Friday, March 2

Back on moral clarity . . .

I just read over the final line of my previous post, and I was powerfully struck by the possibility that my insistence on nuance and uncertainty has a great deal to do with boredom.

It is an unavoidable fact that moral clarity in an unambiguous world just isn't very interesting. Or interesting at all.

Oy. Double oy.

As one of the villains in Crowley's MOONCHILD once memorably put it (with an exhausted sigh): "Consciousness is a burden . . ."

On the other hand, i just read an account of a testimonial lunch given in honor of the (now departed) Arthur Schlesinger Jr, the great historian. On that occasion, last December, Schlesinger remarked -- with his customary to-the-bone quotability -- "The future outwits all our certitudes."

Which I'm likely to insert under the title of the next Caine book.


metabaron said...


I read Moonchild recently and thought it was great. It was actually better than I expected it to be. I was inspired to read it by a recent, excellent biography of the lad himself by Martin Booth. Moonchild brings his ideas across much more accessibly than does Magick in Theory and Practise, as a for example.

Moonchild is reminiscent in plot of a book called That Hideous Strength by C S Lewis, don't know if you've heard of it; it's arguably better constructed as a novel and is apparently reminiscent of Charles Williams.

There are number of interesting points about Moonchild. On the one hand Crowley evidently considers himself a white magician and depicts himself (via the characters in his Order) as such and his opponents are depicted otherwise, while of course his detractors, then and now, would violently disagree with this notion. On the other hand his opponents, thinly disguised versions of MacGregor Mathers and A E Waite etc. from the Golden Dawn, in their Black Lodge lead a way of life so unattractive nobody in their right mind would want to go about it. It seems more likely that it's actually impossible to be a black magician and Crowley just needed villains to keep the story going.

Don't know if you agree with any of this, but I would concur that Moonchild is well worth a look.

Best regards


MWS said...

I have read Lewis' Planets Trilogy [OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET, PERELANDRA, and THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH] at least half a dozen times. PERELANDRA is, in my opinion, the strongest of them. Though anything by Lewis is worth reading, as he was one of the English language's supreme prose stylists.

And anybody who doesn't think it's possible to really be Black Lodge has never met my mother-in-law.

metabaron said...

Lol. Is she an Ipsissimus? :)

There's a similar Black Lodge to Moonchild in That Hideous Strength, and it comes across that it is even more unpleasant to be a member. I wonder if Grant Morrison nicked the talking disembodied head for The Invisibles.

MWS said...

Haven't read The Invisibles, but the talking disembodied head goes at least as far back as The Mabinogion, in which the Head of Bran the Blessed does considerable prophesying 'n' such.

metabaron said...

The Mabinogion? Hmm, I should have remembered that. Is it also John the Baptist's head in that as well?

The Invisibles is well worth a look, as is Alan Moore's Promethea, two different takes on modern magick.