Scan of an old Playboy paperback of Ishtar Rising, originally The Book of the Breast, provided by the magnificent Rasa and the illustrious Christina Wilson of Hilaritas Press
Howdy, friends and foes! (Stolen from Ada Palmer, but doesn’t it seem like an excellent greeting for the Internet?)
Today is the Feast of St. Molly of Dublin; the 117th Anniversary of Mrs. Bloom’s grand, ranting soliloquy after her Husband asked for breakfast. June 17th is also occasionally proposed as the date of the Wake and this day happens to be the 69th (nice) anniversary of the time Jack Whiteside Parsons blew himself to hell and the date of Yr. humble Narrator’s nativity. Hopefully an auspicious day to begin our clamber out of Hell, following the ascending thighs of She. Venus Callipyge as the guide from Inferno instead of Beatrice in Heaven, or Virgil going in the Other Direction.
This is dovestamemoria; think of it as Rawillumination After Dark. I started this blog so this reading group wouldn’t confuse the order of the Prometheus Rising reading group on Tom’s mothership. This isn’t a competing group but rather a survey-on-the-side of another excellent RAW title; something entirely different than the slow feasting-digestion that Prometheus Rising deserves. I am your host: Apuleius Charlton, Rarebit Fiend, Logreus...the other name I don't use online anymore.
The progression of the reading group doesn’t need to be complicated- after this week’s discussion of Morrison’s foreword we’ll be reading/discussing the two introductions, then we’ll proceed to read/discuss a chapter per week afterwards. Now that I think the housekeeping has been taken care of, let’s proceed to the latest introduction, exclusive to the Hilaritas Press edition, by comics legend and magician Grant Morrison.
Foreword to the Foreword by Grant Morrison for the 2020 Edition
I’m not a Grant Morrison fan. That’s okay, they have plenty of other fans including many people whose opinions I respect and whose ideas I admire; our own Bobby Campbell and Marcus Parks of Last Podcast fame are both enamored with Morrison’s The Invisibles. Morrison’s contribution to bringing “nerdiness” and comics back to their mythological origins cannot easily be understated. A good choice to introduce Wilson’s early (book length) examination of myth and reality. I will do my best to comment, but I expect the rest of you will find more salient points to be made. Let’s get on with it:
Foreword by Grant Morrison for the 2020 Edition
The note by Hilaritas Press is worth...noting. I assume many readers of this missive have a beat-up New Falcon edition of Ishtar Rising...it is very different from the original Book of the Breast, not only because of Wilson’s editing but because the nature of republication often mimics the original work imperfectly, if not inaccurately. Rasa, Cristina and the Crew That Never Rests have taken it upon themselves to restore the original illustrations and format. Their effort has certainly not been in vain and the Hilaritas Press outdid themselves- this is a gorgeous publication that titillates all sensibilities. If you don’t own one, you really should avail yourself of this lovely volume. If nothing else, you can use it for masturbation material after a solar flare takes out the Internet.
Morrison’s introduction, like a couple (at least) of the other Hilaritas Introduction mentions that the title and the author’s attitude(s) were a result of its/his times. While the statement is by no means untrue, it does bring a wry smile to my lips every time I read it. Not because it is obvious, but because it is necessary. I think it is partly necessary because of the nature of Wilson’s writing. He was an enthusiastic futurist and loved making predictions based on the scientific and other trends of his day. Like most futurists and prophets, he was often wrong. This causes a bit of lag in the translation of his ideas across the tides of time: I suffered a serious hangover after I first read Cosmic Trigger when I realized that the book that had blown my mind was simply wrong about so many things. Life expectancy is going down and all that shit. That takes awhile to reconcile, especially after starry-eyed worship. Secondly, it is necessary to make statements like that in the world of recent history. I don’t know how I feel about the changing rhetoric of the day; whether it is simply rational context or irritating kowtowing. Either way, Ishtar Rising, or The Book of the Breast, is a product of its times- Morrison’s foreword and this post are products of our times.
In short, Morrison’s foreword is Excellent. They articulate how Wilson’s text was a product of its times, something beyond its day and relevant to the readers of the nascent 21st Century. Morrison does it with style and acid (in the Hoffman sense) ink. Great Stuff. Morrison also makes the important point of the hyper-sexual/unsexy World of Tomorrow. Pornography is largely demoralizing and while we are doused with tits, slits and dicks the current sexuality seems to be contrasted between a cry for help and seeking the next fix. The foreword reminds me of Higgs’ accurate, if dismaying, chapter on 'Sex' from Stranger Than We Can Imagine; while sexual liberation began with a yearning for communion, today’s tawdry sexual market is not that different from the prudish-surface/morlockian kink underground of the past. We’re not exactly the matrist paradise of unrestrained sexuality that Wilson hoped for, the current panorama isn’t even the stylish, intellectual and deeply sexist bacchanal that Hefner desired. We’re more like the party goers in Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut- masquerading at being sexual but instead looking incredibly awkward and dumb. Who the fuck thinks a bunch of rich people and a Scientologist makes a good orgy anymore? This isn’t the late 40s.
Perhaps the pure matrist ideals of Ishtar Rising “failed” in part because the dawn of the matriarchal age is now four thousand years in the past. According to Uncle Al, The Isian Age preceded the Osirian Age which ended around the Vernal Equinox of 1904. We are currently in the later dawn of the Age of Horus, somewhere around 8AM perhaps, when the Child comes forth. There isn’t a whole lot of Male/Female to truck with in this new and terrible Aeon but rather the Individual, the Child. Considering that the world of today does look like a giant, violent, overcrowded crib- Crowley might have been correct. I intended on ending this post talking about the end of the tunnel of COVID-19 and the hope that we are ascending with Innana to a better world. However, I have to agree with Morrison that She is probably still in negotiations.
But, I’m a hopeless fool and will structure this as if She is ascending and We are following. Perhaps Eurydice won’t fail Orpheus. Excelsior, True Believers!