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The Book of Power: Evaluating the Necronomicon

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.mythology,alt.necronomicon,alt.horror.cthulhu,sci.skeptic,alt.paranet.skeptic
From: (ny'rl'thot'p)
Subject: Re: The Book of Power: Evaluating the Necronomicon (was ...)
Date: Thu, 02 Mar 2000 21:01:36 GMT

>Some observations I've had concerning the Necronomicon:
>(Sorry if it seems a bit long.)

this is unclear. your observations appear to be about *Simon's* 
Necronomicon. I'm going to archive your text with this in mind 
unless you state otherwise. thanks.

>1.  The mythos of the work is based in Sumerian Mythology (simple
>enough) - however, it is a bastardization thereof (read the Enuma Elish
>sometime and compare).

and what SHOULD the Necronomicon contain, according to Lovecraft?
should it be in Arabic? or some magical language known to the Mad
Arab? if so, which?

>3.  Lovecraft admitted (in his letters that he was so fond of writting )
>that the creatures were from his imagination - more significantly to me
>at least - his dreams and nightmares.  This has always given rise to the
>question (for me at least) whether there was some validity in
>Lovecraft's mythos as _a_ (i.e. his) perception of the Qlippoth which
>does not necessarily validate the book The Necronomicon.

this is EXACTLY the kind of speculation (regarding to what nonphysical
objects, structures, or entities Lovecraft's works may relate) that I
find valuable to consider in evaluating the Necronomicon.

>4.  IMHO the spells appear relatively modern.  They bare more semblance
>to 19th/20th century Magick (esp. Crowleyan) than they do 12-17th
>century works (except perhaps for the version attributed to Dee which I
>found interesting in that there is little mention of such a work until
>recent times - always seemed suspect given the attention acquired by his
>other works) and bare no resemblance (beyond the names apparently
>derived from the Enuma Elish) to ancient Sumerian rituals.

so in a Necronomicon that Lovecraft described it would be at least
900 pages long or something that sort (Lovecraft gives page numbers
in his citations, along with quotes, which would have to APPEAR on
those pages), and what kind of religio-magical contents would you
EXPECT otherwise? based on HPL's description, what resemblances to
archaeological or anthropological data should there be? would we
expect it to be related to R'lyehaen archaeogeometrics and/or 
pentacular shapes twisted into a style disturbing to the human mind?

>6.  I would like to see one valid reference (preferably not modern) to a
>work outside the Necronomicon itself stating that it had been rumored
>that so-and-so had such owned a work way back when.

it is NOT historical, it derives from the dreams of a fiction writer,
who, in particular, describes the magical potency of dreamworlds and
dream data.

>7.  The Mad Arab story is fairly lame given that he all but writes his
>own death scene.

>&    The stars grow dim in their places, and the Moon pales before me, 
>&    as though a Veil were blown across its flame.  Dog-faced demons
>&    approach the circumfrance of my sanctuary.  Strange lines appear 
>&    carved on my door and walls, and the light from the Window grows 
>&    increasingly dim.
>&    A wind has risen.
>&    The Dark Waters stir.
>&    This is the Book of the Servant of the Gods....
>     -----------------------------------------------------------------    
>      _Necronomicon_ (Avon Books), the Testimony of the Mad Arab, 
>       the second part p. 218 
>     ____________________________________________________________

does this have ANY correlate to quotation from Lovecraft's work?

the smallest possible construction of a Necronomicon would contain
the quotes from Lovecraft's works on pages numbered appropriately,
whether or not they pertained to a numerological sequence. the book
would also conform to Lovecraft's general description also, and its
content would resemble in character the historical influences that
Lovecraft described in certainty. any ambiguity in HPL's data would 
allow some variation, and the rest would have to conform to the
minimal standards constructed.

at some point I'll begin a compilation of exactly what HPL DID say
about the book, and possibly proceed to other "Cthulhu Mythos"
authors who added to the corpus, unless someone else would like to
do this work or knows where it is already accomplished and would
like to refer me. thanks.

