Hermetic Library Newsletter - Issue #31 (a particular act of 80s era vandalism)

Hermetic Library Newsletter - Issue #31 (a particular act of 80s era vandalism)
By John Bell the Librarian • Issue #56 • View online
This week I’ve got 3 new propaganda posters, a note about works by Edward Crowley, a discussion about the history and purpose of Ministry of Information, some 80s-era vandalism, reminders, updates, quotes, reviews and more!
Other things on my mind this week include that the Century Guild special offer collab is quickly coming to an end. But, I’ve got another one to set up starting in September.
Also at the end of September is the deadline for submissions to MMR16, and, not gonna lie, I’m getting nervous again about not having enough for an issue. I hope it comes together so there’s a release this year. It’d be a shame and a bummer to have to skip a year again.
It’s been too damned hot here. It’s not so bad as other have it, so I shouldn’t complain really. And soon enough I’ll be complaining that it’s too cold, but that’s a problem for future me. Anecdotally, the new roof, with a ridge vent, has helped keep temperature less oppressive inside as I’ve been working. And, I hope that things are getting dried out in the attic so that once the heat drops a bit again I can go up and see what I’ve really got on my hands from the leaks. My brilliant idea of blowing insulation up there doesn’t seem so smart now, but it is was it is; it seemed the right thing to do at the time! For a while it helped! But, it will be a bit of a mess to clean up now. But, hey, I know what I’ll be doing this fall!
Aside from that, and anything else I’ve not or forgotten to mention, as always, I worked on various other things on website, blog, and more … Enjoy!

