Saturday, March 11, 2006

‘THE POISON MAKER’ by John Symonds

John Symonds, who is ninety one, claims the play is based on a true story. He was the editor of the literary magazine Lilliput, knew George Orwell and was the lover of Peggy Ramsey, Joe Orton's literary agent. He has written over forty volumes of plays, essays and children's books and is best known for being Aleister Crowley's literary executor and author of the Great Beast. The biography was the first to draw attention to Crowley and has caused much controversy ever since. Those looking for occult subtexts in the play will not be entirely disappointed. Florence, for one, dreams of snakes, curtsies to the pear tree in the garden and frequently employs the tarot (the pack of Thoth, as it happens, though perhaps not too much should be read into this). Though antiquated in style, The Poison-Maker is highly unusual. Anyone wanting a glimpse of the eccentric upper-class milieu that both Crowley and Symonds moved in should check it out.

Generation Hex

Generation Hex (review)
Jason Louv (Editor) £9.99 Disinformation Company 2005

Generation Hex comes on strong. Like the hissing intensity of a DMT hit it reaches out and grabs you. Hang on to your crown chakras kids, it’s going to be one hell of a ride!

Though brash in it’s post post-modern reality hacking style Generation Hex is far from being all façade and no content (although the design quality of the volume, as we have come to expect from the Disinformation crew, is indeed excellent). This is a wonderful selection of essays by young magicians, mostly from the USA that I found a real inspiration to read.

The collection ranges across samples of diary extracts, detailed explorations of how magick might be understood through pure maths and physics, through to work on psychogeographical drifting and esoteric parables. The styles differ as well, from the post-Gibson swaggering psybermagickical, through cut-up discordianism and into more classic modern journalese. But uniting each essay are a number of common features. The first is that without exception each essay is wonderfully written. The second is that each essay gives the sense that it is a window into real experimental magick and that the authors are primarily practitioners first and writers second. The third is that in their different ways each essay is seeking to broaden the perception of what magic is.

I was particularly taken by the honest and direct position that drugs take within the magickal work of many of the essayists. I was inspired that such intelligent, honest and human magick is being produced by younger adepts. Though you’ll find techniques in this volume it’s so much more than a crummy how-to manual. Perhaps for me (aged about 10 years older than most of the guys and gals writing in this collection) one of the great insights was how the availability of esoteric technique and technology (especially via the internet) means that today’s new generation of occultists can spend their time experimenting and doing, and not waste so much energy in trying to obtain paraphernalia, find rare out of print books and hang-around at lame New Age festivals looking for real magicians (like I had to! Honestly these kids don’t know they’re born!).

This is a must read for anyone interested in the sociology of magick let alone those people who are themselves occultists. I have a feeling that the Generation Hexers are really going to be helping to set the new agenda for magick in the 21st century and if this book represents the way we’re headed then we can expect great things indeed.

If you’ve been wondering what was going to come after chaos magick then the approaches explored in this book may well be the answer. Buy it now.

Julian Vayne
Co-author with Greg Humphries of Now That's What I call Chaos Magick, published by Mandrake. For details of this and his forthcoming Pharmakon, do an author search on the Mandrake portal.