Friday, September 13, 2019

The Widow's Son online reading group, Week Four


Duc d’Orleans sans pox scars.

This week:Hilaritas Press edition pg. 51-62, Chapters 7&8 all editions)

By Gregory Arnott
special guest blogger

This week we are introduced to the enigmatic Duc d’Orleans, still the duc de Chartres at this point in history, Louis Phillipe -- twenty years from this point he’ll rename himself Philippe Égalité during the height of the Revolution. This is a more intimate portrait of the man as we see him privately dining, digesting, and casually abusing his power. (Also it is worth pointing out that at this point Fatima, Sigismundo’s favorite prostitute from Algiers, and three joints of beef have been described as formidable.) We’ll get to know more about d’Orleans and his role in Sigismundo’s fate soonish, most of this is in relation to the Duc’s role in the Grand Orient Lodge of Masonry- after the evens of the novel his son went to Austria leading to his father’s  murder during the Reign of Terror. Although d’Orleans would never sit the French throne the son who caused his untimely demise would. Discussing Proofs of a Conspiracy de Selby makes a Johnsonian kick at Robison.

In Chapter 7 the theme of “merde” still runs strong form Chartres “inexorable chemistry,” to the stinking streets of Paris, to the “tough shit for him” reaction the commissaire has to authoring Sigismundo’s warrant. Born and bred betwixt piss and shit. Jeder, the messenger, hails from Rennes-le-Chateau, epicenter of all this Merovingian/Priory of Sion business.

The chapter also contains some more intimate portraits of three other characters- Louis XV and Sartines through the lens of the narrator and the Chevalier d’Eon through the befuddled mind of Sartines. Louis XV continues to remind me of current people in positions of power and seems like a very stable genius. Sartines begins to resemble one of Wilson’s “bad” cop characters; like Otto Waterhouse his role as enforcer is implied to be born of misplaced resentment. Though I would say that Sartines is a more interesting character than Waterhouse’s caricature.

“Everybody thinks somebody else is to blame for all of life’s little problems.”- RAW (pg. 56 Hilaritas edition) “Some people claim that there's a woman to blame/Now I think, hell it could be my fault.”-Jimmy Buffett

I first read about the Chevalier d’Eon in a rather lurid chapbook about the Hellfire Club by a guy named Daniel Mannix. Regrettably my copy is somewhere in my parents’ house so I can’t delve into what I remember to be some great descriptions. d’Eon has proven to be a more popular figure in recent years because of...an anime, I guess?...and because of their appeal to the transgender community. Since I don’t have my sensationalist history on hand, here is a good article about the Chevalier from Atlas Obscura that is worth reading.

An excerpt that gives some context to Sartine’s frustration with Louis’ approach to spycraft and d’Eon’s role:

“This traditional role, however, was just a cover: D’Eon was also tapped for another royal service—le Secret du Roi, or “King’s Secret”. The Secret was a network of spies and diplomatic agents established by Louis XV in the 1740s with the aim of putting his cousin, the Prince de Conti, on the Polish throne and turning the country into a French satellite. The Secret was so secret, it was hidden from and sometimes acted against the official French foreign ministry. D’Eon was charged with fostering good relations with the Russian court of the Empress Elizabeth and getting her behind installing Conti in Poland, as well as promoting France’s interests generally. Though d’Eon was competent, by all accounts hardworking, charming, and clever, the geopolitical reality was grim: That same year, France had entered what would become the Seven Years War with Britain.” (Linda Rodriguez McRobbie)

In Chapter 8 Captain Loup-Garou’s name is of course the French term for “werewolf,” his name and the language describing his six “ogres” make for a nice Gothic flavor. (I might be reaching but is there any chance his middle name “Teppis” is a reference to Vlad Tepes?) Perhaps the true horror of the first scene is Loup-Garou’s blase attitude towards following orders.

While we’re on the subject of Gothic horror I wanted to note last week that Maria thinks about her dark fantasies as something “from a gothic novel by Walpole.” Horace Walpole actually only wrote one Gothic novel, although it was the first, The Castle of Otranto. The novel is a medieval romance that establishes the incestuous themes as well as the sensationalized portrait of Catholicism/Southern Europe that would be found in much of the genre’s later works. Otranto is actually itself in Southern Italy, though on the opposite coast of Napoli. While the novel is turgid at times it is worth checking out. I tried teaching it to my sophomore’s last year at the beginning of our Gothic fiction unit and made a handout of excerpts. I’ve provided a link in case any one wants to dip their toes in.

