An American Wrestles With God by Benjamin De Casseres

AN AMERICAN WRESTLES WITH GOD
BY BENJAMIN DE CASSERES

LIKE all children, I was born without a belief in or a knowledge of God.
A four-year-old may astound the world by suddenly improvising a melody on the piano, reciting Pindar in the orig­inal, doing lightning calculations, or writ­ing a passable poem, but that same child will look at you in a perfectly idiotic manner when you ask it, “Do you believe in God?”—unless it has been coached. Child evangelists—the most revolting of human abortions—are all made, not born. They are the machine products of evangelistic parents. There is no such thing as a spontaneous religious prodigy. It is always a hideous mutilation of child­hood. No such being ever made its appear­ance in a family that was non-religious. Of any real knowledge of God, of course, it has none.
Thus the child is born, and generally continues until puberty, an atheist, or, at least, an indifferentist. It plays, it makes believe. It plays at being papa and mamma, but it never plays at being God, or the devil, or Jesus, or Mary. It may have a tremendous imagination. It may be in­ventive. It may listen by the hour to fairy tales and tales of adventure; but it never imagines God or gods. It looks on Sunday-school or church as a bore, or as a rendez­vous for meeting other girls and boys, or as a place to dress up. It looks on its prayers at night as a branch of play, or, again, as a bore.
It is only at puberty that the idea, the feeling of God takes form—with sex, death, good and evil. And even then, with the vast majority of boys and girls, God is the last and least important of concepts.
The parental notion of the Creator, along with the bag and baggage of the standard creed, is accepted, and then dismissed as something to be used, like the wall fire-extinguisher, only in case of emergency. The interest that a few children, before puberty, show in God is only part and parcel of their intense curiosity. They are merely curious, not religious—and often unconsciously satiric.
“Now I lay me down to sleep. . . . If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen.” This was my earliest contact with God. I said it every night for years, following the words as my mother pronounced them. They hadn’t the slightest meaning to me. There was even a trace of aversion in me when I hopped into bed and awaited the mean­ingless formula. My head was full of the game of prisoner’s base, or pussy, that I had played in the afternoon, or of Captain Mayne Reid or my real God, Oliver Optic. The prayer finished, I resumed my thoughts about the street boys or the characters in Optic’s book, more real at that time then ever God was to Plotinus. I had no curi­osity at any time, as I remember, about the meaning or the words of the prayer. It was a duty, like the weekly dose of rhubarb and magnesia.
I remember only one other contact with God until I was fourteen years old. “Re­member,” said my mother one day, apro­pos of what I do not now recall, “that God can see you everywhere—no matter where you are.”
“Do you mean to say, mother,” I asked, “that God can see me if I stand under Schimmel’s awning on the corner?”
I now recall the peal of laughter that I heard from her with far more pleasure than I got from my first lesson in the om­nipresence of God.
I went to a Jewish Sunday-school (Sat­urday morning), where we were read to out of the Old Testament with explana­tions, based on the stories, of the good­ness (!) of Jehovah. These readings and lectures left no more impression on me than the Einstein theory on a flea. The class, when it got loose, never spoke of the matter, but went straight to marbles and pussy.
The boys and girls that I played with up until my twelfth year were, as I an­alyze them now, either vapid or cruel. They were all obscene, either actively or passively, including myself. All of us coming of middle-class, ultra-respectable, church-going people, we inherited our instinct for the obscene. We had in us the germs of sexual perversion, pyromania, greediness, theft, cowardice, all forms of cruelty and exhibitionism. Those that were passive in regard to these matters we regarded as milksops—they were not part of our gang. The most popular girl among us was almost hermaphroditic. She spat, fought like a boy, took a chew of tobacco with us, and was always in our stone-fights. I, with the rest of the boys, had my sling-shot with which to kill sparrows. I tortured mice, and used to help pull the rope on the cattle at the slaughter-house, and watch the men cut the throats of the cows and bulls, delight­ing in seeing the blood gush forth and the dying struggles of the animals. This was the “divine innocence” of our childhood —and maybe it was just that that Jesus meant when He said we must be as little children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I do not know.
But the point is this: As a boy, I, along with the others, took my inherited “wick­ednesses” naturally and with glee. But there was one name never mentioned in all those years either by myself or my pals, male or female, and that was the name of
God. Those golden days were deliciously atheistic. Nor did we ever hear of the Devil, or if we did, the word had no meaning. So it remains, to me, the most curious and significant of my backward.. looking experiences that the belief in God, the consciousness of God, is not inherited, is not instinctive, although every other psychic attribute—including kindness and good-fellowship—is in the blood and nerves of every child.

