MatthewJ1's blog

SATANIC AESTHETICS AND MAGIC

 

Once upon a time, there were favored Modernist assumptions about authorship and originality and authenticity, but then the story goes that in the late 1960, and extending through the 1970s and well into the 1980s, those precious beliefs, which really were at the philosophical and aesthetic core of Modernity, were held up to critical scrutiny and were slowly undermined. There was no more originality and the author’s biography and intentions were no longer really relevant. The days of the great original author were apparently over. It was the reading and re-reading and re-reading of discourse which was important. It was the deconstruction of the text, which was important, and the bringing out of the perspectives of the excluded Other.

 

There are a lot of people who have created careers and found a place in the canon, based on their work in the critique of these Modernist notions – Michel Foucault is one academic who is situated in this whole movement and his essay ‘What is an Author’ is just one example of a piece of writing which engages some of the issues; Roland Barthes is another and his essay The Death of the Author’ was regarded as important in art and literary circles. There are a lot of people with a stake in this. The power of this criticism runs so deep and it challenges almost everything people believe about human beings, society, history and art practice.

 

All of these issues and people were important when I went to college so many damned years ago. I think the times change though and every critique is transformed or refocuses. To be an author and to be original is still a tricky business nowadays, even though the cultural and intellectual vanguard has to some extent changed its focus.

 

But what does all this shit have to do with Satanism and Satanic magic? To unpack this, I might start out from Anton LaVey. I tend to move out from LaVey often. LaVey has been quoted as stating words to the effect that “aesthetics is everything.” That’s a big claim – “aesthetics is everything.”

 

I make this claim: Anton LaVey was a Modernist. That claim makes some sense when you consider the time he grew up in i.e., the heyday of American Modernity and American Modernism. And further when you consider how he built his Satanic aesthetic out of German Expressionist film, film noir, Lovecraft, Weird Tales magazine, art deco and I’m sure many other Modernist elements as well.

 

But further: I think LaVey’s position is a Modernist one because he, like all genuine Modernists, believes in the fundamental/central place of the individual author as the producer of his or her own unique and original vision. LaVey may rely on the work of William Mortensen and Mortensen’s ‘Command to Look’ to provide him with the objective formal principles around the creation of his aesthetic acts, such as rituals, lesser magical spectacles, glamour, and art, etc., but LaVey is still very much the author and what he does is very much his. He is at the centre.

 

Okay, just to focus this:  I think it is true that a Satanist seeks to impose and magnify their will.

 

There are different ways of doing that - of imposing and magnifying the will. You can move people around, as if they were pawns on your chessboard, if you are skilled enough. You can make certain choices and then act accordingly and that acting may impose and magnify your will. You can engage in antinomian praxis and so on…

 

Satanic aesthetics, in my view, is fairly straightforward – it is the imposition and magnification of the will aesthetically. To impose and magnify the will, from my vantage point, is productive, it is creative; it is a form of organizing to some extent, it is Godgame. To impose and magnify the will aesthetically is to create a context within which states of affairs, which I can more or less control, play out. It is the stage within which my theatre takes place according to my direction.

 

I think as a Satanist: I necessarily have to see the world in a different way, but further, I have to extend my aesthetic preferences or choices across as much of my environment as possible and then beyond that. My aesthetics is my environment. I have to extend as far as possible and I physically alter the environment as I extend. Possibly one could think about architect Howard Roarke from ‘The Fountainhead’ as an example of someone who is literally extending his will across physical space. There are so many other examples out there.    

 

SATANIC MAGIC

 

I don’t necessarily want to go into detail about my belief in the metaphysical character of the conventional Satanic aesthetic and the elements which underpin it. I did, however, want to highlight some magical practice which underlines some of my views. LaVey is relevant again I think. I want to consider a couple of ritual chambers to help illustrate my point. I also want to draw on LaVey’s “Emerald Tablet” his ‘Pentagonal Revisionism’ as well.

 

What are total environments and artificial human companions really about?

 

The Den of Iniquity is obviously a ritual chamber, just as the art deco ambience of Dr. Anton Phibes’ music room, where he plays his organ and dances with Vulnavia, to the sounds of his automated wind up band, is a ritual chamber.

 

Those ritual chambers contain, in a discrete enclosed space, the objective aesthetic context, which the magician would see extended throughout space, well beyond the boundaries of a ritual chamber. Ritualistically projecting or ritualistically pushing that environment outwards, beyond the confines of a ritual chamber, is a part of the way the magic is supposed to work in those types of ritual chambers.

 

But moreover, the artificial companions which occupy those “art installations” are characters or actors or models or templates for the way the magician views others in this environment he or she is trying to push out. This is my aesthetic and this is how and where I see you. This is my theatre and this is the role you will play. They are tools; they are pawns. They have a certain function. Again the magician is seeking to place people in their environment and give them certain roles. You place them on your chessboard and give them certain ways of moving and certain amounts of power in relation to everyone else. Does this sort of magic actually work? Who knows? It is thoroughly ego driven. It is totally self-centered and completely Modernist.