-- ; ; 
emailed replies may be posted; cc replies if response desired

From: (ny'rl'thot'p)
Newsgroups: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.mythology,alt.necronomicon,alt.horror.cthulhu,sci.skeptic,alt.paranet.skeptic
Subject: Re: The Book of Power: Evaluating the Necronomicon (was ...)
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Dominion :
>...From the mouth of the Master himself.

thank you very much for posting this. along with any other text from
Lovecraft on the Necronomicon's contents or description. I'll review
it here for an example of how we might proceed to describe the
Necronomicon as it reflects through the consciousness of Lovecraft.

>"Composed by Abdul Alhazred, a mad poet of Sanaa, in Yemen, 

what kind of culture is "Sanaa, Yemen"? what type of magic and rite
is likely to have been practiced there circa 700 C.E.?

>who is said to have flourished during the period of the Ommiade 
>caliphs, circa 700 A. D. 

this sounds Muslim, but I'm no historian, so I'll wait for someone
to evaluate the likely culture of the Mad Arab and what his written
language should have been.

>He visited the ruins of Babylon & the subterranean
>secret of Memphis & spent ten years alone in the great southern desert
>of Arabia - the Roba El Khaliyeh or "Empty Space" of the ancients - &
>"Dahna" or "Crimson" desert of the modern Arabs, which is held to be
>inhabited by protective evil spirits & monsters of death. 

the type of monsters to which this may pertain could be important as
a referent to the type of experiences had by that Mad Arab.

>In his last years Alhazred dwelt in
>Damascus, where the Necronomicon (Al Azif) was written, & of his final
>death or disappearance (738 A. D.)....

I'm not sure that dwelling in Damascus would influence what the Arab
wrote, but if it could, then we might need to know any relative
differences between his birthplace and this location.

>...He claimed to have been [to] the fabulous
>Irem, or City of Pillars, & to have found beneath the ruins of a
>certain nameless desert town the shocking annals & secrets of a race
>older than mankind. 

if this pertains to the beings in the Necronomicon, then we would need
to speculate on possible races and languages of desert towns in his
general region.

>He was only an indifferent Moslem, worshipping
>unknown entities whom he called Yog-Sothoth & Cthulhu.

so we might expect faint if not direct Muslim influences on the
man's text, inclusive of vast cosmological presuppositions about
the nature of the origin and integrity of the universe. how this
might be influenced by his interaction with the beings known as
Yog-Sothoth or Cthulhu could only be determined by comparison
with his own references in any works by the same man (in this
case, the Necronomicon must contain some integrity or at least 
illustrate the disintegration of his mind during its writing).

>In A. D. 950 the Azif, which had gained a considerable tho'
>surreptitious circulation among the philosophers of the age, was
>secretly translated into Greek by Theodorus Philetas of Constantinople
>under the title Necronomicon. 

therefore under the title "Necronomicon" it should be a Greek
translation or from the Greek to whatever language it is being
rendered. has anyone analyzed whether "Al Azif" MEANS anything?
if so, what does it mean? why would anyone translate it as
"Necronomicon", and what would each best translate to English?

>...(1228) Olaus Wormius made a Latin translation later in the Middle

the best rendering of "Al Azif"/"Necronomicon", therefore would
be a presentation comparing Arabic (if this is the likely
written language of Alhazred), Greek, Latin, and the language 
of sale, side by side for comparison by the interested academic.
an evaluation of the type of language and grammar available to
Wormius would be an important facet of this construction.

>...The Arabic
>original was lost as early as Wormius' time as indicated by his
>prefatory note 

the Latin by Wormius would need to contain such a prefatory note,
indicating this.

>& no sight of the Greek copy (which was printed in
>Italy bet. 1500 & 1550) has been reported since the burning of a
>certain Salem man's library in 1692. 

how Greek changes between 950 and 1550 would be pertinent in
fixing a particular conceptual expression.

>A translation made by Dr. Dee was
>never printed, & exists only in fragments recovered from the original
>H. P. Lovecraft

the Dee translation would be only of small interest to the researcher,
though his PREFACE would be superb, given that he had a distinct
interest in magical enterprises (Enochian).

the rest of the Lovecraft description is unimportant in detailing what
a faithful Necronomicon (Al Azif) must contain.

>Whereas I remember in the tape recording in "The Evil Dead" as
>discribing a book "bound in human skin and inked in human blood". 

good, thanks for identifying the source of this description.

