Monday, March 18, 2013

Masks of the Illuminati, Part Five

Pages 141-167 of the Dell Edition (end of Part Two); Pocket Books pages 117-138; under 50 percent of an ebook.

I just finished reading The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen.  Although it's listed as a "book" by Project Gutenberg, it's really just a long story. You can get through it in about an hour or so, and it's a good chiller.

Pan is an interesting god with many noteworthy characteristics (besides the fact that he looks like the Christian Devil). He was seen as an embodiment of paganism. From the Oxford Classical Dictionary, Third Edition:

"The ancients quite early associated Pan with the word 'all.' From this, word-play leads to the association which made Pan in the Roman period into a universal god, the All. It is in this context that we should see the well-known story in Plutarch which has sometimes been linked with the rise of Christianity, of a mysterious voice announcing the death of 'great Pan'."

Here is the famous "Great Pan is dead" passage from a translation of Plutarch's "The Obsolescence of Oracles":

""As for death among such beings, I have heard the words of a man who was not a fool nor an impostor. The father of Aemilianus the orator, to whom some of you have listened, was Epitherses, who lived in our town and was my teacher in grammar. He said that once upon a time in making a voyage to Italy he embarked on a ship carrying freight and many passengers. It was already evening when, near the Echinades Islands, the wind dropped, and the ship drifted near Paxi. Almost everybody was awake, and a good many had not finished their after-dinner wine. Suddenly from the island of Paxi was heard the voice of someone loudly calling Thamus, so that all were amazed. Thamus was an Egyptian pilot, not known by name even to many on board. Twice he was called and made no reply, but the third time he answered; and the caller, raising his voice, said, 'When you come opposite to Palodes, announce that Great Pan is dead.' On hearing this, all, said Epitherses, were astounded and reasoned among themselves whether it were better to carry out the order or to refuse to meddle and let the matter go. Under the circumstances Thamus made up his mind that if there should be a breeze, he would sail past and keep quiet, but with no wind and a smooth sea p403about the place he would announce what he had heard.  So, when he came opposite Palodes, and there was neither wind nor wave, Thamus from the stern, looking toward the land, said the words as he had heard them: 'Great Pan is dead.' Even before he had finished there was a great cry of lamentation, not of one person, but of many, mingled with exclamations of amazement. As many persons were on the vessel, the story was soon spread abroad in Rome, and Thamus was sent for by Tiberius Caesar. Tiberius became so convinced of the truth of the story that he caused an inquiry and investigation to be made about Pan; and the scholars, who were numerous at his court, conjectured that Ehe was the son born of Hermes and PenelopĂȘ."

The Wikipedia article on Pan is interesting. One passage:

"In 1933, the Egyptologist Margaret Murray published the book, The God of the Witches, in which she theorised that Pan was merely one form of a horned god who was worshipped across Europe by a witch-cult.[40] This theory influenced the Neopagan notion of the Horned God, as an archetype of male virility and sexuality. In Wicca, the archetype of the Horned God is highly important, as represented by such deities as the Celtic Cernunnos, Indian Pashupati and Greek Pan."


Oz Fritz said...

The Great God Pan, as described, seems to have much to do with Babcock’s fear, confusion, mystification, and “severely troubled mind” (p.144). This state feels like the mood in Dylan’s “Ballad of a Thin Man: There’s something happening here but you don’t know what it is …”

Working long hours this week but will post more when I can.

PQ said...

p. 162: I'm curious where RAW got those anecdotes about dwarfs, etc and what we're supposed to think of them. Sounds like some of the strange-but-maybe-true phenomena mentioned throughout Cosmic Trigger vol 1.

p. 152-154: Superb Joycean thoughtstream in the mode of the Stephen Dedalus episodes of Ulysses. When he thinks "Have Einstein or Hunter or whatever I'll call him [do so-and-so in a planned book]" there's a funny hint that Leopold Bloom is partly inspired by this encounter with Einstein.

Oz Fritz said...

p. 155: “And Sir John awoke to Sol, to sunshine in the window, to the wake world again”

As CrypticMusic pointed out in Part 3, “The Wake World” is a title of a qabalistic fable by Crowley whose protagonist is named Lola. It appears in his collection “Konx Om Pax”

PQ – I answered your last question in Part 4 which I just saw now.

Lots more when there's time.

Oz Fritz said...

PQ, I vaguely recall reading something by RAW, probably a magazine interview in which he mentioned an altered state where he could access any area of consciousness. So he considered what he thought the most absurd world possible, the world of fairie, and then went on to encounter the denizens of that world. He writes from some kind of experience.

Oz Fritz said...

Seems to me that part of Babcock’s issues, especially with Clouds Without Water, stems from his categorizing what he sees as either good or evil. That something can be a mixture of both good and evil hasn’t occurred to him. In the Hitler passage, RAW hints that Hitler, universally and automatically considered the epitome of evil , can also be a close friend to someone as research into the life of August Kubizek shows. I wonder if this view could apply to the Great God Pan theme?

The cover of my Dell edition of “Masks…” shows an upside down open book of "Ulysses" with a large worm or serpent coursing through it. The book rests on a black and white checkerboard with the figure of Einstein’s head in the clouds. Metaphorically, Babcock seems to see either a black square or a white square. He doesn’t yet see the whole board.

Pynchon in “Against the Day” has passages describing the devastating effects of what he’s calling “explosions” and other passages showing extreme explosive epiphanies.

p.158 “Evil to him who thinks evil.” This suggests to me the introduction by RAW of a commonly held occult belief that thoughts have just as much of a tangible, material “reality” as anything else. This notion also pops up in the writings and philosophies of Gurdjieff and Buckminster Fuller among others.

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