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"Your 'reality', sir, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever."
— Karl Friedrich Hieronymus, Freiherr von M√ľnchhausen

LibraryThing: What I'm Currently Reading

I have a new feature on my blog, driven by a site called LibraryThing. LibraryThing is one of those newfangled "Web 2.0" sites that allows you to catalog your entire library of books. Another way to use it is to keep track of what books you have and to help find other users who are into the same thing. I plan to enter books as I begin reading them as a way of keeping track of what and how much I'm reading and as a way of communicating with my readers so as to spark discussion.

At the bottom of every page on my blog, you'll see a section below the place where I'm showing my favorite songs from Pandora. This new section is entitled "LibraryThing: What I'm Currently Reading". The leftmost book is what I'm reading right now, and proceeding to the right from there is a look back through the last five books or so I've recently read. The books link to Amazon if you want to check them out or find out more.

So, at the time of this writing, I'm reading a biography of Aleister Crowley, entitled Do as Thou Wilt by Lawrence Sutin. I have wanted to read this biography for some time, but hadn't because when I started reading it some three years ago or so I lost it. I received a new copy as a gift sometime later but have only gotten around to reading it now.

I'm sort of amazed at how this biographical work has illuminated the actual content of Crowley's incredibly obscure, mystical writings. Crowley approaches his topic with a sort of brutal arrogance, never bothering to explain himself, refusing to slow down, and generally taking the attitude that it's not his problem if the reader doesn't follow. There may be something to this approach, especially if you're so that only the determined few can penetrate your work, but I admit that Crowley's ravings made little sense to me at all when I read them. But Sutin has provided a number of key historical facts to put the writing in context and already it all makes much more sense. For example, when Crowley talks about "Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel", he's borrowing a phrase from The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abra-Melin the Mage to mean gnosis or knowledge of divinity. It makes his writing far more understandable.

I'm barely 100 pages into the book, but I can already heartily recommend Do as Thou Wilt to anyone who has ever wanted to read Crowley and actually understand him. And I want to hear about what you are reading.... I'm always looking for recommendations!

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Comments on LibraryThing: What I'm Currently Reading
  Comment from Blogger gnome at Wednesday, September 26, 2007 1:52:00 PM
Nice web 2 widget thingy, and now I want to read something on Crowley besider a pretty intriguing rotten.com bio. Do as Thou Wilt sounds nice... Guess it might have to wait for Budha's Wagon, some H. Miller sillynes and quite a few stff in Greek, but I will read it.

BTW, how's the Game Design book?
  Comment from Blogger Red Bull at Wednesday, September 26, 2007 4:28:00 PM
Crowley is a fascinating individual if you're into anything related to the New Age, the occult or anything related. Especially since he's such a polarizing and sensational figure, Do As Thou Wilt is a great introduction since it tries to put it all in a reasonable perspective without uncritically buying into his whole "I am the devil" persona.

A post on Chris Crawford is forthcoming...
  Comment from Blogger gnome at Thursday, September 27, 2007 2:24:00 PM
Well, not really into New Age stuff, what with being a materialist, but my RPG addiction has helped me in enjoying some bits of the whole. recently read Hexenjammer... It's amazing this book millions (I think 14) of witches to death! A shocking read really.

Crowley seems indeed a fascinating individual, though I'm more into mr Crawford...
  Comment from Blogger Red Bull at Thursday, September 27, 2007 2:42:00 PM
The New Age (whether its adherents know it or not) owes a huge debt to Crowley and the Golden Dawn for their work in systematizing the huge catalog of symbols from Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Judaism.

All RPG stuff relies heavily on the influence of old-school, pen-and-paper D&D, which is a product of the early seventies, which was the height of the new age movement. The material that Gygax drew on for D&D almost certainly included works by people who had read Crowley.

Is Hexenhammer the Malleus Maleficarum? You must be reading my mind... I originally read this book when I was in high school when I was fascinated by witchcraft and superstition and just bought a copy last week to re-read.
  Comment from Blogger gnome at Friday, September 28, 2007 9:12:00 AM
Yes, that's the one. Shows just how far Christians can take things...

Actually, I'd say D&D is just Tolkien plagiarism and only recently evolved its own more (yet not so much) interesting stories. Also romanticism must have been quite an influence, though D&D wasn't what I head in mind. Well, not neccessarily...

Oh, and did you know that the worst fascist gang in Greece is called Golden Dawn. Thankfully they are now to terrified to roam the roads...

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The Red Bull Diary is the personal pulpit and intellectual dumping-ground for its author, an amateur game designer, professional programmer, political centrist and incurable skeptic. The Red Bull Diary is gaming, game design, politics, development, geek culture, and other such nonsense.