Long slept Zarathustra; and not only the rosy dawn passed over his head, but also the morning. At last, however, his eyes opened, and amazedly he gazed into the forest and the stillness, amazedly he gazed into himself. Then he arose quickly, like a seafarer who all at once seeth the land; and he shouted for joy: for he saw a new truth. And he spake thus to his heart:

A light hath dawned upon me: I need companions – living ones; not dead companions and corpses, which I carry with me where I will.

But I need living companions, who will follow me because they want to follow themselves – and to the place where I will. A light hath dawned upon me. Not to the people is Zarathustra to speak, but to companions! Zarathustra shall not be the herd’s herdsman and hound!

To allure many from the herd – for that purpose have I come. The people and the herd must be angry with me: a robber shall Zarathustra be called by the herdsmen.

Herdsmen, I say, but they call themselves the good and just. Herdsmen, I say, but they call themselves the believers in the orthodox belief.

Behold the good and just! Whom do they hate most? Him who breaketh up their tables of values, the breaker, the lawbreaker: – he, however, is the creator.

Behold the believers of all beliefs! Whom do they hate most? Him who breaketh up their tables of values, the breaker, the law-breaker – he, however, is the creator.

Companions, the creator seeketh, not corpses – and not herds or believers either. Fellow-creators the creator seeketh – those who grave new values on new tables.

Companions, the creator seeketh, and fellow-reapers: for everything is ripe for the harvest with him. But he lacketh the hundred sickles: so he plucketh the ears of corn and is vexed.

Companions, the creator seeketh, and such as know how to whet their sickles. Destroyers, will they be called, and despisers of good and evil. But they are the reapers and rejoicers.

Fellow-creators, Zarathustra seeketh; fellow-reapers and fellow-rejoicers, Zarathustra seeketh: what hath he to do with herds and herdsmen and corpses!

And thou, my first companion, rest in peace! Well have I buried thee in thy hollow tree; well have I hid thee from the wolves.

But I part from thee; the time hath arrived. ‘Twixt rosy dawn and rosy dawn there came unto me a new truth.

I am not to be a herdsman, I am not to be a grave-digger. Not any more will I discourse unto the people; for the last time have I spoken unto the dead.

With the creators, the reapers, and the rejoicers will I associate: the rainbow will I show them, and all the stairs to the Superman.

To the lone-dwellers will I sing my song, and to the twain-dwellers; and unto him who hath still ears for the unheard, will I make the heart heavy with my happiness.

I make for my goal, I follow my course; over the loitering and tardy will I leap. Thus let my on-going be their down-going!

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
Thomas Paine
Robert Ingersoll
Herbert Spencer
Sigmund Freud
Wilhelm Reich
H.G. Wells
Aldous Huxley
H. P. Lovecraft
George Orwell
Auguste Compte
Charles Darwin
Niccolo Machiavelli

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.

On Gardening…

There is no holy book, no evil book. Only the stupid and superstitious are afraid of reading words for themselves. Only totalitarians from either the left or the right are afraid of others reading words.

I dislike writing disclaimers, but there it is.

I’ve trimmed this one section down to the portion that I liked. Like moving the Brussels sprouts off to the side of the plate so you can more enjoy the steak and mash.

From “Book of a Mujahiddeen
by Shamil Basaev,
section 55: “STUPIDITY”

“Once a Mujahid starts working on his own garden, he spots his neighbor watching him work and getting anxious about giving him an advice on how to plant a deed, how to dig up a thought and how to irrigate victory.
If a Mujahid listens to these advices, he will eventually end up doing someone else’s job and the garden that he is working on right now will become the embodiment of his neighbor’s idea.
A Mujahid knows: a fool, who is too preoccupied with somebody else’s garden, will not be bothered with his own.
A Mujahid prefers to work on his garden on his own.”

THE RELIGION OF EGOISM. A Prayer for more Bitterness.

A Prayer for more Bitterness.

BRETHREN, we must become more bitter. Bitterness is the best antidote to the Christian slave-pox which for two thousand years has poisoned our blood. Said Emerson (my faithful ally in this and many another matter) “The doctrine of hatred must be preached as the counteraction of the doctrine of love when that pules and whines.” We are all pulers and whiners to-day—we are born such and rarely out-grow it. Bitterness is the only thing which can tear the bandage of Idealism from our eyes and enable us to see life as the old unseduced Greeks and Romans saw it. And when we can see life as the Greeks and Romans saw it, perhaps we will have no further use for bitterness and can then throw it away. When the poison of Idealism is extirpated, then, perhaps, will come to pass the saying of Zarathustra, ” Growth in wisdom is measured by decrease in bitterness.”

Blessed is the man who has felt the deepest and best of all bitternesses—the bitterness of one starving in the midst of plenty—and who is made a giant and a clairvoyant by that bitterness. Herein I have an advantage over Nietzsche, who unfortunately always knew where his next meal was coming from. If I-, Erwin McCall, had not been for years to all intents and purposes a DAMNED TRAMP—with never an assured meal ahead—I would never have been saved. It was this (philosophic) blessing of ever imminent starvation which made me see life as it is—bared of all its hypocrisies—made me see that ” He who feeds me governs me ” or as Bacon said ” Nations and wars go on their bellies.” It is a good starvation which also starves the ” Ideal.” Thus the tramp who has brains will learn what it took Nietzsche years of fatal devotion to literature to ascertain. If Nietzsche had had a couple of weeks’ tramping among friends and real Christians he would have learned in that time all that Montaigne, Chamfort and Co. could teach him, and the tree would have defied the lightning for another half-century.

