I was taking a few classes at a community college in Dingsville Valley which was exactly one hundred miles from Dongston, my hometown. My creative writing teacher was a knockout and I wanted to hang Christmas ornaments off her nipples the moment she walked into the room. She was wearing a wraparound dress, high heels, and her legs went straight up through her head and into the ceiling. Her red hair was a bonus. Red-headed women have always intrigued me. In the figurative sense they are heaters with a smile and a breathy gasp and I can stretch out beside them on a winter day for hours.
I was trying to get back into the state university where I had recently flunked out. My grade point average needed five A’s to offset a series of misunderstandings I’d had with some of my old teachers. I figured that a creative writing class was just what I needed and when I saw the teacher I knew the whole thing was being laid out before me like stones across a secret river.
After she called roll, she looked out at us and I thought she was particularly focused on me. “Start your journey with Aleister Crowley. His critics called him the most wicked man in the world. He called himself the Beast 666. Use that as your first step,” she said. Yes, my first step towards fucking her.
Crowley was an overlooked mystic from the 20th century. I guess she was an admirer of his somehow and she wanted a piece of creative writing about the man.
After reading him a bit, I got the idea he and Walt Whitman had a lot in common and so I put this down on a note card:
“Let us consider three similarities between Crowley and Whitman:
Both were prolific and published writers/artists of mystically oriented literature.
Both produced works of literature that met with ridicule at the time of their publications.
Both were rumored to be bisexual.”
The last point was the kicker for me; a code for our eventual liaison. And when I found out she was unhappily married all I could think about was pleasing her. I wrote a little summary so we could meet in her office.
“Aleister Crowley was a genius who gathered his wealth of mystical knowledge into books, and yet professors of theological mysticism continue to show his work no quarter. He was a nature mystic. And I shall make a case for studying his works at the post-secondary level by examining his magnum opus, Magick: In Theory and Practice, and by making a strong and definitive comparison between him and Walt Whitman.”
Her office door was closed and I had to knock. She opened it and I sat down on her white leather couch. More indication I’d be fucking her soon.
“So have you done much reading about Crowley?”
“Oh, for sure. I love the guy and he is giving me a lot of ideas about how to write a fictional story centered upon his life and works.”
She got up and moved to the window. In my mind her skirt was hiked up and underneath there was a glistening Georgia O’Keeffe.
“Well look, I believe in informed fiction, so I want you to write a bit of a research paper first and then use that as a basis for a piece of fiction at least thirty pages long. How does that sound?”
It sounded like a quickie in the closet.
“I’ll do anything you want, anytime, anywhere,” I blurted.
“Yes, that sounds fine.”
I imagined us flying in a single engine aircraft, trading inappropriate jokes over the headset as we divebombed the campus, ran out of gas, and then dropped down on parachutes into a dumpster full of stuffed Easter bunnies.
Later in the library I began to write in longhand on a yellow legal sized pad of paper.
“I will begin with Walt Whitman and his poem, Song of Myself. In this poem, Whitman calls himself “[…a] poet of the body and […a] poet of the soul […]”, who knows “[…] the pleasures of heaven […] and the pains of hell […]” (Whitman 2004, 21). In effect, these short quotes define the nature mystic as far as the academic establishment is concerned, because Whitman’s books are fixtures on university lecterns. The same can’t be said for Crowley’s books, however. But why? With an eye toward answering this question, let us now turn to Crowley and his poem, One Star in Sight:
All souls eternally exist,
Each individual, ultimate,
Perfect – each makes itself a mist
Of mind and flesh to celebrate
With some twin mask their tender tryst
Insatiate (Crowley 1991, 229).”
It was slow going until I vaped in my lonely study carrel deep in the stacks and got stoned. I had her office number and so I decided to give her a call. When she answered, I hung up. Sometimes I hate pot. It steals what little confidence I have.
“Crowley juxtaposed with Whitman creates a nexus of two libertarians expressing a lust for life. Their words do not heed the slavish, guilt-based belief systems of western religions.” This was getting good and more seduction-based prose.
“Indeed, they are brave enough to defy Judeo-Christian dogma, by celebrating the realm of the flesh in accordance with their non-dualistic belief that flesh, like nature, is a divine medium capable of bracing the spirit, quickening the soul, and rallying the heart.”
I considered this to be the quickest way to bed her. All the stuff about the realm of the flesh, the bracing of the spirit, the quickening of the soul, the rallying of the heart, all of that would get her into bed quicker than a bottle of Stolichnaya and Miles. I just knew it.
“Aleister Crowley coined the term Magick and used it to signify his Great Work, which he consolidated in the pages of Magick: In Theory and Practice; a book that wastes no time in proclaiming that Magick is “[…] identical with that of modern Science, […useful] only so long as [the practitioner] strictly conforms to the rules of his Art […]” (IX), because “[…] all Art is Magick […]” (82), and “[…]the laws of Magick are the laws of Nature […]” (74). In other words, with the proper method reality can be altered by the artist. Ever the conscientious teacher, Crowley is careful to place conditions on this storehouse of power, when he says that “[…any] idea […in itself] positive and negative, active and passive, male and female, is fit to exist above the Abyss […]” (62), because the artist/magician lives and dies by their fidelity to non-dualism, and thus, to the “[…] the romance and rapture of the ineffable union […]” (Crowley 1991, 171).”
Although it took me a while, I finally got to the sacred union of male and female, the active (me) and the passive (her, sort of) and the romance and rapture. Yes, that was going to be the clincher, the irresistible link between her yoni and my lingam.