-- ; ; 
emailed replies may be posted; cc replies if response desired

From: (ny'rl'thot'p)
Newsgroups: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.mythology,alt.necronomicon,alt.horror.cthulhu
Subject: Re: The Book of Power: Evaluating the Necronomicon (was ...)
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>> >All of the Necronomicons currently on the market are fakes created
>> >after Lovecraft's death.

>> that is a very hefty claim. what constitutes a "fake" in your mind?
>> what criteria does a book have to meet to qualify to be called
>> "a fake"? I suggest that you and I are talking about two DIFFERENT
>> categories of books, and you are disputing with me based on your
>> OWN criteria rather than make it clear that you both understood
>> mine and were not talking about it even though I was.
>The notion of a "fake" here is a work that does not have the
>origin (and therefore, the authority in many's eyes) which it

I like this, very workable.

>If these Necronomicon are not pre-Lovecraft and state
>that they are (and if they're shelved in the non-fiction section
>of bookstores), then they are fakes.

any Necronomicon that mentions Lovecraft except in their
preface would of course be a phony. but you must be talking
about the presentation of the document. I think that this 
is a very good point of assessment:

	* physical historical origin -- since we know that
		Lovecraft dreamed up the name and concept
		of the book, any presentation that claims 
		what is offered is the historical referent
		to Lovecraft's ideas should of course 
		be considered a hoax until and unless 
		documentation on such an historical 
		existence was presented for review
		(unlikely in the extreme and it would 
		reveal that Lovecraft was actually lying 
		about his having created the concept).

I can accept this. it doesn't mean that a Necronomicon cannot
ever exist, however. one might create a book which conformed
to all of Lovecraft's descriptions without making a claim
that the book is pre-Lovecraftian or derived from physical
historical sources (as compared to having been received from 
the astral plane as a text which conforms to the character
and content of what Lovecraft imagined, having the quality
of having been written by Alhazred, during that time period,
containing references and magical content almost believable
to the academic and definitely believable to the student of
Cthulhu mythos). 

it should be noted that just because a Necronomicon is a hoax
for having made that claim does NOT mean that the book is 
necessarily a 'fake' and its contents should ALSO be evaluated
from the standpoint of a comparison with Lovecraft's criteria.
any hoax (originating post-Lovecraft while laying claim to more
ancient origins) may contain elements that a 'real' 
Necronomicon can be said to have, despite its inherently 
falsified premise of creation. 

I know this last point may not sit well with academics of 
library science, but it constitutes a rational means 
of evaluating a Book of Power mentioned by an author of 
fiction which emerges from human consciousness as a magical 
text (grimoire). historical origins are only ONE facet of 
a Necronomicon assessment, one that has unfortunately
obsessed both sides of those who engage the debate.

>...The Necronomicon Files
>actually presents a more nuanced view of things.  Sadly, when it
>comes to the Necronomicon and Internet debates, I often have to
>resort to such arguments, just because if I don't break things down
>and make them completely unambiguous, people won't even get the
>most basic points I'm trying to make.  It's amazing how many
>people know what the Files are about without ever reading them,
>on all sides of the debate...

I really understand. I hope that you see that I am attempting to
forge here a middle path between fanatics from both sides of the
issue of the Book of Power, accepting what I think are reasonable
criteria that will allow (and perhaps inspire) a grimoire by the
name "Al Azif" or "Necronomicon" to come to exist without having 
to satisfy ridiculous and hoax-ridden qualifications.

whatever you can do to assist me in this (such as critique my
approach, work with me or refer people to me who have similar 
ideas to my own, redirect the rabid fanatics to me if you want) 
would be very appreciated. I've been happy to concede many of
the points of this debate and would steer the occultists and whatnot
toward more rational lines of bibliographic assessment. despite
the heat of this thread, I think there are many common points
of understanding and our area of disagreement is quite small.

