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dom
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18/08/2020 10:12 pm  

I was reading the blurb on the back of Colin Wilson's Aleister Crowley The Nature of the Beast , ((published 1987 The Aquarian Press) which quotes Francis King who said AC was "a pimp who lived on the immoral earnings of his girlfriends" however I don't recall any such event when I read Wilson's book.   When was this if it did happen? 

https://www.lashtal.com/wiki/Aleister_Crowley_Timeline


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christibrany
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18/08/2020 10:55 pm  

That book was absolute rubbish.

I think the blub on the back is just King being hyperbolic to help it sell? 

I don't recall either AC selling his 'girlfriends' favours' for cash. 


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dom
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18/08/2020 11:36 pm  
Posted by: @christibrany

That book was absolute rubbish.

Really?  Can you name a better AC- bio Chris?

https://www.lashtal.com/wiki/Aleister_Crowley_Timeline


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ignant666
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18/08/2020 11:49 pm  
Posted by: @dom

Can you name a better AC- bio Chris?

Um, all/any of the other ones?

Even Symonds, who disliked AC very much, but at least knew him well, is more reliable. As to the substance, AC was a patron of many sex workers, of all sexes, and liked his women to have sex with other men, but i have never heard any credible claim that anyone paid for this latter activity.


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Shiva
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19/08/2020 4:27 am  
Posted by: @ignant666

Um, all/any of the other ones?

Be cautious here, Ignant. You are stepping into another person's fandome.

Symonds didn't like AC, and that showed through in the subtle spin he allowed to seep into The Great beast. But that was the only bio we had in the mid '60s. Later, after reading The Spirit of Solitude (Confessions), I found Symonds' Beast version to be accurate ... in comparison to Spirit.

Spirit, of course, filled out Symonds' abstract very nicely for me. And Symonds, of course, was co-editor on The Confessions project. Micro Terra.

 


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Jamie J Barter
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19/08/2020 5:16 am  

@dom, is there any reason why Colin Wilson's is seemingly invariably your "go to" text of choice for all things biographical relating to Crowley, particularly when (as has been demonstrated) his is remarkably - albeit uncharacteristically - inferior if not "the runt of the whole litter", and suggests & betokens thereby a most singular lack of judgement and discrimination?

Just saying/asking,

Norma N Joy Conquest.


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Aleisterion
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19/08/2020 6:50 am  

Symonds' The Great Beast, and subsequent King of the Shadow Realm, offer considerably more info. More in the way of letters and such. His antipathy is obvious but easily overlooked. I've yet to be more entertained and informed about Crowley's life than by Symonds. Costly though: if I recall right I shelled out about 120 bucks or so for King of the Shadow Realm in 1989 or '90.


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dom
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19/08/2020 1:15 pm  
Posted by: @jamiejbarter

@dom, is there any reason why Colin Wilson's is seemingly invariably your "go to" text of choice for all things biographical relating to Crowley, 

You want me to provide a bio of Wilson, his enduring best seller status and his esteemed place in history as writer and philosopher compared with the other people who achieved....what?

https://www.lashtal.com/wiki/Aleister_Crowley_Timeline


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ignant666
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19/08/2020 1:35 pm  

Colin Wilson wrote some good stuff, but he is simply not a reliable source about AC.

I think the Symonds bio is essential reading, and the Sutin and Kaczynski ones are both quite good; have not read Churton's main bio, but his In America is thoroughly researched if a bit wandering. Any of thes4 will leave you better informed than Wilson.


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christibrany
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19/08/2020 3:05 pm  

@dom

 

I am not saying Colin Wilson was a bad writer, I have all of his Lovecraftian themed books and some other fiction, they are great.  I am saying that bio was terrible, bias, and painted a very one sided and inaccurate picture. It was furthermore sloppy, as if dashed off in a month for cash. Or less.

