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ianrons
(@ianrons)
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Joined: 16 years ago
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10/01/2009 8:51 pm  

Following a response in a previous thread where Michael Staley asked me to substantiate my claim that Gerald Yorke (and John Symonds) attempted to prevent Germer taking charge of OTO following Crowley’s death, here is a brief sketch of the immediate influences acting upon Crowley’s estate after 1947 with especial reference to OTO. This is based on various letters and documents that I’ve had access to, but I make no claim to scholarship in this area, and furthermore the evidence I have is far from complete; therefore it is not possible for me to draw many firm conclusions. However, some things do stand out quite clearly: it is these that I aim to highlight.

When AC was declared bankrupt in the 1930s, his goods of value (including intellectual property) were taken by an Official Receiver. It’s going to be a lot easier to untangle this if I start by pointing out that, although the Official Receiver was under no delusions, it would appear that all of the actors in this drama falsely believed that, when Crowley died, either (a) Crowley’s will was effective in regard to his copyrights bequest – despite him having died an undischarged bankrupt – or (b) if they didn’t draw the Official Receiver’s attention to the copyrights issue, then the problem would go away. Nevertheless, interpretations of the will varied widely, as we shall see.

Crowley died on 1st Dec 1947, having named Germer as his successor in OTO (and ranking A.'.A.'. member). His books, papers, manuscripts, etc., were quickly bought back from the Official Receiver by the OTO under Germer for £25. However, since Germer was barred entry to Britain (perhaps due to suspicions about his background as much as his nationality), he couldn’t immediately take physical possession of this property, so it came into the hands of John Symonds. Amongst the items gathered by Symonds were all the OTO documents that were in Crowley’s possession upon his death – membership information, rituals, degree papers, etc. – except for the financial documents, which were already in Germer’s possession as OTO Treasurer.

Germer made immediate efforts to recover this property in order to take proper control of OTO, but despite the repeated requests, and then demands, to have this property shipped to the States, beginning 13th Feb 1948, John Symonds (who was not an OTO member – see below for details) asserted a right to withhold all material (importantly, including the purely OTO material, management papers, secret rituals, etc.) on the superficially reasonable grounds of his being one of the literary executors, and wanting to prepare his biography, The Great Beast. This, despite the fact that it was stated in the will that his only duty as literary executor was to collect the literary effects (books, papers, copyrights, etc.) and hand them over to OTO, and despite the fact that OTO membership lists and constitutional documents could hardly be held back on any grounds – arguably belonging as they did solely to OTO and not part of the Crowley estate – and could hardly form part of a biography.

"Crowley’s Will" wrote:
... I give and bequeath my books and writings and literary effects so collected to my Literary Executors free of all death duties on trust that they shall hand the same to the Grand Treasurer General of the Ordo Templi Orientis ... I bequeath free of all death duties all the copyrights in my books and writings whatsoever and wheresoever including any copyrights over which at the date of my death I may have any power of disposition to the Ordo Templi Orientis aforesaid...

Now, it seems at this point Karl Germer (Frater Saturnus) was sent a snippet of info, probably by Yorke (though the actual originator remains obscure), that led him to believe that he had to hold an election within a year and a day to decide the leadership of A.'.A.'.:

[To Fra.'.Hymenaeus Alpha]

The following paragraph from a Document in A.C.'s papers are of interest:-

"In the event of our death or disability a General Council of the Order shall be summoned within a year and a day of the event by Fra. [Saturnus], or such other as we may by subsequent appointment designate. The Council shall discuss the existing conditions of the Order (i.e. A.'.A.'.) freely for 11 days; after hearing the same the members of the A.'.A.'. highest in rank (and then in seniority) shall assume our present functions and govern the Order in our place."

Comment by Fra. [Saturnus]:
This is only a preliminary notice. It will take months before the complete document will be available in New York. The above paragraph was copied out in view of the short time that may be available to summon distant members, and it was deemed advisable to send out this notice ahead.

[Saturnus]

February 26, 1948.

New York.

This note is essentially clause 14 of the Constitution of the Order of Thelemites, an entirely different Order that, by this stage, had long disappeared from view. It’s worth noting that the interpolation “(i.e. A.'.A.'.)” is by Saturnus, since it is not present in the copy of the Constitution of the Order of Thelemites that I’ve seen, although the other mention of A.'.A.'. is present. It is also worth noting that the version of this Constitution that I’ve seen does not mention Saturnus, but instead Stansfeld-Jones et al., which might possibly hint at alteration by an unknown hand.

The snippet was apparently sent without indicating really what Order it referred to, and it has been argued (in the recent Starfire v. OTO trademark hearings) that Yorke effectively tricked Germer out of fully realising his OHO status with this document (because he didn’t have the necessary membership info from Symonds to hold the required conference), based on the assumption that Germer thought it referred to OTO. However, the text of the document does not support this contention directly; but since A.'.A.'. and OTO are very closely interconnected (Germer was head of both after Crowley’s death), in the context of Symonds’ withholding of A.'.A.'. and OTO membership lists, it does look like someone was trying to cause trouble for Germer in A.'.A.'. and/or OTO.

Interestingly, the knock-on effect was that Hymenaeus Alpha believed that snippet to refer to OTO (perhaps part of a general confusion between A.'.A.'. and OTO?), so much so that it became the origin of the section in the current OTO International Bylaws (3.07D) about the election of a de jure OHO by a council of at least 5 National Grand Masters, and is therefore the reason for the “Acting” part of “Acting OHO”.

Speculation around this document seems to have been indirectly fuelled by the publication (in Starfire) of excerpts from some letters suggesting that Germer did not believe himself to be OHO of OTO. This was countered by clear evidence that, at least in 1955 when he expelled Grant, he was aware of this. However, I don’t really see what the fuss was about because in his Will of 1951 Germer refers to himself as head of the OTO. But I digress.

One has to question why this snippet – completely out of any context – was sent to Germer at this time. We know from correspondence that Symonds was aware that one of the reasons for Germer’s increasingly frantic demands for the A.'.A.'. and OTO management papers was partly because of his belief in the need for this election. And whilst this was going on, Yorke was using the contacts listed in the OTO papers in Symonds’ possession to write to all the American OTO members behind Germer’s back; which, judging from the response of the OTO members who felt it necessary to report this contact to Germer, and Germer’s own comments (7th Jan 1948 to Harris), was part of an effort to turn them against Germer. Yorke was also taking various items from the stacks of property that Symonds was holding on trust for the OTO, including (e.g.) Crowley’s wand, which Yorke was claiming had merely been on loan to Crowley (see Symonds-Heidrick 4th Nov 1985)! (See also the recent video.)

Now, it seems that at some point in 1948 Symonds made a definite promise to Germer to hand over the OTO documents once he’d finished taking notes for his biography (see Germer-Symonds, 5th April 1949). However, somehow Grant got involved, advertised by Yorke to Wilkinson in August 1948 and referred to by Symonds (again to Wilkinson) in March 1949 as “the only person who is a member of the order”(!). In violation of his promise, then, Symonds handed all the OTO material (secrets and all) to Grant, which were used to make copies for Yorke, George H. Brook, himself and another. Because of his having had access to these papers, it seems that Germer was effectively forced into admitting Grant to the IX° of OTO with its oath of secrecy in October 1948. This oath didn’t stop Grant from making those copies of the papers (evidently against Germer’s wishes, see Symonds-Wilkinson 21st March 1949), which – somehow! – ended up for sale in England shortly thereafter (see Grant-Germer 11th May 1955), something which Grant then used as grounds for rewriting the OTO rituals (copies of which he refused to send to Germer, because of a need for secrecy!) immediately before his expulsion on 20th July 1955.

From the little I’ve seen, it seems likely that the other literary executor, Louis Wilkinson, didn’t approve of these manoeuvres, and we see Symonds in a flap, trying to justify himself to Wilkinson on 21st March 1949 with some rather bizarre and oddly contradictory arguments – perhaps worth dissecting if there’s any interest – but which I mention principally for it contains a denial by Symonds of membership of OTO:

"John Symonds" wrote:
Germer's error [...] arises out of the fact that he treats the order as a serious and as a secret organisation. [...] I was not sworn in [...]

