Thursday, July 22, 2010

Writers Need A Sense of Humor

Every once in a while, a writer will get a very sharp and clever review of one of their books that has a bit of great humor at their expense. I have been reviewed by some very fair reviewers, and also some reviewers have taken a hatchet job to me and my work, though luckily only by two. In either case, my experience is either admiration or outrage, and seldom is there anything in between. It’s basically the price that anyone pays for putting their words into print and selling themselves as authors and occult teachers. Not everything that I have written is perfect and defensible, which is to say there are mistakes and accidental omissions as well as regrettable typos and out of context statements. Often times some of this ends up getting through the editors and into print. I am happy to say that the worst of it never does get into print.

Mastering the Art of Ritual Magick trilogy is not my best writing work. In fact, much of it was written over 15 years ago, and it was heavily revised, edited and reworked, with new material added to the old. Admittedly, the final product is far superior to what existed before this process started, but it’s not as good as it might have been had I started over and discarded the original manuscript. Often the very first project that an author writes up for a nonfiction manuscript gets scrapped because it tends to function more as a heuristic process for the writer than producing a viable product. This is because it takes a lot of time, practice and effort to produce a finished work that stands up to intense reviewer scrutiny. It took me two decades to learn to write in such a manner so that what I express is actually intelligible to others. That learning process isn’t over yet, of course, but readers who look over my current articles are seeing the very best of what I can do as a writer, while the MARM trilogy represents something less than that.

However, the four books that I have in print are valuable to some people since they act as bridge between what a wiccan or neopagan does when they work magick, and what can be done in a slightly more advanced system. I have introduced new magickal constructs, such as the vortex, pyramid of power, western and eastern gateways, pylons, cross-roads and many others, all of which use the eleven point magickal circle structure. These constructs act as the foundation of the magickal systems of the Order of the Gnostic Star, so they are used in ever more complex systems of magickal architecture, such as Elemental magick, Talismanic Elemental magick, Invocation and Evocation, and Lesser and Greater Archeomancy. The building blocks for these systems are taught in the four books that I have already published.

That being said, I have recently discovered a review of the first volume of Mastering the Art of Ritual Magick - Foundation that was both fair and actually quite humorous, all at my expense, of course, but still enjoyable. It was written by Katsai on the website for Facing North, and you can find it here. However, for your amusement, I will quote the best part of the review, which expresses a very humorous jab on the writing style used in that particular volume.

‘The narrative style seemed more a presentation of “this is what I do” than anything else. Which, admittedly, is reasonable. When asking someone to be utterly original and not take anything presented to them as rote, one shouldn’t then proceed to tell them how to think. I did find myself reminded of a quote from the film A Mighty Wind, however. “Our beliefs are fairly commonplace and simple to understand. Humankind is simply materialized color operating on the 49th vibration. You would make that conclusion walking down the street or going to the store.” Some of Barrabbas’ statements come across pretty much like that.’

I suspect that if Katsai had read the first book, “Disciple’s Guide to Ritual Magick”, she might have gotten more out of the first volume of MARM than what she apparently did. This is one of the problems with producing a trilogy and having it come out one book at a time with many months in between. I can’t fault anyone for being turned off by reading a series out of sequence or not engaging a book with the requisite background knowledge. I would expect someone picking up a book on advanced Calculus to have a hard time learning the concepts if they never made it through algebra or trigonometry, not to mention basic derivatives and integrals.

Yet I must admit that Katsai’s comment was quite clever and hilarious, so I give her a lot of credit for having slogged through my book without having read DGRM first. Anyway, this goes to show that I do have a sense of humor and I can laugh at my own pompousness and self-absorbed occult nerdiness. I believe that all authors should have such a sense of humor about themselves and their work. It’s probably not a good sign if you can’t enjoy a good piece of humor aimed at your own work.

(Laughing all the way to the higher planes - the author.)

Frater Barrabbas

1 comment:

  1. At least that one was funny. The bad review that I panned over on Augoeides was just plain awful. Just as a point, why is it that none of these reviewers so far have read the Disciple's Guide like it clearly says they're supposed to before delving into MARM?

    It's kind of like reading The Two Towers from the Lord of the Rings trilogy and complaining that "there's this magic ring, with no explanation of where it came from or how this hobbit wound up with it!"