Mars Is Heaven

A bit of a break in the biography to relate what I was learning then, those forty-five years ago.

But before launching today's tirade, I really do feel obliged to offer two disclaimers of sorts. First, what follows will no doubt strike some as outlandish. You might even wonder if I'm losing it! Well, there is that possibility, but I don't think so. These ideas have always been a part of me, at least since Norton Street days, just below the surface where you may not have noticed them in casual conversation. But they truly are constituents of what's always been there, no matter how outré they appear in our workaday world.

Second, it is not my intent to proselytize, convince or seek converts. As usual, Oscar Wilde's Lord Henry peeks from behind the curtain to remind us:

There is no such thing as a good influence...All influence is immoral--immoral from the scientific point of view...Because to influence a person is to give him one's own soul. He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with his natural passions. His virtues are not real to him. His sins, if there are such things as sins, are borrowed. He becomes an echo of some one else's music, an actor of a part that has not been written for him.
Man, if only more people believed in this, sociopathy would no longer be necessary. Think about that for a moment.

It just struck me how often I turn to writing merely to keep my head above water. What really are words, anyway? Certainly something much more potent than mere carriers of thought. They are the very building blocks of the formalist's universe. And completely amoral. Words compose She Walks in Beauty and Annabel Lee with equal ease, the latter more often than not.

Anyway, I stumbled upon The Book of the Law in 1972 and was immediately entranced. While much of it was opaque to me at the time, I somehow sensed it was the prima materia intended me. If I could but develop eyes to read it! That first year was fairly rough going, but fortunately there are enough passages anyone, regardless of analytic skills, can appreciate on a surface level.

The following year, I found the Rosetta Stone I needed, a concordance, if you will:
The Picture of Dorian Gray. In an instant, it all came into focus. I had discovered my True Will. Continuing to record this philosophy well-crafted, I am ever struck by the importance of these two books, along with Babbitt, it goes without saying, in literally transmuting lead into gold. It's inevitable I'll draw upon all three sources, simultaneously in this entry. It still amazes me how these three need each other, work together, speak the same thoughts but in very different tongues. Didn't the Rosetta Stone also display three languages side-by-side? Curious.

Elsewhere in these letters I have invoked these passages from
The Book of the Law:
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.
Every man and every woman is a star.
Then Lord Henry returns to suggest a plan for life:
Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul.
I still recall lying on my bed at Norton Street reading this for the first time, in the dimmed room, barely enough physical light to see the printed page, but no matter, plenty of light from elsewhere. The aroma of spring wafted throughout my room; lilacs in my case, in lieu of Oscar's delicate pink flowering thorn. A gate was opened that night: to cure the soul by the senses. Somebody really ought to pen an essay one day arguing that Oscar Wilde was the true author of The Book of the Law, not Crowley, nor Aiwass, nor Nuit nor Hadit!

Regardless, a conscious goal does not a plan of action make. What exactly were the tools needed to enact this ambitious regimen?
The Book of the Law responds with the third key principle:
Love is the law, love under will. Nor let the fools mistake love; there are love and love. There is the dove, and there is the serpent. Choose ye well!
I indeed chose well, but it sure set the cross-beam of life's high-jump way up there on almost unreachable pegs. "Oh ye of little faith," I hear you saying. Well, probably you didn't say that, since I no longer run with such a rough crowd. Always impatient, it vexed me no end, waiting, waiting, waiting for what is to come. It's been a bit of a Fosbury Flop over and over, but several times I've cleared the bar flawlessly and landed on the softest cushions imaginable. Oops, here comes the loquacious Lord Henry again:
When we are happy, we are always good, but when we are good, we are not always happy.
As if we needed a reminder that the converse is not always logically equivalent to the original statement!

And finally, after waiting in the wings so long, Shakespeare speaks up. From the lips of the banished duke in As You Like It, I plainly hear:
Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.
I would not change it. 
Indeed, Will, old bean, I would not change it.

And we certainly must let George F. Babbitt have his say:
...I’ve never done a single thing I’ve wanted to in my whole life!
In Aristotelean logic, this is a universal-negative statement. The negation ought to be an existential-positive. But that has never been good enough for me. I have demanded and received a universal-positive; to cure the soul by the senses it has always been. Hardly a facile way to go through life, but you do remember what I've written elsewhere on the importance of doing one's will?

So what does this all mean, I hear you ask? Well, if you really need a Cliff's Notes, here 'tis. The word "sensualist" has always been a pejorative to most. But not in my vocabulary.

I never grow weary of simply gazing at beauty. And lest you think I'm a oculary-chauvinist, let me hasten to add, I use "gazing" in a general way, for indeed the other senses have often been deeply rewarded, too. Yes, I really am a Taurus. And glad. Although I might have wished for a world which was driven less by society and more by self-development.

The neophyte Dorian (certainly my alter ego)  speaks up now, insisting on being heard. Well, it's best just to let him have his say:
I don't want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.
I think The Book of the Law should have the last word:
I give unimaginable joys on earth...The word of Sin is Restriction.
Not a bad pronouncement for an 18-year old to begin life with... 

Next installment: MYOB

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