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James French "Author of Lady Midnight from Concrescent Letters" (Oakland, California United States)

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Understanding Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot
Understanding Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot
by Lon Milo DuQuette
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 27.35
48 used & new from CDN$ 20.85

5.0 out of 5 stars About time, Dec 26 2003
Lon DuQuette has a talent for making things like the writings of Aleister Crowley almost make sense. With "Understanding Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot", DuQuette continues his project of demystifying the difficult but critical body of literature left behind by the Beast.
The current work includes an introduction to the Rose Cross design that is worth the price of the book in itself. There is also a brief overview of Crowley's life and work. This latter is somewhat superficial, but any biography of Crowley is bound to be incomplete. DuQuette then goes over each card in turn, bringing the lofty metaphysics of the Book of Thoth down to earth. His formula for understanding the small cards is a good example of this. Apply it, and you should be able to memorize and internalize the cards at a much faster rate.
This book was written both for people with no interest in Crowley, and for those who wish to understand the Beast better. As such, it has to make a few concessions that it might not have if it had been written exclusively for magicians. Some of the more sexual aspects of Crowley's doctrines are toned down a bit, for example.
This is only a deterrent for those who wish to keep Crowley in a box, along with their honorary degrees, suitable for framing. The rest of us will profit immeasurably from DuQuette's hacking through the thicket of Victorian prose to expose the roots and blossoms.

Moon Magic
Moon Magic
by Dion Fortune
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 25.49
19 used & new from CDN$ 16.12

3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, Dec 26 2003
This review is from: Moon Magic (Paperback)
Moon Magic is the sequel to Fortune's excellent "Sea Priestess". Vivianne LeFay Morgan returns, this time using the name Lilith. Through her magickal intervention, Rupert Malcolm, a doctor of great distinction, overcomes some serious psychological problems and realizes his innate psychic talent.

Regretfully, I cannot regard this book as even close to equal to its predecessor. Fortune did not finish this book while she was alive, and it reads like what it probably is: a first draft. The various middle chapters revolve around highly repetitive conversations between Lilith and Malcolm. The two circle around the same two or three themes, never really coming to a perceptible meeting of the minds. There are, however, some intense ritual scenes that are as good as anything in the Sea Priestess.
It's not that I think the book is utterly without worth. I wouldn't be reviewing it if I did. I simply feel it needs a touch up, and a talented author to smooth out some of its rough edges.
The current (2003) Weiser edition does almost the opposite. There are so many typographical errors that I was left wondering whether the Weiser copyeditors were on strike, and the publisher had hired the butchers at Llewellyn. The third section of Moon Magic was completed after Fortune's death. In fact, it was "channeled". Fortune's voice is nonetheless clear, and there is no jarring change between the sections completed by more mundane methods and the final part. Only, the editors seem to have missed the fact that the sixteenth chapter has two sections which describe the same action in two different ways, with no explanation. This is distracting, to say the least. Perhaps those who channeled this section felt too much reverence for Fortune to dare edit her?
The relationship between the two characters does not get resolved satisfactorily. We are left with hints, when the explicit purpose of the final working is to bring the power to earth.
This book left me cold. Still, it's not bad for a first draft. Perhaps one day, someone will finish it, and it will take its place as another of the jewels in Fortune's fictional crown.

Prometheus Rising
Prometheus Rising
by Robert Anton Wilson
Edition: Paperback
18 used & new from CDN$ 22.91

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Change yourself, change the world, May 12 2002
This review is from: Prometheus Rising (Paperback)
In Promethues Rising, Robert Anton Wilson tells you how to alter your brain in a positive fashion. He teaches you to see the world differently, though not neccasarily his way. What he has done is written a book which demonstrates how the human miund can be either used for freedom or slavery. The choice is up to us.
Using Leary's model of the Eight Circuit nervous system Wilson explain such things as patriotism, brainwashing, and morality. He then systematically shows you how to brainwash yourself for fun and profit. The exercises are the main benefit of the book. This is taking into account all the uselful information he provides on each circuit, along with corespondences to the Tarot and James Joyce.
Wilson's hopeful outlook and crazy sense of humor keep the book moving through material that could, in the hands of a less skillfull writer, be hard to wade through. The only danger is that some readers might mistake his light hearted approach as a sign that he can't be taken seriously.
Really, the world has gone through enough blunders and attempt to change it "for the better". The answer is to change yourself first, then reach out to others. This book is one way of beginning that process.