The prospect of starvation may even save the soul of a millionaire—let us not be selfish with this last and best gift of the gods, starvation, but let us pass it round and redeem the rich from their intellectual poverty.

And then—and then—it must be said, although it will be misunderstood : only he who has been once thoroughly bitter can know how sweet love is. Man is fearfully and wonderfully made and truly our heaven and our hell are inseparably intertwined. Avaunt, logician, you have no antinomies like those of the human heart. This prayer for bitterness has relieved me immensely—if the mere aspira- tion for bitterness thus makes blessed, how ecstatic must be a deed of bitterness.

A Bible Not Borrowed from the Neighbours.

EMERSON the Egoist said ” All laws are laughable but those which men make for themselves.” It is time to say that all Bibles are to be rejected save that which we write for ourselves. The Bible of Jesus, of Goethe, of Heine, of Emerson, of Whitman, of Thoreau, of Nietzsche,—all these may help us somewhat but we must have pride enough to demand a Bible not borrowed from the neighbours. A slave may rest content with a Bible writ by another, the freeman must write his own. Vicarious suffering, vicarious salvation are out of date. We may weep over the sorrows of Jesus and Nietzsche, we may rejoice over their triumphs—but we are not saved till we weep over our own sorrows and rejoice in our own happiness, till we are deified by our own Calvary, till we can show our own Via Dolorosa, our own Gethsemane agony and exultation.

The Egoist learns to say:—”I, too, have a Divine Record—the record of my innermost griefs, sorrows, temptations, triumphs, tears and rejoicings.” We no longer accept salvation second-hand, we demand an original, an egoistic, salvation. Saved we are by love of self, pity for self, tears for our own incommunicable woe, but, last and best revelation, we are taught to strengthen and purify ourselves by laughing over our dire mistakes. Such laughter is the divinest emotion. Jove and the lions never weep, but often laugh. “The artist only reaches the last summit of his greatness when he learns how to laugh at himself “—he alone can go forward.

But some one says, Does the Religion of Egoism cure our sorrows as did the old Religion? We reply, What sorrows? Whose sorrows? The sorrows of a fool? To all such we say, The New Gospel is not milk for crying babes. We may add that the greatest injury you can do to a fool is to cure his sorrow—his only teacher. And the wise man will cure his own sorrows. After all, the New Religion deals generously enough with the sorrowing one. It makes each one of us the only God in the universe. What more do you want? And if a God cannot cure his own sorrows, the world will begin to doubt his divinity. We repeat what we learned in the cradle, that it is a shame not to have your own Bible and God in your own Ego’s home, it is a shame to be obliged to borrow these from the neighbours. Moreover the founders of new Religions have always lived above the question of consolation—and every Egoist is the founder of a new Religion.

An Egoist’s Confession of Faith in Himself.

FOR greater convenience in discerning and damning our enemies we have taken out a legal authority which permits us to divide all Egoists into two classes—philosophers and scoundrels. In our unwritten tract “Why I am an Altruist,” by A. Skinflint, we exhibit this confession of the egoist-scoundrel: “Having made a cool million by as cool a steal, I straightway endowed ten chairs for the teaching of altruism. Never was I more sincere than in so doing, for, the more altruists, the more victims for me.”

The best things are always the worst. Intemperance is only the abuse of the power of digestion. Unbridled lust is but love turned awry. Thus Egoism, the best thing in the world, may by abuse become murder, and scoundrelism of every sort. Every scoundrel is an Egoist but not every Egoist is a scoundrel.

By the egoist-philosopher (Hail to thee! death-dedicated apostle!) we mean the man who has the courage to proclaim the law of universal gravitation in ethics—that each ego is the centre towards which all things gravitate. He is the only man who wears his heart upon his sleeve for daws and even for men to peck at. I am sorry to say that he appears to be the only honest man in the world for he alone has found himself out and tells himself out. But he does more—he finds out those who think they are serving the heavenly ideal and he shows them they are fools, while the pseudo-altruist (egoist-scoundrel) says nothing but fattens on their foolishness.

It is a well-known fact that the preacher, whether of altruism or egoism, rarely practises what he preaches. In the Clarion Mr. A. M. Thompson gently chides us for devoting our “very conspicuous talents to the cause of advancing everybody’s interests but ” our own.” That’s me all over “—in fact that is pre-eminently the egoist-philosopher.. But every egoist-scoundrel must be a professed and professional altruist—every man who goes forth seeking whom he may devour must profess to be an altruist as the very condition of attracting victims to his net. But the man who avows himself an egoist scares away every possible victim from his net—or, more correctly, he throws away the net itself. Our language is not sufficiently expressive to enable us to state the paradoxes of our nature but the stern fact is that the egoist-philosopher is the only man who shows any real pity for men—the only man who shows them the only possible means of salvation. We egoist-philosophers are the only people who possess any real sympathy. Precisely because we do not prate of sympathy (the devil take this exception) do we possess the more. It is through the terrible calvary of our feelings (feelings too deep for thought) that we have fought our way to the egoistic philosophy of life—that invincible fortress defended by Epicurus on the one hand and the Stoics on the other. In combatting sympathy, we, like Nietzsche, combat the overcharged heart whose terrible inundations of sympathy would, if not ruthlessly restrained, swamp the free action of the intellect.

