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Spare "a Half-Mad Old Hermit"?


Palamedes
(@palamedes)
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I glanced recently through Nicholas and Zeena Schreck's Demons of the Flesh, and on the page 334 they make a reference to Austin Osman Spare, who according to them "seems to have been a half-mad old hermit." I am just wondering if this statement relies on any solid grounds, or is it simply a gossip. I understand that this is difficult to substantiate one way or another, since I don't think anyone on this forum has actually met Spare while he was still alive, but I know that there are some members who are deeply into the biography of the man, so any (informed) response would be appreciated.


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James
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The letters between Spare and Steffi & Kenneth Grant in 'Zos Speaks' don't suggest that Spare was a hermit at all. He seemed a very busy man either producing material for exhibitions or arranging exhibitions for his works. He generally lived alone, although his landlady, Vera Pain was a good friend to him and lived in the flat above his basement tenement when the Grant's first knew him. Kenneth Grant describes Spare as living in 'Dickensian squalor', but this seems not to be the unkempt squalor of someone who has lost touch with reality but one who is just too preoccupied in reifying his personal vision to bother tidying up much!

Austin Spare spent a lot of time in pubs (and I mean a lot of time, which was not, and probably still is not unusual for many folk), he seemed to be very much part of the community and was a well known figure. A number of pub owners took pity on him and would give him a free meal (this was true for the landlady of the Mansion House pub in Kennington for example).

Perhaps the 'half mad old hermit' was a romantic view of the authors who might consider the starving artist/mystic as a world-hating recluse. However this does not seem to be the truth for Spare who quite able to fit in with the South London set.

Regards

Jamie


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 Anonymous
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"James" wrote:
Perhaps the 'half mad old hermit' was a romantic view of the authors who might consider the starving artist/mystic as a world-hating recluse.

I do wonder why this sort of characterization is so often romanticized or idealized in the first place. What exactly is so appealing about it? Is it a sign of success in doing one's Will, or might it be an indication of not doing so, or is it just a matter of not completely taking care of business on all planes, or what?


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 Anonymous
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Golly, this statement doesn't say much for the rest of the book does it?

I am actually touching upon the cliches about Spare in my upcoming talk at the Equinox festival, because despite being wildly inaccurate they do illustrate something interesting.

bazelek


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Michael Staley
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MANIO - it's all in the egg
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I think that the reference to Spare as a "half mad old hermit" was more dismissive than romantic. As Jamie says, it is not a picture that is substantiated by people who knew Spare. As for "half mad", this is surely belied by his written work which, though sometimes expressed in an abstruse manner, is considered and substantive.

Best wishes,

Michael.


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Palamedes
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Thanks for the responses people. And just to substantiate, I agree with Michael's perception that the statement in the book was "more dismissive than romantic." (On a separate note, I misspelled one of the authors' names: it is Nikolas, and not Nicholas as I originally wrote)
We all know that in fact there is some congruence between genius and madness, because they are both at odds with the consensus reality. But it is one thing to say, as Dali did, "The only difference between myself and a madman is that I am not mad" (I'm paraphrasing), and quite another to attribute madness to somebody's unconventional ideas and / or lifestyle with a dismissive gesture.


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 Anonymous
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HAHA Have you ever heard any of their music? Werewolf Order, bloody atrocious. These people are associated with the "Church of Satan" and Anton Lavey. That's all you really need to know. Idiots one and all.


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Palamedes
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"bazelek" wrote:
I am actually touching upon the cliches about Spare in my upcoming talk at the Equinox festival, because despite being wildly inaccurate they do illustrate something interesting.

Bazelek, if it is not giving it out too much before the talk, I'd be interested to know what exactly do you have in mind when you mention that these "cliches ... illustrate something interesting."

BlueKephra, thanks for the additional info. I haven't looked at the book very closely, but I was told that Zeena is La Vey's daughter. Is that so? Just a curiosity, by the way.


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Montvid
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Omg, and I thought why the book had a cheesy writting style. I tried reading it but failed. I didn't like it because I couldn't digest some statements, the general point of view. And if I remember right the book makes a lot assumtions about other people (Crowley) like that about Spare.


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 Anonymous
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BlueKephra, thanks for the additional info. I haven't looked at the book very closely, but I was told that Zeena is La Vey's daughter. Is that so? Just a curiosity, by the way.

Yes, that's right. A google search throws up a lot of material. Haven't read the book you're talking about, but I've seen Mr Schrecks "Charles Manson Superstar" dvd. Quite the worst editing I've ever seen in a film.
I would find it very difficult to take either of the pairs opinions on AOS or AC seriously.


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James
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"Camlion" wrote:
I do wonder why this sort of characterization is so often romanticized or idealized in the first place. What exactly is so appealing about it? Is it a sign of success in doing one's Will, or might it be an indication of not doing so, or is it just a matter of not completely taking care of business on all planes, or what?

I take on board the dismissive nature of the original quote...

However on this question of why people do idealise some such thing as the half-mad hermit or starving artist; it does not seem unusual that humans have conflicting desires. We can only reify a few of them at any one time and the contradicting desires may be demonised or idealised/romanticised. Those poems about the free & joyful wanderings of the tramp in the English countryside made by a well-off Victorian gentleman perhaps contain a not-so hidden wish to be free of the constraints that living out his primary desire means in actuality. It shows how easily we idealise our desires and forget their consequences in actuality.

Ever to be mindful of the advice to be careful for what we wish.

Regards

Jamie


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