The sinister Professor Hanfkopt makes another appearance in the footnote on pg. 60-61 having most likely framed a rival professor for terrorist activities in Ireland (no small joke in the 1980s) but the pothead’s English “almost sounded like the Katzenjammer Kids.” I believe his study of de Selby roughly translates as “De Selby’s Stupidity.”


Gabriel Honore de Mirabeau was a real person and as far as I could tell everything Wilson writes about here is historically accurate. I did read in one article that the first lettre de cachet written by Mirabeau’s father might have been to protect him from his debts but the Wikipedia article also linked to multiple sources that indicated the bitter relationship between Mirabeau and his father existing before this incident. Mirabeau would actually die before the tide could turn against him in the aftermath of the Revolution- the wiki article also has a picture of a memorial plate made for Mirabeau. Along with the pendants discussed in Chapter 3, the ones made from fragments of the Bastille, it seems entrepreneurship was alive and well in post-Revolutionary Paris: “Life is hard, but it is harder if you have too many scruples.”


“Let us weep for the loss of Mirebeau.” 

Remembering my World History seminars the lettres de cachet are pointed to as one of the most egregious institutions of the French Royalty that precipitated revolution. A lettre de cachet also plays a large part in Dickens’ Zanoni-inspired A Tale of Two Cities.

I was able to find two books I believe might be Wilson’s The Taking of the Bastille, the first is a historical novel by Alexander Dumas and the second is a history written in 1970 by Jacques Godechot. Which one it is depends on if Wilson was being a smartass or actually had been reading this book at closing time and forgot the author. I couldn’t imagine him truly forgetting Dumas’ name but having read neither book I don’t know which one (perhaps) contains the scene of Chartres tossing coins.

Do be careful today everyone, THEY say that Friday the 13th is bad luck.


From Eric Wagner: “For this week I’ve chosen Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor with Friday the 13th in mind. As a kid I loved this piece. It made me think of Captain Nemo and the Phantom of the Opera.” 

11 comments:

Oz Fritz said...

Typo in the title and labels: this is The Widow's Son group.

Interesting to learn more details around the French Revolution, I haven't studied it before. I had to look up "lettre de cachet" - Trump seems close to that now with his requests to the DOJ to go after his political enemies. William Barr and the DOJ are complying somewhat the best they can without appearing too over the top, though the top seems to keep moving.

Greg mentions that the merde imagery continues in Chapter 7. Merde suggests C2, the anal/oral territorial circuit of the emotional centrum. The 7th Sephiroth = Netzach, the domain of emotions. C2 = the lower, terrestrial side of C6, hence all the merde and sewage in Chapter 6.

The beginning of Chapter 8 with Captain Werewolf, recalls the atmosphere of the old Hollywood monster movies- what Greg called gothic above.

Second paragraph of Chapter 8: "According to the usual procedure. Captain Loup-Garou, picked six soldiers for the job – tough customers who looked like the devil's own bastard sons, veterans of a dozen or more campaigns in the endless wars against Louis XV."

According to the usual procedure on the Tree of Life, the path of Aiyn connects the 6th and 8th Sephira associated with The Devil in the tarot. XV shows the number printed on the Tarot trump card of The Devil. The final footnote of this chapter seems related if we recall that the Devil = the archetype of raw male energy: "the man came around" and shut down RAW's research at that moment.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

Oops! Fixed.

Eric Wagner said...

Pg. 51 – January 18 marks Bob Wilson’s birthday.

Alias Bogus said...

I confess that I did not find the plot much progressed by these two chapters, however I remain impressed with Bob’s ability to explain history to me, and to evoke a period and the atmosphere of the living conditions, etc.

As ever, he sends me off to do research. Back in the 70s and 80s I went to the library, of course. Now, I sit at my desk and Google it all. Hey ho. So it goes.

Alias Bogus said...

Strange Loops

I am away from my library, so do not have the other two volumes to hand. If Peppino Balsamo (with the violet eyes) links Sigismundo to the bloodline of Jesus (the Widow’s Son) and Guido Celine has nothing to do with his geneaology, what other evidence gets offered about the link to the Merovingians? Does Sigismundo have violet eyes?

I ask, because I refreshed my memory of the Priory of Sion story, and my notes resemble one of Bob’s footnotes. Everybody talking about everyone else, and all seeming like unreliable narrators. Quite wonderful, if you loved “F For Fake”.

I feel 95% certain in describing the story as a hoax (if done for fun or mischief) or a con (if done for money or power). As I understand it, Pierre Plantard, a fantasist, told Gérard de Sède the story, to attempt to link himself to a Merovingian bloodline, and make himself heir to the French Throne. Philippe de Chérisey helped by forging various documents. When the Holy Blood, Holy Grail (1982) authors started contacting them, the three kept the story going for a while, but after that publication and the whole scandal that followed, M. Plantard felt uncomfortable, and had to deny he claimed his descent from Jesus!