 

The best bio's in my opinion are:

Perdurabo - Kaczynski

Aleister Crowley: The biography - Churton

The Magic of Aleister Crowley - Symonds

 

(since Symonds wrote 4(?!) bios The Great Beast / The King of the Shadow Realm. / The Beast 666. The Life of Aleister Crowley / The Magic of Aleister Crowley can someone please tell me which one they think is the best or most complete?  I have only read The Magic, which offered interesting opinions )

 


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dom
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19/08/2020 3:45 pm  

Noone mentioned Regardie's Freudian-Reichian based bio.  Was Regardie a Reichian-massage quack or is he reliable?

https://www.lashtal.com/wiki/Aleister_Crowley_Timeline


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belmurru
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19/08/2020 4:13 pm  

Colin Wilson had some good insights. The best, I believe, is that he was the first to propose that the Stockholm experience was losing his homosexual virginity. The relevant pages in Colin Wilson’s book The Nature of the Beast, are 36 to 38 in the 1987 edition.

Wilson’s method of analysis was very good, especially given that previous biographers, with the same available sources, had not yet made the connections (I mean Symonds, Regardie, King, and Roberts). Wilson’s deduction was through a close reading of Crowley’s phrasing, and then comparing it with his recounting of how he described his sexual encounter with a parlour maid ‘”on my mother’s very bed!”, as a “magical affirmation of my revolt” (Confessions, pp. 79-80), and it shows how much thought he had given to Crowley’s obscure hints. The first serious research on Crowley’s homosexual awakening, and his relationship with H. C. J. Pollitt, were begun by Martin Starr in the 1980s. He promised us an edition of Not the Life and Adventures of Sir Roger Bloxam (written in 1916-1917) in his introduction to The Scented Garden of Abdullah the Satirist of Shiraz (i.e. the “Bagh-i-Muattar”), in the Teitan Press facsimile of 1991 (p. 7, note 7), but this has not seen the light of day [this remark was subsequently clarified by Shiva in his post following the link below].

Crowley names his partner that New Year’s Eve as James L. Dickson in Sir Roger Bloxam, chapters 21 and 22. Churton mentions him on page 29 as well, and gives the full name in the endnote, page 432, note 7 to chapter 3, as James Lachlan Dickson, attributing the discovery of his profession as a cotton spinner’s agent to William Breeze.

Full Wilson quotation:

“He decided to enter the diplomatic service because ‘it seemed to afford the greatest opportunities for worldly enjoyment.’ The court that appealed to him most was that of Imperial Russia, and he went to St Petersburg in the long vacation of 1897. It was on his way back from Russia that he attended a chess congress in Berlin, and suddenly decided that he no longer wanted to be world champion. Wathcing these shabby nonentities ‘I perceived with preternatural lucidity that I had not alighted on this planet with the object of playing chess.’

“But what had he alighted on it for? On the last day of the previous year, he had had a strange mystical experience in Stockholm that seemed to give him a glimpse of his way forward:

I was awakened to the knowledge that I possessed a magical means of becoming conscious of and satisfying a part of my nature which had up to that moment concealed itself from me. It was an experience of horror and pain, combined with a certain ghostly terror, yet at the same time it was the key to the purest and holiest spiritual ecstasy that exists. At the time, I was not aware of the supreme importance of the matter. It seemed to me little more than a development of certain magical processes with which I was already familiar.

“It is obvious that Crowley is quite determined to speak in riddles. In The Great Beast, Symonds suggests that ‘he had an illumination that he could control reality by magical thinking.’ If so, why did he not say so? When Crowley is reticent in the Confessions, it is usually on account of the censor (for example, he fails to mention that he left Tonbridge school because he caught gonorrhoea). Moreover, the comment that it seemed to be a ‘development of certain magical processes already known to me’ also seems to afford a clue, for in 1896, when he was only twenty-one, Crowley still knew nothing about magic – that only came about two years later, when he met an alchemist called Julian Baker. The only ‘magic’ he refers to in the Confessions before that date is sex magic, as, for example, when he says that he made his ‘magical affirmation’ with the parlour maid on his mother’s bed. We should also take note of the words ‘I possessed a magical means of becoming conscious of and satisfying a part of my nature which had up to that moment concealed itself from me.’ What part of his nature had so far concealed itself from him? The obvious answer is surely: his homosexuality. So far, Crowley’s sexuality had been, as he never tires of emphasising, completely normal – so that he remarks about his early period at Cambridge: ‘My skill in avoiding corporal punishment and my lack of opportunity for inflicting it had saved me from developing the sadistic and masochistic sides to my character.’ It therefore seems probable that the revelation that came to Crowley in Stockholm was of his homosexual tendencies, or perhaps his inherent masochism and the possibility of satisfying it by becoming the passive partner in acts of sodomy.

