Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Rick Wakeman Denounces Crowley Shock!

We at Ghooric Zone central like to keep abreast of cutting edge developments in the world of contemporary occultism, so imagine our mixed reaction of shock, surprise and delight at being informed of Aleister Crowley's moral shortcomings by none other than the mighty Rick Wakemen.

After providing the score for a new documentary about Aleister Crowley, Rick Wakeman had the following to say about the Great Beast: 'There is no doubt that Alistair [sic] Crowley was one of the most evil men that walked this earth'. Good God man, do you not have anything better to do with your time!

Granted that Crowley wasn't the most pleasant of people and could be a pretty nasty piece of work (as well as a rather pathetic figure)at times, but he doesn't really deserve this level of vilification. This all-too common insistence on blaming the worlds ills on some external (and usually supernatural) evil is, to my mind, a highly dangerous strategy, and one which - via scapegoating and the subsequent creation of moral panics - is often complicit in the very production of human suffering and evil it seeks to prevent. This is obviously over stating the case in this instance, as it's unlikely that we'll be seeing Wakeman at the forefront of a major witch-hunt against Thelemites and other occultists in the nerar future, but nonetheless scapegoating of this sort only helps to mystify the very real but banal sources of human evil - an issue I mean to explore in a forthcoming post concerning Lovecraft and the 'Occult Reich'. At least Crowley had the courtesy to refrain from unleashing the abject horror of twenty-five minute synthesiser solos on the world whilst wearing a sequined cape and pretending to be Merlin.

In any case, Wakeman's comment demonstrates a total ignorance of Crowley's life and magical philosophy. My presumption is that Wakeman's views were also derived from the documentary, which is pretty much being marketed as a kind of sensationalised horror story. The fact that it's slated for a straight-to-DVD realease doesn't bode well either.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Happy Birthday, HPL!

'That is not dead which can eternal lie'

Today being Lovecraft's birthday, I shall celebrate by spending an hour or so in quiet contemplation (accompanied, perhaps, by a small glass of fine vinatge port!) while listening to the excellent audio version of Lovecraft's sonnet cycle The Fungi from Yuggoth (produced by Fedogan & Bremer in 1987). Having nothing profound to say in honour of the occasion, I'll let the Old Gent speak for himself and leave you with two excerpts from the aforementioned cycle which epitomise the man and his vision. Enjoy.

XXX. Background
I never can be tied to raw, new things,
For I first saw the light in an old town,
Where from my window huddled roofs sloped down
To a quaint harbour rich with visionings.
Streets with carved doorways where the sunset beams
Flooded old fanlights and small window-panes,
And Georgian steeples topped with gilded vanes -
These were the sights that shaped my childhood dreams.

Such treasures, left from times of cautious leaven,
Cannot but loose the hold of flimsier wraiths
That flit with shifting ways and muddled faiths
Across the changeless walls of earth and heaven.
They cut the moment's thongs and leave me free
To stand alone before eternity.

XXXVI. Continuity
There is in certain ancient things a trace
Of some dim essence - more than form or weight;
A tenuous aether, indeterminate,
Yet linked with all the laws of time and space.
A faint, veiled sign of continuities
That outward eyes can never quite descry;
Of locked dimensions harbouring years gone by,
And out of reach except for hidden keys.

It moves me most when slanting sunbeams glow
On old farm buildings set against a hill,
And paint with life the shapes which linger still
From centuries less a dream than this we know.
In that strange light I feel I am not far
From the fixt mass whose sides the ages are.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Lovecraft & Burroughs

An interesting snippet which I picked up from a post by Fun Guy from Yuggoth on the redoubtable yog-sothoth.com: according to this William Burroughs was taught by Lovecraft's literary executor Robert H. Barlow while studying anthropology in Mexico. Barlow apparently introduced Burroughs to the study of the Mayan Codices.

While I was aware of Barlow's career in anthropology and Burrough's early interest in the subject matter, it never occured to me that the two may have met.

Admittedly Burroughs' connection with things Lovecraftian is somewhat tenuous: outside of the infamous blurb he supplied for the (equally infamous) Simon Necronomicon (though curiously absent from later printings), Burroughs did include cut-ups of parts of Frank Belknap Long's 'The Hounds of Tindalos' in (if I remember aright) The Place of Dead Roads. I'm not aware that Burroughs ever mentioned Lovecraft by name, and I don't recall reading anything about Lovecraft in the Burroughs' biographies I've read. Even so, one wonders if Burroughs first heard of Lovecraft as a result of this meeting?