II

So there was no inkling, no herald, of the great adventure that was to befall me—the adventure of my soul with the idea of God—until puberty, which came in my fifteenth year. My interest in the uni­verse awoke when I began to blush and stammer before girls. From my twelfth year to my fifteenth I accepted God and the inspiration of the Old Testament with­out any thought about the matter. I had been told that they were facts, like the Boston Tea Party, the assassination of Lincoln, and the belief that a strip of bacon around the throat would cure a sore throat.
But tumescence begot in me revery, a sense of mystery, a vague uneasiness, soli­tude, apprehensions, glamour, question­ings. I fell in love. I began to pity street beggars. I read the newspapers and pon­dered. What made me walk? Look! I could stop walking whenever I willed! I peeped through a street telescope at the moon, and nearly fainted at the over­whelming power of my first cosmic emo­tion. I did not know what I was doing for an hour afterwards. Space! the Infinite! a world hanging in space unsupported!—what was anything? What were we all? What was this thing I was living on? Something expanded tremendously in me. I reeled like a drunken boy through the streets. The hush of a mighty awe fell upon my soul. Human beings whirled before me like ghosts. My girl-love be­came an ethereal being. I walked on air.
An immense tear—a stupendous tear, an unburst tear—seemed to keep my heart from beating.
God! That word dropped into my brain like a bomb. That word now became the Word. Sex-ache and God-ache took pos­session of me simultaneously with a de­moniacal fury. All this took place within a period of an hour after looking through a street telescope for a nickel. That night was the first broken night’s rest in my life, a healthy, regular life until then. The next day I went through my work in a cigar-store in a trance. The Moon, the Universe, Space, Time, Women, Life, Will —it was a witches’ dance, an initiation, a dreadfully beautiful Awakening. It was the Footprint on the sand. I had discovered the presence of the Being Who was des­tined to become my Friday, Whom I was to hate, deny, curse, love, cajole, thump, dismiss, call back, slay, resurrect.
That was my first adventure with the World Spirit, with the Presence; the be­ginning of a prolonged and eternal parley, of a perpetual love-hate duel between my­self and God.
Thenceforward nothing was of any ulti­mate importance, nothing was worth while, compared to the existence or non­existence of God. All turned on that question. Until that was established, all that was, is or could be was meaningless. I was embarked on the Sublime Adven­ture. I was looked on askance—above all, by my parents. “You can never know .. . Do not think about such things . . . You will go crazy.” But the mystical bud had opened in my brain, and no power, pa­rental, economic or religious, could pre­vent the unfolding of that marvelous flower with its changing perfumes—that monstrous poppy which breeds ecstatic poisons, kills with rapturous swoons, emaciates and dilates simultaneously: God.
I now no longer believed in the Old Testament. The New Testament I had not yet opened. I bought a booklet at the Friendship Liberal League’s clubrooms which pointed out one hundred and forty-four contradictions in the Old Testament. I marked them out carefully in an old second-hand Bible that I picked up on the stalls of Leary’s Old Book Store. I showed them to my father. “We should not inquire into such things.” He feared what I now knew—that God had not actually written the Old Testament. I had the pleasant thrill of fear in this adventure. Had any one adventured there before? I asked myself timidly, knowing nothing of the Higher Criticism. “While I do not believe in the inspiration of the Bible, I do believe in a God,” I murmured to my­self over and over in my lonely meditative walks in Fairmount Park. I was afraid to let go of God—a good God, a merciful God.
But how reconcile this belief with that singing, blind boy that an elderly man led down Eighth street every day? His sweet face, twisted in pain, nearly made me faint with pity. He was the symbol of earthly injustice, an enormous question-mark, a challenge to my belief. I hurried by him as though I were guilty of some­thing I could not define. The problem of Evil thundered with iron knuckles on the door of my belief in a good and merciful Father. Maybe the Devil ruled the world! —I swept that aside as monstrous. l feared the personal consequences of such a belief. I might be paralyzed or blinded if I accepted it.
Then came the great event which seemed to be manufactured for me. On May 31, 1889, the dam above Johnstown, Pa., broke and the waters carried away the town of Johnstown and drowned five thou­sand whirling, plunging, struggling men, women and children. As everything that has ever happened to me, mentally or physically, since puberty is related pri­marily and fundamentally to the two questions, Is there or is there not a God? and if there is, How does anything I am experiencing modify my conception of Him?, the Johnstown flood and its heart-wrenching details acted with the same power on my imagination and nerves as Voltaire said the destruction of Lisbon by an earthquake in 1754 had acted on him—”from that moment I disbelieved in the goodness of God.”
I read all the pathetic details of the brutal “act of God” in the Philadelphia papers. I saw each day the wagons going up and down the streets collecting bed­ding, clothing and money. I saw at night in my dreams the children wrenched from the arms of their mothers, families ob­literated in an hour, and the horrors of death as the waters receded. In my in­flamed imagination I could hear the prayers and curses of thousands.
The thundering waters of the Cone­maugh washed away forever my belief in a good, merciful, humanized God. My rage knew no bounds. I hurled oath after oath at Him. I consigned Him and His universe to Hell. I declared everlasting war on the Author of the universe. Luci­fer, Cain and the Devil looked like saints to me now. I did not turn atheist (I have never been an atheist). I turned God-hater. I was anti-God. The Creative Power was evil! God was more real than He had ever been. But He must be destroyed! Atheists were cowards, just as cowardly as those who affirmed a smiling, benefi­cent, all-merciful God. I would destroy the belief in a good God and take up the war against Him where Lucifer and the revolting angels had dropped it—for dropped it they had; one could see that, I thought, by the way prayers still went up from the churches and synagogues.
Prayers instead of anathemas! I in­stinctively felt that if I turned atheist my evolution would cease. I might as well turn Catholic. There was too much fight in me to let God go. I had never believed in free will; therefore I had no bone to pick with man. He was a victim. I wept over his ills, his fate. To the degree that I pitied man I cursed God. I shouted my challenges and questions into the spaces. I came to understand the legends of Prometheus and Christ. I felt the need of world-sacrifice. I felt like stopping people in the street and telling them the Truth —they muss know who I was and what I was here for!
The blind boy was individual evil. He was Man. Johnstown was History, natural and racial. My adventure by 1890 had come to attain cosmic proportions. I was a black pessimist, furiously anti-God. Death was a fact. Immortality, like free will, was the ruse of priests to let God out of a bad theological hole. I nearly fainted more than once at the sight of thousands on the street who lived in mortal error. They walked and talked and acted as if they were going to live for eternity! How to tell them that the grave was the end, that the universe itself would come to an end, that all was futile?