“Symonds’ mistake probably arises from the fact that Crowley says that the revelation took place at midnight on 31 December 1896, and that he was ‘awakened’ to the magical knowledge; it sounds as if Crowley woke up from sleep. But 31 December is New Year’s Eve, and it is more likely that Crowley was enjoying the New Year’s Eve celebrations when some homosexual encounter made him aware of this element in his own nature.”

Wilson, Aleister Crowley: The Nature of the Beast , (Aquarian Press, 1987) pp. 36-38

A bibliography for further reading –

1. “He who seduced me first”; unpublished poem from a manuscript “About 1898 or earlier” (Crowley’s note), quoted by Kaczynski in Perdurabo (2010), p. 37
2. “At Stockholm” and “To J.L.D.”, in White Stains (1898), pp. 41, 66
3. Not the Life and Adventures of Sir Roger Bloxam (1916-1917), chapters 19-23 (specifically 21-22)
4. Περὶ της Παιδεραστεὶας, in The Scented Garden of Abdullah the Satirist of Shiraz (the “Bagh-i-Muattar”) (1910/1991 (facsimile)), pp. 21-34
5. Lawrence Sutin, Do What Thou Wilt (2002), pp. 38-43
6. Richard Kaczynski, Perdurabo (2010), pp. 36-40
7. Tobias Churton, Aleister Crowley, The Biography (2011), pp. 29-30; 33-35

 

First posted 09/12/2017

https://www.lashtal.com/forums/colin-wilson/colin-wilsons-aleister-crowley-the-nature-of-the-beast/#post-93823


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christibrany
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19/08/2020 6:53 pm  

@dom

(Regardie is) Very reliable and the Eye in the Triangle is great, problem is it does not cover his whole life.

It is not really a biography, it is a psycho analysis. 


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dom
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19/08/2020 11:42 pm  

Colin Wilson's Aleister Crowley The Nature of the Beast , (published 1987 The Aquarian Press) quotes Francis King (in the backpage blurb) stating that AC was "a pimp who lived on the immoral earnings of his girlfriends".  Presumably this alleged activity would have taken place when AC was poverty stricken.  The only reference to one of his girlfriends turning to prostitution in Wilson's book (as far as I can see) is page 138 where Hirsig is said to have done so to support her new boyfriend i.e. Mudd.  However at that time AC was being looked after financially by Dorothy Olsen and was in a different country anyway. 

In conclusion I am assuming that Francis King was talking crap and/or was confused about a sequence of events and the characters involved.  Nevertheless the blurb on Wilson's book seems to be erroneous and tabloid-like but we don't know if it was out of his hands and a form of sensationalism used by his publishers.    

https://www.lashtal.com/wiki/Aleister_Crowley_Timeline


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Shiva
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20/08/2020 8:06 pm  
Posted by: @dom

his esteemed place in history as writer and philosopher compared with the other people who achieved....what?

Your fan worship exceeds the devotion of a haggard chela toward his guru. The official List of Comparisons (a Class D doc Liber number 333-B) is endless.

Posted by: @ignant666

Any of thes4 will leave you better informed than Wilson.

The official List of Comparisons (Class D Liber 333-B) has its first 4 entries, and the remainder is still endless.

Posted by: @dom

Noone mentioned Regardie's Freudian-Reichian based bio.  Was Regardie a Reichian-massage quack or is he reliable?

If you are referring to The Eye in the Triangle, a psychoanalysis of AC, it is my professional opinion as a mystical pretender, a licensed physician, and an upholdler of the Tuth of Maat, that I cannot remember whar Israel wrote. It is my impression in regardie to my memory thar the book was amusing ... and more or less accurate.