“By referencing the “Microcosm and Macrocosm” (60,120,132) continuum, Crowley positions himself well within the constraints of non-dualism, where he asserts that “[…] the phenomena of every plane [of existence] are intimately interwoven” (174), and that these phenomena are accessible to “[…] the Magician, [… who can] transmute the Many into the One […]” (5). Transmuting the many into the one is a singular act of non-dualism, not unlike combining the disciplines of science and art, which Crowley does quite frequently in Magick: In Theory and Practice. At one point in the book he even predicts that “[…] Magicians of tomorrow will be armed with mathematical theory, organized observation, and experimentally – verified practice. But their Art will remain inscrutable as ever in essence; talent will never supplant genius” (Crowley 1991, 175).”
I was hoping she could see my genius. I was also hoping she might want to see my penis, but for that to happen I had to make her believe I was suffering from the same mystical psychosis Crowley suffered from. If successful, she would order me around like take out Chinese and I would end up licking the Christmas ornaments dangling from her body.
“A closer inspection of Crowley’s life shows that he was not, in fact, the most wicked man in the world. Although the headline made great copy, and he enjoyed it immensely, it simply was not true. For instance, there is not a shred of evidence to suggest that he killed anyone. His sex rituals were all performed with willing partners. The drugs he was addicted to were legal at the time. And he was anything but a black magician. For those who have read him, the black magician stigma is more proof of humanity’s weakness for the witch hunt mentality, where sanctimoniousness and ignorance cling to each other like unctuous pilgrims. Let us turn again to Magick: In Theory and Practice, for Crowley’s own thoughts on this subject.
There are […] debased and evil forms, things in themselves Black.
Such is the use of spiritual force to material ends. Christian Scientists,
Mental Healers, Professional Diviners, Psychics and the like, are all
Ipso facto Black Magicians […They] exchange gold for dross. They
Sell their higher powers for gross temporary benefit […They] trample
Love in the race for self-aggrandizement (192).
Crowley despised black magicians for many reasons, not the least of which was their covetousness of money, and speaking of money, it should be noted that he inherited a sizeable sum from his father’s estate, but he burned through it and subsequently spent the bulk of his years living in austerity, before dying in poverty at the age of 72.”
Of course, this was a bit dark, but I quickly recovered.
“And what of love? Did the wickedest man in the world know anything about love? Well, on the romantic and perhaps institutional level, he married twice. On the work level, two of the three most famous lines he ever wrote are hung on the bearing wall of love like stolen van Goghs in the cellars of asphyxiated Nazis: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. Love is the law. Love under will. And love bears equally tender fruit in Magick: In Theory and Practice, when he says that “[…] the higher the type of man, the more sensitive he becomes; so that the noblest love divines intuitive when a careless word or gesture may wound […]” (Crowley 1991, 126).”
Yes, I was high, sensitive, and offered only the most noble of love.
I finished the paper after a few weeks of gathering what I considered to be the warm eggs of solid research. This part of the class was worth 20% of my grade and when she handed the paper back to me she’d given me an A++ and a smiley face sticker. The sticker was pink and ironic and sexually active in an abstract expressionist kind of way.
At the end of the semester I turned in a 38-page fictional account of Aleister Crowley having a love affair with Walt Whitman. The setting was an ancient castle on the planet Dubious Cortilla XX just left of the Dog Star. The plot centered around a group of imposter androids who were pretending to be the second coming of Jesus and the Twelve Apostles, as part of a coup d’état of the Intergalactic Roman Catholic Church. By conning the people with their synthetic holy miracles (e.g. bringing other imposter androids back from the dead and walking on water with antigravity foot attachments) they were hoping to gain the political and spiritual authority to rule the universe. Crowley’s character decides to make a TV show out of the whole thing. He gets Whitman to do the script and also demands a poem about gravity waves. One of the deft plot twists shows that Whitman was not Whitman, but a bearded Herman Melville on magic mushrooms.
I eventually had my way with my teacher and when I did she told me to ejaculate inside of her because she wanted to see what the baby would be like. Her name was Donna. She left her husband and we lived together for a few years just off campus. I never returned to school and started working at the local theatre. I was the lighting technician there. The baby was a boy, and we named it Aleister.
A few months after Aleister’s second birthday we moved to New York City and rented a small apartment in the Bowery. One night we had some friends over for a housewarming party. We were drinking and smoking dope and popping Vicodin. I was dancing with Aleister, tossing him up in the air. Everyone was laughing and then I tripped and he went sailing out the open window. We were on the second floor and he dropped into the hedgerow below. His malleable baby bones absorbed the impact and he was okay. But in my mind he had died. And it changed me. Shortly afterward, Donna took Aleister and moved back to Dingsville. She said I was a fraud. How can one overturn that verdict?
A passage from my old research paper still haunts me, and when it does I start thinking about who I was before I knew who I was. Before clocks became hecklers at the back of my empty comedy club. Before I wished that I could be a Crowleyan kind of fool. Before all the scarlet women told me about their mystical blowjobs. Before the badly cooked dinners of black crow.
Oh Aleister . . . I let you down.
I woke up on the floor this morning in wet jeans, having pissed myself in the night after coming home drunk enough to fall down the stairs and knock myself out. I woke up feeling like I had never dreamt before and that I was a useless artifact from a shrill era and my words were ice cream on the pretty lips of sad girls and I didn’t know anything of the truth and maybe what this whole thing amounted to was a working-class knack for stepping on my own dick. That sort of made sense.
Maybe one day I will stand behind a lectern in wet jeans facing a crowd of young disaffected people and say: I’m a dirty baby in the sun and I’m ready. Ready for what? the sad girl with ice cream on her pretty lips will ask. Ready to be thrown, I’ll say.