| up a level
from the pharisee-dotes dept.
There is one thing almost guaranteed to get a Thelemite's back up, and that is to inform him or her that they don't know what the Law really means. Yet the authority usually cited for the freedom and responsibility of interpreting the Law for oneself is The Comment -- which also instructs adherents, apparently unequivocally, that those who discuss the contents of The Book of the Law are to be shunned by all. Yet this injunction is routinely ignored. "Don't Thelemites have the right to interpret as they will?" is the insouciant reply to any objection. Do they?
"Those who discuss the contents of this Book are to be shunned by all, as centres of pestilence." That's what it says and that's what is very rarely practiced. Yet the same people who stand upon their Comment-given right to interpret as they will commonly also refuse anything but a strict and literal reading of "All questions of the Law are to be decided only by appeal to my writings, each for himself." Indeed, in many years of reading on this topic, I have never even seen it suggested that it should be similarly disregarded as somehow optional; as allegorical, or whatever. It is, of course, simply convenient to accept one as plainly literal and to reject the other. As someone who does respect the right even of illiterate lunatics to decide questions of Law for himself, I don't make too much of a fuss about such inconsistencies, but it is important to me in that the forums available for someone who does like to take a literal approach to The Comment, including the shunning injunction, are severely limited. Living, as I do, in a part of the world where I can go for years without seeing anyone with any claim to be a Thelemite, the Internet has been a boon, but there are no discussion groups where The Comment is literally respected. If one even brings it up one is sneered at as if one has yet to achieve the enlightenment required to see that one should be above such silliness. This is not only patronising, it is disrespectful of the very part of The Comment that is also cited as the authority for the precious auto-interpretation. To partake in any discussion at all, what I have done it to simply ignore those who, by my judgement, discuss the contents (at least on occasions when they are discussing). This is a shame, as often I would like to respond more directly to persons who do seem to be quite interesting and who have something to say. So what do I do? Do I start up a moderated group for non-discussers and permanently shun the rest of you?
P.S. For those who can stand my obtuse style, I have penned a further essay on The Comment here. A gin and tonic might be required to get you through it.
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