My *Official* Opinions of Other Occult Authors
Evidently, so I’m told, there are folks waiting on my official opinions about other authors in the *occult* arena. I do have an opinion and I’m going to share it. Hold onto your hats folks!
First – to be an occult author takes a lot of guts, conviction, and ambition because there are always vicious critics out there who think they know more than you, who think they have all the answers, and because of their huge egos think your books are the worst shit out there. These people will rip your work into shreds, insult you as a person, make big assumptions about your intelligence and integrity, and then spit you out and piss on you all over the Internet. I have yet to meet an occult author who hasn’t been a target for one of these self-aggrandizing douche-bags. Not to mention you are putting your very soul, possibly years of research and expirimentation, your deepest held beliefs and private practices out into the world for scrutiny and criticism. That’s NOT an easy thing to do.
Second – many of the more “darker” occult authors (who the mainstream occult publishers are too afraid to publish or whose work may not quite be up to professional standards writing-wise) have been forced to go the DIY publishing route with their work (i.e. Lulu). Since there’s not a lot of money in writing occult books, these authors often can’t afford to hire editors. As a result they end up self-editing. The sad fact is that ALL writers need editors; even good ones! But not all writers who haven’t been picked up by mainstream publishers can afford them either. So sadly there are a lot of books on the market with glaring errors. This leaves some readers growling at typos and other glaring editing mishaps. And, as anyone who isn’t a writer knows, writers who don’t write 100% perfect prose can’t write. Period. 😉
Third – writing a book is not easy no matter what anyone says. Most of what is on the occult book market are actually chapbooks and pamphlets, not books. Why? Because everyone wants to write their own occult book, but once they get into it they realize how difficult writing actually is. I think anyone who hasn’t actually tried to write a book doesn’t know what it actually takes to write a book. So it’s easy to criticise a book’s faults when you don’t actually know what went into producing it.
Fourth – what’s good and what isn’t is VERY SUBJECTIVE to the individual reading the material. It either resonates with you or it doesn’t. In many instances an occult author will find his/her writing style a point of contention with critics. For example: some of my critics don’t like my writing style because I’m not a research, regurgitate type author. I don’t present the material from a cold, objective, third-party POV.
All of this said I have nothing bad to say about any of my fellow occult authors. Sure, I may not agree with all their beliefs or practices, and most certainly I do think some of them could use a good editor, but I respect the work they do because it takes a very creative, driven, hard-working, self-motivated person to do what they do (especially if they’re self-publishing). I admire those things in anyone, even people I may not like or with whom I disagree. Obviously these authors wouldn’t have the following they have if their work was 100% crap. Not to mention people wouldn’t be asking me what I think of them because no one would know who they are.
Sure, there are some authors whose writing style drives me batty and their books aren’t my cup of tea. Mark Allen Smith comes to mind despite the fact that his Queen of Hell was a wonderful testament to Hecate. All the same, his work inspires a lot of people, he writes books people want, and he sells a lot of books. I would STILL recommend his books to dedicants of Hecate and Lucifer and those who follow traditional Witchcraft. Because while his books may not be for me, someone else may find some great spiritual epiphany or solace in his work.
I’m not so arrogant to think my opinion is the only opinion or the only right opinion out there. ::shrug::
So instead of me criticising or cutting down authors who I disagree with or who might need some help editing their work, I’d much rather give you a list of the authors whose work I really enjoy.
Living Authors: I love Lon Milo Duquette. I find Rufus Opus’ work fresh and inspiring. I am a fan of David Rankine and Stephen Skinner. I like Joseph Peterson. I enjoy writings by Morgan Drake Eckstein (a lot of you don’t know who he is but you can look him up).
Okay, so it’s not a big list, but it is what it is. And yes, I do respect and admire Michael Ford, especially because he does all the work on his books himself. They’re not perfect, but a lot of conviction, dedication and hard work went into producing those books, and that alone makes me respect him even more as a fellow occult author (mostly because I’ve been there – I know what’s involved).
I’ll have to go look up some of those authors… I had heard of most of them, but your positive review of them is a definite incentive to read some of their books.
I do have a question, though: what’s your opinion of Thomas Karlsson?
I personally haven’t read Karlsson, but I’ve been told his “Qabalah, Qliphoth and Goetic Magic” is lovely.
I appreciate your defense of the Indy publishing industry. In defense of the consumers out there, however, I would say that none of the books on Lulu are exactly cheap. When I’m going to shell out $40 for a hardback, I expect the author to at least be able to use basic ccomprehensible English, unlike Mr. Ford. My first language is in fact Hindustani, and the first English word I learned was “spellcheck”. So, I suppose as a non-English native speaker, I’m a little less forgiving. And yes it’s true that there’s a lot of us out there waiting for your opinion: 1) because Mr. Ford’s youtubes have grown very referential to the gendem group and 2) because there is hardly one member-created reading list on amazon or lulu that doesn’t mention you and Ford in the same breath. I think one person who is missed in your inventory, who detracts a lot from the argument that “they work so hard independently and thus it’s O.K. to sell you unedited crap” is your friend M. Delaney. Polished prose, comprehensible style, and a clear thesis statement behind his sigil work. Looking forward to your upcoming collaboration.
