Witchcraft (Its Power in the World Today) – William Seabrook

witchcraft

Willie Seabrook was an explorer, cannibal, black magician, bondage freak and journalist. This is his book on Witchcraft, and it’s fucking wonderful. The book deals with Seabrook’s personal experiences with witchcraft, and while a lot of it is fairly unbelievable, it is deadly craic. It’s a bit like reading a Dennis Wheatley novel told in the first person. I put this on my to-buy list after reading about it in Cavendish’s Black Arts, but after seeing it referred to in my favourite section of the Illuminatus! trilogy, I knew I had to get my hands on it. The  Illuminatus authors have Seabrook playing a part in a conspiracy involving Ambrose Bierce, Arthur Machen, Aleister Crowley, Robert W. Chambers, J.K. Huysmans, and H.P. Lovecraft. (Expect a post on Bierce soon; I reckon I’ll get around to Chambers before Christmas.) It is implied that the Illuminati murdered Seabrook over what he published in this book and made his death look like a suicide.
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(p. 296, Illuminatus! Trilogy)
After reading this, I had to own a copy of Seabrook’s book. It’s not super rare, but it took me a while to track down a copy for what I considered a reasonable price. My edition has a fairly boring cover, but the edges are coloured an interesting purple.
purpleaki
Beyond the Mauve Zone?

So there’s three parts to the book. Each part is comprised of short accounts of different things that Seabrook witnessed. The first part is on Doll magic, and it’s probably my favourite. There’s one particular story about a deceitful white explorer in Africa that I absolutely loved. A lad cheats a tribe out of money and soon thereafter goes missing. Seabrook was mates with the lads in the tribe, and one day, one of the boys asks if he wants to see something interesting. Guessing that it has something to do with the disappearance, Willie warns him that if its the missing white man, he’ll be obliged to tell the police. The native laughs this off and brings Seabrook into the jungle and shows him something good. It’s the rotting corpse of another native, strung up to a tree. The ropes binding it to the branches are digging into the flesh of the corpse’s bloating neck, and things are starting to ooze. The corpse is wearing the clothes of the missing explorer, and if Seabrook was to have gotten up close, he would have seen clippings of the missing explorer’s hair stuck onto the head of the corpse.

The missing explorer was found dead a few days later after having died of a constricted windpipe. Black magic had caused what had happened to the corpse to also happen to the victim.
Fuck yes. That is the good stuff.

The second part of the book is on Werewolves and Vampires, and the third is on general occulty stuff. It tells of Seabrook’s friendship with Aleister Crowley.  This book is the origin of that famous story of Crowley walking behind a man, mimicking his gait, and consequently being able to make him collapse without touching or speaking to him. There’s also a part in here about Seabrook’s relationship with Upton Sinclair, author of Oil!, the most boring book I have ever read.

The book ends with a few chapters about kinky psychic-bondage experiments that Seabrook performed with his lover. He had a special gimp mask made for his partners that was basically designed to maximise sensory deprivation. He’d make his girlfriend Justine wear this mask, then tie her up by the wrists until she started hallucinating. They hoped these hallucinations would tell the future. The following images are not from the book, but they are extremely relevant. (They’re from an article about Seabrook from a 1942 edition of Click Magazine.)
seabrook's babe
One of Willie’s babes. Looks like he knew how to pick them.

seabrook mask
He was a man that knew what he liked, God bless him.

Overall, this book is delicious. The stories might seem unbelievable, but that hardly matters. They’re entertaining. Plus, the author maintains that he doesn’t believe in magic the whole way through the book, and his incredulity is charming. Seabrook comes across as  a remarkably interesting, and I am definitely going to keep my eye out for his other books. There were a few times in this one when he would write something quite rude, and it would take me a while to figure out if he was being bold or not. At one stage, I believe he refers to a woman’s vagina as a pickle-jar, but maybe he meant something completely different.  Like other similar books, this contains references to other texts that I am going to have to try to get my hands on. Unfortunately, some of the books mentioned herein are fairly rare, and any copies I can find are extremely expensive. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to wait till I’m rich. Until then, I’ll leave you with some awesome pictures that I found after hunting down a reference from this book. On page 20, Seabrook mentions an article from a 1939 edition of Life magazine about Ozark superstitions. Finding the full thing online really made me happy that we live in the internet era. (Full article here)
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This is why I do this blog. DEADLY!

