Hello. I got my first check from St. Martins today, I have been in Munich, San Antonio, Berlin, and Denver since my last letter. I am perhaps going blind in my right eye, but surgery will help that, and I have met and played with some of the most interesting people and things on the planet.
First the internet bit. When I place Internet news out here, please note that it is good for the week I post it. Links die and change all the time. This is for 10/6/97.
Jay Barkers has let me know that my link in Letter 31 is no longer viable:
The site you link to at:
Was moved to:
In October 1996. Please update this link because the older URL through AccessOne will no longer be valid soon. Thanks in advance.
Jay Barker - firstname.lastname@example.org
Online Connection: http://www.barkers.org/online/
Comparing national ISPs and online services
Lawrence Person tells me of
"Lovecraftian Music: It's Not Just For Mad Flute Players and Burned Out 60s Relics Anymore"
I have just returned from the Death Equinox Convention in Denver. DE was a magical event, sort of a cosmic counterpoint to the Promise Keepers gathering in Washington DC. It had horror writers, cutting-edge writers like Rob Hardin, music (like Little Fyodor), spiders, S&M, spirituality, alternative sexuality, Tesla coils, weird movies, and neat people. There I got to see old and dear friends like poet Lee Ballentine and Jasmine Sailing and Trace Reddell. Jasmine had just released my newest book, Stealing My Rules. If you are interested in a copy (for yourself or your store) please inquire of her at email@example.com. I had a chance to meet some new and neat folk such as Rob Hardin, whom John Shirley described as the "best writer on the east coast" and after reading Rob's Distorture I tend to think he may be correct in this assessment. I got to meet Julia Solis who is the editor of the very high-powered art magazine The Spitting Image (Uncle Don says check it out at http://www.bway.net/~seatopia.) I debated the Left Hand Path versus the Right Hand Path with John Shirley, and got to meet Doug Rice whose novel Blood of Mugwump has been personally slammed by Jesse Helms (get your copy today ISBN 1-53766-018-3, Black Ice Books). I had 300,000 volts sent through my skin and into the hotel water system, I saw a huge selection of tarantulas (hi Gene!), met Paula Guran, truly the hot goddess of horror, and Jeff Stadt, whose newest book, Stigma: Afterworld (also available from Jasmine) shows he will be on the way to a strong place in the horror world. I met many, many other folk and did many interesting things. I even got to publicly flog, electrify and apply hot needles to the convention chairman Jasmine Sailing. (So many conventions leave out important niceties such as this.)
I even won an award. Death Equinox gives out the "Idiot Savant" award. My book A Spell for the Fulfillment of Desire won the "Most Intellectually Evocative" Award.
I treasure this little statue more than anything I've ever won.
If you want to go next year, the guests are K.W. Jeter, Misha and Ivan Stang. Pretty much this convention defines coool.
I had a wonderful time at World Con as well, but if I get into that this letter will be infinitely long.
On September 16, 1997 I visited the "Seat of Satan" at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.
In his best-selling book Revelations St. John the Divine said of Pergamon, that it was the "seat of Satan" where "the deep things of Satan were known." Turkey with cult centers like Tarsus was particularly known for its Left Hand Path pre-Christian Gnostic cults during St. John's time, but why did he pick Pergamon as *the* seat of Satan?
The answer is the Pergamon Altar.
Which on September 9, 1878 Carl Humann began digging for in Pergamon so he could ship it to Berlin. Berlin was on its way to becoming a world capital then (as now). Of the 14 buildings that constituted the acropolis of Pergamon (including a library second in size only to that of Alexandria) the great altar offers certain "problems" to archaeologists. Not in its magnificent style, nor in the transition it shows between Hellenic and Hellenistic thinking, but in the relationship between gods and men.