This contradicts Symonds’ later claim (in The Beast 666, 1997, p.123) to have been appointed an “Assistant Grand Treasurer General” by Crowley. Other facts speak against his membership, such as that he wasn’t (with other senior OTO members) on the list of persons receiving the Word of the Equinox. Nor is “Assistant Grand Treasurer General” a plausible office, since a “Grand Treasurer General” is a national rather than international office, and there was at least no “Grand Treasurer General” in England; but perhaps he meant to say “Assistant Treasurer General”, which is still very odd because Germer was Treasurer General and yet he seems unaware of it: neither of them refer to this in their correspondence over several years, nor does Germer attempt to pull rank (which I feel he would certainly have done). All in all, I find this claim to possess a level of credibility consistent with his other claims.

Germer was still writing to Symonds in March 1950 demanding shipment of the “remainder” of items, complaining about the “incalculable harm” that had been caused, etc., and I am informed that he probably didn’t get the relevant papers till 1951-2, though I believe this involves a certain amount of educated guesswork. Perhaps Germer ought to have sought an injunction for detinue, as well as perhaps applying to the court to have Symonds removed as literary executor. This may have saved a great deal of trouble, since Symonds’ claim to being entitled to hand out the secret OTO papers to whomever he liked (as in 21/3/49 to Wilkinson) was the prelude to his claim to own the Crowley copyrights, which he maintained even until the 1990s OTO v. Naylor case (in spite of also claiming to have given the copyrights to Grant in 1965). This claim to copyright was the basis for the publication of Crowley’s Confessions, which promoted Grant as the head of the OTO, once Germer was safely out of the way in 1969. However, Gerald Yorke at least was aware that Symonds did not have the rights he claimed, and he seems to indicate in his letter of 25th August 1948 to the other literary executor, Louis Wilkinson, that Symonds was well aware of this.

In short, Symonds seems to have overridden the objections of Wilkinson, as well as those of Germer, in withholding the OTO papers and handing them to Grant. By the time the relevant OTO paperwork and what was left of Crowley’s other books, papers, etc., were received by Germer in 1951 or 1952, the seeds had been sown for conflicting OTO claims in the Thelemic community for the next 6 decades (and counting).

Yorke, for his own part, collected and catalogued Crowley material for eventual deposit at the Warburg Institute and (from his perspective, it seems) helped to prevent this material from simply being shipped off to someone whom he probably regarded (along with the government of the time) as an undesirable foreign national. He also had no time for the American OTO members, perhaps recalling the opinions of Crowley himself concerning some of them. He says as much in a letter of 4th August 1976:

"Gerald Yorke" wrote:
my interest here is to keep the copyright open so that anyone can publish new or reprint old works by my old friend, so that this is not restricted to some lunatic bunch of American disciples, or neo-Crowleyites who continue to spawn

It all seems fairly excusable – after all, wouldn’t you want to make sure all those jewels didn’t simply go missing? Wouldn’t you (the reader, I mean) want to copy it all? One only has to look at what happened to the property that did go to the States: it was eventually stolen from Sascha Germer, who was physically attacked, apparently by a bunch of “neo-Crowleyites”.

But it seems Yorke spread his scepticism around equally. At least, he didn’t support Grant’s OTO claim here in the Britain, saying to Motta in 1976 that the Crowley/Germer OTO effectively had no heir “with the possible exception of Metzger”. That he was interested in the question is clear, because he had a “file on the OTO succession”. I conclude that his opinion of Grant coincided with Germer’s own: “any educated man would laugh”. Therefore, whilst some regard Yorke’s actions as being essentially anti-American, it seems more plausible– and I take him at his word – that he simply wanted to make sure Crowley’s works survived long enough for sanity to prevail, generally, so that everyone could benefit from them. Nevertheless, other constructions are certainly possible (who knows what might have happened if there had been a viable British candidate to succeed Crowley?), and I wouldn’t wish to completely discount the possibility that he was looking at things from a nationalistic perspective, especially bearing in mind his possible Foreign Office connections (see Spence, Secret Agent 666).

Symonds’ motives seem pretty selfish, if one then considers how he profited from the withholding of documents to the detriment of OTO, and his claimed copyrights in Crowley’s Confessions; but again there may be something deeper there, especially considering the aspects hinted at in Spence concerning a possible “cover up” of the more revealing passages of Crowley’s Confessions. It was recently pointed out to me that Symonds ( http://www.lashtal.com/nuke/Article825.phtml) was exempt from military service.

I’m not really sure whether this adds much to our understanding of the situation, but doubtless more will come to light in due course, and this brief sketch will soon become obsolete. Constructive comments are most welcome.


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manofwycombe
(@manofwycombe)
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10/01/2009 9:35 pm  

93

I may be able to offer some clarification on the question of Symonds' position as "Assistant Grand Treasurer General"....

Let me quote from Symonds own introduction to the First Impressions reprint of OLLA - "... I played a ... part in the sale of the work, for without my knowledge he [ie Crowley] added my address to the title page and instructed the printer to send me the 500 copies of the ordinary edtion to distribute. I was described in an accompanying leaflet as the Assistant to the Grand Treasurer General of the Order of Oriental Templars."

There is of course a significant difference between being Assistant GTG and Assistant to the GTG - a distinction which Symonds conveniently overlooked at times!

93 93/93

Clive


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ianrons
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10/01/2009 10:06 pm  

Thanks Clive, that does indeed clarify things greatly. The devil's in the details.


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lashtal
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10/01/2009 10:16 pm  
"manofwycombe" wrote:
There is of course a significant difference between being Assistant GTG and Assistant to the GTG - a distinction which Symonds conveniently overlooked at times!

Very nicely phrased, Clive!

One can understand why Symonds would have taken the opportunity to use the former title; in respect of The Beast 666 he could, after all, always blame the error on poor proof reading. Rather more surprising, though, that Tony Naylor dedicates "OTO Rituals and Sex Magick" in 1999 to "John Symonds IX (Assistant Grand Treasurer General appointed by Baphomet XI)". I note that Caduceus sold a copy of the book - see http://www.caduceusbooks.com/sh-crow.htm - signed by Symonds "on the dedication page". Of course, it's on the cover of this volume that Mr Naylor takes the opportunity to declare that it was "issued by order of the Literary Executor for Aleister Crowley". Tellingly, it's made clear in the copyright statement that this "Literary Executor" is Naylor himself.

Still, this is merely an incidental aside to Ian's fascinating post.

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ianrons
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10/01/2009 10:39 pm  

Louis Wilkinson is also credited with being a IX° in that volume. My understanding is that Wilkinson was actually a IX°.

P.S. I don't like to repeat myself, but re: Naylor claiming to be another "literary executor", here is what I wrote in another topic:

With regard to the claims made by Symonds and Naylor re: ownership of copyrights, and regarding the function of "literary executors": literary executors merely administer literary/dramatic/artistic works on trust for the beneficiaries of the will (in this case the OTO), and are not the owners. Symonds seemed to be confused on this point and imagined he was the owner of the copyrights, earning money through the sale of books; which is illegal for any literary executor unless he or she is a beneficiary of the will. Naylor, secondarily [...] imagined that Symonds had the right to give him the Crowley copyrights and make him a literary executor (both of which are illegal) [...]


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 Anonymous
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11/01/2009 7:04 pm  

93,

I must say that I am a bit surprised and disappointed to rise this morning to find no comment delivered yet from Michael. After all, it was he who requested the information from Ian, which, along with the footnote from Clive, represent the facts as I have long understood them. One might say that, as I have never been an OTO member, I have no real horse in this race. However, ironically, I have been called a "Caliphate bastard" on the Internet often enough since the early 90s for supporting the facts as Ian presents them that I do have a personal interest.

Also, there is more than my personal interest involved, there is a certain degree of universal importance to Thelemites in general. As Crowley himself, in the end, placed so much stock in the OTO, and did so on behalf of the benefit of the world and the future of Thelema in bringing forth that benefit, the OTO must be understood as very precious cargo at that time. Precious cargo in a very fragile state, I might add, as it was totally dependent for survival upon those in whose care it was left.

That care was, at best, shamefully neglected, placing the future of Thelema and, from this perspective, of the world in dire jeopardy. And this is the most generous of judgments, for it presupposes that no ulterior self-serving motives existed among the caretakers, that they were simply incompetent bunglers, which is clearly entirely not the case. In matters such as this, that are of tantamount to criminal negligence or worse, one must make the age-old inquiry, "who would benefit by these actions or inactions?" This is what I believe Ian has done in his survey of the facts in the matter.

I eagerly await Michael's reply, especially since he has the unique opportunity of conferring with the only surviving accused party, Mr. Grant, before making it. Perhaps that is the cause of his delay in responding.