Happy Birthday to the Marquis De Sade!

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I’ve been meaning to do a post on the Marquis De Sade since I started this blog, and what better day to do it than his 276th birthday! De Sade’s life was as interesting as his books, and it’s hard to know where to start with him. I have an awful lot to say about the lad, and I’m sure this won’t be my only post on his work.

Trigger Warnings: Rape, Murder, Blasphemy, Bestiality, Rape

(You said Rape twice…)

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The 120 Days of Sodom & Other Writings – Marquis De Sade
Grove Press – 1987

My introduction to De Sade’s writing was 120 Days of Sodom. It is, without a doubt, the vilest book that I have ever read.  It’s a bit like the GG Allin of literature; it’s fucking horrendous, but it’s kind of cool that somebody did it. This book is so far ahead of its competition in terms of offensiveness, that any attempt to outdo it would seem petty.
It’s a fairly long book, and it’s very formulaic in some ways. I read it over a few days, and it really got to me. This is one of the very few books that has actually given me nightmares. (Imagine drifting off to the land of Nod only to find yourself being forced to attend a ‘blood-orgy’ in a subterranean vault. Yes, a ‘blood-orgy’; I distinctly remember that phrase from the dream.) As it so happens, this is also one of the very few books that has actually made laugh so hard that tears ran down my face. There is one part in which a man “fucks a goat from behind while being flogged; the goat conceives and gives birth to a monster. Monster though it be, he embuggers it.” Now THAT’S comedy! “Monster though it be” HAHAHAHAHA!!! The man is having sex with his own mutant offspring! LOL!!! 

When introducing one of the characters, a lady named Thérèse, De Sade notes;
“Her ass was peppered with wounds, and her buttocks were so prodigiously slack one could have furled the skin around a walking stick; the hole in this splendid ass resembled the crater of a volcano what for width and for aroma the pit of a privy; in all her life, Thérèse declared, she had never once wiped her ass, whence she had positive proof that the shit of her infancy yet clung there”
Some people view him as a philosopher, some ill-informed individuals imagine him as a sexual-revolutionary, but I think that De Sade has to be interpreted as a comedian with an extremely childish sense of humour. I can imagine him, sitting in his prison cell, chuckling away to his heart’s content as he wrote down the most vulgar, repulsive things he could imagine. The man had nothing to lose, and his writing gave him an opportunity to lash out at those who landed him in prison. His mother in law had had him jailed for abusing a prostitute, and if you read between the lines in books that he wrote in jail, all you’ll see is the phrase “You think that was bad? I’ll show you bad!”
Petulant, but truly hilarious.

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Justine, Philosophy in the Bedroom, and Other Writings – Marquis De Sade
Grove Weidenfeld – 1990

Next up is Philosophy in the Bedroom/Boudoir. I actually read the Penguin Classics version of this one, but I own the Grove Press edition. This takes the form of a dialogue between a young girl and a group of libertines who attempt to convince her to abandon her morality. It’s been a few years since I read it, but I remember this being very, very funny. The blasphemies in here are priceless; I recall some of the characters attempting to shout out phrases such as “Christ be triple-fucked” as they reach their orgasms. There is a long and boring section towards the end that discusses 18th century French politics, but it’s not essential to the plot, and you can just skip over it. This one isn’t quite as repulsive as 120 Days, but it does get pretty nasty.

I have also read the Oxford’s World’s Classics edition of The Misfortunes of Virtue. The Misfortunes of Virtue, written in 1787, is probably De Sade’s most palatable book. It’s still full of rape and misery, but it makes its point without getting too disgusting. It’s about a virtuous young woman who does her best to stay good. Every time she fails to take the opportunity to do something bad, something horrendous happens to her. It’s a fairly depressing text. Four years after publishing this one, De Sade decided it wasn’t horrible enough, so he rewrote it with extra rape and pooing, and renamed it Justine. 6 years after this, he rewrote it again, making it even more repulsive. Unfortunately, the final, 1797, version has never been published in English. The text in my Grove edition is the second version, but I haven’t got around to reading it yet.

juliette
Juliette – Marquis De Sade
Grove Press – Not sure of year of publication (This edition lists a website though)

Although I own a copy, I have not yet read Juliette. Juliette is the companion book to Justine. While Justine was a little Goody-Two-Shoes, her sister Juliette was a bad girl who reaped the rewards of evil. I’m sure Juliette is a hoot, but it’s 1200 pages long, and although I have enjoyed his other works, De Sade’s books aren’t easy reads. 1200 pages of horrendous rape and murder seems like quite a commitment at the moment.