I can only remember one little do-dad from his text that I found impressive and potentially helpful. He suggested that it would be beneficial for every person, before they entered the Path, to submit to a thorough round of psychoanalysis.

I agree with this. It would be eminently helpful when the person knocks on the door of Netzach, the qualities of which are understated in the literature. There are also other approaches. Let me cite two that might work.

1. My wife spent her puberty/adolescence free time in The Public Library, reading every psychology text and author on the shelves. She breezed through Netzach. It is said most women will naturally gravitate to Netzach before they tackle Hod.

2. I first set mt sights on a career in psychology, so I got all the basic psych courses under my belt before I set my sails in another direction. After that, I continued a literature search for all things Jungian, even as I passed through Netzach itself.

Yes. Israel Regardie did the world a favor by publishing The Eye in the Triangle. It is less of a biography than it is a neat case history in a medical record.

We have our own case histories here at LAShTAL ... most of them psychological in nature. I believe you, dom, are one of them. If I'm not mistaken, I am another.

Pardon me for being long-winded, but I wanted to restate an important problem for many people, what with Netzach being responsible for more failures than any other sphere. Now, I bleieve we were busy crucifying C. Wilson's portrait of Crowley, and your apparent belief in his shining infalibility.

 


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dom
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20/08/2020 10:22 pm  
Posted by: @shiva

 

Pardon me for being long-winded, but I wanted to restate an important problem for many people, what with Netzach being responsible for more failures than any other sphere. Now, I bleieve we were busy crucifying C. Wilson's portrait of Crowley, and your apparent belief in his shining infalibility.

 

Regardie, actual magician, yogi, expert Cabbalist and actual friend of AC, albeit for a short amount of time, did a good bio therefore.  He knew the subject matter.   Wilson as modern philosopher and criminologist saw AC as another flawed "outsider" and therefore refused to put him on a pedestal, this won't go down well with Crowleyans.   I am wondering if those who slate Wilson's bio have actually read any of his other books, he actually admired and agrees with the central tenets of AC's work.   

Why are the other AC bios worth a read?  What do they bring to the table that the two authors mentioned don't?   

https://www.lashtal.com/wiki/Aleister_Crowley_Timeline


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ignant666
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20/08/2020 10:35 pm  

Um, extensive, factually correct information, and details about AC's life, that aren't in The Hag (due both to AC being a big liar, and also living almost 20 years after writing it), or the Wilson bio (due to his minimal and sloppy research)?

Read Symonds (who also knew AC, and for longer than Regardie), and any one of Sutin, Kaczynski, or Churton.

Wilson wrote some good books, but his AC bio is not one of them; The Mind Parasites is my fave.

 


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dom
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20/08/2020 10:40 pm  
Posted by: @ignant666

Um, extensive, factually correct information, and details about AC's life, that aren't in The Hag (due both to AC being a big liar, and also living almost 20 years after writing it), or the Wilson bio (due to his minimal and sloppy research)?

Read Symonds (who also knew AC, and for longer than Regardie), and any one of Sutin, Kaczynski, or Churton.

Wilson wrote some good books, but his AC bio is not one of them; The Mind Parasites is my fave.

 

"Sloppy research"?  How so?

 

Mysteries is probably his best or the novel God of the Labyrinthine.    The Occult is pretty good.

https://www.lashtal.com/wiki/Aleister_Crowley_Timeline


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Michael Staley
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20/08/2020 11:11 pm  

Colin Wilson also wrote a novel, Man without a Shadow, published in 1963. The central character, Gerard Sorme, was I believe modelled on Crowley. The book was published in the USA under the somewhat racier title The Sex Diary of Gerard Sorme. Sorme was the central character in God of the Labyrinth, which I remember reading in the early 1970s.

 

 


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dom
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20/08/2020 11:18 pm  
Posted by: @michael-staley

Colin Wilson also wrote a novel, Man without a Shadow, published in 1963. The central character, Gerard Sorme, was I believe modelled on Crowley. The book was published in the USA under the somewhat racier title The Sex Diary of Gerard Sorme. Sorme was the central character in God of the Labyrinth, which I remember reading in the early 1970s.