@Shari – to be honest I’ve never read any of Michael Ford’s books so I wasn’t aware his books’ problems weren’t limited to a few typos. What I know of Ford’s work all comes from trustworthy friends who have read his work. So I’ve heard about his books needing better editing, but either way I really would prefer not to talk smack about an author I know very little about. And I am especially wary of criticising other authors for typos because *The Complete Book of Demonolatry* has a few of those and me criticising another author for that would be the pot calling the kettle black. I don’t want to be hypocritical like that. When I’m perfect, I’ll expect perfection from others. Until then, I probably ought to shut up. 🙂
So I guess the best advice I can give consumers about poorly written books is on Amazon they have a feature called “Look Inside The Book” where you can get a preview of the book. On Lulu it’s called “Preview”. These options are there so that readers can decide whether or not they want to buy. Poor writers will often stand out in a preview and a consumer can avoid making a bad purchase. 🙂 Of course not all books on Lulu have these. At that point, caveat emptor!
1. Can you cite examples and provide links of how Mr. Ford’s videos reference GenDem? I actually asked my large network of friends (some of who are Ford fans and others who just follow) if Ford was referencing GenDem in his videos and got a definitive no. At most one woman said that Ford has been talking about Babylonian deities lately, but he takes his standard chaos magick/Luciferian approach. That’s really nothing to do with GenDem Daemonolatry. It’s merely two different approaches working with the same deities. IMNSHO that would be like asking me what I think of reconstructionist pagans who work with Babylonian deities (I actually know Tess Dawson and don’t feel threatened by her Natib Qadish one bit). Apples to oranges.
2. I have a lot of fans who are also fans of Ford. I can’t really control who my readers like or dislike or who they put on their suggested reading lists. That’s their business. All I can say is if you understand GenDem Demonolatry it will be very obvious that GenDem and Ford are nothing alike.The approaches are totally different. He’s a Luciferian/Chaos Magician, we’re Daemonolaters and Ceremonial/Hermetic Magicians. So obviously I don’t personally endorse his approach anymore than I imagine he’d endorse ours. But I don’t condemn him or his approach either. To each their own. 🙂
I guess I’m not sure what it is you’re wanting from me. Are you wanting me to start a fight with Ford or to publicly condemn him? Are you wanting me to pound my pulpit and scream, “There’s only ONE TRUE WAY!” Because I won’t do either.
The skinny of it is this: I really don’t care what Ford says or does. I don’t feel threatened by his beliefs or practices. His beliefs and practices don’t invalidate mine. I look at Ford and see Luciferianism. I look at my books and I see Daemonolatry. One doesn’t really have anything to do with the other (despite the fact we share readers). There’s room enough in the world for both of us.
Oh and M. Delaney didn’t self-publish or self-edit. He was having a hard time writing his book so we arranged for Sanctus to be ghost-written (by yours truly) and Kim Anderson was the editor. It was published as a chapbook by DB Publishing. Our coming collaboration will also be me writing with Mr. Delaney’s input. I’m glad you enjoyed Sanctus. It went over some people’s heads. 🙂
Can you cite examples and provide links of how Mr. Ford’s videos reference GenDem. Unfortunately no. I went back on YouTube to get the links from the videos I saw, which had an overwhelming (60% or greater) negative rating and they are removed. One of them was second in the series about Mr. Ford’s “ancient gods” theories, that much I know, in which pre-Caananite and Tantric sources were both claimed as part of Mr. Ford’s seemingly endless expertise. The quote as I remember it was as follows: “and this is roughly the same pantheon followed by generational demonolators like Gen Dem”. I also recall several Amazon reviews even suggesting in their reviews that they thought Ford *was* actually working with you directly. Thus my request for your, yes, *official* comment as to his writing. My request was meant only to suggest that if he was indeed now considered a part of GenDem, it seemed to be well-nigh time to: 1) confirm the association and 2) get him in touch with an editor because his books would not be adhering to your standards. I certainly did not seek to invlove you in a dispute with a colleague.
Well, I also can’t help erroneous assumptions made in an Amazon review. Most people don’t believe everything they read, or shouldn’t. Perhaps a better question would have simply been, “Is he a part of GenDem?”
Now that I think about it, it certainly would have been a more relevant question and likely saved you a lot of time! Sorry for my imprecision, but consider the possible responses if I had framed it that way: “Why are you asking that” or, worse, “What kind of imbecile would confuse Luciferianism with GenDem.” (kinda hinted at already above). That’s just a thought. That’s why I and everyone I know is waiting for official Melissa. That seems to solve the problem once-and-for-all: a coherent, select collection of your esoteric writings, done in a style that befits them. Then all of the mystery of the real authorship, along with any of GenDem’s “collegiality” with the author, would likely be resolved. For awhile, the Icelandic publisher ixaxxar has offered this solution for EU groups who need a more authoritative imprint as to what is their authorship and perhaps equally important — what is not. I’m pretty sure you won’t find many of Mr. Ford’s works there among their select limited edition publications. In any event, one things for certain: you’ve prolly already wasted way too much time on this already. Thanks again.