While my distaste for the verbosely purple prose that oozed sluggishly from the less than talented mind of Charles Fort is well known, it is in truth but one example of a prevailing trend among pseudointellectuals with an idea to grind. A recent diversion into the works of rogue philosopher Nick Land, the originator of the concepts of Accelerationism and hyperstition around the same time cybernetic theory became hip in the mid to late Nineties, has left me pondering exactly why some writers choose to hide their theories behind a wall of impregnable literary garbage.
While Land’s ideas are perhaps a little on the esoteric side even for the most well read of occultists, they do feed back heavily into the idea of chaos magick as a tool of manipulating the wider cultural paradigm. Only by understanding the extreme societal pressures that can turn ideas from base coal to shining diamonds can we as spiritual profiteers make good our memetic investment in that process. Or, to use classical terminology, find the path of least resistance for our true will. As such, these supposedly politicised concepts remain important, even if their originator threw his lot in with Neo-Reactionaries in the Alt Right pretty early on.
While some authors such as Christopher S. Hyatt claimed that their writing had a certain rhythm which was deliberately laid down to elicit a given response, others hailing from an academic background like Land instead appear to throw as many obfuscatory and jaundiced references at the page as they can while hoping that at least some choose to stick. What results is a dense, multireferenced mess that does a massive disservice to the very arguments that they are attempting to make, as well as limiting the memetic potency of said framework. I am no simpleton by any means, but the reading a rereading required to get even a tentative grasp of the wider Accelerationist worldview has been extremely taxing.
Yet we see the same deliberate obfuscation in the wider occult sphere too. Many people mistakenly give Crowley a free pass by virtue of the time period in which he was writing. Language was certainly more structured around the turn of the Twentieth Century, formal education in grammar and rhetoric deemed as important to the intelligentsia of the day as digital upskilling is to our current youth. However, to deny the fact that the Master Therion liked the sound of his own inner voice a little too much, and revelled in many an overly complex turn of phrase as a result, is highly dishonest. Pseudoiltillectualism is only part of the story, of course, nor does his monumental ego give the full answer either.
No, above all else Crowley knew how to sell his own importance to the subculture he helped create. It can be assumed that the Book of the Law and related writings, making up the wider Thelemic mythos, were deliberately couched in such verbose language to further ensnare those wealthy few whose presence at Aleister’s bedside would fund his experiments at the fringes of occult debauchery. Becoming the mouthpeace of a new idea will only grant so much power in the material world. Having the sole tongue on the planet that can translate those deliberately confused concepts into a form that is easily packaged for your followers makes you a demigod.
As it was with the later years of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, those with higher degrees of initiation to sell will do better if the founding texts of the order are so heavily confused by a flick of the pen that only people who supposedly hold a greater understanding can educate the supplicant in the true meaning of the words. That those self same masters stand to profit from the whole process is supposedly here nor there, nor does it matter that this attitude neatly mirrors that which once tied the Christian Bible to Latin by Papal order and made translating that blighted book into a culture’s native tongue a capital offence.
Middlemen have existed in every spiritual discipline since hairless apes first stared at the sun and decided that it was looking back down at them. Priests, shaman and cunning folk set about filtering the divine through their own cultural glosses, and were well paid for the privilege. The world forgot that the idea of a god was more powerful than the memetic manifestation that sat perched gloomily over the Dark Ages in Europe. If those in our modern occult movement wish to avoid the possibility of a similar twilight of reason then it becomes deathly important that we all think about how to simply and concisely present our ideas. Because we are not supposed to be prophets, nor are the inner workings of Magick our secrets to hide.