 

 

Do you have Mysteries and The Occult?

https://www.lashtal.com/wiki/Aleister_Crowley_Timeline


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Michael Staley
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21/08/2020 12:09 am  
Posted by: @dom

Do you have Mysteries and The Occult?

I don't have Mysteries. But at the time that The Occult came out, I was already interested in Colin Wilson's work, and I enjoyed the book very much. Some of his early novels are very good too, particularly Ritual in the Dark and The Glass Cage. Colin Wilson was one of the first to review Kenneth Grant's The Magical Revival, in an issue of the review magazine Books & Bookmen in 1972.

I saw Colin Wilson give a talk once. He was the headline speaker at one of Andrew Collins's London Conferences, about ten years ago now I think. He spoke for about two hours, without notes; one of the most engaging and interesting speakers I have ever heard. I spoke to him briefly afterwards, telling him how much I admired his novels.

Back to your "Crowley the Pimp" theme. The Incoming of the Aeon of Maat reproduces three letters from Jones to Symonds in late 1948. At the time, Symonds was preparing his biography of Crowley, and - having come across articles in the sensationalist press, as well as having read an allegation by Swinburne Clymer - had formed the idea that during his USA stay Crowley had served time in prison for living off of immoral earnings. Jones was making the point that he was in frequent contact with Crowley during those years and if Crowley had served time then he, Jones, would have known about it. The copy of one of these letters in the Gerald Yorke Collection in the Warburg has a manuscript note by Yorke: "Re A.C. in prison in U.S.A. He never was". Although Jones generally spoke of his time with Crowley with warmth and respect, he was at times critical, so his testimony in this regard has weight.

Obviously one cannot deduce from this that Crowley never lived off "immoral earnings".


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Shiva
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21/08/2020 1:54 am  
Posted by: @dom

... have actually read any of his other books

I have noted nobody assassinating Wilson. Only his Crowley book, which is, after all, the subject of this thread. His other books are not the issue ... that you, yourself, initiated.

 


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faustian
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21/08/2020 2:37 am  

The whole proposition of this thread is ridiculous. No one here would be shocked by AC sexual misadventures. In any event, AC spent far more money on sex workers than he ever purportedly brought in. In fact, his whole raison d'être was not sexual liberation per se, but the promotion of a counter culture movement that placed individuality at the center of existence. His message is probably all the more prescient in today's information/energy civilization, which is dangerously flirting with totalitarian control in the form of techno-narcissism. In AC's case, sex was nothing more than the frame around the painting - a promotional tool to embellish the narrative, his enduring work of art was Thelema. Ironically by today's standard, AC would be considered an old foggy conservative, even though he did stand out as a wild eccentric at the twilight of the Victorian age. 


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dom
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21/08/2020 8:03 am  
Posted by: @faustian

. In fact, his whole raison d'être was not sexual liberation per se,

What, like equal pay for the sexes and legalised brothels?

 

There's extensive passages in the AL commentaries on why women should not be thought of as property of men and how this is embodied by Thelema, I'll dig them out when I get time. 

 

As for the demon Crowley and his payments to sex-workers was that a power trip of a downwardly mobile loser (i.e. a self-image problem)?  A lot of his diarized comments about sex-workers are disparaging "a sturdy bitch" etc. 

https://www.lashtal.com/wiki/Aleister_Crowley_Timeline


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apuleius
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21/08/2020 8:42 am  
Posted by: @faustian

In fact, his whole raison d'être was not sexual liberation per se, but the promotion of a counter culture movement that placed individuality at the center of existence. His message is probably all the more prescient in today's information/energy civilization, which is dangerously flirting with totalitarian control in the form of techno-narcissism. 

But counterculture adapts to the zeitgeist of each epoch, so Crowley would certainly be critic of today's dominant values around sex and individualism, in an Houellebecq manner probably. And as today's counterculture popes such as Genesis P. Orridge, he would as well detest social media and the internet in general, I think that's for sure.