III

The stars began to obsess me as the moon had. I studied astronomy. I knew the names of all the stars. My own nothingness in endless space fed my instinct for suicide. Why exist if I was nothing? I wrote mourn­fully pessimistic poems on the transitori­ness of life. And always came back to God, incessantly, like a cat returning to watch a mouse-hole.
I began to read. I literally ate up books —the Baron d’Holbach’s “System of Na­ture,” which satisfied my prejudices but did not satisfy my intellect or my meta­physical mysticism; Huxley, Spencer, Dar­win, Ecclesiastes, the Greek tragedies, Byron, Locke, Omar Khayyam, Tom Paine, Bradlaugh, Saltus’ “The Philos­ophy of Disenchantment,” which had a powerful effect on me; von Hartmann, Schopenhauer, Büchner, Buckle, Gibbon, Berkeley, Tyndall, Lyall, all the theolog­ical writers I could find in the old Mer­cantile Library at Tenth and Chestnut streets, George Henry Lewes, Shelley, Humboldt, Wallace, Haeckel, Voltaire—
History, physics, philosophy, meta­physics, poetry, astronomy, fiction—I was looking for a point to assault God, to argue Him out of His universes, to find a weapon to drive through His heart and liberate Man in an eternal sleep. Men at that time were talking about the mystery of the Northwest Passage, the mystery of the Poles. Baby talk! Here was a boy walking among them—in Fairmount Park —meditating the dethronement of God!
I went into the gallery of the Park Theatre at Broad street and Fairmount avenue one night to hear Robert G. In­gersoll lecture on Voltaire. Pleasing, elo­quent, true, and worth the quarter I paid. But an agnostic! Pah! Agnosticism was a liberalized form of atheism. “I do not know!” Why, God was the one thing I did know! His works, his methods, his existence were staring you in the face, Mr. Ingersoll! God exists-écrasez l’infame’, I hurled back at Ingersoll.
The core of the matter was that I had not yet outgrown the God of the Old Testament. My rage was the rage of Jeho­vah Himself, the rage of King David, the rage of Isaiah and Jeremiah. It was pity and mental torture sublimated to a de­vastating anger.
At war with God, looking on man as something that had better be annihilated, the frustrated religious forces in me then transferred their need of worship and love to Nature. At sixteen I became panaleptic. It came at about the time of my moon intoxication and increased in madness as my rage against God increased. It actually took the place of sex-rapture. I regarded girls as nuisances, toys, snares of God, a way of damnation. (This attitude to­ward the female has never quite worn off.)
I made every foot of Fairmount Park my own. I watched the waning and the coming of seasons as one watches the sleep­ing and waking of his mistress. I rolled in the grass in ecstatic frenzy. I kissed the trees, I almost swooned in the breezes, I lay on the ground staring for hours into the blue of heaven until I was near to bursting with mad pleasure, all of which had strange sex-implications which trou­bled my then chaste soul, but which now cause me an ironic grin. The great event of my life then was Springtime, a hal­lowed miracle. I did not at that time confound God and Nature. But I think it was this early Nature-worship that was the germ in me of that supreme conscious­ness of Beauty and Power, unstained by ethical conceptions, that finally swallowed the old God in me and incorporated him in a transcendent apotheosis of xsthetic amorality.
From 1890 until the turn of the century my life was occupied with four things—God, books, alcohol and suicide. The three latter were all roads to the first, modes of noosing Him, underground pas­sages to His throne, where I intended to confront Him and demand in the name of all things that had lived and died since the beginning of Space and Time the Why?
I now discovered Pascal and Descartes, and through them returned to Ptolemy’s egocentric universe. The stars may not revolve around the earth, but they did revolve around me, for if, as Pascal or Descartes said, the universe is a circle with its circumference nowhere and its centre everywhere, then each one of us is the centre of the universe. Each being is then the measure of all things. I did not revolve around the sun and the stars; they revolved around me!
Following Pascal and Descartes came Emerson and Whitman to confirm my egocentricity in trumpet tones. They lifted me to the pinnacle of extreme in­dividualism. They dared me to dare all things. They dared me to confront God. They gave me back my dignity as a unique being. But while accepting their doctrine of the almighty ego, I rejected—my bitter, militant, ethical sensibility rejected—their smug acceptance of things and the essential goodness of the Oversoul. Egoity, dilated to cosmic proportions, superposed itself on a raging hatred of the temporal order, its futility and imbecility.
It was about 1903 or 1904 that there was a fissure in my brain, a sinister slit in my consciousness. A face, humorous, satanic, ferocious, floated up from the depths of that fissure. It was the Spirit of Tragic Humor. I lost Thee, my Enemy, my Friend, my Torturer and my Consoler, in the bil­lows of my laughter. As my consciousness and my brain halved, I saw myself for the first time as a ridiculous little witling, and God, if I thought of Him at all at that time, as a Scaramouch, a roguish blue­behinded ape. Lucifer died that Narcissus might be born. I guffawed with God, with the gods, for I felt also at this time my monotheism dissolving into polytheism. I forgot Heaven and discovered Olympus. I was a gay Narcissus. I looked into the lake of my mind and saw a clown-face. I found the exquisite uses of my flesh. God incarnated as a bawdy Eros. He winked at me out of the ale-pot. I still thundered at times against Him, but I felt I was cursing a phantom. The sense of evil, the sense of sin, vanished.
Spinoza until then had been but a name. I knew his philosophy only by hearsay, in second-hand expositions. I began to read him. I began to meditate on panthe­ism, on a God who was the spirit of evil as well as the spirit of good, a God who was Power and Beauty unallied to man­made ethical attributes. I heard the first notes of a transcendental symphony, or, rather, the beginning of a titanic struggle between two opposing and equally power­ful forces such as Wagner put into the Overture to “Tannhäuser”
Now the Great Adventure was in full march again! Spinoza and King David were face to face at Armageddon—and Arma­geddon was in my soul. The Psalmist of Hate and Humility faced the serene etern­ist of Amsterdam. I passed from bitter curses to ecstatic swoonings. I rocked Heaven with my shrapnel, and recouped my strength by rendering up my soul to the Impersonal Spirit. I celebrated both of my brain armies in a passionate prose-poem to Spinoza and his God.
Then came 1914. Dead was the God of Spinoza in me, dead the God of the ale-pot and the bawdy Eros, during those four years of planetary cannibalism. The spirit of King David and his immortal barbaric God possessed the world, pos­sessed me, and I hurled anathema upon anathema at Him, reversing the smug at­titude of David, but preserving his passion and his rant.
This bearded old Jehovah of the Jews, this marvellous creation of the Old Testa­ment poets, would not walk out of my soul. In my Great Adventure He remains my sword of Excalibur. He is the greatest and truest of man’s anthropomorphic crea­tions. He is the very garment and texture of Reality. He is Mars, the Serpent, the Instinct of Self-Preservation, Big Brother with a club and sling-shot. He was not born of closet speculations and theological subtleties, but of direct contact with reality.
He mirrors the Earth we live upon and its sublime victim—Man. He was built of blood, thunder, lightnings, fear, flood, famine, pest, hate, murder, life, death, war and covetousness: an epitome of the adventures of the human race on the planet Earth. He was (and is) the perfect mirror of life in all its cruelty, irony, humility, hypocrisy, implacability and amoralism. No Spinoza, no Nietzsche, no Christ can dynamite Him out of His heavens, be­cause those heavens that lock in Jehovah —the old storm-god of the Midianites­are locked forever in our hearts and brains. He is practical, pragmatic, the literal I Am of every-day life. He is mud-and­blood humanity. He is the Errinye of personal vengeance. Christ may have a Second Advent; Jehovah’s Second Advents are perpetual. Flatten Him out to a philo­sophical abstraction in times of peace and prosperity, He will round to form, gather up His lightnings and His siege-guns when Death stalks the world. Jehovah, in a word, is not a God but the Superman.
So during the World War I hated Him and I loved Him. I used to fling anathemas at Him. He became confusedly identified with the God of Spinoza, and both lapsed into Satan.

