getting to stage where I was mixing up my Shoggoths, Yuggoths and Yog-Sothoths.  In order to remedy this embarrassing situation,  I started going back over Lovecraft’s tales, including the stories that aren’t included in the Penguin editions of his work.  I started on this collection during the summer, reading a story here and there, between other books. I haven’t strictly limited myself to the stories in this collection, but it’s the first of the Wordsworth series that I’ve completed, so I’m reviewing it first.

whisperer in darknessThe Whisperer in Darkness – H.P. Lovecraft
Wordsworth – 2007

All of the other entries in the Wordsworth series contain stories that are not included in the Penguin editions, but this collection was all stuff I’ve read before. It contains:

Dagon
The Nameless City
The Hound
The Festival
The Call of Cthulhu
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
The Dunwich Horror
The Whisperer in Darkness
At the Mountains of Madness

These are obviously some of Lovecraft’s finest. The Whisperer in Darkness has long been my favourite of his, but I couldn’t remember what happens at the end. It’s fucking fantastic. There were gross parts in this story and in Charles Dexter Ward that I had also forgotten about. I was also very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the Call of Cthulhu. I have read an awful lot of horror fiction since the last time I read this classic, and I was expecting that it might not seem as effective to me now. If anything, I enjoyed it more than ever. There’s so many passages throughout that story that I paused to reread several times on account of their exceptional awesomeness. It took another half year to get around to writing this review though, so I’ve forgotten the specifics. In fact, the only story from this collection that I’ve read within the last 4 months has been At the Mountains of Madness. It’s only about 4 years since I previously read this story, so much of it was still in my head, but it still managed to give me a few chills. There’s one part near the end where he says, “It is absolutely necessary, for the peace and safety of mankind, that some of earth’s dark, dead corners and unplumbed depths be let alone; lest sleeping abnormalities wake to resurgent life, and blasphemously surviving nightmares squirm and splash out of their black lairs to newer and wider conquests.” Fuck yes. Please Sleeping Abnormalities, if you’re still out there, leave those unplumbed depths and destroy us soon!

It probably has a lot to do with the fact that Lovecraft was one of the only writers I had any interest in as a teenager, but I absolutely love his writing style. I adore Lovecraftian horror. I love how he took what he understood about the advances in modern science and used this not to spread hope for the future of humankind but to insist on the futility of all human life. We are nothing in even the minutest scheme of things. According to Lovecraft’s mythos, we were created by an ancient race of prawn-cucumbers to provide them with light entertainment. YES!

Although I own all of the Wordsworth editions of Lovecraft’s work, and these are the ones I’m using to order my rereading, I’m actually reading most of the stories from the Penguin editions because of the notes therein. I’m also using audiobooks and pdf versions. The Wordsworth edition are fine though; what they lack in commentary, they make up for in comprehensiveness. So important is Lovecraft to my reading habits that I need to have hard copies of all of his stories in my library.

wordsworth lovecraft

Anyone reading this blog should have read Lovecraft. His fiction has affected so many of the other books that I review here. Kenneth Grant’s The Magical Revival, Thomas Ligotti’s Conspiracy against the Human Race, Pauwel and Bergier’s Morning of the Magicians, Anton LaVey’s Satanic Bible, Simon’s Necronomicon, and Stephen Sennitt’s Infernal Texts are all heavily influenced by Lovecraft. His influence on horror fiction is unmeasurable. Some novels like Michael Slade’s Ghoul and Garret Boatman’s Stage Fright feature beings directly from Lovecraft’s stories, but his influence can be found in countless ways in countless other novels and tales.