I just got this in the post the other day. It’s a novel about the Marquis from the 1960s. I’m sure it’s trash, but what a great title!
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Everyone has heard of De Sade, but not many people have actually read his books. He was a funny chap, but he was also a pathetic loser in a lot of ways. His anti-moral philosophies seem to have been a major influence on several forms of modern Satanism, and while I understand his point of view and agree with much of what he as to say about religion, I think that most of what he has to say is very shitty. Shitty, but sadly realistic. Anyways, that’s enough for tonight. If you want to discuss De Sadean/Sadistic philosophy, please give me a shout.

Happy Birthday Donatien Alphonse François!

*Although this post appears to have been posted on the 3rd of June, it was actually written and posted on the 2nd. De Sade was born on June 2nd, 1740.

Maldoror and Poems – Le Comte de Lautrémont

Maldoror

Penguin – 1978
The full title of this work is “Les Chants de Maldoror”, and it is supposedly a collection of “songs”  written by an extremely nasty individual. Imagine all of the bad guys of gothic literature rolled into one and you’ll get an idea of what Maldoror is like as a person. He’s equal parts Manfred and Melmoth, but he also has a little Dracula and Curval in him too. He hates man, god and almost everything else. Sounds pretty cool right? Well some of it definitely is. The parts where he recounts his crimes and insults god are  damn sweet. He isn’t just a little bit naughty either; he’s full on evil. He boasts about brutally torturing people and he’s a bit rapey too. I’m surprised more metal bands haven’t used the name Maldoror. I can only find one black metal band from Italy with the name, and they look absolutely shit.

This wasn’t a book that I rushed through. I enjoyed the protagonist’s horribly nihilistic outlook, but I read the book in July, and it felt wrong to sit down with it when the sun was shining. I had to wait until the hour of 12 before delving into this hateful work of misanthropy. Also, the prose is quite dense, and it was a bit of a chore to get through. Some of the sentences are ridiculously long (the narrator comments on this himself), and there’s no underlying plot to the book, so it can be difficult to follow.

Nobody knows much about Le Comte de Lautrémont, but his real name was Isidore Ducasse, and he died at 24, only a few years after this book was written. I would imagine that parts of this book are autobiographical and reflect the author’s outlook. There are brief incidents in the text where a hitherto unknown character appears and is treated as if he has been part of the story all along. These parts struck me as probably having meaning to the author alone; perhaps they are masked accounts of his own experiences. That’s one of the difficulties with surrealist writing though; the author is under no obligation to explain himself.

And this book is quite surreal. There are some truly mental parts in it. Some of them are entertaining; I particularly enjoyed Maldoror’s dalliance with a shark, but many are confusing and are made downright unenjoyable by frustratingly convoluted prose. This confusion is not accidental though, and the difficulties facing the reader of this book are undoubtedly deliberate. One of the opening lines of the book reads; “It is not right that everyone should read the pages that follow; only a few will be able to savour this bitter fruit with impunity.” Maldoror does not want his readers to enjoy these songs; he wants them to suffer. This is basically a deliberately discordant black metal album in the form of a book.

I wanted to like this book more than I did. It’s a cool idea; I just don’t think it was executed as well as it could have been. In saying that though, this is a translation, so maybe the fault lies with Paul Knight. Then again, maybe I just didn’t get it. This is definitely a book that you have to ‘get’ to enjoy. It’s surrealist fiction, so a load of it is utter bollocks that makes no sense. I would say that the grisly parts make it worth reading, they’re gross, funny and metal as fuck, but don’t expect to enjoy the whole thing. If you find yourself having a great time while reading this book, you are definitely doing it wrong.

