Tuesday, December 04, 2012

More Crowley Ephemera

Since you all seemed to enjoy the interview with Crowley the day before yesterday, I bring you a couple more snippets. The first is just an example of the kind of outrage that the press was exhibiting at the time but, as a bookdealer, the most amusing part of it all is that the 'reviewer' here seems to regard the fact that his books were privately printed as proof of their degeneracy, and, if more were needed "many of them in Paris"!! The second 'cutting' is also really just an example of tabloid outrage but it's possible that there are a few snippets in it about life at The Abbey of Thelema that might be read from between the lines. The Sunday Express was particularly hot on the exposure of Crowley's activities and it was to them that Betty May Loveday went to tell her story in 1923 when her husband Raoul died at the Abbey.

What is the literary record of this Mr Crowley?

Mr Aleister Crowley is the author of a number of books, many of them printed privately. His work, considered  as a whole, is a blend of blasphemy, filth and nonsense. The nonsense is flavoured with mysticism. A very small knowledge of pathology enables one to label him as a well-known type.

As an example of his ideas, one may take the dedication to "Why Jesus Wept" : "To any unborn child, who may learn by the study of this drama to avoid the good and choose the evil, i.e. as judged by Western and Christian standards."

The numerous allusions to a kind of vague Buddhistic mysticism are clothed in sensuality. Most of the poems are pornographic, many of them revolting, and all of them the product of a diseased mind and debased character.

In the middle of a long poem called "Alice: an Adultery," there appears this notice: "The editor regrets that he is unable to publish this verse." The titles of this books are, for the most part, either biblical or sexual: "Jephthah," "Jezebel," "Aceldama," "The Honorable Adulteress."

Through all his work runs a loathing of Christianity, and he pays Mr. G. K. Chesterton the compliment of a personal attack on him, as one of the last champions of that outworn creed.

He has written on ceremonial magic, and on the state known as "Ecstasy," which relieves one from the dullness and monotony of a normal life. "My mind is pregnant with mad moons and suns," he writes in one place.

All the time he is obsessed with sex and sexual images.

A large number of his books are printed privately - some of them in Paris. They are either incomprehensible or disgusting - generally both. His language is the language of the pervert, and his ideas are negligible.

Sunday Express, November 1922
The story of the bestial orgies conducted by Aleister Crowley in Sicily sounds like the ravings of a criminal lunatic, made mad by his own depravity, and was related yesterday to a "Sunday Express" representative by a woman who has just returned from this place to London.
The orgies are carried on as mystic religious rites in an old farmhouse near the village of Cefalu, in Sicily, The main room of the house is windowless, with a flagged stone floor. On the floor is painted a great orange circle, lined with pale yellow. Inside the circle are interlaced black triangles. The room is lighted by candles.
A tripod, upheld by three little fauns, burns incense made of burnt goats' blood and honey. In a supboard are heaps of little cakes, all made of goats' blood, honey, and grain, some raw, and some baked. The raw ones, gone bad, fill the room with their stench.
In this room are carried on unspeakable orgies, impossible of description. Suffice it to say they are horrible beyond the misgivings of decent people.
Many women come to Cefalu, all with money, for whatever else he may demand of them, money is his primary need. It takes money to supply him with the drugs he uses incessantly, the hasheesh, cocaine, heroine, opium, morphine, every drug known from the Orient to the Occident.
Three women he keeps there permanently for his orgies. All of them he brought from America two or three years ago. One is a French-American governess, one an ex-schoolmistress, and one a cinema actress from Los Angeles.
Whenever he needs money, and cannot get it from fresh victims, he sends them on the streets of Palermo or Naples to earn it for him. He served a prison sentence in America for procuring young girls for a similar purpose.
The French-American governess has two children (of which he is the father), who live in the midst of this debauchery. The children of the schoolmistress by him are dead.
Crowley himself, a clever talker, with no little personal magnetism, spends his time smoking opium in a room which is really a gallery of obscene pictures gathered from all over the world.
He bases his "religion" on a few texts gleaned from Pythagoras, which he quotes persuasively when trying to attack a new victim.
But the real facts of his system are much simpler than that. They go down to the lowest depths that human depravity can reach.
Sunday Express, November 1922

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