Week Twenty One (pg. 339-359 Hilaritas edition, Part III Chapter 13&14 all editions)
By Gregory Arnott
Special guest blogger
Howdy everyone, I can only beg your forgiveness for my tardiness; life and work have consumed the past few days.
Sigismundo’s ordeal takes such a bizarre and menacing turn that we are almost able to forget how kind our Author is towards their protagonist; Sigimundo has been led into the heart of some conspiratorial scheme that is able to warp gravity, time, and space but our intrepid hero is well-versed in the theory of conspiracy and is able to strike a claim in this new murky mental territory. Is this Chapel Perilous where Sigismundo may either grow insane or canny? Perhaps -- but much like a True Initiation, Chapel Perilous never really seems to end. Sigismundo has been thrust into so many mind-boggling, unpleasant situations and has learned so much contradictory information that it is hard to point to this sequence as the apogee with any certainty. But these experiences have taught Sigismundo the value of practical agnosticism and understand the nature of perspective.
One could expect a young man who has seen multiple people killed in front of him, been drugged by his own rapist/murderer father, killed himself, learned of the different infamies of life in such demonstrative ways to have been broken at this point; consigned to an ugly world or driven mad by its brutality. But Sigismundo is keeping his head above water, able to deal with his new circumstances in the Bastille, or wherever the chamber had been prepared, with enough calmness and rationality to see the nails keeping the furniture on the ceiling/floor. He is able to not dispassionately examine the pantomime behind his surroundings and even reacts with sincere good humor when dragged before what appears to be an Inquisitorial board. Many of us have the 23rd Psalm read after our deaths but how many have the conviction to recite that as we are led away to have the demons whipped out of us?
The hidden variable to Sigismundo’s supple mind isn’t that he has read widely but that he has an education that allows himself to examine ideas from many different angles. I would name the hidden variable as magic, the rituals and lessons in between have already brought him into the metamorphic world of occultism whose foundation seems to be composed of Fata Morgana, shadow-boxing, and a mountain that disappears and reappears with the blink of an eye. Magic is stronger medicine than most philosophy is one takes enough and is able to keep it down: what differentiated Wilson from others who lost themselves in Chapel Perilous? What techniques did he use to cope with his season in hell?
Like Cosmic Trigger, these chapters stand as a clear-enough enunciation of RAW’s theory of conspiracy. It does not do to give into first impressions, nor does the slitting one’s throat with Occam’s razor and subsequently giving into the next best choice of the “simplest” explanation. (As a fideist, I’ve always wondered exactly how anyone was certain that they knew what the simplest explanation would be.) Of course, like a flu shot, one must take some of the virus inside one’s body to prevent a greater sickness, and like most occultists who I give credence to Sigismundo’s mind is filled with gods and wild happenstance. But this adds flavor to paranoia and makes it considerably more edifying. Right now, when we see Sigismundo in such desperate circumstances, I see our protagonist stronger than ever, excelling in the light of misfortunate circumstance and such concerted conspiracy.
Notes: Don’t occultists always do a much better job of interpreting the profundity of Hume and Berkeley than run-of-the-mill academic philosophers? How anyone who truly buys into the religious nonsense of Academe thinks they grasp the arch-Skeptic is beyond me.
Another Freemasonic interpretation of the Ripper murders is covered in Alan Moore’s From Hell where Dr. William Withey Gull is fingered as the agent of destruction. Of course, Moore’s Gull’s crime exceed his mandate and he is eventually drug before a tribunal of high-ranking Masons, including founders of the Golden Dawn, before being sequestered in an asylum. Moore also adds his own take on conspiracy theory and muddy history in his epilogue, “Dance of the Gull-catchers.”
De Selby appropriately gets the last word on this part of the narrative as he splits reality into a trinity of interpretations.
Enjoy the Days Between.
The perfect pick from Eric Wagner: The upside down room suggested this Fred Astaire number: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsoYyDlYU8M