Monday, February 28, 2011

In Defense of Arthaus

It’s 4 in the morning. I haven’t slept. Lights are off, but the screen is too bright. Still wearing shades. Cheap pair, ten bucks. Hot coffee sitting beside the laptop. Black, no sugar. From the computer speaker blares Ephel Duath. Avant-gard jazz-fusion metal. The screen lights up. Another message. My good friend from Australia compliments me on this rare find. I’ve got work in four hours. I minimize the chatbox and press pause on the youtube player. Scroll to the next video. Sopor Aeternum’s “In Der Palastra.” A man in drag dances slowly back and forth in his apartment. The video is shot in black and white, framed in a photo as if it were being saved in a scrapbook. Illegible words scroll across the screen along with the music.

Pretentious? Maybe. But if you think that might prevent me from enjoying this morning’s relaxation ritual by telling me I only like it to seem sophisticated, then you can go fuck yourself. I’ve had this argument twice this week. I went back home this weekend to visit my family and brought a bottle of absinthe with me. My mother gave it a try since the alcohol content is greatly diluted when you water it down. She was absolutely convinced it was terrible, which is fine. I do not begrudge her. But then I told her I was interested in acquiring a more expensive bottle from Emile Pernot (link here) for my birthday and she told me I was being pretentious. A 100 dollar bottle of absinthe tastes just as terrible as a 30 or 40 dollar bottle, she assures me. Never mind she never even knew the drink existed prior to my bringing it home for consumption. No, any bottle of alcohol that costs over 50 dollars must naturally only be drunk by pricks pretending to be high society.

Later, when I returned from my weekend at my family’s place I was talking to a friend about a project we were assigned in my film appreciation class. She was doing hers on a specific movie, and I was doing it over French New Wave cinema. She rolled her eyes and asked me how terrible the movies I had seen were. I told her I actually quite enjoyed “Breathless,” it was charming and a very pleasant change from the movies I was used to seeing. I had plans to watch other films by Goddard set up for this weekend in fact. Que the 10 minute rant about how I was trying too hard to act like a cinema snob.

I get the obnoxious behavior of those who enjoy these things because they feel it makes them cultured or sophisticated. I am not, however, cultured or sophisticated. I play Saints Row II. I listen to Blood Sucking Zombies from Outer Space, Zombie Ghost Train, and other fun psychobilly/gothabilly/horror punk bands. Nor do I pretend to be high society. But I find it very amusing that I am apparently not allowed to like certain things because they make me seem like I’m trying to seem like I’m part of something that I’m very openly not a part of. If you read that last sentence and actually understood what it meant, slap yourself right now. I’m gonna go back to my expensive absinthe, black coffee, weird experimental metal, zombie movies, alt porn, and my assortment of 90’s cartoons including SWAT KATS and Pirates of Dark Water. Because fuck you, that’s why.

As always,
Love Under Will


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Crowley and His Appearence In "Slenderman"

So for the sake of my friend Kal over at Father of Light ( and the guy who posts the stuff at Slenderia, I’ve decided to write this little essay about Aleister Crowley and how he’s been used in this bizarre internet horror story phenomenon (here’s the article I’m specifically referring to: Before I even begin, I’m well aware that accuracy isn’t exactly what counts here. It’s about creativity and story-telling. I’ve known people who get rather worked up about inaccurate representations of Uncle Al, and to some degree I can understand that. But there really aren’t that many characters in the occult world who have his notoriety and fame. So I understand why everyone likes using him in their stories, and I don’t begrudge them.

But my friend Kal thinks he…or maybe a little girl or something, I wasn’t paying much attention…SOMEONE is getting chased by this thing and wants to know how plausible this particular storyhook is. I guess the big thing in this little writing exercise is that there isn’t an accepted background story so people come up with their own. At least, that’s what I gathered in the 10 minutes I spent skimming the subject over at Slenderia. Normally when Kal asks me something like this (no, it’s not the first time…) I’d slap him silly for believing in internet fiction. But the fellow over at Slenderia who isn’t crazy and has a firm grip on reality mentioned having an occult contact he couldn’t reach who could verify the facts of the story. I figured I’m already here and reading it, so I’d do him and my friend Kal a favor. Maybe then Kal can quit bugging me on Facebook chat or sending me IMs while I’m at work or in class.

