Saturday, June 18, 2011

To an explorer of the Himalayas the perils of a journey to South Ealing are as nothing...

“The future saint (far indeed from saintship at this time --- but the ways of Providence are indeed wondrous!) knew that there was an inner order, but had no idea of its name; he only noticed that he was not invited to enter it. So, to pass the time, he wrote his Real History of the Rosicrucians, in which he proved conclusively that there were no Rosicrucians and never had been, and that if any moderns claimed to be Rosicrucians there was "that difference between their assertion and the facts of the case in which the essence of a lie consists." No sooner had he published these remarks (amid general applause) than it was gently broken to the future saint that the liars he had been denouncing were his own occult chiefs, of whom he had been writing (elsewhere) in language which out-Mahatmaed the most eloquent-mysterious Theosophists, and left the sectaries of the Saviour high and dry. A "gaffe" of this sort would have daunted some; not so the future saint (for to this had the Moirae foreordained him!) He produced Azoth; or the Star in the East, a pompous rigmarole of God knows how many hundred mortal pages in folio. Like the Absolute, it had neither beginning nor end. Any sentence, if rent sufficiently by expert analysis, revealed either platitudinous banality, a puppet dressed in the rags of mediaeval diction, or refused to be interpreted at all. This was the high-water mark of the future saint's "success" in this evil path; he bought a frock-coat, and has slept in it ever {214} since. He had wished to go down to posterity as the modern Fludd --- and would have done so, only this time there were not eight persons saved.
However, this was not the worst. The future saint (as it was written that he should become!) made incursions upon Magic, with the unhappiest results. Fundamentally incompetent to apprehend the very nature of the question, and utterly incapable of humour, the ingenious Levi pulled his leg to the limit. The future saint could see only contradictions in the profundities of the master, and in complaining that Levi was always "stultifying himself" (when he was merely indulging the irony of which he was one of the most brilliant exponents that have ever lived), branded "stultus, stultior, stultissimus" upon his own marmorean brow.
He could not even be trusted with a text. His Book of Black Magic and of Pacts was not only a monument of misunderstanding, but of garbling and mutilation; nor did the future saint improve matters by the dishonest trick of reissuing the volume as the Book of Ceremonial Magic, or Book of Magic, when he tried to make a market in the more benighted agricultural districts of England.”
- Aleister Crowley, Dead Weight (A Fake Obituary of Arthur Edward Waite)

EDIT: Added a link to Waite's Real History for the amusement of any readers who would like to see one of the greatest gaffes in occult history. I would also like to note that this obituary is a classic "print troll" piece. Before the internet, Trolling was still a major task of any would-be Adept. Or, as Crowley puts it: His only other guide appears to have been a solicitor of the kind that writes you terrible threatening letters, and on being told rudely to do that the Oldest Inhabitant of the Northumbrian Capital actually did (as we are incredibly informed) retires into the Pleroma, and confines his activities to sneaking attacks on you without mentioning your name. Not that I would ever encourage such activities. Or engage in them. (... Actually, I may have learned this tactic from Crowley...)