Dead Names, Dead Dog: Summing Up, Part 2

Last time I promised you a look into the mind of “Simon” himself. Such a look can be erroneous, of course, but there’s some fun in making predictions and seeing if they come true. As with previous entries, I will not be revealing who “Simon” is, but I will be addressing some details from his other identity.

The key to understanding “Simon” is his love for a combination of both immersion within, and ironic distancing from, any situation.  He has a love of secret identities and passwords the labyrinthine and mysterious corridors of power, and, on a more base level, jokes. He enjoys entering them, and yet, being able to stand back emotionally and comment upon it.  It’s not a bad set of traits – one might use them as an investigative reporter or as an anthropologist taking a participant-observer stance.  Indeed, it comes as little surprise that “Simon” has published articles as the former and admitted to training as the latter.

Upon his arrival in NYC, he seeks to leave behind the trappings of his past and embrace a new, glamorous, and mysterious identity.  Thus “Simon” is born.  He later claims that he adopts the name for safety or to avoid becoming a guru, but the timeline of his articles makes clear that he took on this role well before then.  Writing as “Simon” gives him freedom to express his views openly, and even attack others, and it is more that freedom than any fear that motivates him.

“Simon’s” participation in the Big Apple’s variegated occult scene must have exposed him to a great deal of animosity among the Crowleyites, Judeo-Christian ceremonial magicians, Satanists, and various sorts of witches and neo-Pagans who jostle elbows on the scene.  He moves around the edges, viewing all but never committing himself to one faction or the other, witnessing ceremonies of all ilks but keeping himself apart from them.  He seeks a system of thought aimed at reconciling, maybe because this genuinely concerns him or perhaps because it provides him with needed intellectual exercise.  He publishes a few articles on the topic, but the means of perpetuating such a scheme eludes him.

Then the answer comes in a new arrival from a small press in Philadelphia – de Camp’s Al Azif.  What if a “translation” of such a hoax were published?  Could not the program he desires – the binding of authentic pagan tradition, ceremonial self-transformation, Satanism’s dark allure, Crowley’s will to magical power, and an emphasis on the world as community – be conveyed much more effectively under the guise of an antique magical manuscript?   And what better joke than to place it under the title of the most dreaded fictional work of magic of all time?  And could not such a joke be in itself a move such as that made by Gurdjieff, Blavatsky, and others who purportedly led their disciples to spiritual wisdom through deception? Thus the Necronomicon is born.

What no one likely anticipated is that this combination would prove as compelling as it did.  A major publishing book contract appears.  Sequels and follow-ups are in the works.  Someone is even looking at the movie rights.  The joke gets bigger.  Then everything goes south, and “Simon” is forced into his own personal fall from grace as the Magickal Childe itself fractures.

We return to him almost twenty years later.  By this time, “Simon” has lost many of his contacts in the magical community and gained a certain measure of success in another area.  His success there is overshadowed by his success as “Simon.”  He no longer has the rights to the book itself, but the Spellbook is also highly successful.  At the same time, he is receiving criticism and ridicule from Lovecraft scholars and occultists alike, with one from each camp being especially obnoxious.  The lure of additional money and a chance to fire back against those who have mocked him proves to be irresistible.

This brings us to Dead Names, and to a conundrum for “Simon”.   On one hand, a prank is never fulfilled until it is revealed to the victims.  If he does see it as a spiritual revelation dedicated to teaching personal freedom, the revelation becomes an obligation.  But that means giving up the mystery, not to mention the money.  He also realizes that throwing back the veil will leave him in an uncomfortable position.  Why did he dissociate himself from the Necronomicon for so long elsewhere?  Why has he expressed views therein that he claims are repugnant elsewhere?  Why does he attempt to impugn the honor of occultists by using anti-occultist smears?  Why didn’t he bring all of this up a generation ago?  Not only might he be giving up “Simon’s” life, but also the other one as well.

Thus the man who was always comfortable as the ironic observer is compelled to commit himself to his own prank, spiralling himself deeper into the role.

Thus, “Simon’s” joke continues to unfold.  The Necronomicon and its companion books are distributed and read across the world.   And one of the greatest victims?  The man who told it.

Published in: on October 28, 2006 at 11:45 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. I don’t think the profitability of the project was overlooked by anyone in the early stages of the hoax. The figure connecting the Philadephia al Azif to the NYC Necronomicon will turn out to be Lin Carter, I’m almost certain.

    I don’t think the Necronomicon is a workable magical system. “Simon” wants to pretend it is, and pracitioners and afficianados claim it works for them, and you could build a kind of gnostic liberation theology on the celestial gates business, but it smacks of something unfinished, culled from several sources and jumbled together quickly to meet some deadline.

    “Simon” has a new book out under the Simon brand-name about Vatican occultism. Reviews say it’s more about Freemasonry, P-2, the Vatican bank and money laundering and mafia, which is in keeping with “Simon’s” other books under his pseudonym P.L. Will you be reviewing it? Maybe you have already. Here I am stuck in 2006 reading all this interesting stuff.

    (I looked at Gates I guess it is, a lot of Chinese symbols and some stuff about the Big Dipper, hmm. Bear clan initiation.)

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