θέλημα

I reckon I've tantalized you with tidbits long enough. It's high time to say a few words about Will, or θέλημα as expressed by the Greeks.

Many books have opened up new vistas in life for me. Sinclair Lewis' Babbitt, assuredly, for its acid attack on society. And Oscar Wilde's Picture of Dorian Gray, for its pure beauty and decadence commingled. And then there's Aleister Crowley's The Book of the Law which set the goal. It never guaranteed a facile life, however!

Damn, I hate excuses, but I really should jump in at once and proclaim: do not confuse the message with the messenger. Despite all the good he did, I suspect Crowley was a sociopath, a cheat, a charlatan, a prevaricator, a prankster, a thug, and more. (Just the sort of person who would have fit in with my gang back in high school).  Nonetheless, The Book of the Law is filled to the brim with such apt advice that it makes little difference who uttered it. His likely false claim of divine inspiration in composing the piece is of little import, although I surely would like to believe in Nuit, Hadit, Ra-Hoor-Kuit and the rest of the gang. And why not? They're as real as any other deities we can imagine, and far more benevolent than most. I've always felt that since all gods are imaginary anyway, we might as well conjure up some decent ones. Besides, that Nuit had an alluring set of arms.

I simply will never understand a person meekly accepting the first deity handed him or her without bothering to ask the clerk if there's a better model available.

There's so much to The Book of the Law, that I'm sure I'll return to it often in this memoir. But for now, let's just focus on what Crowley opined was its chief dictum:
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.
Potent! While cowards nearly always misinterpret the phrase, it simply means (at least from my perspective), each and every person, regardless of race, creed, sex, or any other meaningless way of sorting human beings into categories, has a potential to be fulfilled. It is not only the right, but the duty of the individual to exercise that true will, to develop, to become whole. If nothing else, collisions would be far less common under these circumstances.

Just in case an imbecile has wandered into this blog by some mischance of Google, it does not mean: do whatever you want. Will (a prescription, not a description) is a much more serious business, existing on many levels of human consciousness, and isn't easy to see at first blush. For example, in college, I had a fanatical roommate who used to sponsor prayer sessions upstairs: Brother Denny, Sister Rachel and Brother Dale. The latter was developmentally challenged, what used to be called mild retardation. Brother Dale thought he saw his true will in Sister Rachel. But really, all he wanted was to get into her pants, which is something altogether different. In case you're wondering, I silently wished him the best of luck; that's somewhere I would never go. Christian babes never make good dates...

Oscar Wilde's character, Lord Henry from The Picture of Dorian Gray, sheds a great deal of light on this:
The aim of life is self-development. To realize one's nature perfectly--that is what each of us is here for. People are afraid of themselves, nowadays. They have forgotten the highest of all duties, the duty that one owes to one's self.
That's exactly what Crowley meant.

Now that wasn't so painful was it?

But there's more. The Book of the Law also states:
Every man and every woman is a star
It’s hard to believe it was some forty years ago when that entered my philosophy. At the time, I thought, “Yeah? So what else is new?” In short, it seemed the most obvious thing in the world to any creature capable of rational thought that X and Y chromosomes and the flip of a coin have nothing whatsoever to do with self-actualization.

But apparently, various people do think it makes a difference. We once had a silly chump here running for Governor who often spoke loudly in public about the importance of wives knowing their (less exalted) place in the family. Even better, his wife concurred. Damn, I might have to give up misogamy if I could only find a woman like that! A lot cheaper than buying a Roomba or hiring Merry Maids to tidy up after me. Naturally, the mathematical notion of exponential decay was also highly suspect, rendering all those pre-Eden fossils little more than a trick of Satan.

By the way, he had great support from within his political party, which you no doubt can guess at. Sheesh. Sometimes I wonder what the point is of being human. I mean, even if a person doesn't buy into evolution, they still contribute to it; progeny are clearly going to be the product of atrophied brains. Well, that's okay; at least everyone will be happy. Do any of you remember H. G. Wells' enfeebled race of the Eloi in The Time Machine? They were most content. Devolution is simply evolution seen in the mirror.

This brings to mind something from one of Crowley's commentaries on The Book of the Law:
There is no property in human flesh.
There is so much more that I have taken from this most unusual book. But this is an important start as I try to explain how I ended up where I did. Just to summarize, will you allow me to restate the premises again?
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.
Every man and every woman is a star.
And lest you think me a kook, let me hasten to add, I really don't believe any of this claptrap, even though I do. As Oscar said,
Even things that are true can be proved.
The Book of the Law: it's not a bad source of advice, especially for someone starting out in life. It's a shame it isn't found lying about the local laundrette instead of the usual tattered and stained copies of The Watch Tower.

Next installment: The Message and the Messenger

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