Sex, Drugs & Magick
Sex, Drugs & Magick
by Robert Anton Wilson
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 38.61
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A serious look at the New Holy War, May 12 2002
This review is from: Sex, Drugs & Magick (Paperback)
In Sex and Drugs, Wilson shows how drugs have been used along with sex through the ages as paths to mystical experience. He then demonstrates how the current "war on drugs", is really a holy war between different factions of drug users. He details many experiences of people whose lifes have been changed, for good and bad, by the use of drugs.
This book is a bit more sober than Wilson's other works, and suffers from having had updates to the current edition inserted into the texts without revising the context to fit it. Otherwise, a good look at sex and drugs as something other than a reason to shred what's left of the Constitution.

Schrodinger's Cat Trilogy: "The Universe Next Door", "The Trick Top Hat", & "The Homing Pigeons"
Schrodinger's Cat Trilogy: "The Universe Next Door", "The Trick Top Hat", & "The Homing Pigeons"
by Robert A. Wilson
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.94
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5.0 out of 5 stars The carnival of weirdness continues, May 12 2002
Robert Anton Wilson, the "last Scientific shaman of our age" provides us with a guide to illumination in this series of three books that are one book. Each volume here collected is a different view of the same world, a ride through the most radical theories of modern physics.
Many characters from the Illuminatus! Trilogy reappear, including Simon Moon and the midget Markoff Chaney. They all take slightly different forms, except for Chaney, who appears as the ever constant Random Factor. And when Ulyses return to Ithyca, we get a peak at what Wilson's imagination is capable of.
The book may be slightly perverse. But then, he's writing about the state of the human race. I assume that it is only Wilson's positivity that keeps him from writing us all into a novel that would make Sade cringe. The point here is to enjoy, observe, and learn.
Readers of Illuminatus! will certainly enjoy this book. Moralists, of course, will weep in their beds. But that's the best part of all...

The Illuminatus! Trilogy: The Eye in the Pyramid, The Golden Apple, Leviathan
The Illuminatus! Trilogy: The Eye in the Pyramid, The Golden Apple, Leviathan
by Robert Shea
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 20.05
39 used & new from CDN$ 2.32

5.0 out of 5 stars To be read many times, May 12 2002
Illuminatus! is pershaps one of the most wonderful books I have ever read. The combination of occultism, anarchism, and outright wierdness carries the reader through the most bizzare conspiracy theory ever dreamt of. This book will make you laugh, rage, and probably cause you to become a bit paranoid.
The story, or stories, hinge around a search for the truth about the Illuminati, a worldwide conspiracy that has apparently existed for centuries. Wilson complied a great deal of information, as well as tid bits from letters sent to him by crazies when he was working as the letters editor at Playboy magazine. The result is a book that leaves you wondering where fact ends and satire begins. That is, of course, the point. Wilson is out to blow your mind.
Professional cynics, who delight in nay-saying the creativity of others without producing anything of their own as an alternative, will find the book sentimental and a bit silly. For those with truly open minds, however, the Illuminatus Trilogy will be a book to read many times over. There is enough subtlety to keep you as busy as a thorough reading of Finnegan's Wake. The hidden messages and allusions seem to multiply each time you read.
You may even see the Fnords!

by Hakim Bey
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.37
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5.0 out of 5 stars A practical guide to Ontological Anarchy, Feb. 16 2002
This review is from: Immediatism (Paperback)
In the temporoary Autonimous Zone, Hakim Bey evoked a spirit of insurrection. In Immediatism, he gives ideas on just what to do with this wild spirit or "strange attractor" once it's flying around your kitchen.
Immediatism basically entails a return to an economy of the gift, or reciprocity rather than commodity. Bey suggests forming secret societies of "art terrorism" and quilting bees with a twist. The point is to keep your art away from the Spectacle. If THEY get ahold of you, you're (...).
This is not a political program for those who enjoy dry sessions of critcism/self criticism and "non-violent" resistance. It is about creating a new society "in the rotting shell of the old". It is for true radicals, not "reformers" or "progressives". Bey is as hostile toward leftist values as he is right wing morality. Immeidatism is about life, not theory. It is for those who wish to dance with Chaos.