Be sure then of this—the man who devotes his days and nights and the money of all his dearest friends to the preaching of an egoistic philosophy, there-lay materially imperilling his awn chances in life, is necessarily nobler than the so-called altruist whose very creed is a sort of blackmail levied on the goodness and the goods of applauding fool-millions. Then the avowed Egoist and Atheist (shall we coin a word, Athegoist) who proclaims the true gospel of salvation, is not a knave though all the high-priced clerics and all the M.P.s and the whole gang of professional and endowed prostitutes declare him such; but, I repeat, he, as the only man who wears his heart upon his sleeve is the one honest man in the universe, the only man who has found himself out and told himself out. But the world with its usual supernatural and superasinine stupidity worships the scoundrel and keeps its obloquy for the honest philosopher. Such are the miracles of unreason which crown and culminate two thousand years of christian idiocy, such the result of feeding ourselves on babe’s milk, stale for twenty centuries by the clock.

Verily, we egoist-philosophers, we “destroyers of false hopes, are the true Messiahs”; we sacrifice ourselves for the sins of the past and for the happiness of future generations; we are the only genuine martyrs, for whom no subscriptions are raised, no civil list exists. In an age given over to the worship of altruism, the unmitigated egoist-philosopher must necessarily be a martyr. I mention Nietzsche in a madhouse and Stirner starved to death. But there are others.

The Calvary of Egoism.

EVEN the Egoist has his Calvary, but it is a home-made Calvary, just as the Egoist’s Bible is home-made. It is of suicide I speak, of a death self-decreed and self-executed, not of a death forced on one by a mob of fools and fanatics. (“Natural death is a coward’s death. We should desire a different kind of death—voluntary; conscious, not accidental or by surprise.”—Nietzsche)

It is time for the Egoist to give to the world a new Stabat Mater. The egoist-suicide speaks from his Cross with a hitherto forbidden eloquence—he speaks these bitter truths which man has hitherto lacked the courage for uttering :

Mother, behold thy prattling babe,
Behold the Suicide thou hast made!

Yes, mother, thou art the cause of this suicide. Listen to me, listen to this voice from the grave : There was not a lie perfectly calculated to unfit me for life which you did not faithfully instil into me. You did your work most perfectly. You poisoned me from my earliest years by teaching to me as the very word of God and means of eternal salvation, every superstition and every delusion which could deliver me bound into the hands of all the Shylocks and all the Judases of earth. I spent the best years of my life believing the Bible and trying to live it—and here am I. I would prefer to entrust myself to the mercy of the Devil (if one existed) than to such a fool of a mother as you have been to me. Truly, mother, thou has been a benefactor to man. Thou madest me (too late) a philosopher and I must bless thee for that?. (I would have truly blessed thee if thou hadst made me a philosopher in the cradle). Thou madest me a suicide and others will bless thee for that. Verily it is no small credit to thee that thou didst remove the curse and the curser thou didst create.
Will Christian journals please copy? And now, brethren, receive the benediction—”Here’s to the health of the next one that dies.” Thus endeth the fabrication for the first day.


“The Black Mass” by William Lindsay Gresham

I will be away for a few days to give a talk in Detroit. I hope to see some of you there.

I plan on having it recorded and then edited and up on YouTube, but I cannot say how long it will take.

I thought I’d post something I found archived away in some dark subfolder on an old hard drive, to entertain you while I’m gone. I will be tweeting some, I’m sure, and you can follow me there.

The date stamp on the text file for this shows 3/12/2005. I don’t know where it came from…. I’ve fixed a few typos, but there may be more.

The Black Mass

The whys and wherefores of the most abominable of all sexual rites. Where Satnism began and where it leads.
by William Lindsay Gresham