This edition also contains Lautrémont’s poetry. Apparently he had gotten all of this negativity out when he wrote Maldoror, and his poems are supposed to focus on more positive things. I didn’t read them. I probably never will. The edition that I am reviewing also has a deadly cover. It’s from part of this painting by Anton Wiertz.wiertzL’Inhumation précipitée

The Autobiography of Saint Margaret Mary

TAN – 1986
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Imagine a father brutally torturing his daughter from the time she was 9 years old. Alongside physical torture, he doesn’t allow her to sleep or eat. When he does allow her to eat, he forces her to eat scabs, vomit and shit. As she grows older he hits her in the head and encourages her to cut herself. Her health is constantly poor, but the man keeps up his routine of abuse and degradation until her death.

Can you imagine any possible excuse for this kind of abhorrent behaviour? Could you be friendly if you met a person who admitted to committing such deeds? Would you be willing to worship that individual? Would you be comfortable to describe that person as the source of all goodness in the universe?

Well, if you’re Catholic then you should be answering ‘yes’ to all of the above questions. The Catholic church openly acknowledges that God put Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque through the aforementioned ordeals. St. Margaret Mary lived from 1647-1690, but she was only canonized in 1920. The credibility of her autobiography, in which she admits to eating both diarrhea and vomit, was affirmed by Pope Pius XI in 1928.

It genuinely puzzles me when I try to understand how any organization can retain credibility when one of its figureheads is a self-admitted poo-eater. I am not making this up:
It happened once, when I was tending a patient who was suffering from dysentery, I was overcome by a feeling of nausea; but He gave me so severe a reprimand, that I felt urged to repair this fault…. (“The Saint then performed an act so repulsive to nature that not only would no one have advised it, but no one would even have permitted it.” Words taken from Life of St. Margaret Mary, Visitation Library, Rose lands, Walmer, page 81) He then said to me: “Thou art indeed foolish to act thus!” [p83-84]
(The margin notes in my copy of the text refer to the vomit/turd feasts as “heroic actions”.)
It wasn’t even a healthy log of shit either; it was runny dysentery. This woman ate da poo-poo. She put turd in her mouth. A bona fide gick-licker is a Saint of the Catholic church. If you are a Catholic, you have to acknowledge that Catholic Popes are God’s representatives on Earth and are therefore infallible on issues of faith and morals. Therefore, if you are a Catholic, you have to acknowledge that Pope Benedict XV was correct in canonizing a soupy-scat-sucker.

Anyways, this book is Saint Margaret Mary’s own account of her miserable life. It’s genuinely one of the most disturbing books that I have ever read. Parts of it are like reading De Sade; it’s full of horrendous acts of torture and humiliating debasement. But it’s not the coprophagia or horrendous violence that make this such an upsetting read; De Sade used shit and blood to promote vice, but Margaret Mary is trying to use them to promote virtue. Personally speaking, I am not inspired to live a better life after reading the autobiography of a woman who mistook trots for treats. Neitzsche described Christianity as being anti-nature, as going against life itself; and this book is the perfect proof of this. This is exactly how not to live your life: Margaret Mary is literally the worst role model a person could have. She claims to have undergone the suffering for God’s sake, but I really think it was more for her own depraved satisfaction. If I was a Christian and I thought that God was actually pleased by the behaviour of this disgusting pervert, then I would seriously consider swapping sides; there’s no way Satan could be the bad guy if God was such a monstrous jerk.

I don’t think God or Satan had much to do with this case though. Margaret Mary was a kinky masochist, and nobody else deserves any of the blame. This woman was severely mentally deranged.
I bound this miserable and criminal body with knotted cords, which I drew so tightly that I had difficulty in breathing and eating. I left these cords so long that they were buried in the flesh that grew over them, and I could not extract them without great violence and excessive pain. I did the same with little chains which I fastened around my arms and which, on being taken off, tore away pieces of the flesh.
There are schools named after the person that wrote that. What kind of a horrible, irresponsible person would send their child to such a place?

