I, Crowley: Almost the Last Confession of the Beast Paperback – 1 Jan 1997
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Aleister Crowley, also known as "The Beast 666", here recounts his "vocation", his practice of sex magic and his bruising encounters with his contemporaries. In a beyond-the-grave "autobiography" he denies that he was a murderer, but claims to be a prophet and practitioner of sexual freedom.
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And as Crowley may amuse you, there is also bitterness. He can be seen as a product of religious abuse, raised by fanatical parents, who were ideological and lacking compassion. This upbringing, which left psychological scares, and a tragic event in his life (no spoilers here), may have formed his personality and his path in life. Wilson is compassionate toward Crowley, but without sentimentality.Crowley, who serves as an image of modern day heretic, was often called by the press "the most wicked man on Earth," and we may understand why people found his behavior so shocking. The author is not white washing Crowley here. But when Wilson juxtaposes Crowley to the others, those who opposed him, or who were his bitter enemies, we are forced to ask what we as a society perceive as evil, or what freedom is, and where are the limits of personal freedom, and what is brain washing and manipulation.
For example there is Mussolini, just mentioned shortly in the novel, but in the right spot. Both were contemporaries, Crowley lived in Sicily.Yet Benito Mussolini was considered a great man, while Crowley was the demon ( he had only few people who followed him, and tragic accounts of wasted lives are there).
There is also the problem of Crowley sacrificing a cat in one of his rituals. And there is no doubt, that Wilson (as me), thinks this is a horrible thing to do.Than we have one of his poet collegues, who in order to rejuvenate himself collaborated with scientists who kept monkeys in their lab, and produced a substance which was than considered to have great regenerative powers when injected.Obviously a very frivolous reason for sacrificing monkeys. Than there is Crowley, who in desperation kills a cat, as he believes that the sacrifice will help his very ill daughter to survive.Both were misguided, but Crowley is less of a monster than his respected collegue.
For those of you who are Crowley fans, (I am not, I confess), you may enjoy it, but you may get upset too. It depends how you prefer Crowley to be portrayed.Crowley here is a weak person who in spite of his honest seeking would profit more from a therapy for abused children. (But this was sadly no this option those days). The author has great style, his writing is witty, characterization is great. Wilson is a dramatist, he writes mostly plays, but Crowley as a character in a novel is amazing. Not an easy task to portray such unusual person, but Wilson excels.To me the novel is brilliant, I recommend it highly. Yes, Crowley was sexist, nationalistic, racist, etc.Yet the book is very complex, it shows his struggles as a man who desperately was seeking to free himself from pain of his formative years, to find a better universe for himself and others, a better universe than this in which he grew up, and in which he was not able to put his trust. In his desperate search for creating another, in his opinion better alternative, he creatively grew a very big and complicated ego.
A 'must read' for occultists everywhere. Buy it. You won't be disappointed.