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#29383 - 09/07/09 06:49 PM My Last Three Books
Michael A.Aquino Offline
stalker


Registered: 09/28/08
Posts: 2517
Loc: San Francisco, CA, USA
MY LAST THREE BOOKS

[”Suppose you were shipwrecked on a desert island,” wrote the British occult magazine Talking Stick to me in 1991. “What three books would you take with you?” My answer, as published in its Spring 1992 issue:]

Your question is provocative. Am I anticipating an eventual rescue, hence selecting entertaining and absorbing books with an eye to passing a few pleasant hours? Or do I expect to be lost on an unknown island, in which case the books would be the last ones I would ever read?

Let us assume this latter situation, not out of morbidity but because of the challenge it presents.

In this case the vanities of society lose both their importance and their relevance. Prescriptions for perfection in human affairs, or condemnations of those affairs, or spasms of “art” - literary or otherwise - are for those who will continue in that caucus-race. On my island I want at last to commune with what is most eternal, authentic, and essential in the experience of human being.

First I shall take with me Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, specifically the carefully restored and exhaustively annotated edition prepared by Walter James Miller and issued in 1976 by the Thomas Y. Crowell Company.

In the unfolding personality of Captain Nemo I see the masculine soul first apprehend, then reject, then transcend itself. Unlike women, whose innate intimacy with the creation and nurturing of life does not require them to excuse their existence, men are compelled to justify themselves, to explain their presence in the universe. We fumble amateurishly at this task, casting what creativity we can muster wildly about in the hope that some of it will “stick” in space and time, memorializing ourselves as best we can.

A victim of exploitation and torment by conventional society, Nemo has awakened to the inevitable horror of his alienation. He is in fact No One, a being aware of the chasm between itself and others. The order and association of society are seen to be a savage mockery of self-deception. The affirmation of existence becomes everything to him, the approval of others a kind of obscene torture. “I am not what you call a civilized man,” he declaims to Professor Aronnax. “I have done with society entirely, for reasons which I alone have the right of appreciating. I do not therefore obey its laws, and I desire you never to allude to them before me again!”

In Nemo’s cabin Aronnax discovers etchings of great statesmen and visionaries of history. “What spiritual tie did Captain Nemo feel with these heroes?” he wonders. “Would these portraits help me unravel the mystery of his being? Was he, like the heroes, himself a fighter for oppressed peoples, a liberator of oppressed races? Had he figured in the political and social uprisings of our century ...?”

Perhaps, like Milton’s Lucifer, Prince Dakkar had once been such a revolutionary hero. But now he is Nemo, Satan, overwhelmed and obsessed by the Abyss between himself and others. “Almighty God! Enough! Enough!” he whispers at the last. He has experienced life as his own god and found the light too brilliant, too painful. Yet he adamantly refuses to devolve to the human animal he once was. Oblivion is the only escape he will allow himself - and, as we later discover in The Mysterious Island, even that according to his Will.

The passion of this god-man is set against a tableau of the most glorious wonders of nature Verne could assemble - another reason for this particular edition, because the extensive oceanographic detail of 20,000 Leagues is generally excised from popular printings. Nemo has rejected his humanity, rejected his participation in nature; yet he is surrounded by nature at its most breathtaking, a constant reminder and reproach to him. Heaven he shuns in pride and anger. The Hell of the Nautilus, in which he reigns rather than serves, is both his triumph and his prison.

As I walk the sands of my island, I wish to reflect again upon what Captain Nemo discovered: that to be man is inevitably, inexorably to reject nature and become one’s own super-natural god. That such a being may die “naturally” is incidental; the totality of its life is no longer nature’s to give or to take.

If 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea captures so perfectly the central principle of human existence, then that of existence beyond humanity is expressed as sublimely in the second of the books I will take with me: Bram Stoker’s The Jewel of Seven Stars.