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lashtal
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11/01/2009 8:28 pm  
"Camlion" wrote:
I must say that I am a bit surprised and disappointed to rise this morning to find no comment delivered yet from Michael. After all, it was he who requested the information from Ian...

Camlion: whether or not Michael chooses to respond is entirely his own affair, but I do agree completely with the spirit of your post. These are matters of considerable interest and significance to students of Crowley and his impact. These are subjects that are appropriate for discussion on LAShTAL.COM.

I have written often on this site about my suspicions concerning Symonds' motives as Literary Executor - less frequently about Grant who appears to have had less mundane objectives. I remain suspicious of Symonds, whose biographies of Crowley can only now be compared with superior versions by the likes of Dr Kaczynski. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt and take it on trust that Symonds genuinely believed that he had a legal right to publish Crowley's writings. Let's take it on trust, also, that he had "access to the entirety of Crowley's works, published and unpublished." Excluding the rather excellent Magical and Philosophical Commentaries, which shows all the signs of being edited by Grant alone, which titles did Symonds decide to publish or reprint? Magick Without Tears or The Book Of Thoth? Liber Aleph, The Tao Teh King, Eight Lectures On Yoga or The Equinox? The Collected (poetic) Works or collected letters?

No, he elected to publish the most controversial and least accomplished poetry in the form of White Stains, supplemented by extracts from Snowdrops and, inevitably, Leah Sublime in the various editions of the biography. What else? Selections from Crowley's most extreme diaries in the form of the controversial and occasionally disturbing confessional that is the Magical Record, a work which combines drug fantasy with pornography and, to be frank, frequent incomprehensibility. Then there's Magick, of course: he perhaps felt the need to keep in print the footnote that purports to promote child sacrifice. How about The 'Complete' Astrological Writings in an edition so appallingly expurgated as to be utterly pointless. Diary of a Drug Fiend (couldn't let a title that salacious or potentially profitable slip out of print) and Moonchild, where the full extent of Symonds' input appears to have been to copy-type Yorke's and Crowley's notes.

And as for The Confessions? See elsewhere on this site for details of the hatchet job involved in that production. And take a close look at Spence's astonishing Secret Agent 666 for evidence that many of the substantial excisions were the very paragraphs that demonstrated that Crowley was no traitor. All this in a book that was described as complete save for "some redundancies" - comprising passages of drug-induced verbosity, apparently - when published in 1969.

Of course, it's possible that Symonds was an unwitting participant in the selection of titles and in the clumsy editing. Maybe he was at the unwitting beck and call of malicious or ignorant publishers or simple market forces.

Or maybe there was more to it, as Ian's post suggests.

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 Anonymous
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11/01/2009 9:34 pm  

A very nice recap of the literary side of the rape of Crowley's corpse and corpus, Paul. Thankfully, his legacy is enjoying somewhat of a rehabilitation. The degree of retardation in the development of Thelema caused by these scoundrels is difficult to measure from this point in time, but it should not have been necessary to such an extent as it has. I suppose that sixty years will eventually seem a drop in the bucket, but it seems like a lifetime to me thus far. 😉


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alysa
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11/01/2009 10:59 pm  

I seconded Michael Staley's first question in that other thread, and must admit that Ianrons answer now to that question is surely impressing with me, great work, Ianrons, I first read John Symonds' "Aleister Crowley The King Of The Shadow Realm", about two years ago, and about the same time I've read "Perdurabo" with Dr. Kaczynski and must admit Dr. Kaczynski's book is far more exceeding than John Symonds' book is. I unfortunately still haven't read "Secret Agent 666" by Professor Spence. I think what's here discussing is of very great importance to every student of Thelema and Crowley. Eagerly awaiting the time that the entire truth in relation with the subject should one day and in an entirely fitted presentation to every student should come out. While still in the awaiting proces, Lashtal, thank you for your insightful and thoughtgiven comment and Manofwycombe also thanks for your comment.


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 Anonymous
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12/01/2009 1:52 am  

Ian,

Very interesting thread, thank you for posting this and doing the work to flesh it all out for those that haven't looked into it very deeply. A work ripe for publication in my opinion.(Not this rough sketch mind you, but a complete work on the same subject.)

I can understand not just giving over Crowley's works to the hippys in America, I certainly wouldn't have. However, the odd probability of those holding his material trying to work against Crowley's Great Work & wishes...just disquieting.

Symonds...Crowley's Judas?!


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lashtal
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12/01/2009 2:09 am  
"Camlion" wrote:
The degree of retardation in the development of Thelema caused by these scoundrels is difficult to measure

It's a fairly trivial point of order, Camlion, but just to make it absolutely clear: I did not use the word "scoundrels" and I specifically confined my comments to Symonds alone. OTO issues aside - clearly documented here by Ian Rons and elsewhere by others - Grant's commitment to Thelema, or at least to his interpretation of Thelema, and to his teacher, Crowley, has always impressed me. I recall being especially impressed by his notice at the beginning of the Confessions distancing himself from Symonds' Preface and reasserting his respect for The Book Of The Law. His books show evidence of his commitment to Thelema and to his love of the Old Beast.

No, it's Symonds whose activities and motives I find so suspicious. I know others who knew him well, though - we never met - who consider him to have been a decent and honourable man. Maybe he just didn't like Crowley (many people didn't) but saw the opportunity to make a few quid.

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 Anonymous
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12/01/2009 5:16 pm  
"lashtal" wrote:
OTO issues aside - clearly documented here by Ian Rons and elsewhere by others - Grant's commitment to Thelema, or at least to his interpretation of Thelema, and to his teacher, Crowley, has always impressed me. [...] I know others who knew [Symonds] well, though - we never met - who consider him to have been a decent and honourable man. Maybe he just didn't like Crowley (many people didn't) but saw the opportunity to make a few quid.

Quite diplomatic, Paul, and with great generosity of spirit; benefit of the doubt and all that... I'm usually a great advocate of diplomacy, myself.

Oh well, perhaps what's done is done. A few final Ordeals for Crowley, a few kinks in the old '93 Current.' (Proper English gentlemen, at least, not those American hippies.) Perhaps it was all just meant to be this way...

Does that work for you, Ian?


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kidneyhawk
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12/01/2009 6:15 pm  

Yes, it clearly took a great deal of "diplomacy" and...er...

great generosity of spirit

for our Webmaster to suggest that Kenneth Grant might not be one of those

"scoundrels"

who have placed

the future of Thelema and, from this perspective, of the world in dire jeopardy

Good Lord.


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
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12/01/2009 6:43 pm  
"kidneyhawk" wrote:
Yes, it clearly took a great deal of "diplomacy" and...er...

great generosity of spirit

for our Webmaster to suggest that Kenneth Grant might not be one of those

"scoundrels"

who have placed

the future of Thelema and, from this perspective, of the world in dire jeopardy

Good Lord.

You write this as if your positive opinion of Mr. Grant is of one universal affirmation by Thelemites one and all, Kyle. This most certainly is not the case. Personally, I find some of Grant's work of sufficient interest to be supplemental to Crowley's work, for certain individuals so inclined. In my experience of Thelemites at large, mine is a liberal opinion.


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ianrons
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12/01/2009 7:43 pm  

Thanks for everyone's replies so far.

Great job, Paul, in summarising Symonds' publishing history. Thanks also alysa and KCh for your praise -- the possibility of a book-size version of OTO history has been mooted (and there's probably enough to fill 10 scandal-packed volumes), but I think the best history would have to be written by a non-native, and only in 100 years time, when everyone involved can no longer be incrim... ahem!... embarrassed by it. 😉 And the post-WWII history of OTO is still very much being created -- this current discussion coincides, of course, with the end of Thelema Lodge.

Camlion -- I wouldn't be too surprised if Michael Staley chooses not to dispute, on Grant's behalf, the picture presented here. Certainly, if I were advising Grant I would tell him to keep his mouth shut, for reasons that you touch upon in your first post. It's pretty obvious that Yorke was thieving from OTO, and it can be inferred from the correspondence that Symonds was criminally ripping off AC's creditors, who still owned the copyrights at that time, by knowingly publishing as he did without licence -- presumably encouraged by, or at the behest of, Yorke. If Grant knows about any of this then he would be better off keeping shtum. Nevertheless, I think a reasonable person could certainly regard Grant's later actions as amounting to fraud against the OTO, based partly on the fact that Grant was not claiming to represent *an* OTO but *the* OTO, and falsely advertising himself to be Crowley's successor; but as for his motives, I'll reserve judgment on the matter and merely repeat what Crowley apparently said, that he should have nothing to do with the OTO. He wrote such drivel in its name that it damaged the institution, although on the plus side -- and it's a big plus -- he and Symonds did keep Crowley in print in England.