 

I just wanted to finish this rather long post by stating that, in my view, Anton LaVey was beginning to play with time and seek a form of immortality to some extent, in his later years, when he was more reclusive and less likely to give interviews, etc.

 

The Den really is a sort of time machine, as the whole aesthetic environment of the chamber, is reminiscent of LaVey’s youth and a sort of film noir bar scene from the past, peopled by all those artificial companions, which you could say are appropriate to that aesthetic space and LaVey’s own conception. He steps in there and plays his music and he is back there in that time and everybody in there is “alive.” Unfortunately, however, you can step into the illusion of the past, play the keyboards and create a magic associated with that past, but no one human being can hold back the tides of time forever. Nobody can undermine or call a halt to Becoming, though it may be fun to try for a while…

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-Pima8T45o

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSOzdFoZsho

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hu-CK47NM8E

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQdDJMxkRxA

 

THE OCCULT HISTORY OF THE THIRD REICH and RUSSIA’S WAR: BLOOD UPON THE SNOW

 

I’m not sure if this will interest anybody here, but I recently tracked this down on Youtube.

 

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLn-VdljUZ7KIWzw3DjryaB9U0_NZa5vBd

 

I discovered the 4 part: ‘Occult History of the Third Reich’ on the Temple of Set reading list years ago. I bought the series on DVD, and then leant it to someone and never got it back.

 

This is pretty good viewing for those interested in Nazi Germany, though the info may be regarded, by some, as rather simple and introductory. I am not a National Socialist or fascist, as I don’t like having to goosestep, in line, in any sort of formation.

 

Having said that though – I am interested in this idea that Nazi Germany was based on occult or black magical principles – this 4 part series really explores that and gives people a starting point for research if they want to flesh that out. I remember Nikolas Schreck and Michael Aquino both expressing the view that Adolf Hitler was a great black magician.

 

The other interesting thing I have recently found on Youtube is this.

 

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLoDS9Eoofuwrf31PV1TmqYaBwZ0QF-J-W

 

It is a long 10 part documentary called ‘Russia’s War: Blood upon the Snow.’ This documentary examines the years of the Soviet Union under Stalin’s regime, and looks at the conflict between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union during World War Two.

 

I don’t think the Soviet Union was necessarily built on occult or magical principles. Marxist/Leninist Communism was supposed to be essentially materialist, i.e. it drove any form of idealism or mystification out into the margins or excluded it all together. It hence implies a thoroughly disenchanted worldview, with a supposedly real basis in material history – mode of production, labor relations, and social classes, etc.

 

Anyway, for anyone who is looking to examine so called “dark history,” this stuff is quite interesting.

 

   

THE SATANIC BIBLE DEDICATION PAGE

 

I thought you might be interested in this. Below is an excerpt taken from Stephen Flowers’ book ‘Lords of the Left Hand Path.’ It was re-quoted by Michael Aquino and I think it also appears in the Underground version of LaVey’s TSB. Below is the original TSB Dedication Page with comments by Flowers. It is great stuff.

 

‘Essential to the nature of the myth of any figure such as Anton LaVey are the influences which shaped that figure’s thought and action. LaVey himself provided a core list of such influences on his thought on the dedication page of the original printings of his Satanic Bible. It is telling that in more recent printings of the book this page has been omitted.

 

On that list appear 19 primary personages, with 20 more given a sort of “honorable mention”. There is also one animal, Togare, LaVey’s famous pet lion, and the Nine Unknown Men. [Almost 70 other names appeared in a similar list in his Satanic Rituals book. These too have been removed in recent printings.]

 

Space does not permit me to discuss each one of these personages in any detail, but the primary list is extremely important to understanding LaVey’s Satanic philosophy.

 

The 19 primary men are (in the order he listed them): Bernardino Logara, Karl Haushofer, Grigory Yefimovitch Rasputin, Sir Basil Zaharoff, Allesandro Cagliostro, Barnabas Saul, Ragnar Redbeard, William Mortensen, Hans Brick, Max Reinhardt, Orrin Klapp, Fritz Lang, Friedrich Nietzsche, William Claude Dukinfield, Phineas Taylor Barnum, Hans Poelzig, Reginald Marsh, Wilhelm Reich, and Mark Twain. After the names of each of these, LaVey characterizes them with a dedicatory phrase. These are given in quotation marks in the discussions below.

 

Bernadino Logara, “who knew the value of money”, unidentified, presumably a manipulative banker or financier.

 

Karl Haushofer (1869-1946), “a teacher without a classroom”, was the founder of the theory of “geopolitics” and a professor of geography at the University of Munich. He was sympathetic with National Socialism and exerted influence on its ideology, especially through one of his students, Rudolf Hess. However LaVey’s image and admiration of him comes through the modem mythologizing contained in The Morning of the Magicians, in which the authors have Haushofer involved in various occult goings-on in Tibet and with the infamous Thule Gesellschaft of Rudolf von Sebottendorf. There is, however, no evidence for these more “occultnik” connections.

