In January 1918, I
published a revised version of the "Message
of the Master Therion" and also of the "Law of
Liberty", a pamphlet in which I uttered a panegyric upon the Law
as the key to freedom and delight. (To get rid of the subject I
had better mention here the other magical essays which appeared
in The International: "Cocaine",
"The Ouija Board", "Concerning Death", "Pax Hominibus Bonae
Voluntatis", "Geomancy", "Absinthe",
"De Thaumaturgia", "Ecclesiae Gnosticae Canon Missae". Of these,
Liber XV, its scope and purpose, I have already described
at length.) The point which I wish to bring out is that despite
the constraint imposed upon me by the requirements of public
taste, I succeeded in proclaiming the Law to a wide audience of
selected readers, explaining its main principles and general
import in straightforward language, and also in putting over a
large amount of what was on the surface quite ordinary
literature, but implying the Law of Thelema as the basis of
right thought and conduct. In this way I managed to insinuate my
message perhaps more effectively than could possibly have been
done by any amount of visible argument and persuasion. The
Scrutinies of Simon Iff are perfectly good detective
stories, yet they not only show a master of the Law as competent
to solve the subtlest problems by considerations based upon the
Law, but the way in which crime and unhappiness of all sorts may
be traced to a breach of the Law. I show that failure to comply
with it involves an internal conflict. (Note that the
fundamental principle of psychoanalysis is that neurosis is
caused by failure to harmonize the elements of character.) The
essence of the Law is the establishment of right relations
between any two things which come into contact: the essence of
such relations being "love under will". The only way to keep out
of trouble is to understand and therefore to love every
impression of which one becomes conscious.
— The Confessions of Aleister Crowley.
New York, NY. Hill and Wang, 1969. Page 828.
may now return to the subject of the initiation itself. Besides
my work of proclaiming the Law to the profane and expounding it
to the aspirant, I was set the task of analysing it in such a
way as to illuminate the most advanced. During most of the
winter I gave most of my spare time to the creation of
literature which corresponded nobly with this three fold labour.
I wrote the twelve stories Simon Iff in America. These
were a continuation of the previous The Scrutinies of Simon
Iff, but constructed for the most part on mere mechanical
principles. I may even compare them to chess problems. The
general method was to think of a situation as inexplicable as
possible, then to stop up all chinks with putty, and having
satisfied myself that no explanation was possible, to make a
further effort and find one. I find it hard to consider this
sort of thing as serious literature, and yet so ineradicable is
the artistic instinct in me that the Old Adam peeps out
sufficiently often to remove these stories from the category of
jeux d'esprit. In particular, the story "Suffer the
Little Children", whose setting is in Florida as I knew it,
flames so fiercely with the passion excited in me by the
conditions which I found there, a passion which I cannot fairly
describe as pity, scorn, disgust, indignation, or even any
combination of these, that I believe this tale may stand like
the broken statue of Osymandias, in the eyes of a new
civilization, as a witness of the tyranny and abomination which
Christians have taught us to associate with the name of Christ.
It is at least an extremely accurate study of life in Florida;
the accuracy is guaranteed by the acuteness of the suffering of
the observer. One does not see children vivisected before one's
eyes without receiving an impression, and the emotion which in
ordinary cases might obfuscate and mislead the looker-on was in
my case transformed into an ideal stimulant of
clear-sightedness. I felt intensely that I had to have all my
wits about me in order to expose the atrocity of the
abominations which I was compelled to witness. The brilliance of
the story is striking evidence of the fierceness of my reaction
against the conditions of the backwoods life of the United
States. One of the chief reasons for the inexpressible intensity
of my feeling is doubtless that the nameless tortures which I
saw inflicted as a mere matter of routine upon women and
children as such broke open the sepulchre in which I had long
since buried my own sufferings at the hands of Evangelicalism
and released these fetid, noxious and malignant spectres once
more to prey upon my mind.
The Confessions of Aleister Crowley.
New York, NY. Hill and Wang, 1969. Page 830.
Orleans and San Antonio are said to be the only two towns in the
United States which possess souls of their own. That of New
Orleans was already being driven out under my eyes, and I dare
say that by this time the work of destruction is complete.
Probably San Antonio has shared its fate. The most depressing
feature in the country is the uniformity of the towns. However
singular the geographical situation and its topographical
peculiarities, the possibilities of beauty have been nullified
by the determination of the people to do everything just right,
according to the measure in fashion. Wherever one is, sooner or
later, one gets tired of one's surroundings. In Europe, the cure
is easy. One toddles along to the next place sure of finding
some novelty. In America, however far one goes, the same hideous
homogeneity disappoints one. The relief conferred by the old
quarter of New Orleans threw me instantly into an ecstasy of
creative energy. I wrote day and night continuously—poems,
essays and short stories. My principal invention was the
detective "Simon Iff" whose method of discovering the solution
of a problem was calculation of the mental and moral energies of
the people concerned.
wrote a series of six stories about his exploits and followed it
by The Butterfly Net or the Net, a novel in which
he is a secondary character. In this novel I have given an
elaborate description of modern magical theories and practices.
Most of the characters are real people whom I have known and
many of the incidents taken from experience.
The Confessions of Aleister Crowley.
New York, NY. Hill and Wang, 1969. Page 777.
misery which I underwent at this time had done much to cloud my
memory. I do not clearly remember, for example, my reasons for
going to New Orleans almost immediately after returning from
Lake Pasquaney. It was my last glimpse of beauty for a long
while. The old French-Spanish quarter of the city is the only
decent inhabited district that I discovered in America. From the
architecture to the manners of the people, their clothes, their
customs and their cookery, all was delightful. It was like being
back in Europe again with the added charm of a certain wildness
and romance; it was a civilization sui generis, with its
own peculiar adornment in the way of history. It enabled me to
realize the spirit of the Middle Ages as even the most remote
and time-honoured towns of Europe rarely do. I took a room
conveniently close to the Old Absinthe House, where one could
get real absinthe prepared in fountains whose marble was worn by
ninety years' continual dripping. The result was that I was
seized by another of my spasms of literary creation, and this
time, the definite sexual stimulus which I had imagined as
partly responsible for such attacks was, if not absent, at least
related to an atmosphere rather than to an individual.
lasted, if I remember rightly, some seventeen days. I completely
lost track of the properties of times and place. I walked over
to the Absinthe House in my shirt sleeves on one occasion
without being in the slightest degree aware of the fact. My best
work was an essay "The
Green Goddess", descriptive of the Old Absinthe House
itself in particular, and the atmosphere of the quarter in
general. It may be regarded as the only rival to "The Heart of
Holy Russia" for literary excellence and psychological insight.
I wrote also The Scrutinies of Simon Iff, a series of six
more or less detective stories; two or three less important
essays; some short stories, of which I may mention "Every
Precaution" for its local colour; and all but the last two or
three chapters of my first serious attempt at a long novel,
The Confessions of Aleister Crowley.
New York, NY. Hill and Wang, 1969. Page 817.