This point ia a very clear dimension into the reference of Beat movement in literature, notwithstanding full of controversial argument. The mainstream establishment, in fact, refused to identify the occult side in philosophy and literature, indicating this sources as something that may not have a place in “serious” culture.
§1. REASON TO BE HIDDEN
To understand the reasons which leaded to this labeling, we should re-start our reflection since the early years of XX century, when the industrial revolution seems to promise to each individual, male or female, a progressive integration in awareness and emancipation in all fields, involving the material, psychological and spiritual dimension of life.
The going on process of awakening of the whole population was rising from a process whose main recent vehicle has been the philosophy of Enlightenment. In some works that as Societas Mazzini we realized [as in the book The Open Golden Dawn], it is clearly showed the apparent paradox that Enlightenment philosophy comes from an occult doctrine.
The mistake we want to avoid is to create condition for a classic misunderstanding, that always well sustained by the official culture, giving the sensation that occult is another form for satanic. In fact, this is not but the classic way to close the question that the establishment uses to reinforce obscurantist position, and avoid any condition to be needed debating different reasons that includes libero arbitrio, individual awareness and increased rights for citizens.
The main information about the light coming from darkness is given by the evidence that the kind of knowledge that improves individual awareness has always been denied by official powers, and this is the reason why it has been hidden unnder the veil of the occult: otherwise, the official powers would have exercised their right to accuse of heresy against the opposers, just as it happens persecuting doctrines as the Catharians, or torturing scientist as Galileo Galilei or burning at the stake philosophers like Giordano Bruno.
It is important to remind that even astronomy has been for many centuries a forbidden knowledge for Western countries, since the Roman empire, adopting Catholicism as empire’s religion, decided to burn all books about stars, after the destruction of the Alexandrian Library in 396.
§2. BREAKING THE VEIL
It is well known today that the main doctrines at the early sources of the Enlightenment’s philosophy are given by thenarrow line which unifies esoteric Catholicism (under the doctrine of the Rosy Cross) and Jewish kabbalah (with the European involvement of Marranism). This notoriety in the relation has been especially given because of some special events happened inside one of these fringe groups of occult knowledge: The Golden Dawn.
It has been here that modernity broke up something that was before reserved to the exclusive use of aristocracy: the ceremonies of initiations into a Rosicrucian framework. It was a philosopher and poet the man who published all this material under his name (within the review named The Equinox).
It must be said that this was not the sole case during those years: for instance, Leo Taxil (pseudonym of Marie Joseph Gabriel Antoine Jogand-Pagès) published under his name the Masonry’s rituals; nevertheless, the attitude of the two men is completely different, because Taxil is still under the common rule of (well payd) repentance, while Aleister Crowley is persuaded that he is offering a great gift to humanity, creating the conditions for a new awareness and a spirituality for all.
§3. REACTIONS OF THE ESTABLISHMENT
It is not difficult to find references to Aleister Crowley as something like “the wickedest man in the world” and many other amenities that constellates his controversial personality. The culture of the establishment found to label him as a satanist as the simplest way to neutralize the powerful philosophic system he was contributing in restore. Of course, Crowley had no fear to confront himself with the darkest dimension of inner consciousness (and we may use the archetypes paradygm of Jung’s psychology of the deep to have useful keys to query): notwithstanding, it is suffisant to read his Book 150 or the law of liberty, of love, of life and of light to understand that Crowley was too clever and aware to believe in a dualistic system (in this book there is also a clear reference to the Advaita’s doctrine of oneness that goes years light beyond the common ideas of ordinary philosophy of good and evil).
Anyway, the labeling had its effect as far as the eclectic and artistic personality of Crowley legitimate this interpretation of his thought, so that he was banned from the official culture. As always, this happened not because of the eccentricity of the artist, but for the reason why his theories were considered too open to individual awareness and therefore socially dangerous.
It is to remember to restart our story since the point that – after the early years of XX century – the industrial revolution was promising more freedom for citizens (as in the Fritz Lang’s film Metropolis), while in Russia the proletarian revolution leaded by Lenin and Trotzki under the Marx’s doctrines was going towards an international approach.
