Part I: The Book

Okay, let's tuck in, starting with Part I of the Introduction to The Book of the Law. Pull out your copy and follow along as I address various points in the order in which they appear. 
This book was dictated in Cairo between noon and 1 p.m. on three successive days, April 8th, 9th and 10th in the year 1904.
Maybe, maybe not. But that's not what makes the Book of the Law important. Do you remember what Oscar Wilde said about art and the artist in his Preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray?
The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim.
I couldn't care less who the author of the Book of the Law was or is. Whether it be Crowley or Aiwass or Hadit or even Ra-Hoor-Khuit himself, makes no never mind. It's not who wrote something that imparts import, but the content and just as much, the mode of expression. The litmus test is: does it say something beautiful? The answer in this case is "yes." That this book expounds a wonderfully complete and consistent proclamation of liberty for the individual, a freedom from the tyranny of society, is what gives it legs to stand on.

Anyway, one thing has always bugged me concerning the provenience of the piece. Why did Aleister and Rose have to wind their weary way to Egypt just to take dictation? I mean, if Aiwass was so omnipotent as claimed in Part I, couldn't he have arranged to visit Crowley in London with the glad tidings? There's something almost chauvinistic about a discarnate spirit whose magick is efficacious, but only if you visit his home turf to tune him in. I'm not being silly here, and will return to this theme again when we get to Part IV. In any event, much of Crowley's interpretation is clearly geocentric, which is highly odd given the universal nature of the book's actual content. A being living on a planet at the outer reaches of where the Hubble telescope can peep, and in any era, ought to find the Book of the Law just as meaningful as we do. So, let's knock off the Earth chauvinism already.

Moving a little further down the page, we find:
How could he prove that he was in fact a being of a kind superior to any of the human race, and so entitled to speak with authority? Evidently he must show KNOWLEDGE and POWER such as no man has ever been known to possess.
Well! May I humbly propose a third criterion that is far more indicative of superiority? How about: he must write beautifully of wisdom, providing a key for each person to develop fully. I don't give one whit about KNOWLEDGE and POWER; that's been tried before and has done nothing but yoke (and burn) hosts of humans. But an esthetically pleasing and consistent philosophy, extolling liberty for all, now that is an indicator of authority. To put it another way, I really do think Crowley crafted a gem, but he was too insecure and immature to have noticed the real reason why Aiwass (or whoever) stands taller than us.

In other words: Love the sin, but hate the sinner.

And then he states:
He showed his KNOWLEDGE chiefly by the use of cipher or cryptogram in certain passages to set forth recondite facts, including some events which had yet to take place, such that no human being could possibly be aware of them...
Predestination! Here's a theme that pops up again in Part IV. Fate, destiny, preordination, whatever you choose to call it, is at first blush a highly repugnant notion, completely at odds with the formalist creed. But hold on, it gets worse:
...thus, the proof of his claim exists in the manuscript itself. It is independent of any human witness. (my emphasis)
This brazen Platonist pronouncement seems to be contrary to the content of the Book of the Law, which is 100% formalist in outlook. So what gives? Well, it's important to distinguish between the introductory comments and the actual text itself. The former, assuredly written by Crowley, is ever so plainly plagiarized from Christian dogma; despite his bad-boy reputation, he was clearly a product of his times. On the other hand, once you get into the Book of the Law proper, all of this repulsive Calvinistic clap-trap is jettisoned, yielding a lucid and optimistic plan for living and growing.  As I hope to show when we finally get to the cosmogony of Nuit and Hadit, Crowley eventually comes around and neatly reconciles Platonism with formalism in a most surprising fashion.

Continuing:
The study of these passages necessarily demands supreme human scholarship to interpret...But...the most sceptical intelligence is compelled to admit it truth.
Crowley is right, of course. The Book of the Law can be read on many levels and much can't be fathomed at first blush. It's not so much that supreme scholarship is required, though. I posit that far more important to cracking the code is a willingness to work from first principles, to remain true to axiomatic reasoning (always demanding completeness and consistency--move over Kurt Gödel) and to be unshackled from meaningless societal convention. That's an awful lot to ask of homo sapiens in our era. In short, almost no one "gets it," hence the fact that these 110 years later (has it really been that long?) the Book of the Law still hasn't managed to gain traction.
This matter is best studied under the Master Therion, whose years of arduous research have led him to enlightenment.
Ahem...a couple comments here. Again, it seems Crowley has completely missed the formalist nature of the Book. The entire theme throughout is: work it out for yourself; build your own universe. That's the whole point of "love under will." My study has convinced me that Aiwass would be in complete agreement. As for that "enlightenment," I'll willingly grant that Crowley did achieve a certain consciousness rarely seen in humans penned in by the brick house of society. He made hard things easy, but sadly made easy things hard. As I wrote earlier, one should never confuse the message with the messenger.

So, no thanks. The Master Therion is not needed. Or as the old television ad from the 1960's put it:


And then:
On the other hand, the language of most of the Book is admirably simple, clear and vigorous.
Agreed. You might recall, I, too, made that very claim in Mars Is Heaven which described my first encounter with The Book of the Law. I was young then, but caught the drift of the exterior at once. Now these forty years later I'm finally seeing the jewel in the toad's head.

Indeed, one can read it on many different levels. But even at the basest, it would still be an efficacious apotropaic precaution against the nincompoopery nagging our present society.
No one can read it without being stricken in the very core of his being.
I'm afraid Crowley is failing to notice something obvious here. What he writes would be true if in fact the "one" he mentioned truly believed in ratiocination and the value of logical discourse. I suspect his claim would be valid if the world consisted solely of individuals. But a certain passage from another book which shall remain nameless has muddied the waters:
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
As this indicates, religion is plainly hazardous enough, and society an impediment to true growth. Combining the two, however, is a positively volatile concoction capable of mass extermination of the species. The Marquis de Sade was right.

And with that, we come to the end of Part I.

Next vignette: Part II--The Universe 

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