Magick Without Tears

By Aleister Crowley

Chapter XIV: Noise

Cara Soror,

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

You ask me what is, at the present time, the greatest obstacle to human progress.

I answer in one word: NOISE.

You will recall that in Yoga the concise compendium of Initiated Instruction is:

Sit still
Stop thinking
Shut up, and
Get out.

The second of these postulates the third; for one can neither think nor stop thinking with all that row going on.

Then again, the Fourth Power of the Sphinx is Silence; on this subject I must refer you to Little Essays Toward Truth (No. 14, p. 75).

We are really trying to discuss something totally different; something practical in daily life. Very well, then; you remark that Goetia actually means "howling", that we use officially the Bell, the Tom-Tom, the Incantations, the Mantras and so on. All quite true, about Magick; but none of it applies to Yoga, for even with the Mantra the practice is to go faster and more quietly as one proceeds, until it becomes "Mental Muttering." M is the letter that is pronounced with the lips firmly closed; and Silence is the meaning of the MU root of Mystery.

However, we must admit the value of rhythmical, one-pointed sound; that is very different from Noise. Old French has noise, nose, a debate, quarrel, noise; Provençal noisa, nausa, nueiza. But Diez claims the derivation from nausea—and by the Living Jingo, I consider Diez a hundred per cent white man!

Now, most modern talking is little better than a series of conventional grunts; most people seem to aim deliberately at not saying anything with meaning, at least in normal conversation. (James Branch Cabell is exceedingly funny in his displays of this intolerable habit.)

I once had a most wholesome lesson: how diffuse and therefore unnecessary is much of even our most would-be-compressed speech.

I had been charged by my Superior with the reconstruction of a certain ritual.1 This was in 1912; already the tempo of the world had speeded up mercilessly; to get people to learn even short passages by heart would be no easy job. So, warned by the prolix, pious, priggish and platitudinous horrors of Freemasonry (especially the advanced degrees of the Scottish and Egyptian Rites), I resolved to cut the cackle and come to the 'osses in the most drastic manner of which I was capable.

It was a great success.

But then we had a candidate who was stone deaf. (Not "a little hard of hearing;" his tympana were burst.)

Obviously, one could show him slips of paper, as one did in talking to him. But there in much of the ceremony the candidate must be hoodwinked!

Nothing for it but to communicate by the deaf and dumb alphabet on his fingers. This I did—and found that I could cut out on the spur of the moment at least forty per cent of the "Irreducible minimum" without doing any damage at all to the effect of the ritual. "That larned 'im!"

Of course, there is such a thing as the Art of Conversation; I have been lucky enough to know three, perhaps four, of the world's best talkers; but that is not to the point. As well object to impasto because it wastes paint.

What I am out to complain of is what I seriously believe to be an organized conspiracy of the Black Lodges to prevent people from thinking.

Naked and unashamed! In some countries there has already been compulsory listening-in to Government programmes; and who knows how long it will be before we are all subjected by law to the bleatings, bellowings, belchings of the boring balderdash of the B.B.C.-issies?

They boast of the freedom of religious thought; yet only the narrowest sectarian propaganda is allowed to approach the microphone. I quite expect censorship of books—that of the newspapers, however vehemently denied, is actually effective—and even of private letters. This will mean an enormous increase in parasitic functionaries who can be trusted to vote for the rascals that invented their sinecures. That was, in fact, the poison ivy that strangled the French poplar!

But these soul-suffocating scoundrels know well their danger. There are still a few people about who have learnt to think; and they are palsied with terror lest, as might happen at any moment these people realized the peril, organized, and made a clean sweep of the whole brood of scolex!

So nobody must be allowed to think at all. Down with the public schools! Children must be drilled mentally by quarter-educated herdsmen, whose wages would stop at the first sign of disagreement with the bosses. For the rest, deafen the whole world with senseless clamour. Mechanize everything! Give nobody a chance to think. Standardize "amusement." The louder and more cacophonous, the better! Brief intervals between one din and the next can be filled with appeals, repeated 'till hypnotic power gives them the force of orders, to buy this or that product of the "Business men" who are the real power in the State. Men who betray their country as obvious routine.

The history of the past thirty years is eloquent enough, one would think. What these sodden imbeciles never realize is that a living organism must adapt itself intelligently to its environment, or go under at the first serious change of circumstance.

Where would England be today if there had not been one man,2 deliberately kept "in the wilderness" for decades as "unsound," "eccentric," "dangerous," "not to be trusted," "impossible to work with," to take over the country from the bewildered "safe" men?

And what could he have done unless the people had responded? Nothing. So then there is still a remnant whose independence, sense of reality, and manhood begin to count when the dear, good, woolly flock scatter in terror at the wolf's first howl.

Yes, they are there, and they can get us back our freedom—if only we can make them see that the enemy in Whitehall is more insidiously fatal than the foe in Brownshirt House.

On this note of hope I will back to my silence.

Love is the law, love under will.

Fraternally,

666

 

1: Given the date the reference is almost certainly to the O.T.O. initiations – T.S.

2: Winston Churchill – W.E.H.