I once amused John Higgs by mentioning that I had a go-to expert on Aleister Crowley. This is no longer true, in the sense that I now have two experts I can consult, as needed.
I love shopping for cheap ebooks and every month I check the books that have gone on sale at Amazon. (Hundreds of books go on sale every month.) When I spotted that Perdurabo, a biography of Crowley by Richard Kaczynski, was available for $1.99, I went ahead and bought it, then checked with my experts for this blog post.
I didn't have to write to Oz Fritz, as I knew he had written about it. Here is his review, and I felt better about my purchase after reading it. Oz wrote, "The blurb on the front of dust jacket says: The definitive biography of the founder of modern magick. Having read the first edition of Perdurabo, and every other biography of this controversial figure, I readily agree."
Oz's 2010 review actually was sparked by the release of a revised and updated edition, and Oz wrote, "Diving into the first chapter, Birthday, it becomes immediately apparent that the factual research of Crowley's life and history is thorough and extensive, bordering on pedantic."
Oz writes that Kaczynski successfully addresses the claim that Crowley was an evil black magician. "That couldn't be further from the truth. However, Perdurabo is a critical account, not a white-washed attempt at spin control of Crowley's legacy."
My other expert is Apuleius Charlton, so I consulted him, too. Apuleius told me, "I have read it, it is fawning and I view it as the antipode to Symonds calumny. [E.g., The Great Beast: The Life and Magick of Aleister Crowley by John Symonds.] Kaczynski is an OTO ideologue. If you want to read a modern bio, everyone loves 'Do What Thou Wilt' (I haven't read it." [Do What Thou Wilt: A Life of Aleister Crowley, by Lawrence Sutin.]
I'm not a magick expert, but I wanted to read a Crowley bio because of his large influence on Robert Anton Wilson.
I really hate disagreeing with Oz. It isn't a fair fight, haha. Like Wilson, I prefer Regardie's biography (an early and certainly biased biography, but written by someone who knew him) and Crowley's own Confessions. Admittedly, Crowley isn't unbiased in the least, but I can forgive that in the person with the cheek to call his autobiography and autohagiography.
So many choices…
For a different view try:
One of Tobias Churton’s many books on AC.
But, yeah, Perdurabo is very good.
I stand by what I wrote about Perdurabo. Jerry Cornelius rates as probably the best Thelemic historian for my money. Anything he writes about Crowley appears insightful, he writes very critically of him at times, not a sycophant, but he doesn't have single overall biography about the old man. All of Churton's Crowley biographies appear excellent, most focus on one time period except Aleister Crowley - The Biography ... covers his whole life. I also enjoyed Do What Thou Wilt ... by Sutin.
Regardie, though I am a devotee, is a bit stiff in his work and his AC bio leaves out so much.
This was fun:
Though death should hale us by the scruff
Of neck to’s mouldy portal,
To-night let us get drunk enough
To know we are immortal!
I loved Regardie's The Eye in the Triangle, and I loved Bob Wilson's introduction to the book.
Glenn Wright seems to me to know more about Crowley and the tarot than anyone else alive. I enjoy his new blog at https://pathologypoet.substack.com/?utm_source=substack&utm_medium=email .
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