“And thou, thou whom, in my quality of priest, I force, whether thou wilt or no, to descend into this host, to incarnate thyself in this bread, Jesus, Artisan of Hoaxes, Bandit of Homage, Robber of Affection, hear! Since the day when thou didst issue from the complaisant bowels of a Virgin, thou hast failed all thine engagements, belied all thy promises. Centuries have wept, awaiting thee, fugitive God, mute God! Thou wast to redeem man and thou hast not, thou wast to appear in thy glory, and thou steepest. Go, lie, say to the wretch who appeals to thee, ‘Hope, be patient, suffer; the hospital of souls will receive thee; the angels will assist thee; Heaven opens to thee.’ Imposter! thou knowest well that the angels, disgusted at thine inertness, abandon thee! Thou wast to be the Interpreter of our plaints, the Chamberlain of our tears; thou wast to convey them to the Father and thou hast not done so, for this intercession would disturb thine eternal sleep of happy satiety. Thou hast forgotten the poverty thou didst preach, Vassal enamoured of Banquets! Thou hast seen the weak crushed beneath the press of profit; thou hast heard the death rattle of the timid, paralyzedby famine, of women disemboweled for a bit of bread, and thou has caused . . . thy commercial representatives, thy Popes, to answer by dilatory promises and evasive excuses, sacristy shyster, huckster God! Master, whose inconceivable ferocity engenders life and inflicts it on the innocent whom thou Barest damn-in the name of what original sin?-whom thou Barest punish-by the virtue of what covenants? -we would have thee confess thine impudent cheats, thine inexpiable crimes! We would drive deeper the nails into thy hands, press down the crown of thorns upon thy brow, bring blood and water from the dry wounds of thy sides. And that we can and will do by violating the quietude of thy body, Profaner of ample vices, Abstractor of stupid purities, cursed Nazarene, do-nothing King, coward God!” This diatribe, nothing if not eloquent, is more than a passage at the climax of one of the world’s most hair-raising novels. It represents the unconscious content of the minds of millions of the faithful, when driven to utter desperation by the “bludgeonings of chance.” The scene in the book is a Black Mass, devoted to the adoration of Satan and the blaspheming of God, being said by an infamous unfrocked priest, Canon Docre. The hero, a writer named Durtal, who is working on a biography of Gilles de Rais, has been taken to the Satanic mass by his mistress, the languorous Mme. Hyacinthe Chantelouve. Disgusted by the obscenities in the violation of the Host, the agnostic Durtal drags his entranced mistress away and into a shabby wineshop for a drink to clear his head. But the publican suggests that they take a room upstairs since they are obviously gentlefolk and the tavern is patronized by riffraff. The room contains a rickety bed, a cracked chamber pot and two chairs. When they are alone Hyacinthe, still in the grip of the Satanic mass, turns to her lover:
“Her eyes were sombre, mad. She enlaced Durtal. `No!’ he shouted, furious at having fallen into this trap. `I’ve had enough of that. It’s late. Your husband is waiting for you. It’s time for you to go back to him-‘
“She did not even hear him. `I want you,’ she said, and she took him treacherously and obliged him to desire her. She disrobed, threw her skirts on the floor, opened wide the abominable couch. A look of swooning ecstasy was in her eyes and a smile of joy on her lips. She seized him, and, with ghoulish fury, dragged him into obscenities of whose existence he had never dreamed. Suddenly, when he was able to escape, he shuddered, for he perceived that the bed was strewn with fragments of Hosts . . . he was not absolutely convinced of Transubstantiation-he did not believe very firmly that the Savior resided in that soiled bread-but-in spite of himself, the sacrilege he had involuntarily participated in saddened him.”
The novel ends with the realization of Durtal that Mme. Chantelouve is bad medicine and he had better split fast, which he does. This leaves him (or Huysmans, who is always the
hero of his books) in his chronic state of disgust at the idiocy of human beings. The book was strong meat in 1891. The Victorians loved it.
Joris-Karl Huysmans was the author of “La Bas,” was a desperate little guy-a wary-eyed, quiet, buttoned-up sort of character who spent his life as a clerk in a government office and wrote his novels on the taxpayers’ time. This and the toadying and intrigue necessary to keep his sinecure, probably set up in his unconscious such an operation of self-loathing that he had to project it onto mankind.
He was tormented by the age-old Riddle of Evil or, as it is squeamishly titled by philosophers, “The Ethical Problem.” He finally died reconciled to the Faith of his Fathers but to the last he was hag-ridden by fears and anxieties and could not retire for the night without drawing a magic circle with an imaginary fiery sword about his bed and sealing the doors and windows with holy water.
And he had good cause for anxiety, for he was one of those hypersensitive souls who had thought long and hard about man’s suffering and could not quiet his doubts and indignations by superficial panaceas of radical politics.
He was hooked on the dilemma of Dualism. Unless a person is by nature tough-minded, or has come to terms with Pain and Evil through religion or philosophy, it is better not to dig too deeply into the history of the human race. But in choosing for the subject of his greatest book the Black Mass, Huysmans was able to blow off a lot of steam through the lips of the detestable Canon Docre. This device has probably saved many writers from the foolish farm, or at least helped; the raging aggressions of the unconscious, too horrible to be given conscious expression by our proper selves, can always be foisted on fictional villains.

MY FAVORITE VERSION in English of “La Bas” is a translation with the title “Down There,” made many years ago by my old friend from Greenwich Village days, the poet Keene Wallis. In it, the passages of Durtal’s fictional book on Gilles de Rais and his sodomic slaughter of peasant’s children in his tower set off a chain-reaction of nightmare in my psyche which had farreaching effects. It led, in time, to a study of Satanism, its theological derivations and the folk-ways out of which it grew.
If there is one word which describes the background of the Black Mass it is “confusion.” But some fairly clear points emerge:
The “natural” or folk religion of mankind is a polytheism of good and bad forces or gods, angels and demons. As the tribes grow more complex in their culture and found cities, thinkers emerge. They postulate a First Cause. This cannot, as a creator, be considered Bad or Destructive, else it would be licked before it started in the creation business. The next thought is that out of the original creative force there develop two forces-dark and light, good and bad. How the original Unity manages to bust up into warring factions is just a sample of the natural anthropomorphic tendency of man to make God in his own image and the universe a macrocosm of human society.
While monotheism was not an invention of the Jews, theirs was the first and boldest statement of it in the Western world on a mass level. Christianity, deriving from Judaism, was faced from the first by an embarrassing need to reconcile the God of Love, as preached by the prophets and by Jesus, with the earliest form of Yahweh, the God of Vengeance, found in the older books of the Old Testament.
When one people are conquered by another the gods of the vanquished become demons to the victors. And when Christianity finally overran Europe the old gods fled in all directions. Some became identified in the folk mind with Christian saints, and their worship-or veneration-went on practically without intermission. But there was one of the old order which was banished to outer darkness by the fathers of the Church. This was the Thracian god Dionysus-or Panby Zeus out of Semele, the earth-goddess; his symbol was the black goat or simply the phallus. He was in charge of fertility and of the vine. And a festival in his honor was quite a whing-ding, with animal sacrifices, generous drinking and you-know-what.
The Church found that you can take the peasant out of paganism-by decree-a lot easier than you can take the paganism out of the peasant. And for centuries, side by side with Christian worship, were held Sabbats, attended by thousands of the country people, in which a “priestess” or officiating witch approached the black statue of the goat-man, the old god Dionysus, now re-named Satan by the Church. She lit a torch from the blazing brand set between his horns, and went into a liturgy which began: “Save us, Lord Satan, from treachery and violence.” She then kissed the phallus of the image, and on occasion lowered herself upon it in ritual coitus.
Being saved from “treachery and violence” took on a very specific meaning as the ages passed in Europe and the feudal lords became ever more grasping, gold-hungry and brutal. The Sabbat became a folk-ceremony, invoking the Old Power against the God of the cathedrals-and the rich barons who had taken Him over, according to the tillers of the soil. The French historian, Jules Michelet, author of the classic book, “Satanism and Witchcraft,” works himself up into a fine lather of rage at the enormities perpetrated on the common people by the barons. From our more sophisticated age we can argue that they were probably no worse than a bad case of the Third Reich.
The workings of the peasant mindare obvious-“God helps the baron and his soldiers rob us and rape our daughters. God is the enemy of Satan.Therefore Satan is on our side; let us pray to him.”
Thus the ancient Sabbat is one tributary of the Black Mass. There is another, and again, it derives from the reaction of men under unbearable conditions.
There is an important fact about the development of Christianity which we are hardly likely to learn in Sunday school and this is what it was really like to live as a Christian in Rome between A.D. 30 and A.D. 400. It must have been like trying to live, raise your children, worship God and transact your business, in a town where a lynching is going on constantly. For this mass lynching was the spirit of the “games” which politicians put on to keep the mob quiet and buy themselves into office. The Emperor Trajan, in 107 A.D., to celebrate his conquest of Dacia, sponsored a series of “games” which went on for 122 days; in addition to the chariot races and other events, the crowd was sent into screaming ecstasies by the slaughter of 10,000 animals and 11,000 people.

