Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Talented Mr. Crowley

The Talented Mr. Crowley

 After I began the draft of this post entitled the Talented Mr. Crowley, another blogger John Rappaport commented on Lady Gaga's unusual (read that as repugnant), video, which I do not recommend watching, to promote her perfume-does it really matter what it is called? It came to light, that, as Rappaport writes:
... the production designer of Dark Knight Rises, Nathan Crowley, is related to the infamous British black-magic legend, Aleister Crowley, who was sometimes called The Great Beast 666.
In an interview with The Art Newspaper, Nathan said, "Yes, Aleister Crowley is a direct relative, he's my grandfather's cousin, but we were never allowed to even mention his name because we were a very Quaker family."
Nathan is also the production designer of Lady Gaga's video ad for her Perfume, Fame.
In terms of "the dark side," the full 5:41 version of the video-ad makes Dark Knight Rises look like a Disney cartoon by comparison.
If one thinks that it is a coincidence that a blood relative of Aleister Crowley is responsible for the hideous, hellish imagery of the two productions, they are forgetting two similar concepts from both the esoteric and psychological perspectives. Occultism has insight into what would be called the generational curse -"the sins of the fathers" and has some parallel to the Jungian concept of, not just collective ancestral memory, but also of a personal unconscious that is inherited from previous generations. I have mentioned, probably too many times, that writers and social commentators, alternative and mainstream , acknowledge the influence of Aleister Crowley on contemporary belief systems and culture, admitting that he was a  drug addict, black magician and licentious bounder, but will not go so far as to admit definitively that pedophilia, satanism and sadism were surely in his repertoire, as obvious as these factors seem to anyone who has read biographical accounts of his life. Although never accused legally of being a murderer or a rapist, I am sure that he was, and he appears to have driven  many around him to suicide and insanity. Of course with a reputation like that, the world would surely quickly beat a path to the door of his legacy, exalting him as a towering intellectual giant of the 20th Century. The international organizations: O.T.O. and Thelema support, archive, teach and disseminate his writing, research and biography. To them he is a genius, a brilliant philosopher, magician with a k and role-model for Individuation.

Victorian Spiritualists at Work

Did I say Individuation? Because another towering genius of the 20th Century, and a contemporary of Crowley, invented that term and concept and many others that have great crossover potential along the psychology/occultism continuum. Jung is largely thought to be responsible for integrating spirituality and metaphysics into the field of psychology, mostly through his extensive research and writing on cross-cultural religious and mythological symbols. This union of rational and intuitive was brought into the mainstream as a tool for finding inner meaning which, it could be said, gave rise to the self-help movement that we see arrayed before us today. So, although Freud pioneered dream interpretation, Jung is the real father of depth psychology, and ironically, at the same time helped launch the most superficial of pop psychologies. It would be more accurate to say that Jung's suppositions regarding the supernatural and the collective unconsciousness allowed occultism to be accepted among the general public, and with the same Victorian flavored spiritualism, with which Blavatsky initially created the new age movement with which we are currently being inundated.

Ya Put De Lime in De Coconut Mix It All Togeder

Strymon basilides ;
No relation to the Gnostic theologian.
Thelemaic scholars have been avid in pointing out the intellectual, experiential and philosophical similarity between Jung's and Crowley's work:

Jung channeled Basilides, Crowley channeled Aiwass; Jung studied Gnosticism, Crowley studied Gnosticism. Crowley has been credited with helping to liberate mankind (us) from religious repression (only to replace it with Crowleyanity - a religion exalting him- oh yes, yes, I know it was only a joke to toy with the uptight...), especially that of Christian morality.  Jung liberated mankind from the repression of Victorian thinking about sexuality and duty. Crowley had intellectual disdain for the Judeo/Christian paradigm, while using the esoteric workings of kabbalistic ceremonial magic and subverted Christian symbolism from the masonic cults.  Jung studied the Kaballah and tarot. Like Jung, Crowley studied cross-cultural symbolism, using it to develop the Thoth tarot, (after making sure via the Golden Dawn that the tarot would correspond with the type of kabbalistic "magic with a k" he hoped to master). Even though Jung was raised Christian, there is no real evidence that Jung believed in God or had any tendencies toward the path of Jesus Christ.