What interests me principally about this is not the apportionment of blame, however, but in getting to the truth of the matter. It looks as though certain circles in England wished to persecute Crowley -- beginning with Horatio Bottomley in John Bull after AC broke his GD secrecy oath, and carrying on when AC was (perhaps conveniently) perceived as a traitor; but, interwoven, there are (e.g.) strange agendas like that of Victoria Cremers (with whom Symonds may well have been acquainted) in the circle around the damaged Neuberg -- and there is plenty of scope to find motive in the stories of fraud, vice and death which surrounded Crowley during his lifetime. Whether, perhaps there was the involvement of one or more government departments, or Freemasonry, or (drumroll...!) the Black Lodge (or all of the above) looks set to be the pub conversation for Thelemites for many years to come! Certainly, Crowley seems to have made a few enemies...

However, if the OTO had been allowed to breathe, it would have been in a much different -- and probably a much better -- situation than it is now. In England, the life of the nation would have been massively enriched thereby. But these are historical points, and they may only serve to distract from the fact that, far from being an obscure historical anomaly, Thelema continues to attract a great deal of attention that isn't always wholesome; and without wishing to sound alarmist, the enemies of Thelema are as active today as they've ever been, but they've abandoned Grant and moved on to other "hosts".


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Michael Staley
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12/01/2009 7:50 pm  

Dear Ian,

93

The genesis of this is that I challenged your contention that Gerald Yorke had worked against Crowley's legacy. I pointed out that to give one's vast collection of Crowleyana to the Warburg for public access was a strange way of working against Crowley's legacy.

Yes there were clearly delays in Crowley's papers being shipped over to Germer; a large part of the Warburg collection consists of typed copies of documents made before the material was shipped. I rather doubt that the delay was a plot to overthrow Germer, but clearly if you want to believe such a scenario then nothing I or anyone says will likely make an iota of difference.

The reason why Yorke is painted in some quarters as someone who obstructed Crowley's legacy may well be because he did not accept McMurtry's claims that the Caliphate letters made him Crowley's appointed successor to Germer. As a matter of fact, whilst not accepting those claims, he was sympathetic to McMurtry having some sort of claim. You will be familiar with this, Ian, since letters from Yorke to McMurtry form part of the copious exhibits to Breeze's witness statement in the recent trademark case, copies of which you have.

Concerning the 'Order of Thelemites' document which Yorke forwarded to Germer, perhaps you might step back a little. Crowley told Germer that he was the appointed successor, not a nominee; Germer should have realised that there was no need for an election.

As far as Symonds is concerned, I very largely agree with Paul's contributions to this thread. Symonds was clearly hostile to Crowley (an odd choice of literary executor on the part of Crowley, I have always thought) and jealous of Crowley's success as a writer.

Nevertheless, Symonds played a positive role. In the late 1940s, throughout the 1950s and the early part of the 1960s, there was not much interest in Crowley. Whether one likes the biographies by Symonds or not, they helped maintain interest in Crowley until more propitious times. The reference elsewhere on this thread to Symonds, Grant and Yorke as rogues and scoundrels is simply pathetic.

I had hoped, with the resolution of the UK trademark case, that we might to some extent draw a line and move forward; after all, we are all Thelemites, and co-operation rather than perpetual conflict would be advantageous. It was on that basis that I emailed Bill Breeze and offered him my congratulations on the appeal verdict. I was not so naiive as to expect things to change overnight, but I do find it regrettable that here we are months down the line, and some continue to fight old battles with such enthusiasm. Feel free to fester to your heart's content; I have other fish to fry. So Camlion, another time when I do not respond with alacrity to similar threads, best not worry your pretty little head about it, eh?

Oh and yes, I picked up a copy of Secret Agent 666 recently, and have started reading it in preparation for a review which I'll submit to Lashtal.

Best wishes,

Michael.


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ianrons
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12/01/2009 8:45 pm  
"MichaelStaley" wrote:
The genesis of this is that I challenged your contention that Gerald Yorke had worked against Crowley's legacy.

No, let's be specific. My contention was that there is a "likelihood that he [Yorke] made deliberate efforts to prevent the OTO succession from passing to Germer." That is a quite different contention; and this is the second time I've had to correct you after you've used the "but he gave material to the Warburg" argument. Nevertheless, to answer that point, I have raised question marks over who really owned a lot of that property that Yorke gave away.

"MichaelStaley" wrote:
Yes there were clearly delays in Crowley's papers being shipped over to Germer; a large part of the Warburg collection consists of typed copies of documents made before the material was shipped. I rather doubt that the delay was a plot to overthrow Germer, but clearly if you want to believe such a scenario then nothing I or anyone says will likely make an iota of difference.

If you were to say something about it then it might make an iota of difference.

"MichaelStaley" wrote:
The reason why Yorke is painted in some quarters as someone who obstructed Crowley's legacy may well be because he did not accept McMurtry's claims that the Caliphate letters made him Crowley's appointed successor to Germer.

No Michael -- this is simply misdirection. And I've already made this point, if you'll refer back to my post.

"MichaelStaley" wrote:
Concerning the 'Order of Thelemites' document which Yorke forwarded to Germer, perhaps you might step back a little. Crowley told Germer that he was the appointed successor, not a nominee; Germer should have realised that there was no need for an election.

That's like throwing a stick at someone and saying afterwards that they should have jumped out of the way. The fact that he didn't jump out of the way does not excuse throwing the stick, or sending the document, in the first place.

"MichaelStaley" wrote:
I had hoped, with the resolution of the UK trademark case, that we might to some extent draw a line and move forward; after all, we are all Thelemites, and co-operation rather than perpetual conflict would be advantageous.

I suppose it's legitimate to bring this up, since it's related to some of the points raised in my post, but I hope it won't distract us too much. The trademark case was resolved to prevent other parties, including the group run by Grant, "passing off" the name OTO. Yet Grant doesn't show any sign of accepting that resolution -- at least, there's no sign of that from you, and you still accept enquiries for his "OTO" on this forum. In this matter, the ball is now very much in Grant's court -- he has rejected the cooperation that would have been given by Saturnus and H.B. (and would still be given) if he had chosen to go under a different name, and he's rejected the offer made by H.B. of being reinstated in OTO as a IX° (an offer which you described as "Machiavellian"), so it's hard to see how we are supposed to "draw a line and move forward" (wouldn't that be "crossing the line", anyway?) when he persists in this divisive charade, which I've come to conclude is a deliberate effort to create conflict, and can be seen as a continuation of the anti-Crowley attacks in the press and in other circles going back almost 100 years ago -- if one sees Symonds (the journalist who also viciously attacked Crowley and was Grant's accomplice) as the link in the chain.


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 Anonymous
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12/01/2009 10:40 pm  

Ian can i query this quote?:

if he had chosen to go under a different name, and he's rejected the offer made by H.B. of being reinstated in OTO as a IX°

If that was the case do you not think that the Caliphate OTO would have appeared to be a legal bully solely and made Breeze appear to be... misguided.


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 Anonymous
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13/01/2009 12:34 am  
"hawthornrussell" wrote:
If that was the case do you not think that the Caliphate OTO would have appeared to be a legal bully solely and made Breeze appear to be... misguided.

If I may butt in... Legal bully? Is this how a mature adult would characterize someone who defends their organization's legal rights? How tiresome this has become over the years! 🙄


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 Anonymous
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13/01/2009 1:27 am  

“It would appear”... “perhaps due”... “it seems”... “probably by”... “apparently”... “it has been argued”... “it does look like”... “it seems that”... “somehow”... “it seems likely”... “perhaps he meant”... “he seems”... “probably”... “perhaps”... “perhaps”... “this may have”... “seems”... “it seems”... “he probably”... “it all seems”... “it seems”... “I conclude”... “there may be”...

Ian, you're hopping from paper to paper like a frog on lily pads, and thinking you're laying down a path, but I think the world can breathe a sigh of relief that you're not a lawyer! I certainly wouldn't want you as mine:)

I've only ever seen one conspiracy theory as badly and flimsily stitched together as this before, and that was fuelled by a large intake of amphetamines....

