The title of this anthology gives a hint to its content immediately. One of the more important texts written by the infamous occultist Aleister Crowley was Liber 333, more commonly known as “The Book of Lies”. Richard Metzger, co-founder of The Disinformation Company (Disinfo.com), has appropriated the title for a new book which one might describe as a ‘time capsule’ of counter-culture/occult thinking in the 20th century.
Metzger has done a brilliant job in assembling the list of contributors here. The incomparable Nevill Drury (surely one of the most under-rated occult writers around) writes about two fascinating artists, the complex vision of Austin Osman Spare and the influence of Australian witch Rosaleen Norton. Robert Anton Wilson writes about the connection between Timothy Leary and Aleister Crowley. Other articles discuss Hitler and the Occult, the rise of modern Wicca, and the secrets of Rennes les Chateau.
However, BOOK OF LIES (available from Amazon US and UK) doesn’t just sum up what has gone before though. Mark Pesce, inventor of VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language), discusses the universe as language, or a programmer’s code and the implications for our future. And Terence McKenna’s “Tryptamine Hallucinogens and Consciousness”, while being an essay/lecture some two decades old, resonates strongly with the current trend in thinking about our future in terms of shifts in our consciousness.
This collection is organised well into 8 themed sections:
Magick in Theory and Practice
The Great Beast 666
Sympathy for the Devil
There are only two facets of this excellent anthology that bothered me. One was the reliance on a number of reasonably well-known pieces – such as the excerpts from RAW’s COSMIC TRIGGER, Daniel Pinchbeck’s BREAKING OPEN THE HEAD, and McKenna’s famous lecture as mentioned above. This leads to the second issue – the target audience. While a number of articles are too advanced for ‘novices’ to understand, the articles above and other pieces – such as P.R. Koenig’s attack on the Caliphate O.T.O – are probably too familiar for more advanced readers.
Nevertheless, BOOK OF LIES is certainly a collection that most occult enthusiasts will find something worthwhile in. The list of contributing authors is first class, the topics range all over the map of consciousness-altering individuals and techniques, and many articles bring new insights into characters oft-heard of, but usually painted with a superficial brush (see the piece on Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey for example). Definitely worth the money.