I got a question in my email account yesterday that I think deserves a mention:
…would it be safe to assume that if Simon had released the work as simply a revival in Sumerian/Babylonian mysticism as opposed to the Necronomicon, would you still feel the same about the work?
The question is slightly more complex than that. We’d be talking about more than a simple swap of the cover. We’d also have to assume that some of the material with little roots in actual Mesopotamian practice, like the strained etymologies for Cthulhu and a ritual requiring the deaths of multiple people, would be removed. Let’s assume those things had been done and proceed from there.
Would I feel the same about such a book?
Frankly, I’d be lucky if I even heard of it. And if I had, I wouldn’t worry about it. There are plenty of books out there reviving one or another tradition of Pagan practice, with differing degrees of popularity and accuracy. No doubt Simon’s book would have had some influence on the scene, but hardly the same notoriety that it has attracted since then. In fact, we can see a situation in which Simon’s work heralds the appearance of a broader revival of Mesopotamian religious practices.
(Of course, what actually happened is that we now have many people who won’t touch a Mesopotamian Paganism due to the Necronomicon, a large number of people who say they’re reviving Mesopotamian Paganism but who haven’t read much beyond the Necronomicon, and a few who actually try to follow legitimate Mesopotamian practice but get drowned out in the clamor.)
As for me – I’d be sitting all this out as largely irrelevant to me. My interest was only in Lovecraft at the time the Necronomicon came across my radar, not in Paganism or Sumer or horror movies or any of that. I’m sure I’d be doing something quite different with my life now, with the whole matter never affecting me in any way at all.
I’d also like to think that Simon and his evil twin would get involved in some horrible duel to the death atop the Empire State Building, with the winner taking over New York City and battling Snake Plissken. Then again, that’s silly.