"Teach us Your real secret, Master! how to become invisible, how to acquire love, and oh! beyond all, how to make gold."
Fans of Aleister Crowley are in for a treat. Included in this second volume of Crowley's Collected Works:
The Soldier and the Hunchback! And ?
"My essential spirituality is made manifest by yet another publication, which stands as a testimony of my praeterhuman (sic) innocence. The book is called White Stains and is commonly quoted by my admirers as evidence of my addiction to every kind of unmentionable vice."
- Aleister Crowley. 'The Confessions of Aleister Crowley.'
The Soldier and the Hunchback ! And ?
Students of Thelema would do well to familiarize themselves with the ideas set forth in this short document.
Crowley describes the path of initiation in this essay as a succession of question marks and exclamation points. When one sets out on the path, one is typically operating in what we might call "mundane consciousness," reacting blindly to sensory stimuli and hardly reflecting at all on one's life. But the unexamined life is not worth living. So when one first begins to question one's own basic assumptions and seek a deeper truth - when one puts a question mark next to one's life - one eventually finds an ecstatic exclamation point, an AHA or EUREKA! moment when one believes that one has found The Answer.
"The happiness of cocaine is not passive or placid as that of beasts; it is self-conscious. It tells man what he is, and what he might be; it offers him the semblance of divinity, only that he may know himself a worm. It awakes discontent so acutely that never shall it sleep again. It creates hunger. Give cocaine to a man already wise, schooled to the world, morally forceful, a man of intelligence and self-control. If he be really master of himself, it will do him no harm. He will know it for a snare: he will beware of repeating such experiments as he may make; and the glimpse of his goal may possibly even spur him to its attainment by those means which God has appointed for His saints."
First published in the October 1917 edition of The International, Crowley's examination of cocaine and its role in society is an important document in any serious discussion of the history of recreational drugs. It is a useful companion piece to Crowley's later tour de force'Diary of a Drug Fiend.'