And what a childish and clumsy attempt at reverse psychology to suggest that no response from Grant or his supporters indicates something to hide! Ha ha ha... if I were Grant I'd have drifted off into a Qliphothic tunnel long before you finished, looking for something more interesting:)

Oh, and "The Black Lodge"???? You've been watching those Twin Peaks DVD's again, haven't you?

Haven't laughed so much all year!


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ianrons
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13/01/2009 1:54 am  

93 hawthornrussell,

"hawthornrussell" wrote:
If that was the case do you not think that the Caliphate OTO would have appeared to be a legal bully solely and made Breeze appear to be... misguided.

OK, let me get this straight, because your post seems a little ambiguous. You're asking me whether H.B.'s offer to reinstate Grant was a PR stunt of some kind to gain sympathy for OTO? This is the contrary of what Michael Staley suggested about 15 years ago, when he suggested H.B.'s evil plan was to get Grant into the OTO so he would be rendered "subject to corporate discipline and effectively silenced".

To be frank, both of these seem to have more than a whiff of paranoia about them. During this whole time, it's been pretty clear (to me, at least) that the strategy from Grant's camp has been to play to the galleries and try to gain sympathy for these poor little Thelemites who've been unfairly trampled by that nasty man from Texas. Seen through this lens, the evidence that H.B. actually tried to reach a compromise with Grant can only have been the outward manifestation of what is in fact a subtle "Machiavellian" strategy. If it were to get out that H.B. were actually a decent bloke, that would completely ruin the show.

I suppose it conceivably might have been used as a PR stunt by H.B.; though his version of events, which I happen to believe, is at variance. However, it was definitely used as a PR weapon by Michael Staley -- apparently after he went away, he said, to give it serious consideration -- and became part of an article the main thrust of which turned out to be, again, totally misleading and false.

I've already referred to Dave Evans' articles on Grant. I admit I've only read one properly and lightly skimmed the other stuff, but I'd recommend you go read them if you're a follower of Grant in the "Cult of Lam".


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ianrons
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13/01/2009 2:52 am  

93 Alastrum,

"Alastrum" wrote:
“It would appear”... “perhaps due”... “it seems”... “probably by”... “apparently”... “it has been argued”... “it does look like”... “it seems that”... “somehow”... “it seems likely”... “perhaps he meant”... “he seems”... “probably”... “perhaps”... “perhaps”... “this may have”... “seems”... “it seems”... “he probably”... “it all seems”... “it seems”... “I conclude”... “there may be”...

It would appear that you’ve avoided discussing the meat of my historical sketch, perhaps due to being spiflicated by my argument, or at least it seems that could be the case, probably by virtue of the strength of the evidence, which apparently shows Yorke, Symonds and Grant to have been engaged in some possibly criminal activity. It has been argued by Michael Staley that I might have been “planted here by the intelligence services [...] to sow the seeds of doubt and suspicion”, but it does look like I am not the one with the dodgy connections and on the contrary it seems that your guru is the naughty one who’s been – somehow – found with his hand in the Thelemic biscuit jar.

I think it reasonable to believe, or at least it seems likely that there is some deeper connection between Symonds, Yorke and Grant -- perhaps it was a ménage à trois -- but it is also interesting to note that when Crowley wrote that Grant had “unwillingly buggered his aunt” perhaps he meant it literally, and this preference for older female relatives might speak against it. In later life he seems to have shown little interest in buggery, though commentators agree he was probably put off by this early experience. In making these silly points I have adopted the same strategy as yourself, which you perhaps employed in order to willingly serve the ends of the (*bigger and more obviously ironic drumroll, please!*) Black Lodge, or perhaps because of a certain wilful naïvetë that is often found in the members of religious cults, making them unable to accept statements that fall foul of the premiss "teacher is good and right", or alternatively this may have been the result of years of invoking gigantic squid-monsters with bat wings; but in any case it seems like a pretty silly thing to do.

Coming back to Grant, it seems to me that he probably did it all deliberately, and I would go so far as to say that it all seems like it's part of a game played at your expense. The wider implications are, it seems, that Grant corrupted a lot of the callow youth of this country and tried to turn the glory of Thelema into a murky world full of horror and darkness and squishy things, whilst claiming to represent Crowley and OTO and earning money off the back of it, and thus I conclude that he is a fraud. There may be some who disagree, but increasingly I note the presence of cult-like characteristics...


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 Anonymous
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13/01/2009 7:37 am  

it seems, that Grant corrupted a lot of the callow youth of this country and tried to turn the glory of Thelema into a murky world

Ian your making Grant appear to be rock and roll!! Its almost like Elvis Presley being stopped by the state police from doing the pelvic moves on the stage! But i jest.

What you have picked on Ian is an issue of image. When Thelemites see Grants published work, they do not see a fraud. They see a trailblazer who has followed his own path. Whereas the image of the Caliphate OTO in its modern incarnation seems to be the opposite in the eyes of many independent Thelemites. This is not Grants fault. Its the Caliphate OTO's own actions that have caused that. This has given way to the image of the Caliphate OTO being its own worst enemy. Whether this image can be changed into something more positive will be down to the Caliphate OTO's own actions and effort. No one else. The irony to me is that a lot of criticism directed towards Grant has become publicity and advertising for him. By misguidedly criticising Grant , all these critics are doing is make people search out and investigate Grants work. So by calling Grant a "fraud" Ian you are (ironically) helping to advertise that "rock and roll" image i mentioned. Now if i invert this point, if i criticise Breeze and the Caliphate OTO will it make them appear to be trailblazers and "rock and roll"?...


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lashtal
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13/01/2009 8:42 am  
"hawthornrussell" wrote:
This has given way to the image of the Caliphate OTO being its own worst enemy.

But what of the accusations, allegations, suggestions and allusions in Ian's initial post relating to Yorke, Symonds and Grant? I'd hate to see yet another interesting thread here being diverted into the usual "I'm really not terribly fond of the Caliphate" territory.

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 Anonymous
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13/01/2009 11:08 am  

93,

Great stuff Mr Rons.

Ian makes some very valid points, and Mr Staley is the only one that can answer the questions:

1)What, if anything, are the TOTO doing to change their name?

Albion OTO have changed their name to DNA, but AFAIK Foundation OTO and TOTO have released no statements regarding what (non)action they are taking as a result of the trademark case.

It seems that its still "business as usual" for TOTO.

This leads to the question of what kind of action the OTO will take if this continues.

Considering Mr Staley did congratulate HB and seem to display (at least some of the time) a genuine desire to draw a line under these events, why is the Grant organization still using the name OTO?

And from the OTO's perspective, what good is the victory if 2 of the "spurious" groups are continuing to break trademark law?


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 Anonymous
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13/01/2009 1:37 pm  
"lashtal" wrote:
But what of the accusations, allegations, suggestions and allusions in Ian's initial post ... ?

That's precisely why it's not worth taking seriously, Paul. It's merely "accustations, allegations, suggestions and allusions". Flim-flam. No weight or meat to it at all. Some separate documents linked by wisps of spider web paranoia. Ian is, I suspect, just pulling our legs, perhaps trying to make a "clever" point about how any theory can be constructed out of a few solid pieces of evidence. But it is just a house of cards.

Ian does make Grant and the TOTO look really cool and the rest really square though, so as an ex member I should thank him for that:)

Personally, I don't think there is or was any conspiracy: you had a situation where the great bulk of Crowley's papers were about to leave the country; those most concerned with it probably (damn! he's got me doing it now LOL) decided to copy it before posting it off, so as to save time to-ing and fro-ing later. Symonds needed it for the biog, and probably didn't want to keep writing to Germer asking for this and that.
Grant was made a IX degree by Crowley: he didn't to "force" Germer to give it to him.
It's all utter nonsense, but still very funny.

I've said it before: Ian, you really should turn your hand to fiction!


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lashtal
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13/01/2009 2:19 pm  
"Alastrum" wrote:
It's merely "accustations, allegations, suggestions and allusions". Flim-flam. No weight or meat to it at all.

Ian includes a lot of supporting information: just because you feel more comfortable ridiculing his inferences by way of snide innuendoes about fiction and drug induced paranoia, doesn't make it any less intriguing. Much of the information he presents comprises documentary evidence and some of it is circumstantial evidence. Just because some of it is circumstantial makes it no less relevant -- circumstantial evidence is still evidence. Just like you, I've no no idea whether Ian's conclusions are correct or not; unlike you, I choose to avoid ridiculing conclusions that I consider without merit.

Some separate documents linked by wisps of spider web paranoia.