Film treatments of this work, such as Hammer’s Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb and the more recent Awakening, have done it a grotesque disservice. In Stoker’s original text it is in no sense a horror story, but rather a fascinating and romantic mystery: Who was Tera of ancient Egypt, this marvelous sorceress-queen who took with her to her tomb only a ruby scarab inscribed with the constellation of the Thigh of Set (our “Great Bear”) and the hieroglyphs mer (love) and men ab (patience)? Listen to the words of the woman of our own century with whose ka Tera came gently to merge:

 Quote:
I can see her in her loneliness and in the silence of her mighty pride, dreaming her own dream of things far different from those around her. Of some other land, far away under the canopy of the silent night, lit by the cool, beautiful light of the stars. A land under that Northern star, whence blew the sweet winds that cooled the feverish desert air. A land of wholesome greenery, far, far away. Where were no scheming and malignant priesthood; whose ideas were to lead to power through gloomy temples and more gloomy caverns of the dead, through an endless ritual of death! A land where love was not base, but a divine possession of the soul! Where there might be some one kindred spirit which could speak to hers through mortal lips like her own; whose being could merge with hers in a sweet communion of soul to soul, even as their breaths could mingle in the ambient air! I know the feeling, for I have shared it myself. I may speak of it now, since the blessing has come into my own life. I may speak of it since it enables me to interpret the feelings, the very longing soul, of that sweet and lovely Queen, so different from her surroundings, so high above her time! Whose nature, put into a word, could control the forces of the Under World; and the name of whose aspiration, though but graven on a star-lit jewel, could command all the powers in the Pantheon of the High Gods. And in the realisation of that dream she will surely be content to rest!

In Love and Patience we are taught the secret of true immortality - not the repulsive reanimation of corpses (anastasis nekron) of Christianity, nor the shallow delusions of reincarnationists - but the infinite radiance of one’s soul by its most magnificent expression, and with a serene transcendence of natural time. To contemplate the Jewel of Queen Tera is to know that, while my material body may fall to its final rest on this lonely island, my ka shall fly free “amongst the boundless regions of the stars” even as hers.

It is fitting that, as I am surrounded by the ocean, the third book I shall take with me is Arnold Federbush’s The Man Who Lived in Inner Space (Houghton Mifflin, 1973). Perhaps you have never heard of this book. Perhaps it is merciful so, because this is a portrait of the nightmare of a majestic soul imprisoned in a crippled human body. Yet here too there is release: not through the Nietzschean divinity of Captain Nemo nor the exquisite magic of Queen Tera, but through regression to that which preceded humanity. We watch with dread fascination as the man Colin slowly, painfully returns to life as a creature of the sea, a sea which welcomes her sad, estranged child home again. Here is a different kind of magic, as Colin reads in the words of Swinburne:

 Quote:
I will go back to the great sweet mother,
Mother and lover of men, the sea.
I will go down to her, I and none other,
Close with her, kiss her, and mix her with me;
Cling to her, strive with her, hold her fast;
O fair white mother, in days long past
Born without sister, born without brother,
Set free my soul as thy soul is free.

But to return to the sea is to return closer to nature, and nature proves a mother indifferent to her children. Colin is threatened by a shark, no less a son of the sea than he. The seal whose life he saved, and who lovingly taught him his new amphibian life, is slowly killed by the pollution and poison which humans of the surface world continue to pour into the water. One of their oceanographic vessels finally captures Colin, and a biologist watches in stunned horror as this gilled, scaled humanoid dies of exposure before him:

 Quote:
He felt a sudden trembling, as if on the edge of some awesome revelation. He looked again at the creature, and this time he let his fancies go, let them reach for their wildest extremes, let them fly beyond this deck, this ship, let them plunge beneath the sea, beyond the shallows of gold-green kelp forests and the creatures within, beyond the coral reefs where vividly colored stone sculptures were really growing colonies of animals, to the edge of the abyss where the darkness was infinite and beyond measure and time, and then down to the depths where fish shimmered like stars against a pitch-black night, to the deepest wounds of the planet, its very birthplace, its womb where lay the ultimate mysteries of the sea and life itself, and there he saw a strange light that slowly grew toward him as he was pulled toward it. And then he heard it, an ancient and beautiful sound, almost a singing that seemed the sum of all music and all life, the song of the sea itself ...

I am my ka, an ethereal entity of the Jewel of Seven Stars. But my body is a creature of nature, an animal born now of the land and then of the sea, who must finally, as Colin, return to its greatest ancestor. Here, as I rest on the beach of my island with the waves lapping quietly at my feet, a great circle is soon to be completed.
_________________________
Michael A. Aquino

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#29387 - 09/08/09 01:10 AM Re: My Last Three Books [Re: Michael A.Aquino]
Morgan Offline
Princess of Hell
stalker


Registered: 08/29/07
Posts: 2956
Loc: New York City
"In the unfolding personality of Captain Nemo I see the masculine soul first apprehend, then reject, then transcend itself. Unlike women, whose innate intimacy with the creation and nurturing of life does not require them to excuse their existence, men are compelled to justify themselves, to explain their presence in the universe. We fumble amateurishly at this task, casting what creativity we can muster wildly about in the hope that some of it will “stick” in space and time, memorializing ourselves as best we can."