There was suffisant matter so that the power élites decided to react creating financial extortion through the mechanism of a deep crisis and financing authoritarian parties. From these fears fascism and nazism took their source, including another dramatic paradox: that in the first phase of this political change, Jewish capital financed nazism, believing that it would have been just a system to defend élites privilege.
§4. AFTER THE II WW
In a document written in 1941 by people exiled by the fascist’s Italian government, it is stated that the reasons which leaded the world over the edge of war, were essentially given by a condition were the power élites found the way to substitute the people’s interests with their personal advantage. We can read in this document: «It was claimed the equal right of all nations to organize themselves into independent states. Every nation, defined by its ethnic, geographical, linguistic and historical, had to find a State organization created for its own account in accordance with his particular conception of political life, the tool to best meet their needs, regardless of any outside intervention. The ideology of national independence was a powerful stimulus to progress helped overcome narrow-minded parochialism in a wider sense of solidarity against foreign oppression; has eliminated many of the obstacles hindering the free movement of people and goods , has extended, in the territory of each new state, to more backward, the institutions and systems of the more civilians. It led, however, in itself the seeds of capitalist imperialism, that our generation has seen magnify up to the formation of totalitarian states and the unleashing of the world wars. The nation is no longer viewed as the product of historical coexistence of men, who, as the result of a lengthy process, to greater uniformity of customs and aspirations, are in their the most effective means of organizing collective life within the framework of the whole human society. Instead become a divine entity, an organism that has only consider its own existence, its own development, without the least regard for the damage that others may suffer. The absolute sovereignty of nation states has led to the desire to dominate others, and considers its “living space” increasingly vast territories that allow them to move freely and to secure the means of existence without depending on anyone. This desire to dominate can not be placated by the hegemony of the strongest State over all others subservient. As a result of the state, as the guardian of freedom of the citizens, has become a master of vassals, bound to serve him with all the faculties in order to maximize combat effectiveness. Even in times of peace, considered as stops for the preparation of the inevitable wars that followed, the will of the military class now holds sway in many countries of the civilian class, making it increasingly difficult to operate free political school, science, production, the administrative body are mainly directed towards increasing military strength are considered merely as mothers of soldiers, and consequently rewarded with the same criteria with which the exhibitions are rewarded prolific cattle children are educated from an early age to handle weapons and hatred for foreigners; Individual freedom is reduced to nothing since all the military establishment and constantly called on to military service; Repeated wars forced to abandon the family, ‘ use property, and to sacrifice their lives for goals that no one really understands the value, and in a few days to destroy the results of decades of efforts to increase the collective well-being.»
§5. THE BOOM OF ECONOMY AND THE GENERATIONAL PROTEST
After the II WW, the recovery programs coming from the emerging world leader – the USA – creating in the whole Europe a economic wellness and the great increase of the economy. The ultra-liberal policies that leaded to the financial crack of 1929 creating the need for a different answer, something else form the ideologic statement that an “invisible hand” (to use the language of Adam Smith) create balance between production and consume. The answer come from the economic idea of the Keynes system of a State-piloted economy, with public investments to carry on incomes, demand and transforming save in further investments. The result was three decades of exceptional development, the promise of the beginning of the century seems to wake up and rise from a terrible nightmare, of course, but with new and powerful energies.
America was inherent with some important experience, especially jazz and blues, that creates new expectatives not just for ordinary people, but for people used to be discriminated, like the blacks. Their involvement in situation like jazz and blues, and the extraordinary interest of the most talented American artists gave to music a new charge as vehicle of emancipation. The electricity in guitars – and the consciousness in derivation from blues of the meaningful experience in rock’n’roll – creates a new ethic of young people, that edifies itself in a request of more power to the people.
It is not superfluos to remind the influence that the work of Aleister Crowley had in this new request for freedom coming from the Sixties and the Seventies. It is not superfluos especially because it is not obviuous at all. For long time, Crowley was simply a personality who was object of what Freudian psychoanalysis calls “removal”, with the complete cancellation from official literature.