Berlin is perhaps the most energetic city in the world right now. For years it was a sort of odd-ball place, the German government used to pay subsidies to kooky people and artists to live there so it was a wild Bohemian place, but after the unification money came to Berlin. Big money. Lots of Money. Did I mention money? So the city is a forest of building cranes. The wasteland around that sorry-looking (and now hard to find) Wall is prime real estate. Twenty million tons of rubble have been carted out of the city in the last nine years. In the center of town there are perhaps 150 building cranes. (All the neon in the East is powered by a single turbine connected to Joseph Stalin's grave . . .)
Pergamon was the great center of energy of its time. The Hellenistic kings of Pergamon decided to make their city -- once a dependent Greek colony -- into the base of an empire with Pergamon as a "new Athens." The Temple to Athena, which stood alongside the Great Altar, was the home of the great library. The rulers of Pergamon were known for their artistic self enhancement, and in addition to creating the art that became the ruling paradigm of the High Hellenistic age, they deliberately set about becoming the new cultural and scientific center of the Greek world. As Phillip von Zabern writes in The Pergamon Altar, Pergamon sought to be "the successor and legitimate heir of the fifth and fourth century Greek culture . . . In arts and this aim encouraged a revival of the golden age of classical Athens. Municipal authorities were elected in order to give the appearance of democracy even though municipal affairs were in actuality determined by five strategists hired by the king."
The rebuilding of the great altar in Berlin was a magico-political act of the new Germany. Contemporary admirers to its unveiling described Pergamon thusly, "an ambitious center of power and culture where one had the means to attract the finest craftsmen." The Seat of Satan built an empire in the popular German mind. It was a magical Work in stone for King Eumenes II, for Bismarck, and now for contemporary Left Hand Path thinkers.
In the average Greek temple there is a central altar, easy to get to (after all, you're leading a steer behind you to burn in the center). The friezes showing the principal god are up high above you, so you know for certain that as the smoke of your sacrifice rises, it is surely reaching the noses of approving Olympians.
But not at Pergamon.
Here the central altar is on a raised platform. You have to climb 24 steps (from Alpha to Omega) to reach it. You are then standing *above* a frieze that shows the gods fighting the giants. The stairway you have just ascended had been worked into the composition of the lower frieze -- gods and giants literally stand, kneel and lie on its steps. At the level of the altar is another frieze showing the life of Telephus, the mythical founder of Pergamon.
So I went and I looked and I Understood why St. John was terrified.
The life of a man, his struggles, his triumphs, his marriage to the Amazon Hiera, his kingship and founding of Pergamon are shown here. Here are the "problems" of the altar. It is unclear what god or goddess the altar is sacred to -- some guess Zeus, others Athena. It is very unclear how sacrifices would have been hauled up the steep steps, it has even been suggested that perhaps no burnt offerings took place here. Stranger still scholars are at a loss to say why the humans are at a higher level than the gods.
I went, I saw, I Understood.
Telephus represents the Mind of an Initiate. He is born of Herakles, he is abandoned at birth but fights his way to kingship. He is wounded and must quest to be healed by the very instrument that wounded him. He must do acts of evil and good to get what he needs. He creates empire.
His Becoming was on a higher plane of existence than the gods' battle with the giants. His struggle is the center. Temporal Becoming is exalted over the eternal struggle of the gods and giants. The gods are the idealized product of the minds of heroic men and women that are engaged in the good fight against the forces of naturalization -- the five percent or so of society that progress when placed in stressful situations. Telephus represents the even rarer breed whose actions *produce in the world* the stimulus for those touched of divine fire.
The only sacrifice that was offered at the central altar was the sacrifice of words -- of saying what you plan to Do.
This may sound very simple, almost simplistic. Perhaps it is. There are a class of Secrets that don't take a genius to understand, but take a Genius, an Artist or a Hero to use.
Others had worked here. I think the reason that Gregor A. Gregorius had spent five years living in East Berlin after the war was so that he could work here. The altar had opened to the world in 1902, you may draw your own conclusions as to its effect on German occultism.
I am glad to be back at my little desk for awhile so that I can let the many inspiring sights and sounds rise up in me. I can only wish for you all such special moments.
Don "I've been busy" Webb