Nature’s God: Introduction “Bewitching Rhetoric” by Eric Wagner (pg 3-7 Hilaritas edition)
From “John Wilcock presents ‘Four Significant Events in U.S. Counterculture, 1958 &1959.’”
By Gregory Arnott
Special guest blogger
Knock three times and say a prayer to Nature’s God. It’s time to follow Sigismundo into the Northern Territory wilderness and Maria into the all-enveloping arms of Her. Time to test the mettle of humanity against the inexorable tides of change. Happy Walpurgisnacht, tomorrow is May Day- one of the two days when Magonia or Faerie is closest to the mortal realm.
Eric Wagner begins by telling us the ways that he has experienced Nature’s God over the years. In one way this is the look inside the life of someone who has been a RAW fan long before many of us in the community. He can remember when Nature’s God was not yet published- I can contrast this to when I read Illuminatus! the first time a year after RAW’s Greater Feast. The third way that Eric experiences Nature’s God considers its (possible) relationship with Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon, a novel I read after Illuminatus! and roughly a couple months before I read Masks of the Illuminati and Cosmic Trigger and roughly four years before I would read The Historical Illuminatus Chronicles. Eric seems to have a profound, or at least extraordinarily circumspect, relationship with RAW’s last novel; the first time I read it, I was underwhelmed. All this is to point out how Eric does an excellent job of making the reader consider their relationship with the novel at hand. I have to confess I don’t remember if my New Falcon copy had Eric’s introduction in it, although it was published after 2010. But this is an excellent introduction for someone who is rereading the text- it prompts curiosity and reflection and I can’t think there’s much more an author could ask of a colleague.
As I said, I was not a huge fan of Nature’s God when I first read it; after the denser The Earth Will Shake and The Widow’s Son it just didn’t seem to be complete. Given that I had the prejudice of knowing this was meant to be the third of five novels it almost seemed like a hinge that was missing a flap. (Flap? Side? I’m not a craftsman, folks.) What was supposed to be the pivot of an angle became the second point of a line. And then-
But, it is what it is, or it seems to be what it seems to be, and that’s just life. Stories don’t always have neat endings and we don’t always get to find out exactly what happened. I don’t know why Wilson didn’t complete the, from what I understand, much anticipated and lamented Bride of Illuminatus! or the final novels of the Historical Illuminatus! quintet. That said, as much as I love his novels I have always found his nonfiction - if anything can be truly called nonfiction in RAW’s wonderful world - more thrilling than the fiction. I don’t prejudice The Grand Old Man any of his choices, but I do wonder. (And for fuck’s sake do I wish he had published Tale of the Tribe, much thanks to Fly for salvaging the remains.)
Eric asks what is Will and discusses the dual concepts of Will as personal force and as symbolized by the penis in Nature’s God. One of the best explanations of Will and how to visualize one’s own dick or someone else’s dick or whatever makes you happy is found in Crowley’s essay “The Wand” from part two, Magick. of Liber ABA: Book Four. (Chapter VI). But the discussion of Maria’s essay - which is obviously an embedded version of RAW’s first published essay for Krassner’s The Realist, “The Semantics of God” - takes the idea of Will to a whole new level, at least for this reader. When I reread Nature’s God earlier this year I realized that RAW’s final novel contains the same thrust, if you will, and vibe of his first published essay; there’s an ouroboros here and it is delightful. RAW removed two novels to suck his own dick. Maria gets her due and becomes RAW’s mouthpiece in a history that is perhaps better than our own for having heard the word a couple centuries earlier. RAW has the first and final word. In a fashion.
There are many ways to look at the novel at hand. I hope to read a lot about your perspectives and ideas over the coming months. RAW is an excellent antidote to dismal times: three knocks gains you entry.
From Eric Wagner: " I thought Thelonious Monk dancing might prove a nice opening soundtrack: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjJYeCYO-hA."