I can see your point, but not all women take that existence for granted. Some of us, question, create, and search for the reasons why and then do things to make sure who we are is remembered thus granting us some measure of immortality outside the realm of childbearing.

The three books I would take are:

Discoveries in the ruins of Nineveh and Babylon, by Austen H. Layard. Its a rather thick book with maps and illustrations. I like the fact that you can pick it up and put it down. It is about another man's journey to learn and explore and make sense out of the world around him. It is written in a different time (1853), but the journey to discover and learn is still the same.

An Anthology of World poetry, edited by Mark Van Doren. Its the 1928 edition. Its another thick book, holding the musing and poetry of the world. I find it soothing sometimes to just open it to a random page and see what new thing I may find or remember. "from the thirty-fifth century B.C. to the twentieth century A.D. and in space from China and Japan around through India, Persia, Arabia, Palestine,Egypt, Greece, and Rome to Europe and America..."

The last book I would take is The trilogy of Sleeping Beauty stories by Ann Rice. It's porn, but good porn with a story line. If your on an island all by yourself, you might as well get off to some porn that you can enjoy.

What can I say, I like old classic books.

Morgan

ps.
Oh, and I might sneak in a copy of my own book "Just Shut The Fuck Up, And Do Something" just because. A few first editions are still available on my website, and the second edition I expect to be done by December. ;\)
_________________________
Courage Conquering Fear
Fuck em if they can't take a joke
Don't Like What I Say, Kiss My Ass



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#29389 - 09/08/09 04:06 AM Re: My Last Three Books [Re: SkaffenAmtiskaw]
Jake999 Offline
senior member


Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 2230
Books for being stranded on a desert island. Well, while I would like to say that I would choose only books that would force me to look into the psychology of man and the nature of the soul, I can't while keeping it real... at least not for my first book.

#1 - US Army Survival Manual FM 21-76. Survival comes first.

#2 - War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. No deep hidden psychological meaning. I've just always wanted to have the time to actually sit down and read the book with enough time left over to ruminate on what I've read.

#3 - For light reading, perhaps something like THE 2,548 BEST THINGS ANYBODY EVER SAID by Robert Byrnes. Should be good to stimulate thought and keep the juices flowing during those long, long hours when I'm not figuring out how to make an artificial human companion for those nights under the stars.
_________________________
Bury your dead, pick up your weapon and soldier on.


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#30890 - 10/28/09 08:28 AM Re: My Last Three Books [Re: SkaffenAmtiskaw]
Room 101 Offline
member


Registered: 10/17/09
Posts: 262
Loc: Scotland
The last three books I could ever read?

1984-George Orwell. A book I have already read a good number of times, but looses none of the impact and sentiment that I felt upon first reading it.

We the Living-Ayn Rand. Again another book that I have read before, but one that simply deserves repeated revision.

Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus. (Illustrated Myths and
Legends of the North)-Olaus Magnus. My last choice is not a work that I have never read (in its totality), nor have I ever been lucky enough to get my hands on. A 1558 copy is a rare thing to come by, but seeing as this is a hypothetical scenario, I’m going to treat myself. The illustrations are beautiful wood bock carving prints, and the text book approach to the occult contained within it just appeals to me on so many levels.

I may be going to die on an island, but at least ill have something to read.
_________________________
"Nothing is your own except the few cubic centimeters inside your skull." - George Orwell (1984)

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#30897 - 10/28/09 12:51 PM Re: My Last Three Books [Re: Room 101]
Room 101 Offline
member


Registered: 10/17/09
Posts: 262
Loc: Scotland
Last section should have read as shown in this post. Appologies.

 Originally Posted By: Room 101
Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus. (Illustrated Myths and Legends of the North)-Olaus Magnus. My last choice is a work that I have never read (in its totality), nor have I ever been lucky enough to get my hands on.
_________________________
"Nothing is your own except the few cubic centimeters inside your skull." - George Orwell (1984)

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