IV

In 1918 admiration was born like sweet lullaby music out of the fantasia of hate, despair and disillusion. I again heard the Pan-phallic pipes of Greek polytheism. God was laughing at me—impotent sun-midge of a day! I took the God of Spinoza and the God of King David and Hellenized Them. I renounced homogeneous unity for heterogeneous diversity. I carved gods out of God. I paraphrased the saying of Goethe, that the meaning of Life is life itself, into The meaning of God is earth-spirits, air-spirits, water-spirits, flower-spirits, star-spirits, individual daemons, familiars. The bright, etheric face of Shel­ley rose out of the wreck of Spinoza and King David. I was in the clutch of mate­rial ecstasy. A mystical atheist!
But polytheism was, after all, only a Merlin garden that I had stumbled on and loitered in with half-closed eyes and wide-open nostrils on my way to the Bright Tower. I am primarily a creature of intellect, and not of sentiment. The heart is the cloudy crucible of all prob­lems. The brain is the clarifier. Too long had I been imprisoned in the crucible.
Near my fiftieth year the ascension to the eyries of the brain began in earnest. Liberty dwells on mountain-tops. There one has unobstructed vision, preternatural sight, a sudden revaluation of values. My brain is the mountain-top of my soul. I myself had the Bright Tower within me all these years, obscured and weed-hidden until now by my emotional judgments, by my “common humanity,” by my un­conscious craving for “salvation”—sal­vation of my own blowsy ego. All great, enduring revelations come from Intellect, the cold, clarified visions of Artists and Ironists. And I saluted Goethe, Nietzsche and Jules de Gaultier.
So at last! Artist and Ironist!—that is God! Supreme, innominable, immanent bainter, poet, musician, satirist, roman-:et, mathematician—that is God! He is an ethereal Beethoven and Shakespeare, a Rodin and Cervantes, a Euclid and Ein­stein, an Aristophanes and Aeschylus, a Wagner and Dostoievsky, an Aphrodite and Zeus. God is all of these—and myself!
God has nothing to do with human beings except as characters in an eternal serial, an eternal dream-tale, an eternal fabulous drama. Good and evil are art-motives. God is superhuman, unhuman, inhuman. He dreams scenarios, of which we are the puppets. Our agonies and prayers are situations. He is Spinoza’s God, the Eternal Return of Nietzsche, the Oversoul of Emerson, the Unknowable of Spencer, the Mephistopheles of Goethe. He is All—omniscient, omnipotent, omni­present, eternal creator, eternal playboy, eternal incarnation; the great dramaturge.
Arriving at this truth, I was released. I, with the rest of the species, am part of the music, drama, farce and mathe­matics of the Supreme Artist. And when I utter sadly “Such is life!” because of my disillusions, defeats and strangled de­sires I say, “But such is God, too!” For God is Life.
But Why? my brain still asks at times; and then again I am Lucifer organizing the revolting angels against Heaven, Prometheus launching curses at Zeus, and a King David raining death and destruction on Life. Why? Is the tragic farce, the music, the artistry worth while?
And a veiled sigh comes to me from the depths of myself; a veiled sigh, or is it a veiled laugh?—and I hear a voice:
“I have assigned to man the sublime role of Why? for an Eternity. Why? is the master-key to my art. That word Why? is the name of all My dreams, tragedies and farces on all the stars. It is the real name of every being I have ever made. It is the name of every sun I have ever created. It is the name of every picture I have ever painted. In the Legend of Life Why? is my eternal Hamlet.”
So I am thus, like all living things, identified with God in all His manifesta­tions, in all forms and on all planes—a Tantalus of Eternity.