A HERESY started early in the days of the Church, and I think it did not have to be imported from the Balkans or anywhere else. I think it grew out of such a scene as this:
A young Christian merchant, on returning to Rome from a business voyage, finds that his wife and children have been scooped in by one of the periodic round-ups of Christians to provide victims for the games. He wishes to die with them, but is dissuaded by his friends since he holds an important position in the church. All efforts to spring his family by bribery fail, or else he simply cannot raise the money. He is drawn to the arena on the fateful day by an impulse he cannot deny, hoping that his prayers can shorten their torments. After an elaborate program of bear-baiting, setting foxes afire after their tails are drenched with oil, and gladiatorial combats, the Christians are brought out, the women naked, their hands tied behind them. They are fixed to stakes driven in the sand. Then their children are paraded before them; the girls are raped by specially trained leopards, the boys torn to pieces by mastiffs. Our young Christian’s wife is hung head-down while a pack of half-starved hyenas tear off her face and breasts. Still alive, she is lowered, again tied to the post, her abdomen sliced open and her viscera drawn out and given to dogs to worry and fight over. Finally, to speed up the show for the other events, one of the arena attendants runs his short sword up her body and she is dragged out the Gate of Death. The attendants have a Good Thing Going for Them-selling the bodies to relatives so they can be given Christian burial.
Our young husband does not try to reclaim the body-other members of the church do it for him. The elders try to console him, pointing out that the rewards of Heaven are in store for those who die as martyrs for the Faith. The man sits in a catalepsy, unmoving, uncaring. Eventually he seems to recover enough to take care of his shop and attend the secret services of his church but something has changed in him. Finally he is approached by another Christian who hints that the Church fathers have got it all wrong -this world is hell, the creation of Satan. Sex is sin in any form-look at the way the mob howls at the sextorture events in the circus. Only by denying the flesh, mortifying it and eventually leaving it, can true life be found. This doctrine was supposed to have begun with a Persian sage named Mani in the second century A.D. and to have infected the Western churches under the name of Manichaeism, but I don’t think we have to look for an import. I think it is a return to the “natural” religion of opposites and their eternal struggle-bad against good, night against day, winter against summer; the origin of it is in the very dualism of man’s perceptive apparatus which early in life tells him that there is a difference between “I” and “that.”
The Persian dualistic doctrines held that there would be an eventual triumph of the light or good forces over darkness and evil but there were doubters.
The tenet that marriage itself is a sin got stern reproof from the Church, but the idea took hold. If God is good, why did he create Evil? This was the big question. And the answers men demanded had to be answers which would satisfy their mode of thinking, which was bound by dualism.
There arose in the Church, like a viper in its bosom, the secret sect of the Cathars, who denied all the sacraments of the Church because they were administered with Matter, and Matter was of this world and of the Devil. They rejected the Virgin Mary because God was much too holy to have entered anything so vile as a woman’s body. Leaders of this heresy were called the Perfect and were initiated into its innermost secrets after incredible austerities. A Cathar priest, saying an ordinary mass, would say certain phrases backwards in symbolism of the Catharistic reversal of the basic tenets of Christianity. This woman-sex-flesh-despising cult grew and flourished like the green bay tree, subject to various additions and perversions wrought in it by time. At last it infected the powerful order of warrior-monks, the Templars.