-- ; ; 
emailed replies may be posted; cc replies if response desired

From: (ny'rl'thot'p)
Newsgroups: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick,alt.necronomicon,alt.horror.cthulhu
Subject: Re: The Book of Power: Evaluating the Necronomicon (was ...)
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Xref: alt.magick.tyagi:21811 alt.magick:181743 alt.necronomicon:10322 alt.horror.cthulhu:53832 (Daniel Harms):
>The difficulty is largely a matter of definitions.  When
>Lovecraft fans and scholars hear about the Necronomicon, they
>assume that the speaker includes the notion of historic
>authenticity with it.  On the other hand, magicians usually
>speak of the Necronomicon with the assumption that it must
>be a document of magical use.  So both sides often end up
>talking past each other.

yes, until people who understand both aspects of the
discussion (whether or not they agree with either) come
to the fore.

>Assuming that we can agree on the criteria by which the
>Necronomicon can be judged.  

there should be a range available.

>I'm not entirely sure that it
>can - a look at the Price articles mentioned elsewhere on this
>thread shows that Lovecraft himself did not necessarily had
>a fixed view of the Necronomicon, and that it was sometimes a
>collection of hints about magical artifacts, a grimoire, or
>a history of pre-human contacts on our planet.  

that's ok. Lovecraft obtained his information about the text
in DREAMS, so the details are likely to be hazy. we should
identify which details are consistent and certain, which are
inconsistent and certain, which are uncertain, and which
are single-mentions that do not fit in with the rest. out
of this batch of data we can arrive at a criteria for
rational assessment without regard to physical origins,
extending out from Lovecraft's knowledge-base.

>views on his subjects even change - at one point it is even
>implied that he is a witch-hunter of sorts.  To re-create
>Lovecraft's Necronomicon would involve the difficult, if not
>insurmountable, task of reconciling these differences.

we must assume that these are reflections of Lovecraft's on
the character of Alhazred. Lovecraft may be said to misread
the astral text, for example, or have certain points wrong
as regards the character of the Necronomicon. those areas
where he can be caught in inconsistencies of description
are ambiguous regions wherein the crafter of modern versions
of the text might approximate between contentions. 

>> ...I hope that you see that I am attempting to
>> forge here a middle path between fanatics from both sides of the
>> issue of the Book of Power, accepting what I think are reasonable
>> criteria that will allow (and perhaps inspire) a grimoire by the
>> name "Al Azif" or "Necronomicon" to come to exist without having
>> to satisfy ridiculous and hoax-ridden qualifications.

>I think there are some - but I must say, I doubt the use of
>such a project, even if I attempt to look at the matter
>from an occultist's POV.  

in part my interest is selfish: I am consistently seeing asinine
arguments between magicians and academic hoax-warriors in the
newsgroups to which this is crossposted. my aim in part is to
carve out a neutral ground with a reference document (a FAQ on
par with Kendrick Kerwin Chua's but more succinct) that may go
some distance in ending the noise while challenging magicians
to put their arcanum where their mouth is, so to speak, while
it may simultaneously push the point that you and your hoax-
warrior friends so valiantly make clear to us all: that there
are no pre-Lovecraft Necronomicons.
>History is filled of examples of
>legendary books of magic that have been grounded, and I have
>yet to encounter one that lived up to its hideous and
>unspeakable reputation.  Given the precedent from such
>folklore, the Necronomicon's look and contents should be
>NOTHING like the stories which have built up around it.

therein lies the challenge that the fantasizers must face
or withdraw to the shadows.

>I can't provide too much help, but I can give a few suggestions:
>-- Begin with Lovecraft.  Start with a blank slate, then go through
>his stories and letters.  There's a great deal of stuff which
>doesn't turn up elsewhere, and many of the elements of the mythology
>(the Sumerian link, those copies bound in human skin) don't show
>up in Lovecraft.

if you can explain how far "the Sumerian link" extends and what,
if any, Sumerian associations might be logical (or if none why
they have crept in), I'd be grateful.

>-- Check out the bibliography on my site.  Some of the listed
>pieces aren't that good, but there's a few month's worth of
>reading there.

wonderful, thank you.

>-- Beg or borrow (but don't steal) a copy of my Necronomicon
>Files.  Too bad it's OOP right now - there's a lot of stuff on
>the origins and development of the Nec. myth right there.

I'll start with the Chaosium reference and work my way up.
do you have a review of the Chaosium text "The Necronomicon"?

-- ; ; 
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