I see no evidence of paranoia in his post and I fear you're doing yourself no favours in dismissing documentary evidence (with sources provided) in such a fashion.

Ian is, I suspect, just pulling our legs

So, it's paranoid delusions, fiction, the showing off of a logician AND a leg-pull. That's quite a cake you're keeping and eating.

Ian does make Grant and the TOTO look really cool and the rest really square though, so as an ex member I should thank him for that:)

A bizarre comment: if you think that Grant and his Order "look really cool" then you really ought to get out more. Now, it's fairly apparent that I don't necessarily share Ian's strength of feeling in respect of Grant -- my suspicion is that Grant's attention was elsewhere and that he was rather the innocent party in Symonds' machinations -- but I'm intrigued enough by the evidence to look forward to continued research.

I don't think ... probably ... probably didn't want to ... It's all utter nonsense

What was that about making statements without supporting evidence?

but still very funny.

Methinks he doth protest too much.

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 Anonymous
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13/01/2009 3:02 pm  

Sorry Paul, but Ian hasn't offered any supporting evidence of all, merely his own (very brief) interpretation of some documents he says he's seen. If Ian had posted all these documents he's referring to here, in their entirety so they can be read in context, then you could truthfully say he's offered supporting evidence. Ian's powers of deductive reasoning remind me more of Inspector Clouseau than Sherlock Holmes:)

And just to be clear, I'm not blindly leaping to Grant's defence: yes, I have a huge amount of respect and admiration for his life's creative output, just as I do for Crowley's, but that doesn't mean I necessarily approve of everything he's ever done, just as I don't necessarily approve of everything Crowley ever did. I am merely applying Occam's Razor: the simplest, and most likely, explanation for these historical events is that people acted as they saw fit and proper at the time, with no "great conspiracy" or criminal action in mind. To suggest otherwise is stretching the bounds of plausibility.


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 Anonymous
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13/01/2009 6:19 pm  
"Alastrum" wrote:
Ian does make Grant and the TOTO look really cool and the rest really square though

It is very advantageous for Grant and his people to look "really cool" at this point in time, in contrast to the actual OTO looking increasing established and "square." The Typhonians have found a zone of relative comfort on lashtal.com in which to present this image to those members of the interested public whose minds are prone to wander into distraction (breaks), to feather their own little nest recruiting with minimal hassle and to perpetuate the damage and fraud begun years ago by Grant and his cronies.

It was many years ago, some 40 years, that I was first looking into Crowley and Thelema and it seemed logical to me to make contact with Crowley's successor and the current OHO of OTO, Kenneth Grant. I will reserve the details of this personal experience for a better time, but suffice it to say that I was eventually able to intuit the fraud that was rather successfully and very deliberately being perpetrated both then and since then.

More directly to the present point, the only Typhonian response that I have seen thus far to the very substantive content Ian's initial post are rather silly slight-of-hand attempts to render it into a joke. It is not a joke. The damage done to Crowley's legacy, to Crowley's interpretation of the message of Thelema, and to the promulgation of that message are significant.


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ianrons
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13/01/2009 6:23 pm  

93 hawthornrussell,

"hawthornrussell" wrote:
Ian your making Grant appear to be rock and roll!! Its almost like Elvis Presley being stopped by the state police from doing the pelvic moves on the stage!

Except he's not Elvis, he's an Elvis impersonator.

"hawthornrussell" wrote:
What you have picked on Ian is an issue of image.

Erm, no -- you've picked on that. I don't mind discussing it briefly, but it's not the level of discourse I was aiming at.

"hawthornrussell" wrote:
When Thelemites see Grants published work, they do not see a fraud. They see a trailblazer who has followed his own path. Whereas the image of the Caliphate OTO in its modern incarnation seems to be the opposite in the eyes of many independent Thelemites.

I think this is pretty much a matter of opinion -- you're entitled to your opinion, and you're entitled to regard Grant as a rock 'n' roll star if you want, but I don't think it reflects what "Thelemites" think, and it's absurdly presumptuous of you to say that -- here, of all places! I think the people who join OTO are more interested in spiritual development (or at least they say they are) than in someone else's ego. Whether OTO helps them is a matter of opinion (and opinions do differ), but the group takes a fundamentally different approach which is (unlike Grant's group) an effort to make Crowley's vision a reality. Conversely, it's quite difficult to see what sort of a trail might have been blazed by Grant, because nearly everyone agrees that his works are virtually unreadable if not nonsensical, whilst it has to be noted that the size of his group is minuscule (a dozen members, maybe? Starfire refused to say at the trademark hearing). I don't mean to sound cruel by saying these things, but you did bring up the question of "image" and above all the image of Grant's group is that it's very small and very strange and that its leader is a recluse.

"hawthornrussell" wrote:
This is not Grants fault. Its the Caliphate OTO's own actions that have caused that. This has given way to the image of the Caliphate OTO being its own worst enemy. Whether this image can be changed into something more positive will be down to the Caliphate OTO's own actions and effort. No one else. The irony to me is that a lot of criticism directed towards Grant has become publicity and advertising for him. By misguidedly criticising Grant , all these critics are doing is make people search out and investigate Grants work. So by calling Grant a "fraud" Ian you are (ironically) helping to advertise that "rock and roll" image i mentioned. Now if i invert this point, if i criticise Breeze and the Caliphate OTO will it make them appear to be trailblazers and "rock and roll"?...

Again, I don't see this reflected at all in the perceptions of people I speak to on the subject -- those who have heard of Grant, that is -- and it seems like wishful thinking. There are a few exceptions -- invariably people who remember Grant in his heyday or whose primary influence is from one of his acolytes. These (few) people have tended to the view that the US-based OTO has been supplanting "our" British cult[ure?]. You miss the point, though -- what sort of "rock star" needs to use the name of a famous performer's band and claim to have been his best friend when we all know the famous guy sacked him as a session player? It seems less like Elvis and more like Spinal Tap.

93 93/93

Ian


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ianrons
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13/01/2009 6:30 pm  

93 JackScratch,

Thanks for your kind remarks. Just one minor point to clarify: Rob Curley/Fra. Phaeton made it clear that he closed Albion OTO and didn't want anyone to try to resurrect it. I have heard a few of them have decided to set up a new group, but in fairness to Rob it's not a continuation of Albion OTO.

93 93/93

Ian


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 Anonymous
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13/01/2009 9:41 pm  

Camlion can i pick up on points you made?:

It was many years ago, some 40 years, that I was first looking into Crowley and Thelema and it seemed logical to me to make contact with Crowley's successor and the current OHO of OTO, Kenneth Grant. I will reserve the details of this personal experience for a better time, but suffice it to say that I was eventually able to intuit the fraud that was rather successfully and very deliberately being perpetrated both then and since then.

What fraud was being "perpetrated successfully" Camlion? And what did you intuit?

The damage done to Crowley's legacy, to Crowley's interpretation of the message of Thelema, and to the promulgation of that message are significant

Can you elaborate on this supposed "damage" that you seem to perceive in Crowleys legacy? And how has Grant supposedly damaged Crowleys legacy in your eyes?

Sorry to say this but when people start to see "enemies" that are not there, then that is paranoia. And its really silly to suggest that somehow Grant was subverting Crowleys legacy. Grant's work is an amazing testament to Crowleys work and legacy. And i dont understand where this insecurity is coming from.


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 Anonymous
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13/01/2009 9:43 pm  

Paul, you don’t see any evidence of paranoia, but “enemies of Thelema”??? Come on, you’ll be saying that TOTO was a front for Christian fundamentalists next, LOL.

I’m sorry everyone, but my flippancy/light-heartedness/derision is not part of any conspiracy, just simply my natural, sane reaction to something that’s paper-thin, full of holes, and stitched together with thread the consistency of mist. I can’t help it, it’s truly laughable to regard Symonds et al as these grand co-conspirators. The truth is probably much more prosaic: Symonds, Wilkinson and Yorke had no experience of actually practising magick; they needed Grant, as the only person available to them at the time, to help them make sense of the vast amount of material they’d got. Who else could they get? Germer, who by his own admission had never done a ritual in his life?
Grant was made a IX degree by Crowley, when he was staying with him. He says so in his memoir, and elsewhere. He was therefore perfectly entitled to copies of any OTO material he didn’t already have, if indeed he did take copies of anything for his own personal use (we don’t know if he did or not, do we?), so to suggest that Grant only obtained the OTO “secrets” after Crowley’s death is just rubbish.