The horniness of our love-starved saint isn’t just apparent in the aforementioned bondage scene; there’s an underlying current of eroticism throughout the whole book. This woman never got laid, and she probably never masturbated. I’m not a psychologist, but I am sure that the complete repression of a human’s sex drive could manifest itself in bizarre ways. Well, some of MM’s hallucinations (or visions) are rather steamy. At one point she imagines Jesus showing her a cross and saying, “Behold the bed of my chaste spouses on which I shall make thee taste all the delights of My pure love.” Note the forceful language that Jesus is using here. He’s not just allowing her to sample the delights; he’s making her taste them. He’s obviously the Dom in their kinky S&M relationship. He continues; “Little by little these flowers will drop off, and nothing will remain but the thorns, which are hidden because of thy weakness. Nevertheless, thou shalt feel the pricks of these thorns so keenly that thou wilt need all the strength of My love to bear the pain.” Unsurprisingly Jesus’s pillowtalk proves to be effective. Margaret Mary finds him simply irrestible; “These words delighted me, as I thought I should never find enough suffering, humiliations or contempt to quench the burning thirst I had for them, and that I could never experience greater suffering than that which I felt at not suffering enough; for my love for Him gave me no respite day or night.” Now I’m not into S&M, but even I felt a bit warm after reading that!

This is the most upsetting book that I have ever read. In a frustratingly unintentional manner, it highlights one of the most disgusting problems with Christianity: it’s a perverse and unnatural religion that values misery and suffering. Instead of inspiring pity or reverence, this book inspired repulsion and anger in me. The woman who wrote this book had severe mental health problems; if she were alive today she would undoubtedly be locked up in a mental instution. However, this mentally-disturbed, masochistic, deiphilic coprophage is recoginized as a saint of the Catholic church. I don’t think it is presumptuous to assume that part of a saint’s role is to be a role model. If you’re a Catholic, please read this book and think about whether or not you can accept Saint Margaret Mary as a role model. Ask yourself how you would feel if your daughter, sister, wife or mother started eating turds in the name of Jesus. Every time you put money into a church collection, you are funding an organization that condones this kind of filth. Think about the brown, soiled lips and the shitty fetid breath of Saint Margaret Mary next time you are receiving holy communion.

Corpus Christi.

I’m not going to give this a mark out of 10. It’s terribly written, and the content is either very boring or very gross. I enjoyed reading it, but I also hated reading it. I suppose it would be most accurate to say that I enjoyed hating it. Any person that could possibly enjoy this as a work of inspirational literature would have to be a  sadistic sexual deviant. If you’re interested in giving this a read, make sure to buy a second hand copy or just read it online. Always avoid giving money to Christian publishers.

Image of the Beast + Blown – Philip José Farmer

Playboy Paperbacks – 1981 image of beast

Snuff films, sleazy detectives, vampires, ghosts, werewolves, intergalactic rivalries and Gilles de Rais; what more could you ask for? How about a dash of ultra-perverted hardcore pornography?

That will suit me nicely.

This novel is trash, you never get the impression that it’s anything but trash, but reading it will convince you that trash can be absolutely glorious. I loved this book. It is exactly the kind of thing that I enjoy reading. It’s based on a perverse sex murder and the whole story has a really seedy atmosphere. It’s full of bizarre characters, weird sex and supernatural violence. There was no chance of this book giving me anything but extreme enjoyment. There’s never any clear explanation given of the antagonists’ motivation but that doesn’t matter. Evil is doing evil because it’s evil. Fuck an explanation.

My version of Image of the Beast also includes the novel’s sequel; Blown. Blown is both more science-fictiony, and less grim than Image. It’s still very nasty and odd though, and I think it probably contains more weird sex acts too. It offers an explanation of some of the events in Image, but personally I didn’t find this explanation to be completely satisfactory. I don’t want to say that I was disappointed by any element of this book being too far-fetched, indeed it is in the sheer ridiculousness of these tales that their glory lies, but I felt that the intergalactic explanation in Blown seemed a little absurd in relation to the events it was explaining.

Let me use an analogy to describe this book. It’s like a pizza topped with all of my favourite toppings. Each ingredient is delicious in itself and complements most of the other ingredients on the pizza; but unavoidably, some of the combinations taste kinda weird.

Another minor critique is that this book contains bizarre amounts of geographical detail. It must mention every street name in Southern California.

It has some minor flaws, but ultimately, this is a delicious pizza of a book that I would strongly recommend. 8/10.