Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Wonder and Terror Called Jack Parsons


If our civilization were not so aesthetically retarded, spiritually timid and terminally mediocre, the name John Whiteside Parsons would be sung and celebrated throughout the land for his seminal contributions to the U.S. space program, his poetic libertarianism and his sheer cosmic hubris in attempting to invoke an occult apocalypse in the Nevada desert in 1946. Some even claim that Parsons succeeded in the latter endeavor, and that the rash of UFO sightings since his Babalon Working are really extra-dimensional Lovecraftian demons unleashed by the Enochian invocation. In a multiverse as unlimited as this one, I find such a thing easily imaginable, and therefore, in some sense, true.

So I would like to pay tribute to Jack Parsons the proto-Cosmist, the primordial wizard who explored the inner cosmos of his mystical mind and the outer cosmos of his rocket research with equal fervor and genius. As we strive to reach the furthest stars of the inner and outer cosmos alike, let all Cosmists emulate this unsung hero of the 20th century, whose untimely death at the age of 37 is further proof of the Greek aphorism: "whom the gods love, die young".

(The following is an excerpt from Parsons' essay Freedom is a Two-Edged Sword, written in 1947.)


We are now in the midst of a tremendous battle of forces contending for domination over the mind and spirit of man. It is not, unfortunately, a battle between good and evil, between freedom and tyranny but rather a struggle of dogma against dogma and authority vs. authority. The contenders are fascism and communism. Each is a doctrine alien and hostile to the ideal of freedom. Each says that we must choose between one or the other and each is, in reality, identical. Each demands the absolute enslavement of the individual, the abnegation of the intellect and the subjugation of the will. The authoritarian is right, absolutely right, so right that every extreme of falsehood, suppression and tyranny is justified in the accomplishment of his 'divine' ends. Behind his benevolent paternalism lurks the star chamber and the concentration camp; behind his morality looms the stake and the inquisition of the "Old Time Religion" so many profess to long for. All these systems are old; older than human history. Freedom and democracy are the only new things under the sun and they offend alike the slaves and the slave masters.

"Come unto me," goes the old harlot's song. "Come unto me you weary and heavily laden. Surrender your intolerable burden of freedom and I will fill your mouths with miracles and your bellies will be full of food. Come with me and I will confound your enemies and show you paradise. Look, you do not even have to change a name, only keep the letter and deny the spirit, for the letter giveth life."

She is harvesting the nations now, that old whore, for an appointment in the place called Armageddon. There will be a hunting of free men in the name of freedom and there will be prisons and pogroms in the name of democracy, murder and slavery in the name of brotherhood, and all for the sake of dominion over the minds and bodies of men.

There is a choice: the choice of freedom which has no other name and no other cause. Man, freed of his demons, without the need of a dogma or the use of a creed, can, of and by himself, avail, triumph and achieve significance. This is the faith of a liberal; belief in himself and belief in man. There is no other way to the full status of manhood. It is the long way, the hard way; through trial, error, failure and heartbreak – but it is the way guided by science and inspired by art; leading at long last to the stars. This is our choice: we may believe in ourselves, believe in our fellow men and in freedom and in brotherhood. We may start to achieve here and now that paradise which has so long been relegated to the hereafter. Or, with the dogmatists, the positivists, the authoritarians we can return again to the ape-hood from which we have so late arisen.

If we wish to identity with a greater power, let us seek union with ourselves – our total self, raised to its highest potential of wisdom, knowledge and experience. If we wish to unite with the universe, let us court the whole of nature, all experience, all truth and the splendour of the awesome cosmos itself. For 'out there' lies the great campaign that comes first and last; the ultimate adventure of the individual into himself. He must go down like Moses into his unknown self, out into the new dimension, out with Orpheus and the barque of Arthur, with Tammuz and Adonis, with Mithra and Jesus, into the labyrinths of the Dark Land. There he will meet The Mother and hear Her final question: "What is man?". Thereafter, close by the heart of the cryptic Mother, he may find the Graal; ultimate consciousness, total remembrance, instinct made certain, reason made real. For it is he, wonderful monster, embryo god who has swum in the fish, shed the skin of the crocodile, peered from the eyes of serpents, swung with the apes and shaken the earth with tramp of the tyrannosaur's hoof. It is he who has cried out on all crosses, ruled on all thrones, grubbed in all gutters. It is he whose face is reflected and distorted in all heavens and hells – he, the Child of the Stars, the son of the ocean; this creature of dust, this wonder and terror called MAN.

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