Like I said, I’m rereading Lovecraft to refresh my memory so that I can delve deeper into the realm of Lovecraftian occultism. Here’s a review of an interesting little pamphlet on that topic.

cults of cthulu tenebrous.jpgCults of Cthulhu: H.P. Lovecraft and the Occult Tradition – Frater Tenebrous
Daath Publications – 1987

This short pamphlet contains the text of a lecture given in Leeds University in 1985. It’s credited to a lad named Frater Tenebrous who the internet is telling me is another name for Peter Smith. Peter Smith was a contributor to Stephen Sennitt’s Infernal Texts, and Sennitt actually dedicated the second half of that book to him and referred to him as “foremost scholar on the Necronomicon”. Only 123 copies of this were initially published, and they go for quite a lot of money these days. Fortunately, you can download pdf copies for free. This text contains a short biography of Lovecraft, descriptions of the major players in his pantheon and a very brief discussion of how Lovecraft’s fiction has shaped the rituals of a handful of occult groups (one of whom was led by Michael Bertiaux, yet another contributor to Sennitt’s book). I can’t say Cults of Cthulhu contained much information that I wasn’t already aware of, but it was only ever supposed to be “an introduction to the occult aspects of H.P. Lovecraft’s writings for potential initiates of the E.O.D.”. It made for pleasant reading on my commute to work one morning last week.

I’m gradually getting through the other stories and some even weirder texts of Lovecraftian occultism. Expect to see a few more posts on these over the next year.

Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!

Three More from the King

I’ve read a fair few books by Stephen King, and after my last binge on his writing, I decided to work through the rest of his books in chronological order. Last year, I only read one King novel (along with 7 novels by his friend Richard Bachman), so I want to get through a few this year. Here’s three.

the dead zone stephen kingThe Dead Zone – 1979

I read this a while back. I really enjoyed it up until near the end. It felt a bit like King had hit his publisher’s page limit when he was only halfway through the story. (I felt the same reading The Stand.) I was expecting the conflict between Johnny and Stillson, the antagonist and protagonist, both of whom are introduced within the book’s first two chapters, to take up more space in the book. There’s a huge big subplot in the middle where Johnny stops a murder that doesn’t have much to do with the main conflict of the book (as far as I remember), and was the chapter on the lightning-rod salesman really necessary? Also, isn’t there a bit that suggests that Stillson was in contact with Sarah’s husband? I presumed that that relationship would lead to serious complications for Johnny later on, but it led to nothing. It is hinted that Stillson is truly evil and that he would be an awful president, but he never gets to reach his full potential. Sure, he’s unhinged, but he never comes close to Randall Flagg levels of nastiness.

 

firestarter stephen kingFirestarter – 1980

The next of King’s books that I read features one of his scariest antagonists. Firestarter is the story of a man and his daughter, both of whom have psychic powers, being chased, imprisoned and manipulated by a shady government agency. I have a little girl myself, and I couldn’t help but get sucked into this one. The little girl in the book has the ability to start fires with her mind, and the man responsible for getting to use this power, one John Rainbird, is a chillingly evil character. He’s so bad that I had to put the book down at one point to really contemplate his wickedness.

You can probably guess how this is going to end once you get halfway through the book, but it’ll take you another 200 pages to get there. This is another long, fairly tortuous read from King.

 

cujo stephen kingCujo – 1981

I wrote the reviews for The Dead Zone and Firestarter a while after reading those books, but the wounds that Cujo inflicted on me are still healing. This book was fucking nasty.

I’ve known that this novel is about a rabid dog for as long as I remember, so I was a bit surprised that the book starts with the description of a serial killer. I was doubly surprised to realise that the serial killer being described was the killer from King’s The Dead Zone. Although it’s included in this post, I wrote the above review for The Dead Zone months before reading Cujo. In it, I actually complain about the inclusion of the serial killer subplot, but it makes sense now. I think the way King link his books together like this is really cool. You don’t have to have read The Dead Zone to enjoy Cujo, but it does make you feel pretty smart to have the background information from the other book. I’ve long known that King does this kind of thing, but this particular example makes me afraid of reading the rest of his novels out of sequence. I’m not going near the Dark Tower series until I’ve read everything else he wrote before finishing those books.

Anyways, people can say whatever they want about Stephen King’s writing, but fucking Hell, he can suck his reader into a story. His ideas can be corny, but his characters and the way they interact with each other are brilliant.

As in Firestarter, the central conflict in Cujo is drawn out and fairly hopeless. This one has an even bleaker ending though. Really, it’s very, very bleak. I really enjoyed this book.

I was going to try to read and review Pet Semetary before the new movie comes out next month, but Christine and Different Seasons were published before that one, so I won’t have the time if I’m reading King’s books in chronological order. I’ll probably get to those later on in the year.