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Sex and the Spiritual – The Secret about Secret Societies

August 30th, 2008

After writing the last post I wanted to find out more about Jonathan Black and his book (which I am now 160 pages into and enjoying – more later when I reach the end – it’s a remarkable and unusual book). I found a scathing review about it on salon.com by Laura Miller that ended amusingly. And here is what one commentator noted after reading her piece:

As a Master Mason and son of one of an extremely well-known and highly advanced member of Scottish Rite Freemasonry (who was also for most of his life a practicing Christian Scientist but finally got cured of it) I found this article a huge breath of fresh air.

I also found the last sentence or so of the piece profoundly insightful and perhaps even worthy of an initiate of one or more of the interrelated “secret” societies which actually serve some useful function, specifically this:

“Most people will still choose to believe in something ‘more,’ whether it’s the ninefold [she means eightfold] path of the Buddha or the pillars of Islam or pyramid power. Chances are that whatever they choose will sound ridiculous to anyone who doesn’t also believe. That’s something religion has always had in common with sex: If you’re not into it, it looks silly. Which explains why all the really clever people do it behind closed doors.”

Religion has a lot in common with sex. The purest religion does not separate itself from sex at all. In this remarkably prurient yet puritanical culture of ours, it really is clever to keep both strictly sub rosa. More fun, too. AJCalhoun

144 comments follow Laura Miller’s article: here

Is the Book Dead?

August 30th, 2008

Rather like worrying about the end of the world because of environmental degradation, some of those involved in the reading, writing and publishing world worry about the death of the book. Something is definitely going on, and Jonathan Black, author of ‘The Secret History of the World’, who is not-so-secretly really Mark Booth, head of the Random House imprint Century, has written a fascinating and provocative article about this in The Independent. He makes a convincing case for the imminent collapse of the High Street book chains, and for the demise of the printed book. He links all this skilfully to the esoteric tradition and the rise of the internet.

But what I can’t understand about the theory of the imminent collapse of book-reading is why in that case more and more books are published every year – hundreds of thousands of new titles in English alone. And of course Jonathan Black’s book is selling like hotcakes…

Despite my scepticism, have a look at his article – it’s well worth reading. Here’s how it opens. Follow the link to the full article.

The first printed book in the middle of the 15th century illumined human consciousness like no other technological innovation. Knowledge would no longer be available only to a churchy elite. Freedom of thought, freedom of opinion and creative imagination would evade any attempt to control it. If people had once drifted away on clouds of incense, they were now liberated by the smell of ink.

The evidence in 2008, however, suggests that book reading is in decline. I have worked in publishing for some 25 years and have also recently published a book of my own, conscious that it may be one of the last books. I think some people in the business don’t want to admit that it’s happening. To them it seems a betrayal of skills and standards that generations worked hard to maintain. They see apathy, short attention spans, illiteracy – what Auberon Waugh called the “proletarianisation” of Britain.

But to me these signs are pointing the way to a revolution more radical than Caxton’s. The human mind is about to be turned inside out, opening up new dimensions of consciousness to anyone who isn’t determined to keep the door shut.

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