It was an underground review, The International Time – now considered the main source to inquire what has been the protest, the psychedelic movement and the beat literature. In the columns of this review all the personalities of this area are represented: Allen Ginzberg, William Burroughs and, of course, the protagonist of the new musical scene: Rolling Stones, Beatles. The inauguration of the first number of the review was launched at the UFO club, with an opening concert of the early Pink Floyd.
The name of Aleister Crowley cames as answer to a poll made by this review, whose question was: “Who is the unknown prophet of the beat generation?” Then it followed a pair of articles signed by Kenneth Grant, an expert (himself a member of the late Golden Dawn), were Crowley’s personality and thought re-emerged under the title The Revival of Magic.
Since then, the influence of Crowley has been over and over increasing, finding in the psychedelic rock a powerful system of diffusion. So Crowley appears in the cover of the Beatles Sgt. Peppers, in the backcover of the Doors’ live album “13”, it is the subject of the Mick Jagger’s soundtrack for the film “Evocation of my demon brother” of the avant-garde director Kenneth Grant; he is the secret protagonist for the Rolling Stones’ song “Sympathy for the devil”, he become the great reference in the whole Led Zeppelin’s repertory; we may find his name in the word of David Bowie’s song “Quicksand”, as the title of Pink Floyd’s song “The dark side of the moon” is not but the title of the 21th chapter of his novel “Moonchild”. It can be possible to continue over and over, so that these seminal r’n’r bands has been – and still today are – influent on other bands, in an inextricable web of relations.
The Revival of Magic became the secret code to understand the way for modern emancipation, a system to experience collective situtation of shared spirituality as research of a more free style of life, delivered from ancient fears and taboos, were often the experimentation with drugs was a further instrument of this path, with people increasingly aware of the interdependance of the human destiny, expressing the will for a world more effective in rights of citizens and creating openess to the spiritual side of life.
§6. ECLIPSE OF IDEOLOGY AND BIRTH OF POST-MODERNISM
Unfortunately, as predicted by Aldous Huxley, drugs became the weakness of the system. Huxley is not a retrograde bigot: just as example, he is the source for the Doors in the choice of the name of the band (from the title of a book of him, The Doors of Perception – whose title is in turn a quotation from a William Blake fragment). He simply says that drug is not but an amplifier: therefore, as in a man (or in a woman) co-exist a lot of moods and feelings, it’s impossible to think to drugs as instrument to create freedom. Fears, shadows, anxieties will enter the person who has experience in this. The legend of Syd Barrett and the great number of excellent r’n’r artists who made (ab)use of drugs is countless.
In add, the inner thought of Aleister Crowley was simplified until the stupidity and vulgarity, codifiying it for simple access as a satanic system, like in the Anton LaVey version or in the Charles Manson sectarian asset. It is well known what happen in this late (the famous case of Sharon Tate, murdered during a magical retire) and it is quite suffisant to understand that this contributed in creating discredit in the social side of Crowley’s thought.
The establishment used these elements to reinforce the social control. As Huxley perfectly described explaining the way to work of the propaganda system, the élites create condition to absorb the protest and transform its language in something commercial. So the music of the protest became part of the commercial system.
To hold drugs illegal was the main system to take the protest under control. During the Seventies, the practice of infiltration became very common. The pacific demonstrations – as were marchs and happenings – were often alterated by fight and clashes, and in a lot of cases this was caused by the infiltration of men paid by the conservative, with political coverage that allow them to hit without consequences, sometimes even creating massacres that were leaning to the responsability of anarchist. In add, the political activity of confront and engagement in use during the Sixties, during the Seventies became quite impossible because of the increasing risk to be taken by the police under drug use accuse.
So began the time of disco-music.
No more people discussing politic in squares, but jest consumers of commercial music, alcohol and drugs into high volume discotheques. The aestethic of post-modern thought – were the possibility to identify the cause which gives origins to something else is denied – seems to have been the perfect pair with the subsititution of an economy socially leaded by the state (the Keynesian policies of the recovery from the ’29 crisis and the financing of the restore of Europe after II ww) towards a new liberist era leaded by the monetarian approach so loved by Reagan and Thatcher.
The dream of awareness and social consciousness was eclipsed again.