|Young Crowley. Art by Eddie Campbell. From From Hell chapter n.9.|
Excerpt from "An authentic fake - A pubside chat with Alan Moore and Peter Whitehead" by R.F. Paul published in Esoterra n.6 in 1996.
Do you consider yourself a Thelemite?
Alan Moore: Not entirely. I have got a lot of sympathy with Crowley's vision. I think he was the 20th century's magickal equivalent of Einstein. But I think that the Thelemite ideal was probably true for Crowley at that time. It doesn't feel true for me at this time. I will still take a lot of his ideas, a lot of his thinking and work it into my own scheme of things. But it wouldn't be fair for me to say that I was a Thelemite because I have problems with some aspects of it.
AM: For example, the most famous of Thelemic utterances, "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law." Now, I've got no problem with that nor with the definition of Magick as "the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will." Except that it seems to place too much emphasis on the will. In my experience of Magick, it is often spontaneous, it has got nothing to do with the will of the person who is allegedly practicing it. Things sometimes just happen. Sometimes things go wrong. Sometimes things happen that are completely different than those things you willed to happen or expected to happen, but its often a more satisfying magickal experience because of that. To me placing the will of the magician above the universe, although I'd expect Crowley to do that, is not the way that I feel about things. I feel its more my duty to bring my will into line with the universe rather than the other way around. Looking at the two factors involved in that equation - me and the universe - you know, I'm still in a position, perhaps unlike Crowley, where I think the universe is probably the senior partner in that relationship. I'm not dissing Crowley, I'm not knocking him. . .
Peter Whitehead: A sleeping partner?
AM: Well, no, it plays a very active role in the relationship actually. . .
PW: You put up the capital.
AM: (laughs) A certain amount of Crowley's stuff seems predicated on Crowley's personality. There is his thinking, which is often wonderful, illuminating and brilliant. There is also Crowley's ego, which was probably formulated by this strange Plymouth Brethren upbringing and the pressures which that must have put on him to assert himself. And I see Crowley's personality and aspects of it, which I probably wouldn't like if he were sitting opposite of me now. And there's a lot that I would like about the guy. But certain aspects I wouldn't like and I sometimes see those aspects coloring the doctrines of the Thelemites. For example, take the Book of the Law. I mean, its a beautiful piece of prose. I have no problem accepting that it was channeled from somewhere. However, I have to note some strong similarities between the world-view of the Angel Aiwaz and the world-view of Aleister Crowley himself. Now, I would say that to me, these entities are very often distinct, separate entities from us, and they also are us at the same time. Now, from that point of view, while Crowley is certainly the most important magician of the 20th Century there is stuff in his personality which he never managed to resolve. Looking at his life objectively, I'd have to say that, without trying to be judgemental. His last words were, "I am perplexed." It was not as smooth a ride as sometimes he tried to portray it as. And inasmuch as those elements of Crowley's personality do pervade his thinking, that's where I'd have to draw the line and part company with Thelema. Does that sound halfway reasonable to you?
Yes. Sure. Even though the "I am perplexed" quote is bullshit.
AM: Is that apocryphal?
Yeah. Apocryphal bunk.
AM: I wonder what he did say. "I am perfect", perhaps?