Via Hellorosa. Scenes on the Way to Hades…

Via Hellorosa.
Scenes on the Way to Hades by Our Special Artists.

The Engines of Hell running full blast, day and night.
Watchman what of the night? And the Watchman said, “I see a great light—in fact, I see the flames of Hell.”

One can-not bring the masses to shout hosanna until one rides into the city on an ass.—Nietzsche.

Between the government which does evil and the people who accept it—there is a certain shameful solidarity.— Victor Hugo.

Within the memory of man the trade of governing has always been monopolised by the most ignorant and most rascally individuals of mankind.—Thos. Paine.

We shall have an Emperor in Washington within 25 years unless we can create a public sentiment which, regardless of legislation, will regulate the trusts.—A. T. Hadley, Pres. of Yale College.

We have among us people who would like to abolish radically everything that exists and carry us back, by violence if need be, to a régime discarded and condemned more than a century ago. They are called conservatives.—Paul Masson.

With the development of capitalistic production, European public opinion has stripped the last rag off conscience and modesty. Each nation glories cynically in all the infamy that goes to hasten the accumulation of capital. —Flaubert.

This old society has long since been judged and condemned. Let justice be done! Let this old world be broken into pieces! . . . where innocence has perished, where villany has prospered, where man is exploited by man ! Let these whited sepulchres, full of lying and iniquity, be utterly destroyed!—Heine.

We say that your society is not even a society, that it is not even the shadow of one, but an assemblage of persons that can be given no name : administered, manipulated, exploited at the will of your caprices, a warren, a flock, a herd of human cattle destined by you to glut your greed.—Lamennais.

What kind of society is it which, at this period, has, for its base, inequality and injustice? Would it not be well to take the whole by the four corners and send it pell-mell up to the ceiling, the cloth, the feast, and the orgy, the gluttony and the drunkenness and the guests; those who have their two elbows on the table, and those who are on all fours under it, to spew the whole lot in God’s face and to fling the whole world at heaven ? The hell of-the poor makes the paradise of the rich. Not only has happiness not come, but honour has fled.— Victor Hugo.

Imperialism is a depraved choice of national life, imposed by self-seeking interests which appeal to the lusts of acquisitiveness and of dominion surviving in a nation from centuries of animal struggle for existence. Its adoption as a policy implies a deliberate renunciation of that cultivation of the higher inner qualities which for a nation, as for an individual, constitutes the ascendancy of reason over brute impulse. It is the besetting sin of all successful states, and its penalty is unalterable- in the order of nature.—J. A. Hobson‘s “Imperialism.”

Writers and thinkers important to Satanism

At one point in the past 50 years, the Church of Satan released a suggested reading list. On the third page it included a list of names where many of their works are important, rather than just one title by a particular author.

Friedrich Nietzsche
Mark Twain 
George Bernard Shaw
Ayn Rand
Voltaire
Thomas Paine
Robert Ingersoll
Aristotle
Herbert Spencer
Sigmund Freud
Wilhelm Reich
H.G. Wells
Aldous Huxley
H. P. Lovecraft
George Orwell
Auguste Compte
Charles Darwin
Niccolo Machiavelli
Plato

What followed that was a series of quotes:

“The Church has the right to require that the faithful shall not publish books which she has not previously officially examined, and to prohibit their publication by anybody whatsoever for just cause. The provisions of this title also apply to daily publications, periodicals, and other published writings of whatever kind, unless the contrary appear.”
– Code of Canon Laws: Canon 1384.

“The Church doesn’t believe in book-burning, but it believes in restricting the use of dangerous books among those whose minds are unprepared for them.”
– John of Salisbury (called Parvus)
Policraticus, 7, 10, 133.

“I know many books which have bored their readers, but I know of none which has done real evil.”
– Voltaire: Philosophical Dictionary, 1764.

“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.”
– Oscar Wilde

“In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas. The source of better ideas is wisdom. The surest path to wisdom is a liberal education.”
– A. Whitney Griswold: Essays on Education.

Quotes from the Eagle and the Serpent

Time cannot bend the line which Truth bath writ.
The passion for destruction is a creative passion.—Bakounine.

In Hobbes’ system morality is the rationalization of egoism.
Justice is a ruse of the weak to defend themselves.—Nietzsche.