Shelley: Selected Poetry
Shelley: Selected Poetry
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.00
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, but slightly one dimensional, Sept. 29 2001
Shelly was a master at combining images and creating a world that was uniquley his own. The problem is, that world seemed to consist mainly of foggy sea shores at sunrise and forest cathedrals. While there is nothing wrong with visiting such a world, there is very little reason to stay there.
Shelly's lyrics are uneven, sometimes resorting to rhymes that make me cringe. His strength is iambic prose. Even this suffers from what appears to be a limited vocabulary which para doxically inclused eccentric spellings like "aery".
Having said all that, I must admit that I am in sypmpathy with Shelly. He dwells in a solitary world of fairy beauty that is the spiritual home of every soul in search of Truth. This goes a long way toward forgiving his somewhat middle ground talent.
"Queen Mab" and "Alastor" are the best peoms in this collection. Most of the other seem to be either comments or footnotes to these. They encompass Shelly's strange universe beautifully.
"Alastor" is the strongest in terms of imagery reflecting isolation and the hard choice to foresake worldy pleasure to find a higher truth. All sorts of moonlit coves lie just past the crashing waves of the main stream. One only wishes that Shelly could see the beauty he was leaving was a part of what he sought.
I recomment this edition, and the critical essay at its beginning, as a starting point for study of Shelly and his work.

The Anatomy of Motive: The FBI's Legendary Mindhunter Explores the Key to Understanding and Catching Violent Criminals
The Anatomy of Motive: The FBI's Legendary Mindhunter Explores the Key to Understanding and Catching Violent Criminals
by John Douglas
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.88
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3.0 out of 5 stars Profiling John Douglas, Aug. 25 2001
I clearly am not in the target audience for John Douglas´¿s ´¿Anatomy of Motive´¿. I picked up this book thinking it was a scientific look at how mentally ill criminals think. What I read, while interesting, is such a far cry from what I consider science that to name it such would be paramount to calling a stapler a chicken. This is emphatically not to say that this is a bad book. I found the look into the mind of a profiler very interesting, and even managed to learn a bit about what he does. The thing I take issue with is the constant references Douglas makes to his subjects as ´¿losers´¿, ´¿cowards,´¿ or ´¿creeps´¿. These people are, to begin with, mentally ill. While their crimes are undoubtedly awful, they should be judged in the context of pathology, not morality. I can´¿t imagine why Douglas feels the need to remind us that it is wrong to eviscerate a woman and leave her corpse under a woodshed. I know this already, thank you. Equally irritating is the manner in which Douglas ignores two glaring facts. The first is that the most brutal of the crimes described in the book were carried out by individuals either enlisted in the armed forces or retired therefrom. It seems that Mr. Douglas´¿s own military background hinders him from seeing a pattern of violence connected to the military. Then again, maybe these folks are just losers. The second is that his ´¿dominate, manipulate, and control´¿ formula is a fair description of the goals of most corporate CEOs. If one is going to moralize, they should acknowledge that the violence that these offenders commit has at least some relation to the very values our society celebrates. To play these very sick people off as ´¿losers´¿ ignores that their illness is the logical extension of our own. Of course, this sort of statement does not belong in a book purporting to be about the science of criminal profiling. What are appropriate here are a description of a crime, and how the profiler determined what sort of personality the offender has. I would think that labeling the "´¿UNSUB" a ´¿loser´¿ would hinder the objective analysis necessary to find him. While there is enough of the kind of information I wanted to keep me reading, I couldn´¿t help feeling like I´¿d just been preached to. If Douglas had left out his completely unnecessary pedantic rambling, this book would have been about fifty pages shorter. It also would have been more interesting. In the end, I felt that the main person who had been profiled was John Douglas.

by Stephen King
Edition: Hardcover
107 used & new from CDN$ 0.77

4.0 out of 5 stars Vintage King, Aug. 4 2001
This review is from: Dreamcatcher (Hardcover)
Breaking my rule of never writing for a book with more than twenty reviews in grand style...
Dreamcatcher is a textbook example of a Stephen King novel. This is either a very good thing or a very bad thing, depending on your point of view. I take the middle, and say that, while the King formula is entertaining, it does not challenge the reader in the way a horror novel can and should.
This story begins in the classic King fashion, with a great deal of time spent getting to know a bunch of alchoholic, middle aged white guys before something bizzare happens to them. This time its extraterrestrials, making this King's take on War of the Worlds.
The story begins when Jonesy, a college professor, nearly shoots a man who has been impregnated by an alien weasal-thing. These weasals gestate in the carrier's intestines, eventually exiting from the rear. Be prepared for some lovely descriptions of the victim's backside after the weasals are done with them.
Dreamcatcher has a decidedly New Age twist, using a character with Downe's Syndrome as the focal point for a psychic connection between the four main players. His name is Duddits, and his story is the truly sad part of the book.
I thought the ending of this novel was a bit pedantic, but overall Dreamcatcher is a solid effort by King. He weaves events from his own life into the narrative, one suspects that some of the weirder bits were written while in a percoset haze.
Dreamcatcher should be considred along with Needful Things, the Stand, and the Dark Half as King's best.

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