Now that all that has been taken care of…here’s what I’ve got. Unfortunately the beginning section and the early history presented in this story hook I can’t much comment on. Most of my understanding of occultism is spotty, focused on Hermeticism and the likes. I don't study Rosicrucianism because I've just never really cared. Don’t know about the Initiated Brothers of Asia either. Maybe they're real, maybe they aren't, maybe they get the same treatment the Freemasons do and they're just some random fraternity frequently accused of trying to take over the world Pinky-and-the-Brain style. The Buddhist connection could very well be legitimate, given that Crowley himself was heavily influenced by the Buddha. But that doesn't really substantiate it enough for me to say that it is likely. Crowley was into everything.

The section on Hitler and the Occult is pretty weak. People put a disproportionate amount of attention to his interests in Hollow Earth Theory and the likes, as Slenderia points out. He sort of just rubber-stamped everything Himmler was interested in because it promoted Aryanism. Now, there is some legitimately crazy shit that Himmler believed in (hair was an antenna used to communicate with aliens...yeah...) but it never got enough off the ground to the degree that the Nazis were mass-producing space ships/flying saucers. They had other nonsensical war weapons to waste precious resources on.

The Aleister Crowley stuff is fairly well researched in a sort of “wide-but-shallow” sort of way. If you spent about 10 minutes on Wikipedia, you’d come up with what this guy developed but would miss a lot of the content of what Crowley taught. The Parsons/Crowley link is quite real, and L. Ron Hubbard's theft of their rituals is well documented. That "The Babylon Working" was one of them is incorrect. The Book of the Law has no such ritual. It's really short, you can scan it yourself.

The closest link you can come from that is that Parsons (and theoretically Hubbard) believed that the Babylon Working that THEY wrote together (and NOT Crowley) was actually the Fourth Chapter of the Book of the Law. Which is bullshit, plain and simple. Likewise, the claim of WHAT the Babylon Working did is incorrect, and requires a bit of explanation. Crowley believed that society evolved spiritually by Aeons. Though the word seems to have a time-oriented connotation, the amount of time is fairly inconsequential. Aeons represented different stages of the collective human consciousness. The First Aeon was the Aeon of Isis, where spirituality was characterized by worship of the Feminine Divine as the source of life and love. Cycles of life and death, rebirth, so on and so forth were more common and tied to the seasons. The second Aeon was the Aeon of Osiris, pushed by religions of death and obsessions with the underworld. Christianity would be considered a product of the Aeon of Osiris, with its strongly masculine/patriarchal bent and its fixation with Christ’s suffering and death. Denial was another big part of the Aeon of Osiris. The big one was the denial of reproduction (Osiris being rebuilt without his penis, manifested in the Christian and Muslim denial of sex). The Third Aeon, which Crowley said he was the prophet of, was the Aeon of Horus. This requires a bit more explanation of Crowley's magickal theories.

Taken partially from the Kybalion and other Hermetic workings (those of Hermes Trismagestis, Thrice Great Hermes) Hermeticism maintains that the central force of the universe is opposites. Crowley believed that motion in the universe was derived primarily from the tension between opposites, which is why he loved sex so much. This tension was seen by Crowley as the force which moved and motivated societies. As previously noted, the Aeon of Isis as the first Aeon was strongly feminine. It was followed by the strongly masculine Aeon of Osiris (YHVH worship in his myriad of forms). The Aeon of Horus was supposed to represent the product of the tension between the previous Feminine Aeon and the previous Masculine Aeon made manifest. Hence, the son of Isis and Osiris, Horus. It was to represent an age where mankind would begin it’s march towards Enlightenment and awakening. It was still primarily masculine because the Aeon represents the process of Enlightenment, but had not reached the harmony and balance of the two forces that was key. It isn't until the 4th and final Aeon of human consciousness that Enlightenment is attained, at the beginning of the Age of Ma'at (Balance, equalized/harmonized tension between masculine and feminine).

Where this is relevant to the Babylon Working is that its purpose was basically to mess with the progression of the Aeons. It was meant to invoke the Divine Feminine Archetype to awaken the masculine-dominated essence of society. There was no "other dimension" involved. Parsons was simply trying to awaken society into what he perceived to be a superior thought process through poorly thought out rituals, ignoring the fact that Aeons have a flow.


And then he got to this part.