We can only be valued as we make ourselves valuable.—Emerson.

The indisputableness of eternal injustice is a part of Nietzsche’s system.
One must read all moralists with an eye to their motives.—Nietzsche.

He who tells the truth is turned out of nine cities.– Turkish Proverb.

Justice is an “equilibrium of might,” non-existent for the absolutely powerless.—Nietzsche.

Government has nothing to give me except that which it takes from me.—A. Bellegarigue.

Nietzsche defined sympathy to be the expression of a force seeking vent, or feebleness seeking support.
Conscience and remorse are the results of our blindness to the real origin of the sentiments called moral —Nietzsche.

Are not all tragedies due to the fact that people do not die at the right time?
—John Erwin McCall.

He’s a slave who cannot be in the right without two or three—just by “his own self.”
—John Erwin McCall.

Ascetic Ideals.—Ideals should always be fictitious. When they become real they cease to be ideal. All extremes are wrong.—John Erwin McCall.

Journalism is the art of selling to other people their own prejudices and false opinions at the highest possible price.—John Erwin McCall.

Benevolence is as purely selfish as greed. No one would do a benevolent action if he thought it would entail remorse.—Dod Grile. (Ambrose Bierce)

Origin of Optimism.—The typical optimist sits in the British Museum, which was built by money stolen from the Spanish, and which the Spanish had stolen from the Aztecs, and piously exclaims, “A good to one is a good to all.”—John Erwin McCall.

HARD SAYINGS ABOUT THE SOFT SEX

HARD SAYINGS ABOUT THE SOFT SEX.

A woman forgives everything, but the fact that you do not covet her.—A . de Mussel.

Cleopatra is a thorough woman ; she loves and deceives at the same time.
Heine.

A woman with whom one discusses love is always in expectation of something. —Poincelot.

There is no torture, that a woman would not endure to enhance her beauty.
Montaigne.

Women, cats and birds are the creatures that waste the most time on their toilets.
Ch. Nodier.

A man must be a fool, who does not succeed in making a woman believe that which flatters her.—Balzac.

A woman is necessarily an evil and he is a lucky man who catches her in a mild form.—Menander.
The music at a marriage procession always reminds me of the music of soldiers entering battle.—Heine.

I do not mean to say that women have no character. Not at all ; for they have a new one every day.—Heine.

Mohammed excluded woman from Paradise.. Did he suppose that Paradise would no longer be Paradise if every man were again to meet his wife there ?—Heine.

If one wishes to get an idea of the amount of self-love which women possess in their youth, let him judge of it by the amount which remains to them after they are past the age of pleasing.—Chamfort.

Have you ever known a’ woman who seeing a male friend conversing with another woman would suppose that she was an unsympathetic companion ? You see by this the opinion they have of each other. Draw your own conclusions.—Chamfort.

Love, said Epicurus, never benefitted any one; nay, it is much if it did no harm. In his opinion it was a sort of fever destructive to the body; in fine, a short epilepsy. He looked upon it as a shortener of the days of the most vigorous; and judged that the gout, the weakness of the eyes, the trembling of the nerves, were all caused by the commerce with women. His advice was to eat moderately, use much exercise, and to have nothing to do with women.

TESTIMONY OF THE APOSTLES OF EGOISM

TESTIMONY OF THE APOSTLES OF EGOISM

(I posted this in 2010 and for an unknown, and disconcerting reason it’s no longer on my blog. I went to look for it yesterday and couldn’t find it, so I transcribed it once more.)