Individuation has drawn comparisons to Crowley's occult philosophy dictum "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law"-
 True Will, the ultimate spiritual core or quintessence of each person, which has a divinely self-ordained path through the world of experience. "Do what thou wilt" refers not to the outer emotional and intellectual self but to this sacred inner core of personal divinity. Often will is contrasted with whim, and the knowing and doing of the True Will is painted not in terms of license and ease but of responsibility and hard work. 
-- from the website of author Tim Maroney
- in that the  the personal will has a drive to discover one's true nature, which for the occultist is the true nature of their individual power. This, along with the concepts of projection (Freud) and the shadow make it possible to refute the idea of an objective demonic realm seen outside of the individual's inner world with respect to symbolic and archetypal association. It coincides with the notion that individual power, or in the Jungian case, transformation, resides in the ability to unleash the true will. The occultist achieves this through ritual workings, in transpersonal  psychology through techniques such as active imagination, "dreamwork" and archetypal therapy.
The implication of drawing these similarities seems to be: That because Carl Jung was a respected pioneer of, first psychoanalysis, later depth psychology, expressive arts therapies and other innovative modalities that have become absorbed into mainstream psychology, that somehow Crowley's perverted, self-absorbed and deceitful oeuvre must also be good because of the similarities in their interests. A kind of syncretism by association.

 Good Fairy/Bad Faery

 We, who have ever had an interest in psychology, are taught right off the bat that Freud founded psychoanalysis, and Jung, one of his greatest students split from him because of Freud's disapproval of Jung's interest in mysticism. Jung did not totally embrace the idea of sexual repression as the basic foundation of psychoanalysis  seeing it as too limiting and restrictive, so the story of the rift has gone. Maybe; maybe not.

Freud as the anti-mystic never made any sense to me for several reasons, one of them being that he introduced dream interpretation to the field of psychology, and also because I saw his touring art collection in the 80s. He collected antiquities- Roman, Greek, Persian, African artifacts and icons-he had the Baboon of Thoth in his collection.

In the director's commentary on the DVD of  A Dangerous Method, based on the true life story of the relationship between Jung and Freud (people wrote letters continuously in those days), David Cronenberg says that he wanted to disturb the stereotypes of Freud and Jung. He certainly disturbs the ideas that people have about their personalities and relationships.
Contrary to the image of the stern, rigid formalist  Freud, we see a (from the literature of the time)  "masculine, charming and witty" doctor, played by Viggo Mortensen. Freud comes off as warm, family oriented (big family dinners) and ethnic. It is Jung who appears cold and emotionally stilted. Freud forthrightly states that he wants psychoanalysis to be taken seriously by the scientific community, and Cronenberg comments that his fear was that it would be seen as another Jewish mystical movement. Jung has an S & M affair with his (severely disturbed) patient, Sabina Speilrein, but denies it when she goes to Freud for mediation, then tries to refuse to take money from her so that he can say she wasn't really his patient.That comes off as petty. Speilrein eventually becomes Freud's patient. In the commentary Cronenberg says that Jung wrote that he was sure they were having an affair, and that he was also sure Freud had had an affair with his sister-in-law. Since there is no evidence of this anywhere, especially in the totally candid writings of Speilrein, Cronenberg offers his opinion that Jung may have been fishing for some moral high ground with Freud. Speilrein is eventually cured, goes on to become a normal person and becomes a psychoanalyst herself. Jung never mentions her anywhere in his books or interviews, yet Freud, in his writing, gives her credit for major contributions in defining and developing the field of psychoanalysis. So could it be that Freud was not merely an uptight moralist, but instead a deeply moral person? For some reason people just can't seem to wrap their minds around that. Of  course the movie publicity and graphics make it look like a woman torn between two men.

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