Nah, the whole thing is hogwash, IMHO. What is slightly disturbing though, is the the general tone of posts since: there are some rather defamatory remarks suddenly being bandied around, and while Symonds etc are all dead, Grant is still alive... some of the accusations being made, such as “tricked”, “forced”, “thieving”, “criminally”, “fraud”... are all potentially libellous, not that Grant probably gives a stuff about what idiots write about him, but just in case he did, some people might be wise to tone down their comments, regardless of their private thoughts. After all, if there was any real evidence for any of this, there would be charges pending, instead of this blatant “trial by forum” that it seems to be turning into.

That aside, it has been stated many times by many people, sometimes on this very forum, that a reconciliation between TOTO and OTO would be A Good Thing, particularly for Thelema itself. If indeed there are any attempts at reconciliation going on behind the scenes, such nasty “accusations, allegations, suggestions and allusions” wouldn’t exactly help matters, would they? In which case, I’d start to wonder just who these supposed “enemies of Thelema” actually are...


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lashtal
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13/01/2009 10:08 pm  
"Alastrum" wrote:
Come on, you’ll be saying that TOTO was a front for Christian fundamentalists next, LOL.

How dare you project that onto me? That isn't even remotely my opinion of Grant's Order: never has been. And I've never said or written anything to give that impression, in 25 years of study of Grant's work, as Michael will doubtless confirm.

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kidneyhawk
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13/01/2009 11:15 pm  

It's my opinion that this thread is rapidly heading downhill into the same old banter we've all seen here before. Fact moves into speculation from which personal prejudice emerges. And this "personal prejudice" seems to gloat from the midst of a swirling sea of information and conjecture, as if the complexity involved somehow justifies statements such as Grant's books being "drivel."

I think perhaps the most sane post (and also the best summation of the big picture) was Paul's, where he draws a distinction between Symonds and Grant, both in terms of motive and magical orientation.

Ian's posts read like a series of chains being frantically wrapped around the work of Grant (and the validity of those who find value in them), as if the two will meld into one and drag his corpus down into some pit which requires nothing more of the passer-by than a haughty sneer.

Too many issues are colliding into a gelatinous mess here: Grant's value as a writer on magic, Grant's fealty to Crowley, the legitimacy of his Order, Symond's motives, Crowley's last wishes (and any frustration of the same by legality) etc etc. It may be helpful to isolate a given theme and provide it with due focus.

I personally find Ian's assessment of Grant's work to be absurd and shallow. I do NOT think that he or anyone else needs to even cultivate an interest in some of the very unique characteristics of Grant's exploration of Thelema. To each their own. But to repeatedly dismiss his work wholesale with such terms as "drivel" betrays a real lack of understanding. And its a shame that people who have found value, insight, help or even very sigificant points of power in Grant's work are labled as "followers." Nor have I ever felt that my own years of taking great inspiration from Grant have entailed a subservience to his "ego." If anything, Grant's work, for all it's-ahem-"squishy things"-leads in the very opposite direction. But its rather difficult to convey this to people who can't shake the notion that the Phantasmagoria involved is the delusion of a Lovecraftian Literalist (and this DESPITE the oft quoted segment from Outer Gateways in which KG discusses Cthulhu in terms of an Alchemical Operation meant to transcend the Ego, opening to greater vistas of Liberty and Experience, a freer atmosphere in which True Will may flow).


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
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13/01/2009 11:32 pm  
"lashtal" wrote:
"Alastrum" wrote:
Come on, you’ll be saying that TOTO was a front for Christian fundamentalists next, LOL.

How dare you project that onto me? That isn't even remotely my opinion of Grant's Order: never has been. And I've never said or written anything to give that impression, in 25 years of study of Grant's work, as Michael will doubtless confirm.

Paul, where's your sense of humour? Forgive me, but I am under the distinct impression that the acronym LOL, and various 'smiley' emoticons, with which my good-humoured posts are liberally peppered, are SUPPOSED to indicate that such words are just for fun. Please tell me you didn't take that jokey phrase seriously, as your comment seems to indicate... if you did, then you need a holiday mate. I'm sure no-one else here thought for a moment that such a remark of mine was meant to be taken seriously!

I'm off to my Bible class now:)


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Palamedes
(@palamedes)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 450
14/01/2009 12:14 am  

I have mentioned this before, but still: I feel there is a category confusion involved here. The way I understand things, nobody is seriously calling into question the value of Grant's opus and his own exploration of magick and Thelema per se. However, his order is not, does not resemble, is different from, and should not be called Ordo Templi Orientis. I consider his persistence in this regard misguided and regrettable. To my mind, this is one, perhaps only, flaw in the work of the man who is otherwise generally brilliant and as everyone will agree, highly original.
As an aside, I am somewhat surprised by Michael's statement that Yorke did not want to support McMurtry. I am not a historian, thus I am not sure, but do seem to remember that McMurtry somewhere mentioned Yorke and Regardie as two witnesses who confirmed and supported his office of the Caliph.


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Michael Staley
(@michael-staley)
MANIO - it's all in the egg
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 4021
14/01/2009 1:41 pm  

My thanks to Ian for taking the trouble to set all this out; clearly it took a while to research and document. However, it is intended to substantiate his earlier statement that "Gerald Yorke (and John Symonds) attempted to prevent Germer taking charge of OTO following Crowley's death", and as such it simply does not cut the mustard.

What we have is for the most part an interesting documentation of the delays in sending Crowley's papers to Germer. It is interspersed with selective quotes from documents and papers which Ian does not make available, thus making us reliant on his interpretation, the objectivity of which is questionable to some. Presumably this summary will be fleshed out in due course with the release of the documents.

It is clear that the Order of Thelemites paper did not refer to the O.T.O., and that Germer understood that it did not refer to the O.T.O. It is unlikely, therefore, that this document was sent to Germer (by whoever) in an attempt to "prevent Germer taking charge of OTO".

By the way, the reason that the document does not mention Saturnus may well be because it predates Germer's involvement in the O.T.O., dating from when Windram was an active officer.

Germer was appointed successor, not nominee; he would have understood that no election was necessary. Likewise, he was Crowley's deputy for many years, and as Treasurer would have been aware of who were members and who weren't. I rather doubt if he needed any specific papers in order to exercise control of the O.T.O., and would suggest that perhaps he said otherwise to Symonds in an understandable attempt to speed up the despatch of the papers.

The letters by Yorke to Americans, supposedly calculated to undermine Germer's authority, are interesting. However, this is all hearsay, and again I would want to see these letters before reaching a judgement.

When it comes to the name of the Order that some miscreants still refer to as the Typhonian O.T.O., the forthcoming issue of Starfire will cast some light on this. I've little enthusiasm at the prospect of yet more years of my life being dominated with trademark disputes and associated legal issues, when there is so much other work to be done.

Excuse the haste. I need to get back to feathering my nest in the LAShTAL comfort zone . . .

🙄

Best wishes,

Michael


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Montvid
(@montvid)
Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 36
14/01/2009 6:15 pm  

By their fruit you shall judge them! Bible rulz. 🙂 I don't believe anyone will dig out something exact from those post war years.


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 Anonymous
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Posts: 0
14/01/2009 6:48 pm  
"Iskandar" wrote:
The way I understand things, nobody is seriously calling into question the value of Grant's opus and his own exploration of magick and Thelema per se. However, his order is not, does not resemble, is different from, and should not be called Ordo Templi Orientis. I consider his persistence in this regard misguided and regrettable. To my mind, this is one, perhaps only, flaw in the work of the man who is otherwise generally brilliant and as everyone will agree, highly original.

Yes, as I stated earlier in this thread, I do personally find supplemental value in Grant's work, for those so inclined. Yes, Grant did pose as Crowley's successor and OHO of OTO, which he was not. Hence, the accusations of fraud; he was not what he publicly pretended to be. Using his close association with Grant as justification, Symonds published, without permission of the true heirs - OTO, the most salacious bits of Crowley's work he could cull from the lot, perhaps "just to make a few quid," as Paul speculates. Hence the accusations of theft related to fraud.

As for the damage done, yes, as you lament, Iskandar, there has been collateral damage done to Grant by his own actions, no doubt; as when the culprit accidentally shots himself in the foot. Also, perhaps, there was collateral benefit to Crowley by at least keeping him in print and in the public eye, even if only in the worst possible light. However, the central focus of any inquiry into damages must be on Crowley himself, his life, his work, his legacy, his last wishes regarding these and, most importantly, to Thelema itself, to which Crowley had truly dedicated his life. Symonds, acting in his capacity as Crowley's literary 'executioner,' wrote of Thelema (I paraphrase from memory out of haste), "Crowley made a religion of his own weaknesses." Such antagonistic treatment was not the action of an "honorable man," as Paul suggests that Symonds might have been. An honorable man would have declined to represent the literary estate of a man who he held in such utter contempt.