Know thyself. —Solon.
Knowledge is power. —Bacon.
To thine own self be true. —Shakespeare.
The beautiful is always severe. —Segur.
If it be right to me, it is right. —Stirner.
Moderation is the pleasure of the wise. —Voltaire
God helps them (only) who help themselves. —Franklin.
Love is the union of a want and a sentiment. —Lamartine.
Self-love is not so vile a sin as self-neglecting. —Shakespeare.
To scoff at philosophy is to act as a true philosopher. —Pascal.
very mortal is relieved by speaking of his misfortunes. —Chénier.
Man is Creation’s master-piece. But who says so?—Man. —Gavarni.
It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere. —Voltaire.
He who is devoted to everybody is devoted to nobody. —Delavigne.
God is generally on the side of the strongest battalions. —Napoleon.
Under the freest constitution ignorant people are still slaves. —Condorcet.
In jealousy there is usually more self-love than love. —Rochefoucauld.
Goodness, for the most part, is but indolence, or impotence. —Ib.
When our vices leave us, we flatter ourselves we are leaving them. —Ib.
The greatest of all pleasures is to give pleasure to one we love. —Boufflers.
We like those to whom we do good better than those who do us good. —Saint-Réal.
Trust in God and [that is, so far as you] keep your powder dry.—Cromwell.
It is easier to be good for everybody, than to be good for somebody. —A. Dumas fils.
The more honest a man is, the less he affects the airs of a saint. —Lavater.
To know man, borrow the ear of the blind and the eye of the deaf. —Ib.
Who despises all that is despicable, is made to be impressed with all that
is grand. —Ib.
Everybody exclaims against ingratitude. Are there so many benefactors ? —Bougeart.
A woman by whom we are loved is a vanity ; a woman whom we love is a. religion. —Giradin.
Diversity of opinion proves that things are only what we think them. —Montaigne.
To love is to ask of another the happiness that is lacking in ourselves. —Rochepedre.
Virtue is so praiseworthy that wicked people practice it from self-interest. —Vauvenargues.
There is pleasure in meeting the eyes of those to whom we have done good. —La Bruyère.
The art of conversation consists less in showing one’s own wit than in giving opportunity for the display of the wit of others. —Ib.
Egoism is another name for self-preservation ; the egoist, after providing: for self, turns altruist. —Tilden.
High positions are like the summit of high, steep rocks: eagles and reptiles alone can reach them. —Mme. Necker.
The men of future generations will yet win many a liberty of which we do, not even feel the want. —Stirner.
One is free in proportion as one is strong ; there is no real liberty save that which one takes for one’s self. —lb.
There are persons who do not know how to waste their time alone and hence become the scourge of busy people. —Bonald.
Not to enjoy one’s youth when one is young, is to imitate the miser who starves beside his treasures. —Mme. Louise Colet.
All passions are good when one masters them ; all are bad when one is a. slave to them. [The same is true of ideas]. —Rousseau.
You can tell more about a man’s character by trading horses with him once than you can by hearing him talk for a year in prayer meeting. —American Maxim.
Forget this superstition (that the day of noble deeds is past), steep your souls in Plutarch, and through believing in his heroes, dare to believe in yourselves. —Nietzsche.
To be regardful of others within reason is intelligent egoism, but it is necessary to distinguish those who are worthy of our regard from those who are not. —Tak Kak.
The discoverer of a great truth well knows that it may be useful to other men, and, as a greedy with-holding would bring him no enjoyment, he communicates it. —Stirner.
Everywhere the strong have made the laws and oppressed the weak ; and,. if they have sometimes consulted the interests of society, they have always. forgotten those of humanity. —Turgot.
Napoleon the exploiter said, ” The heart of a statesman should be in his head.” The exploited will never be saved till they make the brain the seat of their patriotic affections.
Religion and moralism say that we may have passions, but we must not allow our passions to enslave us. The egoist extends the suggestion to include ideas. He has ideas, but he remains the master of them All the ideas he has he will use as he sees fit. If of a speculative intellectual turn, the egoist cannot doubt that there is the greatest good for all in egoism, and as he can find. satisfaction in proving it, he may undertake to do so. —Tak Kak.

Quotes from “Studies in Pessimism” by Arthur Schopenhauer

Below are just a few quotes that I had highlighted on my Kindle when reading portions of “Studies in Pessimism”. I haven’t finished the book, but thought I’d share these quotes:

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“Hatred and contempt are diametrically opposed and mutually exclusive. There are even not a few cases where hatred of a person is rooted in nothing but forced esteem for his qualities. And besides, if a man sets out to hate all the miserable creatures he meets, he will not have much energy left for anything else ; whereas he can despise them, one and all, with the greatest ease. True, genuine contempt is just the reverse of true, genuine pride; it keeps quite quiet and gives no sign of its existence. For if a man shows that he despises you, he signifies at least this much regard for you, that he wants to let you know how little he appreciates you; and his wish is dictated by hatred, which cannot exist with real contempt. On the contrary, if it is genuine, it is simply the conviction that the object of it is a man of no value at all. Contempt is not incompatible with indulgent and kindly treatment, and for the sake of one’s own peace and safety this should not be omitted; it will prevent irritation ; and there is no one who cannot do harm if he is roused to it. But if this pure, cold, sincere contempt ever shows itself, it will be met with the most truculent hatred; for the despised person is not in a position to fight contempt with its own weapons.”

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“Why is it that common is an expression of contempt ? and that uncommon, extraordinary, distinguished, denote approbation ? Why is everything that is common contemptible ? Common in its original meaning denotes that which is peculiar to all men. i.e., shared equally by the whole species, and therefore an inherent part of its nature. Accordingly, if an individual possesses no qualities beyond those which attach to mankind in general, he is a common man.”

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“What value can a creature have that is not a whit different from millions of its kind ? Millions, do I say ? nay, an infinitude of creatures which, century after century, in never-ending flow, Nature sends bubbling up from her inexhaustible springs; as generous with them as the smith with the useless sparks that fly around his anvil.”

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“I have argued that whilst a lower animal possesses nothing more than the generic character of its species man is the only being which can lay claim to possess an individual character. But in most men this individual character comes to very little in reality; and they may be almost all ranged under certain classes: ce sont des especes. Their thoughts and desires, like their faces, are those of the species, or, at any rate, those of the class to which they belong; and accordingly they are of a trivial, every-day, common character, and exist by the thousand. You can usually tell beforehand what they are likely to do and say. They have no special stamp or mark to distinguish them ; they are like manufactured goods, all of a piece.”

—–

Also, I kinda dig this quote from Oswald Spengler:

For I confess that I have never had anything but contempt for ‘philosophy for its own sake.’ To my way of thinking there is nothing more tedious than pure logic, scientific psychology, general ethics and esthetics. Life is not made up of science and generalities. Every line that is not written in the service of active living seems to me superfluous. At the risk of being taken too literally, I would say that my way of looking at the world is related to the ‘systematic’ way as the memoirs of a statesman are related to the ideal state of a Utopian. The former writes down what he has lived through; the latter records what he has dreamed up.

Vilfredo Pareto on the advocates of egalitarianism…

“The sentiment that is very inappropriately named equality is fresh, strong, alert, precisely because it is not, in fact, a sentiment of equality and is not related to any abstraction, as a few naive “intellectuals” still believe; but because it is related to the direct interests of individuals who are bent on escaping certain inequalities not in their favour, and setting up new inequalities that will be in their favour, this latter being their chief concern.”