THIS ORDER had been founded with the best of intentions in Jerusalem in 1119 A.D. by nine knights; its purpose was to defend the Holy Sepulchure and the pilgrims visiting it. For 140 years the order grew and flourished, conducting a perpetual Crusade against the Saracens. When the Moslems finally captured the Holy Land, the order retired to its island of Cyprus and its many castles throughout Europe. It had become a powerful, rich and autonomous organization, answerable only to the Pope. Its members swore personal poverty, chastity and obedience. As the order grew in riches, poverty didn’t mean much: they lived like kings. And at first they had eschewed women, but when you keep a bunch of soldiers cooped up in a castle long enough something’s got to give, and there were rumors that the Templars preferred each other to women. Nature, it seemed, had triumphed in the end. In any order with 9,000 castles and manors, it is obvious that there must have been a few gay boys in the crowd. And there is no doubt that many of its members were secret Cathars. But that the entire order was officially Catharistic, there is evidence to the contrary.
Anyhow, King Philip IV of France, called the Fair, wanted to destroy the order for the best of all possible 14th century reasons-robbery. On the night of October 13, 1307, he ordered the arrest of the grand master and the other high ranking officers of the order. In Paris 138 Templars were “examined” for a month during which time 36 expired at the hands of the examiners and the others confessed anything the king wanted confessed, chiefly to denying Christ and spitting on the cross.
Philip had built better than he knew. He had invented a brand new racket-accusing people of heresy and witchcraft so as to confiscate their property or pay off old grudges. The essential evidence against the accused was “The Queen of Proofs”-his own confession in court. The brain-washing went on around the clock. This attack on the Templars set in motion what has come to be known as the great Witch Mania which terrorized Europe for three centuries before it finally gave way to commonsense and common decency.
The witch hunters all unknowingly obeyed one of the maxims of modern merchandising-“Find a need and fill it.” The Church was now definitely on the side of the strongest armies and the richest nobles; the poverty-stricken serfs needed little urging to revert to the old god of the phallus, so abhorred by the mitred bishops of the rich. The witch Sabbats began to be held in secret but more devotedly: the more heat was put on the more conversions there were to the worship of Satan. In the popular mind the terms “God” and “Devil” had simply been transposed, only “God” was not allied with the folk, was not in favor of liberty, equality and fraternity.
And still the tormenting paradox of Evil in a world designed and created by a good God, tortured the sensitive intellects. Many gave up and in regard to Evil followed the maxim, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” And this included a great many parish priests who sat up all night with dying parishioners and hardly had enough to eat in payment for their devotion to their jobs. Word began to get around that if you said a mass in a certain way, with certain objects under the altar cloth, it would cause the death of an unwanted landlord or husband. Wealthy men-or their wives-were willing to pay for such services.
Some of the more threadbare gentlemen of the cloth began trying to find buried treasures by means of magical changes in the mass. Between 1673 and 1680 in France alone some 50 priests were executed for sacrilege.
King Louis XIV, the Sun King, was occupying the splendid and bankrupt throne of France. Adultery in court circles was all the rage and a man in love with and faithful to his own wife would have been laughed out of court as a hopeless “square.”
Religious ideas had changed a great deal since the ruin of the Templars. Now the cognoscenti began experimenting with atheism, or occultism, in which the powers of the Devil were now assigned to elemental forces which could be controlled by the proper rituals. There was a great casting of horoscopes to find out what the King would do next. And at this point there arose one of the most infamous women of history, Catherine Deshayes, known as “La Voisin.”
La Voisin, from an old house in the suburbs of Paris, operated a racket right across the board; she dealt in poisons easy to administer and hard to detect called “powders of inheritance” for doing away with people
who had left you their estates in their wills. She sold abortifacients, performed abortions on the premises, cast horoscopes, read the Tarot cards for her customers and, for a staggering fee, would arrange a special Black Mass with genuine consecrated hosts and a real priest, using the body of a naked woman as an altar, a magical operation guaranteed to produce results. The king’s mistress, the Marchioness of Montespan, took part in one of these, occupying the place of dishonor on the altar and “receiving” the host in proper Satanic fashion. At least this time the Host, when violated, was violated in a place reserved for royalty. The purpose of the operation was, of course, to insure Montespan’s continued hold over the King.
La Voisin and her gang-which included her lover, Nicholas Levasseur, the executioner of Paris, who provided fat from the bodies of executed murderers to make Black Mass candleswere finally caught, tried and executed in 1679. But La Voisin was made of tough stuff. Never once did she let slip the name of a single customer.

THE ROUGH and tumble 17th century was drawing to a close and for another hundred years nothing much was heard of the Black Mass in Francealways a center of its activities.
In the 18th century in England some young rakes, led by the notorious bully and seducer, Sir Francis Dashwood, founded a Hell Fire club and a mock order of “monks” with “nuns” to match but the morale of laity and clergy had gone so to pot that nc one of importance minded.
It was not until the great upsurge of occultism in the 1880’s that the Black Mass came into its own again, sometimes an actual Satanist mass by sincere worshipers of the goat-headed god, more often a fraud for the extraction of money from tourists. In the latter category it formed part of the entertainment of the gay French capital up to World War II, in company with exhibitions usually involving one woman and three men, or liaisons between a woman and a Great Dane, a Shetland pony or even a small python. It was to one of the peep-show-type Black Masses, without a doubt, that the nervous novelist, Huysmans, was conducted by one of his occultist lady friends while he was writing “La Bas.” For he was nothing if not thorough.
Today, the Black Mass seems to have died down for a time. A few years ago the Vicar of the parish of Yarcombe in Devonshire, reported that the church had been disarranged one rainy night when it had been left open to serve as a refuge for benighted wayfarers. The candles had burned to their sockets, one candlestick held the paw of a white kitten which had been hacked off. A prayer book lay face open on the floor and when recovered it was observed that the lines “Give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness,” had been crossed out with diagonal lines of black-grease pencil. But such resurgences are sporadic.
There remains, of the elementals which tormented Joris-Karl Huysmans, only the philosophical Problem of Evil. And it has two viable antagonists in the modern world.
In the early 19th century the biggest double-dome in Europe belonged to Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Heidelberg. Beginning with the idea of Pure Being, derived from Lao Tsu of China, he worked out a theory of reality as Absolute Idea, best exemplified in the Prussian State. To him good and evil were necessary opposites as war was necessary for eventual social progress. His theories struck fire in the brain of young Karl Marx who, as he put it, “turned Hegelian Idealism right-side up” with his “dialectical materialism,” which has gone on to dubious glory as the religion of Communism. Marx said, “The philosophers have only described the world; the point, however, is to change it.” If, in this process of change, the individual loses his life, it is of no consequence. This takes care of the paradox of Good and Evil by making the triumph of the toiling masses, led by their self-appointed vanguard, the Communist Party, the only Good-and keeping the Party members so busy they don’t have time to think of bourgeois philosophical nonsense.
But there is another solution to Huysman’s horror.
Out of the mysterious East in the 1930’s there began to come rumors of a psychological-religious method or discipline which, once achieved, answered, or more properly dissolved, all doubts and dilemmas. It captured the imagination and curiosity of psychologists, scientists and avant garde intellectuals; in the 17 years since Hiroshima enough of its results have become known to widen the circle of interest, as yet still among the intelligentsia. It consists of a discipline which makes the U. S. Marine Corps boot camp training seem like the first day in kindergarten. But for those who perservere, it is claimed, the shell of dualism which imprisons the human mind splits like an abscess and the divine certainty beyond all opposites comes flooding in. The name of this discipline-religion in Japanese is, of course, Zen.