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ianrons
(@ianrons)
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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 1126
14/01/2009 7:29 pm  

Thanks Mick, yes it did take a bit of time to bring all that stuff together, and it still needs work. Alastrum mentions something specific that I'll deal with later on; but as to the general question of availability of documents, I promised on receipt of the documents not to copy them, and unless I hear otherwise I really can't do more than provide quotations, though I'm more than happy to provide more quotes if that'll help (maybe not this evening, though). Obviously you have copies of these documents, along with at least 2 or 3 others who have contributed to this discussion, so please do pick me up on things if it looks like I've been taking liberties with the literalities. I admit there is some inherent bias in my position, of trying to show Yorke was being naughty, but if the evidence supports it...

Regarding the overall hypothesis, that Gerald Yorke attempted to prevent Germer taking charge of OTO, even if you disagree on that then I hope we can agree that he was certainly trying to ensure that OTO didn't end up in sole control of the Crowley copyrights. Symonds in his own way (perhaps inadvertantly) fostered a rival OTO. Combined (and taken with Symonds' character assassination of AC), these were pretty damaging to the OTO and AC's reputation, so I'm sure you'll agree it's not difficult to imagine there was more to these English literati than the "bluff, simple and well-meaning" gentlemen they appeared to be on the surface. Contrary to Alastrum's implied claims, I don't think there necessarily was a conspiracy -- and I don't think I've said that either -- but I do think the evidence could be interpreted that way.

On the question of the Order of Thelemites paper, I mentioned that principally because it was used by OTO in the trademark hearing as being an effort by Yorke to stymie the OTO (rather than the A.'.A.'.). It may have been, but Germer (at least initially) believed it to refer to A.'.A.'.. As for the motive -- we are left to wonder; but I think it was a kind of "interference" ploy of some kind, and it did seem to have a very unsettling effect on Germer and has clearly influenced the modern-day Bylaws of OTO. The fact that it was sent out of context suggests very strongly a deliberate attack. Of all the clauses in all the documents in all of Symonds' study... and he had to send that one!

You're right, of course, that the original Order of Thelemites document was written before Saturnus' time, but this I think makes it even more suspicious, as it suggests Saturnus' name was written in by Yorke or Symonds, thus adding to the deliberation of the thing. It seems evident that Germer wasn't aware where that snippet came from, so I think we can surmise (together with the other evidence that I'm vaguely aware of that this Order was fairly small and, by this time, defunct) he wasn't a member of the Order of Thelemites and therefore his name wouldn't have been in that document... and therefore that it must have been added by someone else. It's all highly suggestive!

"MichaelStaley" wrote:
Germer was appointed successor, not nominee; he would have understood that no election was necessary. Likewise, he was Crowley's deputy for many years, and as Treasurer would have been aware of who were members and who weren't. I rather doubt if he needed any specific papers in order to exercise control of the O.T.O., and would suggest that perhaps he said otherwise to Symonds in an understandable attempt to speed up the despatch of the papers.

I can't help but notice that this runs contrary to your previous comments in Starfire, to the effect that Germer didn't really think of himself as OHO; but that aside, I don't think he really knew anything much about OTO -- as he said himself (I can't remember who to, maybe McMurtry), he was an A.'.A.'. man first and foremost. As for A.'.A.'. (if he did believe the election was for A.'.A.'.), he wouldn't necessarily have known the other members for the obvious reasons, though he may have done for all I know. But I still don't see why Symonds couldn't send the small section of papers (e.g., the OTO Constitution) that Germer evidently wanted. It seems so bonkers not to send that stuff -- I'm convinced it was deliberate.

On a side-note, the quote about "my sword to him who can get it" was AC talking about the succession after Germer, and I think this is the reason Germer left it open on his death -- leaving his property to the "heads" of the Order.

With regard to the letters sent by Yorke to Americans, I haven't seen those letters either. Copies may exist somewhere, but I don't know. All I've seen is Germer referring to the fact in correspondence with one of the literary executors.

Amongst a lot of froth -- like the incomprehensible one suggesting Symonds had to leak the secret OTO papers before they went to New York "so as to save time to-ing and fro-ing later"! -- Alastrum raises a good question: who did Grant get his IX° from? On this point, OTO says one thing and Grant says another. I haven't received a response yet from one of the archivists whom I've queried on the subject, so it looks like I may have been caught "repeating an unsubstantiated factoid" (well... I imagined it was no longer disputed), but I do have some supporting evidence for the October date:

The 24th September 1948 letter from Germer to Grant quoted in your "Ill Wind..." article seems to be an introductory letter to the OTO, which suggests Grant was not then a member: "You should study all that is published about the Constitution etc of the O.T.O. and digest it." I haven't seen the rest of this letter so could easily be wrong -- would you care to provide a scan, privately?

Gerald Yorke writes to Wilkinson on 25th August 1948 saying: "There is a young man called Grant who has signed up in the A.'.A.'. and so has to follow Germer, and John can use him as a slave to save trouble." i.e., Yorke is not saying Grant was an OTO member at that stage.

There is also the unreleased letter from Crowley to Grant dated 4th July 1945, absent from Remembering Aleister Crowley, in which AC apparently slates Grant (which of course he did to a lot of people) and says he should have nothing to do with OTO. I believe the content might suggest Grant was not then a member, but I believe Grant is understandably reluctant to publicise the contents.

Also, the correspondence does show that Germer (initially) didn't want Grant to see the papers, which speaks to Grant not being "sworn in", at least. I have heard that Grant's IX° oath was administered by Curwen, so maybe the evidence for the October 1948 initiation is there somewhere; but that same person thought Grant had been given the knowledge of the IX° by Crowley, so without concrete support for this one I'm left guessing.

Nevertheless, it is not terribly relevant for my purposes whether Grant was a IX° before Crowley died: the papers shouldn't have been copied and leaked (it seems Germer didn't want them to be, besides the IX° oath of secrecy and all that) and in any case Grant was of course dropped by Germer later on.

Your last paragraph seems to suggest that it has been decided to make a change of name for your Order? If that is indeed the case then I wish you the best of fortune for the Order and your continuing work within it, and I can only predict that the release of energy from all this built-up tension in the ether will produce amazing things in both your Order and in OTO! The comments from you, and the books slated for publication by H.B., certainly seem to suggest as much; but I also have a feeling there'll be a lot of that quoted "co-operation" too. I'll drink to that -- Slàinte!


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
Posts: 0
14/01/2009 8:08 pm  
"ianrons" wrote:
Alastrum raises a good question: who did Grant get his IX° from? On this point, OTO says one thing and Grant says another.

Grant says somewhere (I can't find the exact quotes right now: I think it's mentioned in one place, and expanded on in another) that Crowley conferred the IX° on him, accompanied by a kind of "laying on of hands", after Grant had successfully proved that he already knew, or had deduced, the secret (in an essay if memory serves me correctly, although the essay itself apparently doesn't survive). However, Crowley never got round to issuing formal documentation before Grant left his employment, and subsequently didn't get round to it, leaving Grant to get a formal ratification of his status from Germer in 1948.

I personally don't think there's any reason to read anything "fraudulent" in this: these sort of delays happen all the time: I know several people, from various magickal groups, who've all experienced delays in communication, non-acknowledgement of record submissions, delays in certificate issue, etc etc. Yes, it can be called poor organisation, but most magickal groups suffer from that: magicians and mystics usually have other things on their minds than paperwork, which is often (and perhaps rightly so) regarded as fairly unimportant in the grand scheme of things, and trivial compared to the Great Work itself.


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ianrons
(@ianrons)
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Posts: 1126
14/01/2009 8:28 pm  

Thanks for the extra info, Robert. I'm not at all sure I believe him, but then I would say that, wouldn't I? 😉


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 Anonymous
Joined: 51 years ago
Posts: 0
14/01/2009 8:38 pm  

Well, one would presume that there had been some communication between Grant and Germer over the issue, and that if the OTO has Germer's archives then that communication is there to be examined. It would be a bit odd if Germer's letters survived and Grant's didn't, wouldn't it? Maybe there is a conspiracy after all, LOL.


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