"Consider the following: Having invited these entities into our reality, it is no where tacitly implied that they must behave according to the "accepted" norms of trans-dimensional beings, i.e., they need not appear as pedestrian spooks such as poltergeists and gray alien/zeta reticulans. If these entities, or "Tulpas" are drawing energy from the psychic fabric of which they are cut, why should they be anything BUT menacing, evil, and bent on our grievous harm? Having sprung from the work of at least one Fascist Dictator, one Megalomaniacal Shyster, The Holy Roman Catholic Church, and countless government agencies, not to mention hundreds, perhaps THOUSANDS of ethically dubious ritual magick cooperatives, how could these beings POSSIBLY be anything other than horrifying? "

No. That has nothing at all to do with Crowley and Parsons. I see what he's trying to say, but it's a very disjointed reading of what Crowley preached.

The Conscious Mind is in no way, shape, or form in control of the spiritual. Crowley believed in the True Will, which could best be surmised as the absolute Destiny of a human being, their past present and future all at once. The consciousness is merely an attempt to understand the world in a logical manner as it happens. The ego merely absorbs information from the world and attempts to understand where it is going. Crowley was very Buddhist in his outlook (Siddhartha was actually one of his Gnostic Saints; ). Yes, he believed in the Self. The Self was like a planet in orbit, while the fabric of the universe could be considered the entire solar system. The point of reality was to have every planet orbit as intended, almost like a natural law (gravity). In other words, it is not the planet which acts as the force of magick, but gravity attempting to bring the planet back. When a Thelemite does magick, he or she does so with the intent of bringing his or herself closer to their true orbit. Socio-cultural elements will NEVER be an element in Thelemite magick, because to produce that change requires knowing the True Will, which doesn’t respond to such trivialities. The True Will is eternal. It knows that things and forms change, and that everything is temporary. It aims to be a part of that change, not subvert it for its own gratification as the ego does.

Another way of thinking about it is that all objects have a place in the grander scheme of things. Our egos are how we process information, but they lack the ability to see and understand the bigger picture. The ego does the only thing it is aware of, which is gratify itself. It cannot produce change, because it needs an established system to use for its own ends. This is why people self destruct, why people engage in damaging behavior over and over again, and why people lose control of their lives. Magick is “"the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will”. Naturally, if the ego is incapable of change then an ego-driven individual, who exists to serve the entrenched structures which gratify it, cannot use magick. Only those who have communed with their True Will and work towards awakening beyond the confines of the ego are capable of successfully doing magick.

"These energies, Tulpas, thoughforms, spirits...whatever you choose to call them, have been the "Secret Chiefs" of the human race for as long as we have deigned to possess extraordinary powers. By making a gentleman's agreement we allow these "raw energies" into our dimension, allow them free reign, and all for the asking price of being granted powers which, in a parallel universe, are probably as commonplace as speech or hearing are, here in "our" dimension. Such is the Slender Man."

No. That was not the point of the Babylon Working. That isn't even remotely the point of the Babylon Working. This is pure fiction.

The guy's done his research, though. There are quite a few elements of truth in it and the rest is connected reasonably well for a work of fiction. A lot of it probably came second hand from conspiracy theorists who skim the bare minimum of a working to find what they want and then move on. But if you want entertainment then it works. It's close enough to the truth that wiki hopping will lead you to these results if you're in the mind set to accept these conclusions and then assume all facts as support (which all good conspiracy theorists are experts at). And considering the audience, most people won't want to actually READ any real Crowley, so it’s a pretty believable conclusion. Otherwise, no. There's some pretty big holes.

If you want some relatively hard evidence about all of the stuff this guy wrote, then the Thelemapedia is probably more effective. It gives you a better idea of what the author of that Slenderman tract was saying and where he took liberties with the source material. Essentially, wikipedia + imagination = what the author wrote. Wikipedia + The Book of the Law = spotting the holes.

The real sad part is that it would take very little work to link Slenderman to the real Parsons. Part of the reason he wanted to awaken the Feminine Divine was to create something called the "Moonchild," a child conceived entirely by spirit. One description of the working:

"The purpose of Parson's operation has been underemphasized. He sought to produce a magickal child who would be a product of her environment rather than of her heredity. Crowley himself describes the Moonchild in just these terms. The Babalon Working itself was preparation for what was to come: a Thelemic messiah."

Imagine if the ritual had gone wrong, perhaps corrupted by a certain alien-worshipping cult leader? Hmmm…maybe this IS your “Slenderman" after all Kal? Wouldn’t that be horrible?

Pleasant dreams, dear readers. Lock your doors, say your prayers, and as always,
Love Under Will

Edit: Damn! Looks like Thelemapedia is down. I guess the wikipedia on the Babylon working will suffice. It basically said what the Thelemapedia did.