Dead Names, Dead Dog: A Magical Muddle, Part 2

I haven’t given much attention to the charges in Dead Names regarding the motivations and character of John and me.  Most of these are entirely scurrilous, and as such, I’m ignoring them.  Nonetheless, I wanted to touch on one of them for the insight it provides us into “Simon’s” own personality.

There is one aspect of John that “Simon” singles out for particular opprobrium:  his status as a practitioner of magic and worship of the Mesopotamian gods.  That’s not something that’s common, admittedly, and some will express dismay with it.

What is striking is how “Simon” himself treats it:

Gonce attacks [the Necronomicon] from the point of view of a self-described pagan and ceremonial magician. He claims that since he is both, his views have authority and carry some weight. Of course, anyone can describe themselves as a ceremonial magician; there is no board of commissioners for magic, no pedigree that is universally recognized. So we must disregard Gonce’s claims to some special insight or eminent background and, rather take his objections (and those of Harms) at face value.

Then again, “we must” not do any such thing, any more than we are “compelled to wonder” about fabricated controversies over the Greek magical papyri.  Readers can decide whether John’s status gives him more, less, or no additional credibility, and John knew that when he wrote this.   Nonetheless, deciding it doesn’t matter for the purposes of our argument is indeed an option open to the reader.

“Simon” can’t seem to let go of the topic, though:

Gonce, in particular, fancies himself a magician and thus entitled to pronounce judgment on the book from the point of view of a magician. Of course, there is no universal standard for what constitutes a magician, so the claim is an easy one to make…

Next comes the spectacle of “Simon” being horribly shocked and dismayed by the same thing he wrote about ten pages before:

My goodness! The fact that I, or anyone else, could claim the same thing has not occurred to Mr. Gonce…

As many readers will have realized at this point, the whole thing is ridiculous.  “Simon”, a man writing under a pseudonym, has no credentials whatsoever, though he’s quite willing to trot out his supposed status as an Orthodox Bishop in front of us.  He’s the last person who needs to be criticizing anyone’s bona fides.

Setting aside that bit of silliness, we may be on to something here.  “Simon” is going to special lengths to try to undermine John – not his arguments, but his religious and magical practices.  I certainly can understand readers not agreeing with John, even if they practice magic themselves, but attacking someone’s religion with no reason whatsoever behind it says a great deal about “Simon.”

What it might say, I’ll cover later.

Published in: on October 2, 2006 at 7:11 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Simon may have no credentials, but Peter Levenda certainly does.

  2. No matter who “Simon” might be, he’s made a conscious decision not to use whatever credentials he has. Publishing under a pseudonym is a two-edged sword.

  3. […] It’s fine to dismiss and mock people who give themselves a title, but giving yourself the same title is perfectly fine.    Plus, you can make up bizarre and exalted titles for other people all you want. […]


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