Unicursal FOLLOW THYSELF Propaganda
Unicursal FOLLOW THYSELF Propaganda
Edward Crowley
You may know that Aleister Crowley grew up within the Plymouth Brethren community, but did you know that some of his father’s writings exist? For example, here’s The Plymouth Brethren (so called): who they are–their creed–mode of worship, etc., explained in a letter to his friends and relations by Edward Crowley at Internet Archive. There’s also a list of Plymouth Brethren documents by Crowley’s father at Brethren Archive.
Unicursal TRUTH COURAGE LOVE Propaganda
Unicursal TRUTH COURAGE LOVE Propaganda
Ministry of Information
I’m not sure I’ve ever actually put into words my thoughts about why I create all the propaganda posters on the site. But, it’s not all, or entirely, just about having some fun. Funsies is a big part of it, to be honest; of course. I have always had to be really careful not to burn out doing all this work on Hermetic Library since I’ve taken over. Doing fun stuff like the propaganda posters and anthologies and so on are definitely part of that, because whilst they have a lot of reasons they should be done, it is important that they be a bit fun too.
So, aside from fun, what are these? Perhaps before that I want to mention what these are. There currently three types of content that I group under Ministry of Information. 1) Unicursal, 2) Village, and 3) one-offs. The first is where I started. The second was an addition later. And the third are various things that are mostly unique or don’t end up being a real category in and of themselves.
I was inspired by the old WWII era propaganda posters from the UK. The first, and most well-known, is Keep Calm and Carry On, but there are actually others, and that’s what I based the first three on. Keep Calm has a nice quick double beat. Freedom Is In Peril has a longer double beat. And the underlined terms in Will Bring Us Victory offered a neat option for highlighting terms of interest.
I’m not now entirely sure what initially got me thinking about how I should start to make a Thelemic / Crowley versions, but some time wayback at least as far as 2013, I added the section for Ministry of Information, clearly inspired by amusement about risibly officious bureaucratic office names and similar buffoonery, to Hermetic Library with the first four posters. By April 2013, I had a few others and had added some as merch on my old, now defunct Cafepress shop, including t-shirts, mugs, posters, and more. If you look at the old archived page, you’ll notice that I also hadn’t started using actual quotes yet, and instead was using a silly redacted lorem ipsum to kind of play with the top secret / propaganda theme. Also at that time I was linking to the old Google Site Search for the terms (this was before the move to a wiki engine that has built-in search). Wow, it’s wild to look back and see how things have changed!
At some point, I noticed there were some quotes that didn’t quite fit the three structures offered by the Unicursal posters. There were a couple of quotes in source material on the site that was a little stranger, perhaps, a little more surreal. And I remembered the little proto-motivational posters, with something in that particular font on a thematic colour surrounded by a white border, that appear in some episodes of The Prisoner. Welp, that was a pretty cool inspiration. Around that time I think I was also listening to Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling too. But, anyhow, I created the first couple of those.
Originally I mainly thought of the Village design as an option for quotes that seemed “surreal” for some value of that. Lately I’ve been thinking of the Village design as what I use for quotes that aren’t Thelemic / Crowley based, from other sections of the library, and that’s what I’ve been doing with that.
The other category of stuff at the MOI are more or less one-offs. This is basically all the other stuff, like the Hermetic Library images with which people can show their support, as well as things like Magick Union 666 Sabo Cat, and so on.
Less one-offy, there was a period of time that I was create propaganda under the umbrella of MOI for each Thelemic year, an example of this is Anno V0, with events on the liturgical calendar, but I’ve since moved all of that into Hermeneuticon, and am instead focused on perennial images for calendar events that don’t have to be re-created each year over again.
What’s it going to be then then, eh?
Okay, so I’m sure I could keep waxing nostalgic about all this, but my point was to highlight how that started, what it was I started, and now I get back to the why of it.
MOI was a fun way to create landing pages with topical quotes by creating images in the style of the old propaganda posters. Part of the point was to have fun, but another important point for me was to create a new kind of index, a cross-index of landing pages, at the site that highlighted quotes and important terms which might lead people to check out the source works and other pages at the library.
By April 2013, I’d also come around to the idea of making merch too, obviously, though that’s also gone through a number of changes and hiatuses over the years, now primarily as a perk to reward and thank supporters who pledge on Patreon.
Way back in the day, before things like Wikipedia, there was a kind of website that was a web of pages all linked together in various ways (not links of links, per se, as that was a different kind of site) that offered an endless rabbit hole to follow threads. There was a kind of example of this at Aphorisms on the now depreciated pages for former Fellow Colin Campbell. But perhaps a better example that’s current is TVTropes. There’s others current and historic, of course, but a survey of those isn’t the point. The thing I’m trying to show is that there is a kind of cross reference that I was trying to create with these MOI pages where each had a major theme, based on the poster, and then quotes from around the library that reflected on that theme, not even necessarily that agreed with or supported the main quote, which would allow for a new and different way into the content on the site.
In a way, this is kind of like the purpose of the overall Hermeneuticon Project which used to be a separate site, now folded in to the main library at Concordance, Hermeneuticon, and Metadata (and used to include an alpha of The Aleister Crowley Reference Desk which didn’t survive the transition). I’ve long wanted to develop more fully those, and do add things when I can, but even still these are some other kinds of monster from each other.
My biggest hope, among various and sundry others, is that MOI offers another meaningfully different entry point, a way for me to continually create new thematic landing pages, that help people discover all the extensive old and growing content of Hermetic Library.
Aim high
Recreation of a particular act of 80s era vandalism
Recreation of a particular act of 80s era vandalism
I went looking for an example online and couldn’t find one anywhere. Back in the 80s, for all intents and purposes before the Internet (even though it did exist already), there were some Air Force ads in some magazines with the slogan “Aim high” and we used to take pens and colour out the “A”. Even if “I’m high” wasn’t true, it was still funny.
The example above isn’t the best, because it’s a frame from a video, not an ad from the pages of a magazine, but, either way, there it is!
As an aside, this is an example of what has long been a personal rule for me and seems to me a particularly good one for other people to adopt: If you go looking for something on the Internet and don’t find it, it becomes your duty to create it. For anyone looking for it the next time after you did, you’ll have been of service!
And, with that, I’ve now presented online yet another something that I couldn’t find when I went looking for it. Hip hip huzzah!
Call for submissions to Magick, Music, and Ritual for 2021
Pitch an Idea
Send something for the Zine
Century Guild archival reproduction antique poster special offer collaboration
Things at Hermetic Library to check out
And on the blog
The Book of the Short Sun
Also, elsewhere
Unicursal A CROWN FOR EVERY ONE Propaganda
Unicursal A CROWN FOR EVERY ONE Propaganda
Did you enjoy this issue?
John Bell the Librarian
By John Bell the Librarian

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