 

Rasputin (1872-1916), “who knew the magic of a child”, was much admired by LaVey because he saw the Russian “mad monk” as a lusty manipulator of people (especially women) and power - all traits pursued by LaVey himself. But Rasputin was not likely to have had anything really “Satanic” about him. LaVey was most certainly inspired by more lurid accounts of Rasputin - and by the film Rasputin: The Mad Monk (Hammer, 1965).

 

Sir Basil Zaharoff (1850-1936), “a gentleman”, was an arms merchant who sold weaponry and encouraged his customers to use their purchases - all while not only becoming wealthy but being knighted by the King of England too!

 

The “secondary” dedication names: Howard Hughes, James Moody (CS member), Marcello Cagliostro (1743-1791), “a rogue”, was the assumed name of an Italian magician and alchemist named Guiseppe Balsamo. He billed himself as a “Count” and the “Grand Kophta of the Egyptian Lodge”, but what was less known was that he had been expelled from several countries due to his fraudulent dealings. He was popular with the people and a supporter of revolution, but ended his life in the dungeons of Pope Pius VI.

 

Barnabas Saul was the first “scryer”, or medium, employed by the Elizabethan mage John Dee (1527-1608). After leaving Dee’s service, Saul disavowed his visions.

 

Ragnar Redbeard (18427-1926?), “whose might is right”, is a story unto himself. “Redbeard” was perhaps the pseudonym of Arthur Desmond, an atheist and social Darwinist street-philosopher from whose book, entitled Might is Right LaVey lifted whole sections to create the “Book of Satan” portion of the Satanic Bible.

 

William Mortensen, “who looked ... and saw”, wrote a photographers’ manual entitled The Command to Look (1937). The psycho-optical theories contained in it greatly influenced LaVey’s approach to art and to images and the way they can influence the human mind. It must be considered a keystone to LaVey and Satanism.

 

Hans Brick, “who knows the law”, wrote a book entitled The Nature of the Beast (1960) which was a formative influence on the formulation of LaVey’s social philosophy, especially as contained in the Lex Talonis or “Eleven Rules of the Earth”.

 

Max Reinhardt (1873-1943), “a builder of dreams”, was born Max Goldman in Austria and became famous as a theatrical director who specialized in staging huge spectacles.

 

Orrin Klapp (b. 1915), “the walking man”, is a sociologist whose works Heroes, Villains and Fools (1962) and The Collective Search for Identity (1969) were greatly influential on LaVey’s ideas of social movements and change.

 

Fritz Lang (1890-1976), “who made moving blueprints”, was an Austrian film director who made such classics as Metropolis (1926) and M (1930).

 

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), “a realist”, was a German philosopher and forerunner to the existentialists. His ideas of the overman (or “superman”) and the “will to power”, as well as his ideas concerning the existence of natural “masters” and ’’slaves”, are greatly admired by modern philosophical Satanists.

 

W.C. Fields (1880-1946), “who saved me a journey to Tibet”, was the stage-name of William C. Dukinfield.          

                                                                                                                                                           

P.T. Barnum (1810-1891), “another great guru”, was the American showman famous for his exhibits of freaks and establishment of circuses. Barnum’s supposed basic philosophy - “There’s a sucker born every minute” - was taken to heart by LaVey and used as a mainstay of his worldview.

 

Hans Poelzig (1869-1936), “who knew all the angles”, was a German architect who specialized in grandiose and imaginative structures. An example is the Grand Theater in Berlin, also called the Max Reinhardt Theater (1919). He was also the set designer for The Golem (Deutsche Bioscop, 1914).

 

 

Reginald Marsh (1898-1954), “a great artist”, was an illustrator, scene designer, and painter of gritty street scenes, greatly admired by LaVey, who is himself a painter of unusual subjects.

 

Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957), “who knew more than cabinet making”, was a German psychologist who held that there was a material force called “orgone” which worked in conjunction with the human orgasm. This force could also be collected in “cabinets” called “orgone accumulators”.

 

Mark Twain (1835-1910), “a very brave man”, was the pen name of Samuel Langhorn Clemens, the great American writer. LaVey much admires Twain for his works Letters from the Earth (1962) and The Mysterious Stranger (1969). In an early Church ofSatan document, LaVey praises Twain as “one of the greatest of the Devil’s advocates in history” and as “the most noble embodiment of the Satanist”.

 

This list of influences provides invaluable insight into the formation of LaVey’s philosophy and outlook on life. Of the 16 identifiable men fully half of them are artists of one kind or another. Of these, five dealt with the creation of visual imagery and two, W.C. Fields and P.T. Barnum, were best known as “trickster” figures. The idealization of image makers should provide some clue as to the true nature of LaVey’s philosophy and magic.’

 

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