The Da Vinci Code (2003) as fiction, rather than alternative-history, raised the whole myth for a new generation, and also invited further attempts to disillusion the faithful, and you can find the BBC’s debunk show here. Curiouser and curiouser. You will find a Priory of Sion section at about 50m30sec. Enter M. Jean Luc Chaumeil (1h02m17sec) who claims the whole thing as a hoax, but further exploration reveals him as part of the original ‘conspirators’. Double bluff? Strange loop? Provocation?

References to the Gospel of Mary turn up at 1h26m.

Of the HBHG authors, Henry Lincoln has lost interest in the story, but claims he discovered geometrical alignments in the area of Rennes-le-Chateau. Michael Baigent still played ‘enigmatic’ about what he ‘believed’, but foolishly sued Dan Brown for plagiarism, and lost, bankrupting him, along with his colleague Richard Leigh.

You can find a fully developed website for PS here - prieure-de-sion.com, apparently ‘real’, reformed in 2015 using Gino Sandri’s initiatory tradition, via the Pierre Plantard de Saint-Clair lineage.

Another website, seeming to display all the apparent falsity. Priory of Sion

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

@Alias, What is interesting is that even in the seeming digressions, the plot is moving forward: Sigismundo Celine is the target of the lettre de cachet. Looking at what's going on from different angles is an interesting way of advancing the plot.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

I admire Gregory's close reading here, and his research. I had honestly assumed Mirabeau was a fictional character, so thank you for looking him up.

Many libertarians stress taking responsibility for yourself as opposed to blaming others for your problems. Wilson frowns on the notion that "somebody else is to blame for all of life’s little problems"; perhaps that is one of the ways he can be seen as "libertarian"?

Oz Fritz said...

The word "ON" belongs to the group of common words Crowley used as a sign to transmit esoteric data, what I've called a magical formula. I've talked about RAW's familiarity with this formula in the past. This word gets formed as a combination of the paths Aiyn = O and Nun = N on the Tree of life. The path of Ayin connects the Sephira Tiphareth 6 and Hod 8. I previously commented how correspondences to Aiyn turn up in Chapter 8 of our current adventure. The number 6 turns up 6 times in Chapter 7: Chartes has a "platter of six sweetened fruits" to eat; Jeder has been unemployed for six months; King Louis confined a duc to his estate for 6 months; "For six years now he has suffered constant humiliation about the d'Eon matter." ... "The problem is that d'Eon went off his (or her) head back in '66 and started dressing as a woman." All these sixes turning up in Chapter 7 seen through the lens of qabalah suggests the path of Nun that connects Tiphareth 6 with Netzach 7. Nun corresponds with "fish" and we read of Sartrines putting a sardine in his coat of arms to honor his nickname, and get annoyed for the rumors that he used be a fishmonger.

All the occult data enveloped in the ON formula appears too complex to go into here even if I was able to. Suffice to say that RAW shows familiarity with it and encapsulates it in his writing. The name d'Eon plays into it, as does the questionability of her/his gender and whether it shapeshifted, as does the star-eyed Merovingians. Also, the genius thing about using a common word to transmit occult info - you can plainly state it out in the open. The penultimate section in Chapter 7 ends with: "Sartrine's own spy network pretty much does know what is going on, most of the time.

Rarebit Fiend said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rarebit Fiend said...

@Alias- Thank you for all the additional resources by the way. I've been going through them slowly and have appreciated all the new information.

Oz Fritz said...

Rarebit, I don't have any thoughts on the relationship between C2 and Netzach other than that they have a point of common contact with emotions, maybe there's something more, I don't know. Taking it further, C3 would correspond with Hod because they both concern the intellect. Both those Sephira connect with Tiphareth as C2 and C3 might connect with C6. I don't have a conception of C2 as necessarily unpleasant, though it certainly may if it takes charge. My conception of the circuits of consciousness gets based on Gurdjieff's model of the different centers fine tuned by Leary and Wilson. I highly recommend "Discovering Gurdjieff" by Dorothy Phillpotts for the basics.

Didn't mean to criticize the adjective "gothic" just that we indicated the same section; those early Hollywood horror films appear beautifully camp gothic.

Leary's, Turn ON Tune IN and Drop OUT didn't only have to do with taking drugs; in fact that seems only the then current, superficial excuse for making that slogan of a Universal Principal. Dropping out means dropping out of maya, the world hallucination, etc.