It’s Worse than Being Uninteresting

I think I’m getting sick again. This weather has just been brutal on my ability to stay well. Seriously, I think I’ve had a “Spring cold” once a month since December.

And yet, we encourage old people to move south. Do they not get spring colds then all throughout the winter?

I got some work done on Sue last night. Good work? Eh, I don’t know. It’s a long digression on different occult traditions in the United States and the practicalities–in any of those traditions–of one lone person being able to conjure up a spirit and boss it around. We compare Bible translations (the gist being that behavior that’s clearly forbidden by the NIV is not clearly forbidden by the King James). We talk some about race and how it feeds into those different magical traditions. And then, right now, I’m at the point where I address the incredibly stupid shit people do with magic.

Not in the “This had repercussions I couldn’t have known” way, but in the “my powers outstrip my ambition.” Take Jack Parsons and L. Ron Hubbard who conjured up Babalon, the Mother of Abominations. Weeks they spent performing the ritual that would bring her into our plane. Not to put the world back together after a world war with them on top. Not to get themselves a secret moon base. Not to get untold wealth. But to fuck her.

See what I mean? Like they were going to be so good at it–these mortal men–that she’d bend to their will in order to continue to get their sweet dicks? It doesn’t even seem like that. It seems like, really, all they could imagine doing with the being they brought forth was fucking it. Full stop.

That’s kind of like my bad guy–who has the power of time travel and who could have been spending the 20 years he spent in our time learning enough about the future of the past that he could go back in time and make himself a millionaire or more historically important than he actually was or whatever. And instead, all he wants is revenge on the girl who wouldn’t fuck him. A failure of imagination.

Later, Hubbard denied practicing magic, claiming instead that he’d been sent in to break up Parsons’ group by Robert Heinlein (?!) and end the powers of black magic over Pasadena. And my god, you can see why he’d rather have that story out there than “Yeah, I called forth this ancient evil during a time of great global flux and the most I could imagine myself doing with it is sticking my dick in it.”

But, I think that’s probably the honest truth of the matter. Most of us, if we had great powers, still wouldn’t be superheros. We’d just be ourselves, with all our shortcomings, but with that one power, which we would use for stupid ends.

And Heinlein?! I don’t know much about him, but I’m having trouble reconciling what I do know with a guy who’d be concerned about stopping a dude trying to get another dude to help him fuck the Mother of Abominations.

But I’m open to arguments as to why I’m wrong…

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8 thoughts on “It’s Worse than Being Uninteresting

  1. This last six weeks has been reminding me eerily of the 8-12 weeks after 9/11. (Here in Middle Tennessee. I know those from New York had a much more intense experience.)

    As with back then there seems to be a general tetchiness and malaise combined with this weird “cold”/”flu” bug that nobody seems able to shake. Back then I seriously thought that it was possible that airborne toxins had drifted over the country and contaminated us all. Everyone was snippy, melancholy and always congested. Now I don’t know what to blame other than the unseasonable warmth not killing off certain bacteria/virii.

    Heinlein? His metaphysical interests and beliefs were very important to him. Very key to who he was and what and how he wrote. Hubbard was ALWAYS a sham-Heinlein who liked the idea of metaphysics insofar as it made him able to be God, which he only wanted to do to fuck people. Seriously. I’m so not surprised about him conjuring dark forces to fuck because that was always what he was about. Like a perpetual 15 year old. To those of us (i.e. me) who are huge Heinlein fans, it’s galling to see Hubbard revered as this great metaphysical mind while RAH sits on the rubbish heap. Both men were very self-interested products of post WWII America where we were the big heroes and the wielders of bombs and science. The difference is subtle but RAH used his “Thou Art God” belief to strive for personal perfection while LRH used his Dianetics to flimflam money and sex out of as many people as possible.

  2. Re: getting sick again: my 3rd cold sore of 2012 just surfaced. I’m about to just have quarantine tattooed across my lips. I don’t usually get them that frequently so it’s got to be the weather.

  3. L. Ron Hubbard’s Wikipedia entry makes me realize that I would pay good money for a book that was just a collection of other sci-fi writers talking smack about Hubbard.

  4. Disjointed thoughts: I have been and remain tetchy, melancholic and bedraggled-not quite sick, but thisclose. So I agree with what you are saying, Coble, and if you have any answers, I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

    I loved Heinlein for a long time, and would like to hear what, exactly, he would have said about LRH. I would definitely buy that book, B.

    Had no idea that the conjuring up of Babalon was a side project of LRH and co, but people get up to some odd things in California. It sounds exactly like a repeated plot theme from several of the Sandman comic books. You spend all this occult energy and actually get a result, but you have no idea what to do with the powerful, immortal being you summon. And it ultimately devours you.

    Now that I think about it, B, this is an old, old problem: even Dr. Faustus wants Helen of Troy to come and hang out with him. You sold your soul for THAT?

  5. Oh, Jess, the Faustus comparison is GENIUS! Coincidentally, Faust was performed every other year in Nashville throughout the 1890s.

    And now I would like to see the “superhero” who uses his superpowers for boring crap because he can’t make the leap into “I must therefore be a superhero” in his mind.

    Anyway, Jack Parsons is one of the most interesting minor characters of the 20th Century as far as I can tell. He was a rocket scientist by day, follower of Crowley by night, and then this nonsense with Hubbard.

    He’s kind of, weirdly, the lynchpin between the 19th Century occult practices and 20th century focus on science and science fiction, as best I can tell.

    And it’s telling that it took until the 40s for the guy who would symbolize the transition between the 19th and 20th centuries to emerge.

  6. RAH’s idea of personal perfection as presented in his novels certainly seemed to include being a man who got to fuck innumerable women, so he had that in common with LRH.

    But, ya know, for so many men the way to demonstrate power (occult or otherwise) seems to come down to showing home many people you can fuck. The counter-example that leaps immediately to mind is Jeff Bridges playing the president of the U.S. (in a movie whose title I forget; it starred Joan Allen and also had Gary Oldman in it). He demonstrated his power by forcing and/or enabling people to eat absolutely anything at any time of the day or night. It was brilliant and unforgettable for being so different, but, really, the sex thing is such a common idea that it has become our shorthand for denoting power.

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