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faustian
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21/08/2020 7:20 pm  

@apuleius Crowley was critical of both the declining Victorian culture in which he grew up, as well as the emerging totalitarian cultures (fascist Italy and Nazi Germany) he experience later in life. He was also quite critical of the United States, along with its crushing commercial culture led by its "confidence" men.  There is a recurring theme, he hated conformity, social control, and the pervading fear of money. It did not help that he started out rich and ended up broke. I do not think that he would have liked our present age, despite its more accepting sexual proclivities. Political correctness was not his strong suit. He would have definitely detested the infatuation with technology, as he was openly skeptical of the new media of his own age: newspapers and radios.  His life work - Thelema - was a direct struggle against the commoditization of the human spirit. 


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apuleius
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21/08/2020 8:09 pm  

@faustian Agreed, Thelema definitely is countercultural in nature, but in truth all the esoteric, understood as an inward search towards truth, etc, always has had its outward expression in a countercultural spirit. Additionally in this line, my personal theory is that the Liber AL line "the few and secret rulers" (I'm paraphrasing, yes) is more related to countercultural vanguards than to political elites nor anything like that. Because society is a whole, and what better encapsulates it in an holistic manner is culture, cultural values. So counterculture, let's say, has its specific function in the whole, but what makes counterculture particularly important is its capacity to understand its time, its zeitgeist, and by virtue of this, play a vanguardist role in the whole. In a "secret" manner, because really no one use to even understand what counterculture is. All of this very generally speaking, of course, this is not to say every "countercultural" thing is purely countercultural, since there are always contaminations. The truly "few" are very few, really, and in fact I would say that the vast majority of the Thelemic culture today is far from being truly countercultural, but that's another story.


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dom
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21/08/2020 10:43 pm  
Posted by: @faustian

@apuleius Crowley was critical of both the declining Victorian culture in which he grew up, as well as the emerging totalitarian cultures (fascist Italy and Nazi Germany) he experience later in life. He was also quite critical of the United States, along with its crushing commercial culture led by its "confidence" men.  There is a recurring theme, he hated conformity, social control, and the pervading fear of money. It did not help that he started out rich and ended up broke. I do not think that he would have liked our present age, despite its more accepting sexual proclivities. Political correctness was not his strong suit. He would have definitely detested the infatuation with technology, as he was openly skeptical of the new media of his own age: newspapers and radios.  His life work - Thelema - was a direct struggle against the commoditization of the human spirit. 

 

Add to all that the present 'famous for being famous' TV reality crazes.... however we had a thread on Crowley's political views which were all over the place at certain times far left, middle and far right.   

What's understood now as 'political correctness' actually seems to be censorship gone crazy, the history of British comedy is becoming canned and banned including Python if I'm not mistaken which was a product of the crazy liberal 60s.. 

https://www.lashtal.com/wiki/Aleister_Crowley_Timeline


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Michael Staley
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22/08/2020 12:25 am  
Posted by: @dom

which quotes Francis King who said AC was "a pimp who lived on the immoral earnings of his girlfriends"

So before this thread becomes irretrievably refracted, it seems that there is no evidence for Francis King's allegation. Probably, like Symonds, he took a dim view of Crowley and thus considered something like this possible, if not likely.


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dom
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22/08/2020 12:52 am  
Posted by: @michael-staley
Posted by: @dom

which quotes Francis King who said AC was "a pimp who lived on the immoral earnings of his girlfriends"

So before this thread becomes irretrievably refracted, it seems that there is no evidence for Francis King's allegation. Probably, like Symonds, he took a dim view of Crowley and thus considered something like this possible, if not likely.

Looks that way yes.  

https://www.lashtal.com/wiki/Aleister_Crowley_Timeline


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Shiva
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22/08/2020 7:16 am  
Posted by: @dom

What's understood now as 'political correctness' actually seems to be censorship gone crazy

Be careful what you say. Big Brother requires me to report you if you go politically incorrect.

Posted by: @michael-staley

... there is no evidence for Francis King's allegation.

If I watched the drama unfold correctly, it was stated that this libelous allegation was printed on the back cover and not referred to in the text. It was suggested that some marketing pimp made this up to sell books.

 


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