Mark Twain’s Americanism by H.L. Mencken (1917)

Mark Twain’s Americanism

by H.L. Mencken (1917)

When Mark Twain died, in 1910, one of the magnificos who paid public tribute to him was William H. Taft, then President of the United States. “Mark Twain,” said Dr. Taft, “gave real intellectual enjoyment to millions, and his works will continue to give such pleasure to millions yet to come. He never wrote a line that a father could not read to a daughter.”

The usual polite flubdub and not to be exposed, perhaps, to critical analysis. But it was, in a sense, typical of the general view at that time, and so it deserves to be remembered for the fatuous inaccuracy of the judgment in it. For Mark Twain dead is beginning to show far different and more brilliant colors than those he seemed to wear during life, and the one thing no sane critic would say of him to-day is that he was the harmless fireside jester, the mellow chautauquan, the amiable old grandpa of letters that he was once so widely thought to be.

The truth is that Mark was almost exactly the reverse. Instead of being a mere entertainer of the mob, he was in fact a literary artist of the very highest skill and sophistication, and, in all save his superficial aspect, quite unintelligible to Dr. Taft’s millions. And instead of being a sort of Dr. Frank Crane in cap and bells, laboriously devoted to the obvious and the uplifting, he was a destructive satirist of the utmost pungency and relentlessness, and the most bitter critic of American platitude and delusion, whether social, political or religious, that ever lived.

Bit by bit, as his posthumous books appear, the true man emerges, and it needs but half an eye to see how little he resembles the Mark of national legend. Those books were written carefully and deliberately; Mark wrote them at the height of his fame; he put into them, without concealment, the fundamental ideas of his personal philosophy — the ideas which colored his whole view of the world. Then he laid the manuscripts away, safe in the knowledge that they would not see the light until he was under six feet of earth. We know, by his own confession, why he hesitated to print them while he lived; he knew that fame was sweet and he feared that they might blast it. But beneath that timorousness there was an intellectual honesty that forced him to set down the truth. It was really comfort he wanted, not fame. He hesitated, a lazy man, to disturb his remaining days with combat and acrimony. But in the long run he wanted to set himself straight.

Two of these books, The Mysterious Stranger and What Is Man? are now published, and more may be expected to follow at intervals. The latter, in fact, was put into type during Mark’s lifetime and privately printed in a very limited edition. But it was never given to the public, and copies of the limited edition bring $40 or $50 at book auctions to-day. Even a pirated English edition brings a high premium. Now, however, the book is issued publicly by the Harpers, though without the preface in which Mark explained his reasons for so long withholding it.

The ideas in it are very simple, and reduced to elementals, two in number. The first is that man, save for a trace of volition that grows smaller and smaller the more it is analyzed, is a living machine — that nine-tenths of his acts are purely reflex, and that moral responsibility, and with it religion, are thus mere delusions. The second is that the only genuine human motive, like the only genuine dog motive or fish motive or protoplasm motive is self interest — that altruism, for all its seeming potency in human concerns, is no more than a specious appearance — that the one unbroken effort of the organism is to promote its own comfort, welfare and survival.

Starting from this double basis, Mark undertakes an elaborate and extraordinarily penetrating examination of all the fine ideals and virtues that man boasts of, and reduces them, one after the other, to untenability and absurdity. There is no mere smartness in the thing. It is done, to be sure, with a sly and disarming humor, but at bottom it is done quite seriously and with the highest sort of argumentative skill. The parlor entertainer of Dr. Taft’s eulogy completely disappears; in his place there arises a satirist with something of Rabelais’s vast resourcefulness and dexterity in him, and all of Dean Swift’s devastating ferocity. It is not only the most honest book that Mark ever did; it is, in some respects, the most artful and persuasive as a work of art. No wonder the pious critic of The New York Times, horrified by its doctrine, was forced to take refuge behind the theory that Mark intended it as a joke.

In The Mysterious Stranger there is a step further. What Is Man? analyzes the concept of man; The Mysterious Stranger boldly analyzes the concept of God. What, after all, is the actual character of this Being we are asked to reverence and obey? How is His mind revealed by His admitted acts? How does His observed conduct toward man square with those ideals of human conduct that He is said to prescribe, and whose violation He is said to punish with such appalling penalties?

These are the questions that Mark sets for himself. His answers are, in brief, a complete rejection of the whole Christian theory — a rejection based upon a wholesale reductio ad absurdum. The thing is not mere mocking; it is not even irreverent; but the force of it is stupendous. I know of no agnostic document that shows a keener sense of essentials or a more deft hand for making use of the indubitable. A gigantic irony is in it. It glows with a profound conviction, almost a kind of passion. And the grotesque form of it — a child’s story — only adds to the sardonic implacability of it.