-Vilfreda Pareto, “Treatise of General Sociology”

Satanism as Weltanschauung, a lecture in 9 parts (plus Q&A bonus)

I’m pleased to release the video of a lecture given on March 1st of this year when I was invited to speak on the topic of Satanism for a class at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Filmed in HD and edited to include quite a few graphics not presented in the original lecture, I’m pleased with the outcome and hope that for those already familiar with Satanism there is enough to still keep you interested and possibly entertained.

Embedded below is a playlist of all 9 videos, to play without interruption.

Below are two parts of the Q&A session that followed:

If you enjoyed the lecture and would like to make a voluntary monetary donation, please do so below:

Satanism as Weltanschauung

Ch. 1 “Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself…”

Rev. Kevin I. Slaughter introduces himself and gives a short biographical background to establish his long-held interest in Satanism explicitly, but also the occult or hidden aspects of culture.

Ch. 2 “A Brief Overview of Satanism”

Rev. Slaughter gives a very brief overview of Satanism, what a Satanist is, and how it is viewed by society.

Ch. 3 “The Satanic Bible”

Rev. Slaughter discusses the first High Priest of the Church of Satan’s book “The Satanic Bible”. He reads “The Nine Satanic Statements” and other pertinent selections from it.

Ch. 4 “The Satanic Scriptures”

Rev. Slaughter discusses the current High Priest of the Church of Satan’s book “The Satanic Scriptures”. He reads pertinent selections from it.

Ch. 5 “Egalité vs. Hierarchy”

The natural world is stratified, the weak, slow and stupid tend to be worse for wear. The smart, quick and strong tend to have a better time of it. In the animal kingdom, the world that we exist in, it is eat or be eaten.

Rev. Slaughter makes reference to Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron”, and reads an excerpt from Theodore Dalrymple’s book “Life at the Bottom”.

Ch. 6 “Lex Satanicus”

Satanism takes few overtly political positions, and there is absolutely no affiliation between the Church any political party. The Satanic philosophy positions itself as a third side, rejecting the simplistic dichotomies of good vs. evil, republican vs. democrat, liberal and conservative. The one position most clearly associated with politics is Lex Talionis.

Ch. 7 “Magic”

Magic, in the Satanic sense, is not about shooting fireballs or riding on broomsticks, we do not have “spells” that guarantee sex or death – the two things people always seem to want a spell for. When the Satanist performs greater magic, it is an emotional psychodrama, intended to charge the participant with a specific feeling or to put him in a specific emotional state. It’s made clear in the writings that Greater Magic is an emotional working as opposed to intellectual. Like the power of a masterfully written book or piece of music has, this productive fiction is useful and possibly necessary to the human animal.

Ch. 8 “A Few Unkind Words…”

In this part of the lecture Kevin discusses Christian Child Abuse, a blog that collects stories about pedophile priests. He discusses religiously motivated atrocities committed by Islam and Judaism in the name of their religion and accepted by their communities.

The website is found at http://christianchildabuse.blogspot.com

Ch. 9 “Love”

Satanism isn’t merely a reactionary stance, it is about knowing ones self and building real relationships with worthy people. Rev. Slaughter recites a poem titled “Love” that was written by freethinker Robert Greene Ingersoll, to illustrate this and other points in the Satanic worldview.

Kevin has participated in two oratory contests where contestants read their choice of Ingersoll’s work, and won first place in 2010. The video can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8UPNFcnYIM

Rev. Slaughter is an official representative of the Church of Satan. More information can be found on the website http://www.churchofsatan.com

Filmed and edited by Kevin I. Slaughter for Underworld Amusements: http://www.underworldamusements.com

Music composed and performed by Michaelanthony Mitchell

“It is a beautiful night, Lord, upon which to die…” – an excerpt from Jungle Justice by Jim Tully

Excerpt from Jungle Justice by Jim Tully. To be included in the first published collection (heretofore untitled) of short stories and essays by Jim Tully, released by Underworld Amusements early 2011. The scene is a hobo camp, or “jungle”, and the ‘bos have seized a railroad security guard (known as a “bull”) to try him by kangaroo court and execute him. One of the gathered gives a prayer:

“It is a beautiful night, Lord, upon which to die. The stars and the moon and the beautiful river shall sing his threnody. And Lord, if one of us should be shuffled off the gallows to dance with broken arches before Thy throne, it would not be amid such beauty. Rather would the knot be tied behind our left ears, Lord, and as we fell through the trap, dear Lord, the knot would jerk our heads forward and break our immortal necks, dear Lord. We would hang like a cracked scarecrow, All-merciful Lord, while a doctor listened to our hearts pounding their way on the road to Your blessed arms, dear Lord.

“But, Blessed Lord, we are not as those men who do such deeds. We profess no creed, dear Lord. We are but humble servants in Thy name. Ours is a gentler method, Lord. It comes suddenly, Lord. The soul of the departed flies suddenly before You from a hole which a bullet makes. It is more lenient, Lord. There is dignity in death by a bullet. . .”

“Shut up!” snapped Dugan. “Do you think you’re the only one He’s got to listen to?”

Frisco Eddie resumed: “For they who taketh up the Smith and Wesson must die by a Colt, for so it is written, ever and anon, before dinner and after, from now on, Amen.”