As I say, there are more to come. Mark in his idle moments was forever at work upon some such riddling of the conventional philosophy, as he was forever railing at the conventional ethic in his private conversation. One of these pieces, highly characteristic, is described in Albert Bigelow Paine’s biography. It is an elaborate history of the microbes inhabiting a man’s veins. They divine a religion with the man as God; they perfect a dogma setting forth his desires as to their conduct; they engaged in a worship based upon the notion that he is immediately aware of their every act and jealous of their regard and enormously concerned about their welfare. In brief, a staggering satire upon the anthropocentric religion of man — a typical return to the favorite theme of man’s egoism and imbecility.

All this sort of thing, to be sure, has its dangers for Mark’s fame. Let his executors print a few more of his unpublished works — say, the microbe story and his sketch of life at the court of Elizabeth — and Dr. Taft, I dare say, will withdraw his prominciamento that “he never wrote a line that a father could not read to his daughter.” Already, indeed, the lady reviewers of the newspapers sound an alarm against him, and the old lavish praise of him begins to die down to whispers. In the end, perhaps, the Carnegie libraries will put him to the torture, and The Innocents Abroad will be sacrificed with What Is Man?

But that effort to dispose of him is nothing now. Nor will it succeed. While he lived he was several times labeled and relabeled, and always inaccurately and vainly. At the start the national guardians of letters sought to dismiss him loftily as a hollow buffoon, a brother to Josh Billings and Petroleum V. Nasby. This enterprise failing, they made him a comic moralist, a sort of chautauquan in motley, a William Jennings Bryan armed with a slapstick. Foiled again, they promoted him to the rank of Thomas Bailey Aldrich and William Dean Howells, and issued an impertinent amnesty for the sins of his youth. Thus he passed from these scenes — ratified at last, but somewhat heavily patronized.

Now the professors must overhaul him again, and this time, I suppose, they will undertake to pull him down a peg. They will succeed as little as they succeeded when they tried to read him out of meeting in the early ’80s. The more they tackle him, in fact, the more it will become evident that he was a literary artist of the very first rank, and incomparably the greatest ever hatched in these states.

One reads with something akin to astonishment of his superstitious reverence for Emerson — of how he stood silent and bare-headed before the great transcendentalist’s house at Concord. One hears of him, with amazement, courting Whittier, Longfellow and Holmes. One is staggered by the news, reported by Traubel, that Walt Whitman thought “he mainly misses fire.” The simple fact is that Huckleberry Finn is worth the whole work of Emerson with two-thirds of the work of Whitman thrown in for make-weight, and that one chapter of it is worth the whole work of Whittier, Longfellow and Holmes.

Mark was not only a great artist; he was pre-eminently a great American artist. No other writer that we have produced has ever been more extravagantly national. Whitman dreamed of an America that never was and never will be; Poe was a foreigner in every line he wrote; even Emerson was no more than an American spigot for European, and especially German, ideas. But Mark was wholly of the soil. His humor was American. His incurable Philistinism was American. His very English was American. Above all, he was an American in his curious mixture of sentimentality and cynicism, his mingling of romanticist and iconoclast.

English Traits might have been written by any one of half a dozen Germans. The tales of Poe, printed as translations from the French, would have deceived even Frenchmen. And Leaves of Grass might have been written in London quite as well as in Brooklyn. But in Huckleberry Finn, in A Connecticut Yankee and in most of the short sketches there is a quality that is unmistakably and over whelmingly national. They belong to our country and our time quite as obviously as the skyscraper or the quick lunch counter. They are as magnificently American as the Brooklyn Bridge or Tammany Hall.

Mark goes down the professorial gullet painfully. He has stuck more than once. He now seems fated to stick again. But these gaggings will not hurt him, nor even appreciably delay him. Soon or late the national mind will awake to the fact that a great man was among us — that in the midst of all our puerile rages for dubious foreigners we produced an artist who was head and shoulders above all of them.

#phonar | task1 | “It just ain’t nachural, I tells ya.”

I spent a little bit of time this morning completing my first task for #phonar. Details can be found in a previous blog post.

Below is the copy I wrote for the spread. It’s a wee bit heavy handed, but it’s better than lorem ipsum. Also, I proofed as best I could… full refund if not satisfied.



Written and Edited by Kevin I. Slaughter

The styles and processes couldn’t be more different. The motivations varied from a desperate bid to make quick cash to cultivating a truly unique and painstaking artistic vision. And yet, there is something familiar in all of these photographs, something most people don’t want to see.

People often have a visceral response to these images. They often evoke one of our strongest instincts – disgust. We see the “other”, the thing outside of ourselves that we want to keep away. From ugliness to retardation, from morbidity to degeneration.

And yet, we look. Maybe after some initial reflexive response, where we turn away or close our eyes, but we still look and often stare.

Possibly an evolutionary response, knowing one’s enemy.  A gazelle will watch the cheetah, because if the cheetah comes to close, it means death. The same can be said about degeneracy, though in a more abstract way.

It is natural to hate and fear the “other”. People deny this aspect of nature because they want nature to behave how they think it should, instead of how it is.

It is also natural to fool one’s self, to live a lie that what you have is good, even when it’s flawed or ugly or broken. Objectivity is always elusive in the human mind, and being presented with an uncomfortable objective truth sparks an irrational mental war on that truth.

There is a constant struggle in the public sphere to take control of “nature”, of what it means. A constant push of this priest or that politician to couch their beliefs into a frame that is on the side of nature, be it one that “god” created, or one that evolved.

The one objective truth about nature that we know is that it works completely independently from our wants and needs. What is good, or right, or beautiful has nothing whatsoever to do with what can and will occur.
Nature is what is.